After running the Newport News Marathon last month, I came into the Salisbury Marathon, thinking it would be about the same. While it is easy to compare and contrast the two because they were still fresh on mind, but that is not what will do. I enjoyed running them. This race allowed me just to focus on my running and all the logistics and everything else were handled seamlessly. They did a phenomenal job.
Salibury Marathon occurred on Saturday, so the timeframe for the prerace preparation was much compressed, unlike the Newport News one. I rushed to Salisbury after work. Though I am not easily stressed, but we came close to the point I wouldn’t be able to make it in time to pick up my bib. It is not race org’s fault since they offered a mailing option but I just didn’t pick it. I preferred facing the afterwork traffic. The two hour drive became a four hour one. I left around 3ish in the afternoon but for some reason only known to my gps, I was rerouted into downtown Washington, DC. And there I sat in my car forever until I got out of there. We had to pick up our bibs on Friday because there was no Saturday pickup. If I didn’t make it to the convention, it would mean no race for me. I made it to the convention by closing and got my bib. Then I went to check into my hotel. When all said and done it was around 9-9:30 pm.
Next was dinner or sleep. Honestly I wasn’t that hungry, but chose food over sleep. There is no shortage of eateries in Salisbury. Many restaurants (outside of downtown) open late, past 11. The downtown was kind of dark and scary (on my first night there), so I avoided it after picking up my bib. There are a bunch of chain restaurants plus some local ones. I stuck to my usual prerace meal, being unwilling to try new stuff. I googled for a cheap chinese buffet. I found one that was pretty good.
I got back to my hotel late with a full stomach. I was a bit too excited to sleep and didn’t do so until around 2 am. I set my alarm for 5 am. I have done this many times so I was not worried if I would get enough sleep. I am usually fine with 3-4 hours of sleep. I woke up before my alarm went off, feeling great as if I have slept for a full night.
The race was at 7. I got to the course before 6. The temperature was quite fine around 40 F (5-7 C) and I believed it got up to around 60s (12-15 C). The start line was half a mile away from our car. The start and finish were not at the same place, but they were not too far apart. There was a shuttling option available, but I chose to walk. We parked at the finish and walked to the start as recommended. A few parked at the start. To me, that is the harder option.
We had a beautiful morning and course.
A friend from DC saw my social media post about the race and so he reached out to me, saying he would see me on the course. He and several of his friends were running it too. We met up at the start. They were much faster than me (1 hr faster). I told them to go ahead. I was able to run at his pace in the past, but today it was obvious I was not able to keep up. I gained much weight during the interim since I last ran with him. I blame it on the Covid weight (Covid 10).
Also I came into the race with a pulled hamstring that has been bothering me for the past several weeks now. While with each passing week, my condition improved but I wasn’t sure if I can run at my full strength yet. I was judging that I was at 90-95% well. I still felt some slight pulling from the injury, but I was no longer in pain. This was a whole level better than the week before.
Based on my last official marathon time, I finished at 5:15 and I was healthy at the time. I was hoping to at least be able to match it or somewhere close, but if I get 5:30, 5:45 or even finish by 6:00, I would consider myself lucky. Last weekend, I ran a marathon distance on the trails with a time of over 8 hours, and its time splits were still fresh on my mind. I tried to run like the week before during the race, and was happy I hit each of my mental checkpoint well before the clock, given this week I was running on the road and my injured leg was much better. I was generally feeling pleased. I didn’t compare my feelings during the race, but looking back I was feeling much better than when I was running at Newport News. I didn’t feel stressed by the clock.
Miles flew by. By mile 4, I met a friendly guy (Alex) and we chatted our way to mile 12. The course was beautiful. He was aiming for a 5:30 finish. So by halfway he dialed back his pace. I thought I was aiming for 5:30 finish pace too but I was running stronger, so I pulled ahead. We knew we were ahead of pace since the 5:00 and 5:30 pacers were still (far) behind us. I was trying to bank on my time. I reviewed my run pacing profile afterward, and it was decaying the way it should.
There was a woman around us and she snapped over hundreds of photos during her race, and we were in some of them too. We saw a beautiful sunrise. The temperature went up a bit but it was never too hot. I love running through the countryside and seeing farms and horses. At one point we passed a chicken farm and we could smell the chicken poops. Salisbury is known for chicken farms supplying chickens to our Washington area.
The half marathoners started with us. It was good to have them around until mile 11 when the courses separated. I heard there were a thousand of the half marathoners but only about 300 of us. They went to their finishes and we went the other way for a 13 mile loop before rejoining them again. We had aid stations about every 2 miles. Aid stations all have gels and chewy bars. Unlike the last race, I didn’t have to search for food or gels. I was happy. I had a couple chewy bars. They sure provided the energy needed at halfway. We had mile markers for every mile, even for the full marathon course. Course marking was good, at least for me, but I heard someone almost went the wrong way. There were course marshalls and road signs as well as arrows taped on the ground pointing the direction on all the turns. It is beyond me how anyone could get lost. Security was good. I don’t think it was needed because Salibury is a safe city, but they were out in full force. We had police officers stationed on most intersections. There was plenty of cheering from spectators, so we were not alone running in the middle of a farmland/countryside.
Pacewise, I ran around a 10-11 min mile pace. I held it steady until 6 miles and then it slowly decayed to a 12 min mile. My pace crashed at around mile 24-25. It was not a hard crash, but definitely it was pretty tough to maintain a steady pace. I walked more in the final two miles. This was exactly how I wanted. I didn’t want a hard crash like hitting the wall as I had on during the Newport News Marathon. I’d rather prefer slowly tapering down. I finished it in under 5 hours. This was better than expected. My hamstring did not bother me a bit.
In all these we were more than conquerors through him who loved us, from a verse I recalled during the race. I was happy. Sometimes we got sidelined for no reason at all (like me for the last few weeks) and today I felt like a million dollar to be able to run. I was thrilled.
My friend waited for me at the finish and we went out for lunch afterward. We spent the lazy afternoon kicking back and relaxed with good food. We all had a long drive home. We were talking about visiting the shipping container boat Ever Forward that got strained near the Bay Bridge. Unfortunately, I was too tired and too late in the day to pay a visit, otherwise I could have addd a little national news to my marathon trip and provide a picture! I love things like this. And what with this shipping company Evergreen keep having their boats being stuck around the world?! Wondering if it was piloted by the same captain as the last boat that was stuck? Who knew the Potomac is so shallow.
The day after, I felt I could still go out to run more. This is a good sign. I didn’t want to finish a marathon and feel exhausted. It should be tired enough but a good sleep would help me recover.
RunSBY (Salisbury) was a gem to me. My friend joining me was like a cherry on top.