Only racers go to motel breakfasts at 6 a.m. Sundays; it has to be funny to see us all come in, skinny legs and all
It was a good thing K and I had been to the Barrington Rec Center the day before. No way in hell we could’ve found it before race time at 8 a.m. Sunday
Oh yes, the car’s dipstick is still showing full, not a sliver lower than at the auto show at Woodstock
Ten minutes before the 8 a.m. start no one is standing under the banner; we are among the first to line up, the fulls, the halfs, and the 10Ks – eventually the 10Ks are told to split up and go about a football field away where at one point the starter asks through the public address system if anyone in the 10K group can hear her. No one says a word in reply. She asks the question again, slightly louder, and a man in front (there are more than one hundred of them in the group) gingerly raises his hand
After On Your Mark, Get Set, Go! we trundle off; eighty-four marathoners, double that for halfs. K urges me to run ahead and I do, Go Dado! she says with a “Boston” look in her eye
It’s quite cool at the start but not at the finish, which is still as the Bayou. Along the way, few signs are out, not a lot of roadside cheers. “Half-Marathoners Are Only Half-Crazy,” and in front of a church beyond the twenty-mile mark, “Remember Why You’re Out Here!” (I couldn’t and stopped and walked for a spell)
The best bit: Under the burning sun at the 16-mile mark, with a hard-to-fathom 10.2 miles to go, I see along the roadside a row of handmade wooden signlets with first names printed in black block letters. There’s a slew of them and when I see the name LARRY I tell myself that they have been placed there by the Nova Scotia Marathon organizers to honor the runners, which certainly helps salve the sting of the motorist who flipped me the bird at the 9-mile mark in response to my smiling wave to him
At the 12 miles I’m making good time and begin to pace ahead of a guy I’d been running with when the fella cries to me, “See you at the hills!” “What hills?” I reply
Finally the finish line is in sight. More than four hours, twenty-five minutes since that 8 a.m. start. I’ll have finished six of eight marathons, but this will be my slowest. K is there, though, as I manage a final kick. During the last 400 meters I make my best time of the race. There’s a medal, chocolate mile and a sweaty hug from K
She’d done OK in the half! Ran all the way, that’s my girl!
Before heading on to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and the ferry to Portland (an 11-hour trip with 5,000 Muzakian versions of “Farewell to Nova Scotia.” Word of caution: Bring earplugs!) K and I head back for an afternoon in Shelburne, our new favorite place, where on a fence-top I see it. The steely-eyed lobsterman, his wooden arms wheeling a mile a minute in the never-let-up breeze, where ten years ago the ultimately unwatchable “Scarlett Letter” starring Demi Moore was being filmed, the locals never tire of telling us, there are two lobster pots in the back of my hero’s whirligig skiff, and K and I are hooked, we later learn there is a whirligig festival in Shelburne every year and standing before the work-obsessed face of the lobsterdude we make our pledge to come back to this place, not to run a marathon, but to conceive, design and build our own whirligigs and fly them in the 16th annual festival in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, in September 2015!
Next: Running for Your Life: When Training Isn’t the Goal