Leading up to the Drake Well Marathon, in Titusville, PA, I was a little nervous. I have never ran an August marathon, and surely never done one during a 120 mile week. A coin flip could have been used to determine the odds of my legs feeling good during the race. Also the course layout also was a bit of a concern. The first 8 miles consisted of rolling hills, with 2 inclines that went up over 300 feet. Then just past mile 9 the course went onto a bike path, where runners ran out to mile 17.5, turned around and came back to the finish. I expressed concern to my wife about how "bored" I will be running the bike path if there are not runners around me.
Little did I realize that my minor worries were already taken care of by the race committee. The hills did come early, but we were rewarded with 17 miles of flat running later in the marathon. The bike path was out an back, but it truly was a beautiful tree lined stretch to run on. The organizers planned for the half marathon to run a seperate course than the marathon. The half marathon runners just ran out and back on the bike path. This meant once I reached the bike path there were other runners to see!! Perfect course layout for a small town marathon.
As for my race, I felt pressure to do well. Some of this pressure was internally, while some came from expectations placed on me to succeed. One truly nice guy, Super Joe, ate with me at the pasta meal. He kept stating I was his inspiration and that he has changed his life because of me. Seriously?? I am a nobody....but anyway I could not let Super Joe down. I had to put forth my best effort. This was the 3rd marathon where I have crossed paths with Super Joe, so far he has yet to see me lose....maybe Super Joe is my lucky charm??
The first 5 miles of the marathon was the hardest part of the entire race. I reached mile 5 in 31:40, which is 6:20 pace, or 3 minutes slower than my normal first 5 miles. By mile 7 I was prepared to drop out and quit running forever! It was annoying to keep running slower miles than normal. BUT soon enough we were out of the hills and back into the beautiful town of Titusville, PA. A quick pass through main street, which consists of some HUGE houses, and we were off to the bike path.
I have run marathons before that go on bike paths, but none as tree lined as this one. I am a tree guy, so looking at the young oaks, straight cherry trees, and 5 wild turkeys made for extra entertainment. After the turn around at mile 17.5, I kept pushing hard, knowing that soon I would see Super Joe headed out to the turn around himself. Sure enough he cheered me on. Not far behind Super Joe was my friend Jason Smoker. He trains with me some, and was running this marathon pushing his twins. Well even at my pace I could tell that he was no longer pushing a stroller. Apparently his wife decided pushing twins during a rainy marathon was a bad idea. Us husbands and dads need logical thinking wives in our lives to keep us from doing crazy things.
The first half of the marathon I ran in 1:19:30, the second half I ran in 1:14:58, for a final finish time of 2:34:28. Not my best time, but it was good enough to break the course record. I have now won 30 marathons and have 6 course records. Another great addition to this race was the finish line tape, yes this small marathon had an actual finish tape to break! Out of the 30 marathon wins I have, very few events have held up a finish tape to break. The joy of feeling that acrossed your chest is a better feeling then having a medal draped around your neck. I am not sure why every marathon does not hold up a finish line tape for its male and female winners to break. Oh well, must be hard to find 2 volunteers to hold something up.
Anyway, after breaking the tape, I ran back out onto the course to the mile 23 aid station. I stayed there a while handing out gatorade and water while waiting for some friends to come by. Once they showed up I ran the rest of the course with them. It added another 5 miles to my day, but was well worth it. Overall this is a great small town marathon that will challenge you with hills, but well worth doing.