Overall Time: 3:54:58
Place: 3rd of 17
AG% : N/A
Weather: An air-conditioned 70 degrees in mid-summer!
Start Time: 9:00am
Let’s cut to it: this is a bit of a crazy race.
Three years ago Michael Wardian wanted to break the indoor marathon world record. Thus, the “Grant Pierce Indoor Marathon was born and the 200-meter track at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center in Arlington, VA would be put to good use.
After Wardian broke the world record the event continued and has grown in popularity. A few months ago when my friend Dave L. told me about it I just had to participate. Immediately I went to the race registration website and saw something unexpected: a little check box asking if I wanted to participate in a 50-kilometer option! I clicked the option and marked my calendar for the chance to run 250 laps on an indoor unbanked 200 meter track.
Come July and after a quick Bolt Bus ride down to DC, I met up with a friend who offered to put me up at his apartment in Arlington — perfect! It turns out that he lived only a mile from the race venue, which itself was a new experience for me: on the morning of race day, it was a first for me to be able to drive up to the “entrance” of the marathon. We literally parked in the parking spot immediately in front of the TJ Community Center entrance. Hah — after so many big city marathons (Chicago, New York, Boston) it was so bizarre not to take several hours getting to the start of a marathon. We just drove up, parked, and walked in the door!
When Dave and I got in, the race started off without a whole lot of activity or organization. It started late due to some much needed last-minute volunteers. Apparently the race didn’t have enough volunteer lap counters to handle all the runners. I didn’t mind they delay because the whole event is very low-key and has a very casual feel to it, but after that was all sorted out we took our positions on the start line and off we went!
As we completed each of the 250 laps (211 for the marathon), there were three systems to track us. There was a timing chip in our bib, the volunteer lap counters to write down each of our lap splits, and a video camera monitoring the event for backup, I assume.
The race itself was exactly what you would think…. lots of counter-clockwise loops of an indoor running track. The track was unbanked, thankfully, and had enough lanes for the 80 or so people running in the event. Unfortunately there was a lot of race etiquette that was not observed by a lot of the participants. Specifically, a number of Marathon Maniacs really gave their group a bad name when they decided to walk the entire event in Lane 1, absolutely ensuring that people would have to go wide around then the entire time. Considering that the race director asked people to have some respect for the fact that Wardian was attempting to break the indoor 50 kilometer world record and *not* hug the inside lane, it was a blatantly selfish act. But I’m not writing this to bitch, so I’ll stop there.
The first 80 or so laps went fairly quickly. 10 miles at an easy pace is easy no matter what. Because there were lots of slow people, I was lapping just about everyone except the top 3 runners. It’s the sort of (false) confidence-builder that allows you to enjoy what would otherwise be a fairly mind-numbing event. It’s a mental boost and sort of a distraction and… it just sort of ‘works.’
The middle bit was a little tough, I’ll admit. I decided to pick up the pace and give myself a good workout, but laps 125 until 200 were a mental struggle. I felt like I still had so much left to go! It wasn’t until I neared lap 211 (the marathon mark) that I felt near the finish. 39 laps still sounds like a lot, but it’s only 7.8 kilometers — less than 5 miles. 5 miles is nothing! It’s not even a loop of Central Park and because I wasn’t racing this I had plenty of energy left in the tank. Those final 39 laps went by without incident and all of a sudden I was crossing the finish line for the 250th and final time.
My split at the marathon distance was a 3:16:34 and I finished the 50K in 3:54, which was basically a perfectly paced race. This was a nice workout and gave me a good feeling about leaving for the RacingThePlanet Iceland race the following month.