In my quest to run a marathon or longer in all 50 states, I found the Lower Potomac River Marathon in Piney Point, MD fit into my schedule.
We flew into Baltimore, MD, and drove down to Piney Point for packet pickup, doing a little sight seeing along the way, visiting Maryland's capitol, Annapolis.
We arrived at the Paul Hall Center
for packet pick up and were greeted by the friendly race director, Liza Recto. We chatted about the marathon, the top runners participating, past winners, etc.
Race perks included a simple gray DriBlend short sleeve t-shirt. Since the registration fee was quite modest, this was perfectly fine with me, and most important, the Small is small enough for me to wear.
The pre-race dinner was at Nicolletti's Restaurant in Lexington Park, about 2 miles from our hotel. We got in line, and started chatting with the woman in line ahead of us, Beth. We sat with Beth, and 2 other couples. When we signed up for the marathon, we had to indicate our anticipated finish time. I put down 3:25, and Beth had declared 3:20. She was told that her time was the fastest indicated time in the women's field. I don't know if there were others between hers and mine.
The scenic course starts and ends at the Paul Hall Center, a very nice facility with a lobby for us all to congregate in before the start.
The course is pancake flat for the first 15 miles, followed by gentle hills until about mile 22, then pancake flat to the finish. Those that have run it before, warn that the gentle hills will feel like mountains after running so many flat miles.
The race started at 7:15 am with chilly conditions, upper 30s and a brisk wind. I looked for Beth at the start, but didn't see her. We head out south for our first out-and-back stretch.
Within the first mile, I found myself behind 3 speedy women running a sub 7:10 pace, and was also passed by Beth. I enjoyed the scenery, and focused on a comfortably hard effort.
Around mile 4, I caught up to Beth. We ran together, getting separated a bit here and there, trading off between fourth and fifth place.
After a few miles we passed woman number 3, and could see women 1 and 2 ahead of us.
Miles 8 through 11 were definitely the most scenic, with views of the Lower Potomac River and beaches, and summer homes.
Around mile 10, we took the lead, passing the other 2 women. I was feeling good, so I picked up the pace a bit, and took the lead. I ran the next 4 miles just under a 7:10 pace which gave me about a 1 minute lead.
At about mile 12, we head north for our longest out-and-back stretch. From here on out, I ran alone on the country road's wide shoulder.
Our final turn around was just before mile 19. The locals were right, those hills felt much bigger than they looked. We turned around, and were headed smack into that brisk wind. Between the hills and the wind, I slowed down to a pace in the upper 7:30s, but still felt decent. I saw that my lead was about a minute or 2 ahead of Beth, and the number 3 women was very close behind her.
Still feeling good, but ready to be done, mile 25 seemed to tak
e forever. I kept looking for the final turn. It's got to be here soon, right? OK, there's the 26 mile marker, ok, there's the final turn.
I rounded the corner, and as I made my final approach, I saw a finish tape. A FINISH TAPE! How cool is THAT! I've never gotten to run through a finish tape before! What a NICE touch!
Showers were available for us smelly runners, and lunch was served for all, along with the awards ceremony, in the Paul Hall Center.
To pass time for a slight delay in the awards, the race director played a game of
trivia. She had a handful of questions about the marathon and course, and gave out nominal prizes for correct answers. I won a safety blinky light thing for successfully guessing the name of one of 3 post offices that we passed on the course. Someone else won a box of Mike n Ikes. Boxes of Boston Baked Beans candy were handed out to those who qualified for Boston for the first time.
The winner awards were replicas of the Piney Point Light house, which we saw on the course at about mile 11.
This low-key small town marathon may be one of my favorites. This is truly a race for runners. Very well organized, nice scenery, a race director who really cares about the runners, and the small town charm make this a real winner with me.
For those keeping score, Maryland (not actually named after me) is state number 21. This was marathon number 44. For those that count marathons or longer, it was number 60.