Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | April 26, 2015

Marathon Man

When Mark said he wanted to run a marathon, it came as a bit of a surprise. While he’d run quite a few half-marathons, and several in his running group had completed marathons, he said he had nothing to prove to himself and didn’t want to run one. Until he changed his mind and decided to run one. He decided a few months back to do this, and found a training partner in a fellow running group member, Carrie. In spite of their size difference (see the bottom photo), they run the same pace and are equally dedicated to following the training plan EXACTLY.

This meant running through the winter, in snow, freezing temperatures, and sometimes doing long runs on the treadmill when the weather wasn’t cooperative. It meant waking up at 5 a.m. to run, and bringing running shoes on any trip involving an airplane. They chose to run the New Jersey Marathon in Long Branch, less than an hour from the house and a course they’d run several times before as half-marathoners.

refreshments

treats for the runners

We came to cheer Mark on, asking him to tell us exactly where he wanted us stationed (he’s a logistics and map kind of guy – no sense in both of us doing the research). He told us when to leave the house and how much time to leave for driving and parking (the parking time was a bit too generous, as we found a spot immediately, a block from the 9.5 marker where we waited by the aid station). We were joined by Carrie’s husband and daughter.

Waiting for the runners

Waiting for the runners

While the morning was chilly, we were dressed for it and waited for the first runner to come by.

The first runner comes through at a 6 minute something a mile pace.

The first runner comes through at a 6 minute something a mile pace.

The third or fourth runner came through and made a right at the end of the block instead of a left. He didn’t go far, before he realized he went the wrong way, along with spectators yelling “turn round!” While this may have added a few seconds onto his time, hopefully he didn’t lose his good time because of it. The race officials came over to better position the cones, blocking the right side of the street, and a sign appeared telling runners to turn left.

Turn left!

Turn left!

The girls get their signs ready.

The girls get their signs ready.

We soon realized the error of standing right after the aid station because the runners are big believers in throwing their garbage on the ground, and not all of them emptied their cups of liquid first. Then they threw their sticky Goo packets on the ground, along with their orange rinds. Dori thinks that next time we watch a race, we should make a big poster of a target, and they can try throwing their garbage at the target. I vote that Dori holds the target sign.

When people ran over the cups, it sounded like horse hooves. We had fun people watching – men wearing kilts, women wearing tutus, people of all sizes, people walking, people sprinting, We saw orthodox women running in head scarves and skirts (stretchy and below their knees, but not far below).

Watching for Mark - fortunately he was right on schedule.

Watching for Mark – fortunately he was right on schedule.

Mark told us what time he’d be coming through, and he was just on time. He got his drink and we made sure he found us.

Mark is reading Dori's sign

Mark is reading Dori’s sign.

He had fun reading Dori’s sign. He didn’t linger long – time to keep running. We stayed to cheer on Carrie.

bobby sign

The post-run plan is to go to Bobby’s Burger Palace.

Very soon after, Carrie came through.

Here comes Carrie

Here comes Carrie

After Carrie, we saw Harold and Donna (below), and later Scott (no photo) but missed seeing the two Daves who ran through without spotting us, or us them. Now it was time to move on to the finishing location, which gave us time to hang out since Mark and Carrie weren’t due for a couple of hours. Fortunately it was a beautiful day (in spite of sunblock and 60 degree weather, we got a little facial burn).

Here comes Harold and Donna!

Here comes Harold and Donna!

One of the favorite signs in our area was the ‘Run You Sexy Bitch’ sign, which got a lot of attention and both men and women loved it.

The favorite sign in our area

The favorite sign in our area

We found the 26 mile marker and a nice spot of grass to relax. Mark said he’d probably be coming through about 4 hours and 30 minutes, but we got in place earlier just in case they ran a 4 hour marathon. They didn’t, but we got to cheer on others who were .2 miles from the finish.

Hanging out near the 26 mile marker

Hanging out near the 26 mile marker

Waiting for Mark and Carrie

Waiting for Mark and Carrie

We had the signs ready and could see easily because the running crowd was pretty thin at this point.

Mark heading toward the finish

Mark heading toward the finish

Scott, one of the runners in the running group, correctly predicted when Mark would be coming through, and sure enough – there he was.

Carrie in the home stretch

Carrie in the home stretch

Carrie was a few minutes behind, and Scott predicted her time as well.

The non-runners at the end of the race

The non-runners at the end of the race

We left to meet up with the runners in the finish area.

Mark finishes in 4 hours, 30 minutes and 11 seconds.

Mark finishes in 4 hours, 30 minutes and 11 seconds.

Mark’s goal was 4 hours 30 seconds, and he hit it exactly.

Training partners, Carrie finished in 4 hours 33 minutes

Training partners, Carrie finished in 4 hours 33 minutes

Carrie wanted to finish. Beyond that, her goal was 4 hours 30 minutes to 5 hours, and she did great at the top of her goal.

The running group

The running group

The running group was a huge support and inspiration for Mark and Carrie and it was great that they waited after their half-marathon finish to congratulate and celebrate with them. Then it was off to Bobby’s Burger Palace for a high calorie, high fat delicious meal.

While I can’t say I want to watch a lot of races in the future, we were excited to be there for Mark and to see him in action, achieving his hard-earned goal. We are very proud of you Mark! And proud of Carrie too – we’re glad that they could do it together.


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