Marathon 15 was the Delaware marathon in Wilmington on 16 May 2004. I finished 45th of 516 finishers, 14/114 in my age group and 41 out of 358 mailes. My chip time was 3:28:45 for a 7:58 pace, gun time was 3:29:30.
From a travel perspective, not much went right on this trip. I flew to Philadelphia after our traditional Saturday night family dinner. Philadelphia airport is not the most disorganized and hostile landing site on the Atlantic coast (a distinction held by Laguardia), but it is still chaotic, crowded and infused with the Deniro-esk "You taking to me?" ethos. The car rental agency involved few cars and many people arguing about how much each cost and could they take them. I grabbed the first thing I could (a red Chevy blazer, violating both my no Chevy and no SUV rule) and left as quickly as I could, which was slow. A short drive to Wilmington exposed mostly urban squalor that night, explaining why the race may be confined to the gentrified riverfront. My hotel, booked weeks ahead, was the Wyndam Wilmington. The hotel, for vague reasons associated with e-business and the unreasonableness of the internet, was vastly overbooked. The offered to pay for my parking if I would sleep in a studio with a pull-out couch instead of a bed. Their web site had listed parking as free. It was late, I put the mattress on the floor and slept in the strange aromas of the room ( a powerful mix of mold and pine scent). The smells were partially explained the next day by noting a car hang-tag air freshner stuffed in the air conditioner.
Travel got worse on the way home. I had a 3 pm flight back, expecting to be home for dinner on Sunday night. But the flight was canceled and I was sent from Philly to RDU via Chicago. I made it to Chicago in time for an early flight, but it was full and I ate with plastic silverware on the dark side of airport security. Our plane left the gate and taxied for an hour only to hear that RDU was closed as we were about to take off, but we waited and it reopened after a half hour. I got home at 2 am.
Delaware is a small state, to fit within the boundaries the race consisted of four laps of the Wilmington riverfront. The riverfront is a strange Disney world on an otherwise boarded-up and run-down city, but it is nice in itself and a four lap race has its attractions. There seemed to be a water stop every hundred yards and the small crowd was vociferous in its support.
The race itself was great. It started at Fawley Staduim, home of the Wilmington Blue Rocks of the Carolina Baseball League. The 6.5 mile out and back course was about 20% on cement, but the 7 water stops in six miles and the fun factoids about Wilmington and people in the race placed in handbills along the course made the miles fly by.
The race was offered in conjunction with a 50 states running club. Apparently this was the first certified marathon in Delaware in 8 years. 45 states were represented 500 some people ran.
I intended this as a final spring marathon/training run prior to the Carolina Godiva summer track season. My goal was to finish in under 4 hours. I ran the first loop in 53:30 (gun time), the second around 53, the third around 50 and the fourth around 53. By the fourth lap the sun was out and the heat was on. The previous day record temperatures were recorded along the eastern seaboard, but thunderstorms overnight put race tempratures in the 70's. The race started at 7:05, the temperature log for the day looked like this:
There was a light drizzle between 8 and 9 am.
I thought that I would be lapped by the winner near the end of the third lap. I wondered what it would be like to try to stay with him a bit, but the winner didn't get in until 2:49, 4 minutes after I had started my final lap. The race was a carnival of people on various laps, I wonder if passing was hard for the winner. There were a lot of relay teams as well, race officials didn't know the winner was crossing when he did, they re-enacted the finish to get pictures and show the sponsor ribbon.