It's been a long time since I've been to a race and didn't see anyone that I knew. So there were long stretches of talking and listening to only the voices in my head, lol. I felt lost, like I wasn't meant to be there, lol.
My first running of the Pensacola Marathon was not that bad, however. My finishing time was typical - 5:41:11, and I was so elated to beat the 6 hour cut-off. But I don't think I would have made it, if it had not been for Walter.
For some strange reason, I thought that the entire race course would run along the bay, but the water was only visible along very short portions of Bayfront Parkway and Scenic Highway. Water is so calming to me, and it really would have lifted my spirits if I could have seen a little more of the Bay during the run. Other than the short sections of water and the downtown section towards the end of the loop, this course is not very scenic.
There were some neighborhood sections, but hardly any spectators, which was strange. Usually when a race runs through a neighborhood, at least a few of the residents come out and cheer us along. Other than the cops and volunteers manning the intersections and street crossings, the streets of Pensacola were pretty quiet. Granted, there was light rain for the majority of the race, but I would have thought that the relatively warm temperatures (60-70 degrees) would have brought out a few spectators. Oh, well . . . .
The course is a double loop, with a half-marathon taking off at the same time as the marathon. Because there are always more half-marathoners than marathoners in a multi-distance race, needless to say, the second loop was very lonely. I only talked briefly with one person during the first loop. I had seen him at the Tallahassee Marathon a few weeks ago, and that's basically how I started the conversation. Before long, however, we were leap-frogging each other, with him eventually getting and staying ahead of me for a long time. I used him as my rabbit, trying to run fast enough to keep him in sight as long as I could, lol. He had his 50 States and DC Marathon Group shirt on, so he was easy to spot. Some how within the last few miles of the race, I caught up and passed him, finishing a few minutes before he did. I never feel good when that happens and it's never intentional, but we all have to run our own race. My race is always against the course and the clock and not ever against another runner.
The second loop is where I met Walter. He had taken a half-hour early start. I remarked to him that I wasn't aware that the race had an early start, and he told me he had to request it. He said he was the only one who took the early start, however. Walter is from NY and also a fellow 50 Stater. He's getting very close to finishing and says he probably won't attempt a second go around. I'm not holding him to that statement, because I said the same thing when I finished the States in 2006, lol. I am now 6 states away from finishing my second go around, lol.
When I came upon Walter, I was dragging, looking at my watch every 5 minutes, trying to do math on the run, and worrying about the 6-hour cut-off. It didn't look like I would make it, but I had to put in enough effort to at least try. I couldn't take another DNF 2 weekends in a row. Walter seemed to be moving along well at a brisk, race-walking pace. I fell in line with him, and we started chatting. We must have talked and walked for a good 4 miles. Lo and behold, I was swinging my arms, thrusting my hips forward, head held high, laughing, talking, and enjoying Walter's company. I had been so lonely during the majority of the race, and Walter put some pep back into my step.
I felt like running, but I didn't want to leave my newly found running buddy. He commented a couple of times that I was helping him to push a little faster and he didn't know how much longer he'd be able to keep up with me. Wow! And here I was thinking the same thing about him! But at last, as it happens in races, it gets to a point when two runners have to part company. We said our good-byes and Walter asks me to turn around and smile so that he could take my picture. Goodness, I hope I didn't break this nice man's camera, lol.
So, I was wrong. I may have been lost, but Walter found me. And I was exactly where I was meant to be. Thanks, Walter, for making my Pensacola Marathon a memorable experience.
4 years ago