Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Since that original email there have been some interesting developments.

A fellow member of the Dead Runners Society also ran the Half Marathon. She had a blog entry relating her experience with the race and here's an excerpt in which she captures her views of the positives and negatives (most of which I agree with) - my commentary is in italics:


Challenging course without being a killer. Huge downhill by the Capitol at mile 2; rolling hills from miles 8 through 12 -- but all runnable, nothing too brutal.

I worried about paying back that downhill but there was no comparable uphill - whew!!

Excellent course layout through interesting neighborhoods and through the Mall

I thought it was a little boring after we left the Mall area

Several occasions to see front-runners on other side of road

I always like the chance to see the front runners but this did come early in the race.

Fantastic road closures, well-monitored
Plenty of room to run after the first mile
Frequent, well-stocked aid stations, including gel at Mile 9 of the half

Lots of parking close to the start

Best parking ever for a larger size race. I was literally steps from the finish.

Ample bathrooms (and shelter from rain!) at start

You can never have too many porta potties - for once there were plenty

Nice medals and finish area

I would add that the baggage check was handled pretty well. Checked in and out without any hassles.

One of few races requiring qualifying times - knowledgeable runners

Good support by DC Mayor Fenty, who ran the marathon
Fun atmosphere
Free beer! (But at 9 AM - not exactly breakfast food.)

Ugly white see-through t-shirt, although technical fabric

Another ugly tshirt - why can't they have better designs!

Few exhibitors at expo (and having to go there on a Friday)

We were really surprised by how small the expo was. With 4000 participants you would think some more vendors would be interested. Maybe the fees were too high. The expo was a big disappointment.

Somewhat disorganized corral-free, seeding-free start

I really hated the start. We were crowded in at an angle with no idea what pace those around you intended. The first mile as a result was really slow. The promised pI ace groups were completely disorganized and definitely didn't run at pace. Probably my biggest criticism of the race.

Some aid stations were light on volunteers
Some broken city pavement after the winter
Unpredictable weather (rainy at the start this year, then drizzle for most of the race)

Can't blame to race organizers for the weather but it was a shame to have the start marred by heavy rain. Also due to Daylight Time it was very dark.

Minimal food selection at finish area (bagels and bananas) although ample

I don't really care as long as they have plenty of water and bananas and they did.

Leading marathoners had to run through half-marathoners at finish - could have been prevented with better coning to split road in last mile

Half marathon course probably long

Turns out it was long - the race director sent me a nice apology but admitted it was long (didn't say how much). From Nancy's account and comments on Marathon Guide it looks like at least .4 mile.

Proprietary chips with ankle straps (although I'm used to those)

Few spectators, relatively little support from local residents

Wow was this a spectator free race. Even less then Philadelphia which can be sparse.
It is amazing how empty a big city can be (it's early on a rainy Saturday but still . . .)

Incorrect timing data on website after race, no email contact provided for corrections


So that was how two runners saw the race. Pretty much in agreement. It is a good effort for their second time out. Lots of area for improvement - but not a bad experience. I wonder if it will survive. The Washington Post on Sunday had some blistering comments from locals who were very unhappy with the road closures. When I was running I had a feeling there were some colossal traffic tie ups but I feel there was plenty of advanced warning in the media and we saw electronic signs coming in to Washington that warned of road closures for the marathon. The first time they tried a spring marathon in Washington there was a lot of criticism because it was on a Sunday and on Palm Sunday. The Saturday start at least prevents that and it is early enough that most roads should be open by 11 AM.

I liked the race enough that I hope it survives and prospers. Once was enough for me.

This is a quick email I composed to send to the DRS (Dead Runners Society) list

I was a little disappointed with my time -

3 3213 Charles Brooks 60 Havertown PA 1:54:33

but the 3 means I was third out of twenty in my age group. Thought I had a faster half marathon in me but it wasn't to be today. Very slow start. The field lined up without direction and without pace seeding. The first two miles very very slow, but generally I was a off on almost every mile. Partly this was due to my taking more time at the water stops because of the humidity. Lost my gel at mile two. Don't know if it makes a difference but I wish I had had it.

Very low key affair. Tiny, tiny expo. I never thought there could be less spectators then at Philly but this has to be the least specators I have ever see - especially since there were a few thousands runners.

Once you are out of the museum area there isn't much to see but running in Washington is always kind of cool. There is a short out and back portion so you get to see the leaders.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Caesar Rodney Half Marathon

Wednesday we had what will probably be the last snow of the season. It turned out to be not much of anything. It continued cold with Friday threatening record cold but while plenty cold (19F) for my morning run it was nowhere close to the record. I chose to use the multiuse trail at Ridley because its five miles simulates Caesar Rodney. If you go left you climb steadily for two miles similar to middle miles of CR. The return leg is downhill but with short climbs interspersed with a pretty good elevation at mile 4.

Saturday warmed considerably but no running just a long walk with Max.

Spring ahead to Sunday (terrible pun I know) and the morning temps are already quite mild. It rained over night and it will be cooler than Saturday with more wind but it is still very pleasant.

I drive down to Wilmington with a friend and it is obvious that it is going to be a beautiful day.

CR is a largish race (1186 finishers) but with the feel of a smaller race. I saw lots of people I knew. First three miles are fast – I know I shouldn’t be running like that with all the hills ahead. Still it feels good. The real work begins when you enter the park. The next three miles are a steady climb through two city parks tied together by the Delaware Art Museum. When I reach Rockford Tower (the highest point in Wilmington) I know I’m home free. A couple of rolling low hills on the Rt 52 out and back then we get that long downhill back. Neil Weygandt passes me then I pass him. Wow – that’s a surprise I must be going pretty good. Neil will pass me once more and while I stay with him I can never quite catch up with this surge. Mile twelve is suddenly there – still in the park with another half mile downhill. You exit the park and make a loop to Market with a long, steep climb to the finish. Attack the hill pretty well. I am even alert enough to catch the 13 mile split. Then that short sprint to the finish watching the clock and determined to get in under 1:50. I do.

555 96 Charles Brooks M 60 Havertown PA 1:49:32 8:22 1:49:55 8:24
8/34 M60-64 456/822 M

The chip time and watch time are just one second off.

I feel great. No nausea (does that mean I didn’t push hard enough?). A young girl offers to get my chip. I get some water and a finishers medal (teeny tiny but hey I’ll take it) and wait for Mukund (who ran a crazy race slow, fast, slow). Halfs are really great – you ran hard and long but aren't so beat up that you won’t be able to run right away.

We socialize a bit and then head back for a great feature of this race – a nice hot shower at the Wilmington YMCA. I love going home all cleaned up and fresh.

I never expected to run this race with all its hills this fast. I am looking forward to the Washington National Marathon (where I will do the half) which should be a much flatter course. Can I push it to 1:48? I hope the weather and weekend is just as beautiful as today.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

What I saw on my run