Clarence Demar Marathon

Clarence Demar – Marathon #82

I was looking for a marathon that was before Hartford to race since I had been training hard all summer.  I didn’t want to wait until after pacing Hartford and running Boston because I wanted to run on fresh legs. I researched and found The Clarence Demar Marathon in Keene New Hampshire.  They had great reviews with a reputation with high numbers of Boston Qualifiers.

We signed up and waited patiently reading each email from the race hoping it would not be canceled.  As the race neared, the number of COVID cases started to rise.  They had pretty strict guidelines and safety protocols to ensure all the runners, volunteer and race staff were safe.  I received the last email that the race was still on even after a few marathons had just canceled.  It was getting real! 

I checked my email from our hotel confirming our stay at the Days Inn that was an extremely overpriced.  Back in July, I looked at my confirmation and noticed they put me in a “smoking room”. WTF!  I called the hotel to move me from the smoking room but apparently, they ignored my request.  When I got my final email, I was still in a smoking room.  I called and flipped out!  He said they were booked and it was not possible to change.  We ended up canceling the reservation and booking at The Black Mountain Inn in Brattleboro, VT.  Turned out to be a decent hotel, with refrigerator and microwave AND she let us check out at 1:30 so we could shower!

The package pickup was pretty small with no shopping or expo due to safety guidelines.  It was held outside at the Keene State College Campus.  We met one of the race officials that said the race proceeds provides sneakers to all 2nd graders in Keene.  They have a program to keep the kids moving by logging activities and NOT sitting in front of a video game.  The kids were not allowed to wear them unless they were participating in some type of outdoor activity.  I thought this was pretty cool knowing where the race proceeds went.

Kim and I drove the marathon course to see if it had any hills that we should be aware of.  The course “turn by turn” guide was right on!  We were able to see the entire course except for the bike path at mile 19.  It was nice to see where the hills were in preparation for race day.

Our Fleet Feet crew also signed up to run:  Adrian, Marisa, Kaitlyn, Courtney and Hur-shiu. Hur-shiu wasn’t on the initial list but was pretty easily swayed to run after one of our long runs…..I think it may have been when someone that said “run it Hur-shiu, all the Kool Kids are doing it”!   This seems to be a trend in our running circle – peer pressure!

We met for a pre-race dinner at Papagallos Restaurant that was very delicious.  It was the perfect Italian carb-loading dinner.  The waiter asked if we were running and then said “who’s the fastest?”  We all pointed to someone else.  He laughed and took our order.

The next morning, we met at Keene State College for the 8-mile bus ride to the Elementary school.  This seemed so off that we only drove the short distance for a 26.2-mile run.  We arrived at Gilsum Elementary school where they let all the runners indoors to keep warm.  99% of the runners wore masks.  There were plenty of port-o-lets at the start for the runners and there was a bag check so we were able to wear our warm clothes until we took the walk down to the start. One of the race officials came on the bus when we arrived and gave us some race logistics and made it clear that they start promptly at 7 am. 

We met a reporter and she took our information and took come candid photos of us talking. After she left we started to take off our throw-away clothes and waited for the start. We couldn’t hear exactly what the announcer was saying but let me tell you when his gun went off at “promptly 7 am” we all screamed and took off running.  Kim, who said he was going to keep a steady 8-minute pace took off like a rocket when the gun fired.  I tried to keep up with him but knew in my heart this was way beyond my comfort level, so I dropped back and watched him slip away mile after mile.  I kept back and hung out with Adrian for a bit and then Courtney and Marissa.  I met a woman, Bethany who was telling us about the course and as Adrian, Courtney and Marissa started to slip away I stayed with Bethany that was running the same pace as me.  Bethany was pretty awesome and loved the course as this was where she had her PR in 2018.  She was a “Boston Streaker” and had run 13 consecutive Boston Marathons.   We shared stories about our kids, running, training and basically anything to keep moving.  There is a really cool “out and back” on a dam at mile 11.  There is a short hill leading up to it and then you run across to the most beautiful views of the water.  I loved this part.  I was able to see Kim too!  I screamed “Go Team Beef” and he gave me the biggest smile.  He was unstoppable and determined to qualify.  We turned around at the far end of the dam and headed back.  There were straight a ways, but nothing that went on forever where you just prayed for a turn.  Bethany said to me “There is a hill after the golf course at mile 14, that I feel if I can make it past there, I’ll be okay.  We went up the hill and I thought, boy she must not be from Northwest CT, because that was not bad at all.  Then, I looked up and noticed, that was not the hill.  This was the hill.  I put my head down and powered up the hill thinking of all those hill repeats we did every Tuesday morning. Bethany was still next to me.  I said to her “we made it to the top” and then we turned the corner and the hill continued.  Finally, again, I thought I was at the top.  There was a woman sitting, cheering and she said “you are almost to the top”, and I thought ‘Wait, there’s more”?  Finally, I climbed the last part and I started downhill again.  At this point, the downhills were starting to hurt as bad as the uphills.  We turned and headed into town.  Then I noticed another hill and Bethany said “oh, I forgot about this one”!  I put my head down and powered up.  There were a couple long straight a ways again and we went into a small neighborhood.   There were people sitting at the corners cheering and at that point I realized I was alone.  This was a small marathon so I couldn’t just pick up a conversation with another runner to break up the monotony.  I started to channel my mental toughness bag of tricks.  I first started to sing my favorite running song in my head “Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now”

Don't stop me, don't stop me
Don't stop me, hey, hey, hey
Don't stop me, don't stop me
Ooh, ooh, ooh, I like it
Don't stop me, don't stop me
Have a good time, good time
Don't stop me, don't stop me, ah
Let loose, honey, all right

Oh, I'm burnin' through the sky, yeah
200 degrees
That's why they call me Mister Fahrenheit
I'm travelling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic man out of you

The song has so much energy and makes my cadence faster!  That lasted quite a few miles.

Did I mention we had bike support? Our friends Jonathon and Xander supported us and kept riding taking photos, making sure we were okay. That was pretty cool.

I gave myself milestones:  Get to the dam, get to mile 19 (the bike path), get to the cemetery which was mile 21.  Marisa told me that she heard “if you make it the cemetery your good.  She didn’t mention the hills in the cemetery!

I was finally in the cemetery and was getting ready to exit. The half marathoners turned right to exit, the full marathoners turned left and there it was.  The first “F-you” hill to the Chapel and then the dip with the final “F-you” hill to exit. I said to the 2 young boys volunteering “Come on, who put this here?”.  One of the young boys filled with youth said “Come on, you GOT this” and he ran me up the hill.  What a great volunteer.  I needed that push.  Someone yelled “That was your last hill” and I said “I don’t believe you, I’ve heard that before” and they laughed.  I knew where I was at this point and I knew I was close.

I started to get cramps in my legs now, it started with my calves and then went to the bottoms of my feet.  I took more salt.  I had to change my cadence and keep my head up.  My thoughts changed to the people I dedicated miles to.  I got stuck on my daughter.  “Think about 10 things that Jennie does that makes you laugh”.  I thought about the way she gets silly when she eats sweets, or how she would laugh uncontrollably when I sang “Little Bunny Foo Foo” to her.  Yes, this is where my mind went.  I started singing “Little Jennie Foo Foo”.  Not once, but about 100 times.   Then, I had 2 miles left.  There were half marathoners running with us, but they weren’t running.  They were walking accompanied by their bikes support taking over the streets 2 wide.  It took all my energy to yell, “I’m right between you” and I chugged my way through.  Finally, I had 1 mile left, so I pulled “the Ant song” out of my mental toughness bag and started singing it my head. I started seeing people with medals on and the smile on my face grew.  I was so close.  My new Garmin wasn’t set up to see the time running yet, so I tried to calculate in my head “You started at 7 AM and it’s 10:30.  You can walk at this point and get your BQ.  I kept going though, not stopping.  Finally, on the last ¼ mile people started cheering.  I was so pumped up that I had that rush of energy go through me that I haven’t felt in over a year. My body was covered in goosebumps and I put my hands above my head and started screaming!  I knew I would make it!  I was going to Qualify for my 10th Boston.  I knew Kim would be there and he’d be so proud of me!  I turned the corner and I saw Marisa taking my photo, and then there was Kim screaming “Come on Jeanne!  You did it!  He yelled to the announcer “She is Boston Qualifying with a 30-minute window”!  The announcer yelled it over the loud speaker as I finished!  I walked a bit trying to take it all in and not cry.  I find when I cry when I finish it makes me feel like I can’t breathe.  I got my medal, water bottle and mask, and I walked over and found Kim.  He looked at me and said “I am so sorry, I forgot to hug you and give you a kiss like I do before every marathon”.  So, he hugged me and kissed me and I was so happy.  I walked over to the results to see my final time since I forgot to turn my watch off when I finished.  It showed that I placed 2nd in my old lady division with a 3:38:58. TOP OF THE WORLD is all I can say.  It’s been a while since I’ve place. I trained my ass off. I dragged myself out of bed at the crack of dawn every morning and did hill repeats, speed work, long runs and it paid off. 

LOVED this marathon.  Would I do it again? Hell yeah. Hoping our Fleet Feet Kool Kids family can come back for an encore performance

This race was so organized and well run.  The course was hilly, but forgiving with the most beautiful views of mountains, rivers and cows! 

See you soon! 

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