By Dan Clark
Like most marathon stories this one begins six months before the race. My wife, Angela was sticking address labels on newsletters at church with our kids when the Pastor walked in and started talking about running. Pastor Adam came to our church from Miami where he served a church for several years. A few years ago, he ran the Miami Marathon and enjoyed the experience. Adam’s sister, Amy Hollinger and brother in law, Randy Hollinger (local running and track coach legends) went to Miami and ran so it was a memorable family experience for all of them. I’m told the conversation during address label sticking evolved and suddeny Adam said, “We should run Miami Marathon!” The “we” I later found out included me.
In June, 2010 I would have said a flat, “no.” to any suggestion of running a marathon. By August, my wife and Adam recruited more runners; Adam’s wife, Virginia and another church friend, Brett. A former college wrestler, Brett is an athlete and was looking to do his first Half Marathon.
So, I registered to run 26.2 at the ING Miami Marathon because I couldn’t back out on the newly formed team. The smart thing I did in August was to call my old coach, Joe Burgasser. He is a fantastic coach and accomplished runner. Joe was my coach through high school and I leaned on his wisdom during my college years at UF. My fastest marathon, Marine Corps, 1994 was a result of Joe’s coaching. I knew I needed his help because it had been 12 years since my last serious marathon.
Up at 3:15, out the door by 4:15 and off to the race. We found a parking garage two blocks from the finish line and headed into the gathering crowd. After a few pictures, our team broke up to go to our starting corrals. The race started a few minutes after 6:00 and we headed across the causeway toward South Beach. The sunrise was beautiful, the temperature was 53 degrees and I felt great. A little too great. After a first mile right on pace, I missed the 2 mile and 3 mile marks. At the 4 miles, I realized I was 20 seconds per mile too fast. So I slowed down and relaxed. Then I was 15 seconds too slow at mile 5. 13 seconds too fast at mile 6…..and you get the idea. I had no sense of pace. It wasn’t until after the half marathon mark that I settled into a reasonable, consistent, pace.
The course was beautiful. Beach breezes the first part and later on the course when the sun was out, we had more shade. I was glad I packed my own PowerGel because the gel stops at aid stations were few and very late in the race. Frequent water at every mile and entertainment along the course kept me rolling. I did pay the price for my early pace mistake the last few miles but still, I hit the time I said I’d be happy with. Coach Joe and I agree that I need pace work and if I ran better pace I would have chipped 3-4 minutes off my time. “The only way to learn how to run marathons is to run marathons, Dan” was coach Joe’s comment about my less than perfect execution of our race plan. He’s right. Another marathon might be just what I need.
The Cast of Characters:
Angela Clark (age 35) Marathon- 6:11:06 FIRST MARATHON!
Dan Clark (age 39) Marathon – 2:50:11 Sixth Marathon
Joe Burgasser (age 72) Marathon – 3:26:11 Gazillionth Marathon
Brett Bultemeier (age 29) – Half Marathon- 2:53:13 FIRST HALF MARATHON!
Adam Zele (age 43)- Half Marathon- 3:03:24 Third Half Marathon
Virginia Zele (age 47)- Half Marathon- 3:03:24 Second Half Marathon
Want to follow my training or go back to see what Coach Joe drew up for me? Get on Daily Mile and look me up. You can see my training and learn the answers to things like,
Why is the 6Y track workout called “Y”?
Why would you do 11 X 400? Why not 12 like everyone else does?
How many alligators did I see on the trail last week?