garden spot village marathon
The course went through Amish country, but it started (and ended) in a retirement community in New Holland, PA, with people happy to volunteer and cars parked all over the place. The April morning was chilly, a band was playing, and that particular frisson of excitement at the start of every marathon race seemed, at least for a moment, stronger than usual.
Training for this race hadn't come easy but I was happy to start running. It took a long, long time to warm up. The course wasn't closed, and we had been told to be careful about horse-drawn buggies on the road to a horse auction in the early morning. Even so, traffic was on the pleasant side. Yet indeed we had to be careful - the Amish, when they come in their agile buggies, don't slow down when they see you, don't budge from a rigid straight line, so if the road is narrow and you want to stay in one piece you better jump to the side. They were impatient for business, of course, but mostly I think it happened because we were on their territory. I thought it was kind of funny. Some runners got annoyed - we are used, after all, to closed avenues and cheering crowds in major cities.
The Amish country was hilly, vast, quiet, glittering in the sun, and very clean. Everything in Amish country is clean.
We had Amish runners too, most of them dressed in their customary black pants and white shirts, and wearing tennis shoes - reminding us that our fixation on dry-fit and Asics is optional.
I have only vague recollections of the 15-20 miles between the beginning and the end - I lost a glove somewhere, I took a wrong turn once, I was so happy to see my boyfriend at one of the aid stations I took a few dance steps, and once I raised my head just in time to see the house number on a country road, which happened to be my bib number and gave me a little jolt of satisfaction, the incongruous feeling of being in the right place at the right time.
On the way back we passed the horse stables again - as far as I could figure out, the auction was still taking place. This surprised me. I didn't really time myself, but I knew I was slow. Tired, too.
Nevertheless, in the last 2-3 miles of the race I went into a mode that can be best described as cruise control - I just fell into this sustained, steady pace, and didn't feel like changing it, so I didn't. I didn't slow down at all, and I didn't sprint at the finish either, I was coming in strong enough anyhow.
That was neat.