Blue Angel Marathon


By Jack McDermott

In 490 B.C., Pheidippedes ran from the Plains of Marathon to Athens to report that the brave Athenians had defeated the Persian hordes of Darius the Great. Upon arrival he announced, “Rejoice! We Conquer!” an abruptly died. It has become apparent to me that in 2,500 years of recorded history we have learned absolutely nothing from his experience.

And so, with reckless enthusiasm, I embarked upon my second marathon – the Blue Angel Marathon in Pensacola on February 26th. I was over-confident and under-trained. Hence, during the last 8 miles of the Blue Angel Marathon I experienced the most pain I have ever felt in my life. After finishing, I felt like I had just given birth – to Frank Shorter.

I was somewhat disappointed that I did not approach my performance in Jacksonville only two months earlier. However, as someone in my running group once said, “after every marathon you learn something.” So I have decided to document what I have learned, with the hope that others can learn something from my folly:

1. If you are shaving your legs the night before the race in your motel room to reduce “wind resistance,” be sure to bring Band-Aids. (If you are a guy and shaving your legs for the first time, be sure to ask your female friends for some leg shaving tips. I have to believe that I was doing something wrong.)

2. If you ditch your shirt at the 11-mile mark because it is too hot, be sure to bring a shirt you never want to see again, not a $12 Mickey Mouse T-shirt you just bought in Orlando.

3. If you are driving 3 hours to Pensacola with a friend, and are hoping to share the driving time to give yourself some rest, be sure to ask her, “You do know how to drive a stick-shift, right?” – BEFORE you leave for Pensacola.

4. If you are late for a packet pickup, do not speed 50 miles an hour in a 35-mph zone on a naval base. (If so, be sure to have neither your registration nor proof of insurance — traffic cops just live for that.)

5. If you violate #4 above, just act really lost and pathetic and he won’t give you a ticket (Come run with the Sunday Streakers to find out about Jack’s ‘brush with the law’).

6. If you offer to meet Paul Hiers to give him a ride at 5:45 the morning of the marathon, be sure to remind him that Pensacola is in the Central time zone; otherwise he will call your room at 4:45 am because he forgot to re-set his watch and wake you up saying, “Where are you? I’m in the lobby! We have to leave! We’re going to be late!”

7. The morning of the race do not check out of your hotel room and accidentally leave your luggage because if you shower after the race at the Naval Base, you will have to switch back into your sweaty clothes, which defeats the purpose. You will also have to go back to your hotel.

8. If you pass military volunteers at the 4-mile mark do not sing, “In the Navy” by the Village People. They don’t seem to appreciate that. (However, some people that I was running with found it rather amusing).

9. If you need to stop and pee at the 14-mile mark, do not urinate on a fence next to an angry neighbor dog who may startle you and force you to pee on your shoe.

10. Do not eat your last pre-race meal at “The Waffle House” next to your hotel in order to save time. (I had two grilled-cheese sandwiches – the waitress was nice).

11. No matter what pace you set for the first half of the marathon you will always end up cursing yourself at the 20-mile mark for going out “too fast.”

12. If you have only been running 20-30 miles a week, don’t expect a PR. As a matter of fact, don’t expect to be able to walk the next day. And if you work for a State Agency in town – don’t expect that this will qualify you for a handicapped parking space. I tried.

13. If you have blonde hair, blue eyes, and burn easily; and the weather forecast if for 75 degrees and sunny THINK ABOUT SUNSCREEN! (I was so sunburned that I was running a fever the night after the race.)

14. If you are running the marathon because you offered to help a friend qualify for Boston, but she later decides not to run, and you run anyway (for anonymity we will call her “Hippie Chick” – you know who you are) — you have permission to hunt her down and kill her as soon as you get your strength back.

15. And finally, remember the old adage: “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s whether they have beer at the finish line.” (They did! I had two cans of Bud Light).

I hope this advice helps others in their marathon pursuits.