Thursday, April 16, 2009

Found While Looking for Past Boston Marathon Times: My Marathoning History

I am on this slow psych-up for Boston this week.  I figured I would look in my old "Race Results" file and see if I could find some record of my previous two Boston Marathon times.  I ran it a long time ago.  I would say the last time I ran it was at least 20 years ago.  No kidding.  I did not find any certificates for Boston - I have not given up because I have a shelf in a closet full of old running logs from when we had to write it down in a notebook - BUT I did find four interesting certificates from 1975-1978.  The Jersey Shore Marathon was my first road race.  Yes, after cross country there was no indoor track at my high school.  A bunch of guys decided to train for this marathon thing.  Why?  It was the year after Frank Shorter won the Olympic marathon.  Bill Rodgers was on a roll.  Marathoning was what distance runners did when they got serious.  We didn't even know that there were other, shorter races on the road.  We were pretty dumb about road racing, and about running marathons.  But we just did it.  Is that crazy or what?

I ran my first marathon when I was 15 years old, January 19, 1975.  I was a sophomore in high school.  My son is 15 now - a freshman running track.  I showed him my certificate and told him I ran my first marathon when I was 15.  I asked if he wanted to try it.  Not yet, he said.  I hope my running history does not put undue pressure on expectations of his performance.  It probably does, but I really try not to push it on him too much.  Just setting an example and showing interest in his efforts, whatever the result is, should be enough.  Too much will push him out of it, probably.

Here is a scan of the 1977 certificate.  I ran a 4:24:18 in my first marathon.  If I remember correctly, I didn't train too much for it.  I think probably only a few weeks of running, maxing out at only about 12 miles.

The following year, with another track and XC season behind me, I ran it again.  If I remember the race correctly, it was freezing cold and snowing.  I remember an icicle formed on the face-mask/hat thing I wore.  I touched my chin at the half-marathon turn-around and thought my chin was literally frozen, but it was just the icicle formed by my exhales.  At 16 years old I ran 3:35:30.

In my third marathon - my third road race, at 17 years old, a senior in high school - I broke three hours, running the Jersey Shore Marathon in 2:53:21.  In retrospect, I feel like I was a fairly good distance runner at a fairly young age.  I didn't really appreciate that until now, at 49, when it was a painful struggle to to run 3:18 last November in Philly.  Also, this makes me kind of psyched, to recall all this marathoning history that I honestly forgot about, as I am heading into Boston on Monday for its 113th running.  It will be my 19th marathon, if I have my count correct.

In 1978 I was a freshman at Rutgers.  I was a lowly walk-on to the Rutgers XC and track teams.  I ran the Penn Relay Marathon in 2:41 and change.  I was the third college runner, and I have a bronze Penn Relays medal to show for it.  This was a time that I was doing hundred mile training weeks leading up to marathons. 

I think I was lucky.  My desire to run marathons at a young age was fueled by Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, Alberto Salazar, and the culture of distance running that I became acquainted with.  It was, and still is, my source of friendship and feelings of self-esteem and accomplishment.  I am hoping that Ryan Hall and Kara Goucher become roll models for the young high school aged runners and spur them on to a great running life.


Anonymous said...

Gene, I found this as I was looking to see if could find a link to the '77 jersey shore marathon. I was also a HS Sr in 77 and ran the race.2.44.40. I also ran XC at Rutgers in 78. We must have been teammates. Cool. Rich Winne
I still run a little.

Thinnmann said...

Of course we were - I remember you. We were the slow guys that Gags finally acknowledged as decent marathoners.