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2009/09/26

Marathon #12: 2009 Hamptons Marathon (2009/09/26)

Below is my Hamptons Marathon race recap. It provides my thoughts/advice to future runners for the Hamptons Marathon (sorry Halfers, I have only run the full).

Course Map:
The course map is very confusing to look at. Click on the image to view it close-up.


Course Elevation Chart:
There are no major hills on the course, and thus it is a speedy race.


Official Course Video:
http://www.wellcomemat.com/ny/new_york/property-owner/amanda-moszkowski-and-diane-weinberger/members-showcase/hamptonsmarathon.html

My Pictures:
http://www.brightroom.com/view_user_event.asp?EVENTID=47607&BIB=224&S=230&PWD=
https://www.dropbox.com/gallery/10526998/1/2009.09%20Hamptons?h=318b3d

My Garmin GPS Results:
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/14546197

Full Marathon Results:
http://www.hamptonsmarathon.com/results/2009/hm09f.txt

Half Marathon Results:
http://www.hamptonsmarathon.com/results/2009/hm09h.txt

MarathonGuide: The 2009 Hamptons Marathon average time was 4:17:15 (vs. 4:24:42 for the 2009 NYC Marathon)
http://www.marathonguide.com/results/browse.cfm?MIDD=2642090926

The 2009 Hamptons Marathon was my 12th lifetime marathon and 3rd in 3 weeks as part of my $10,000 "14 Marathons in 13 Weeks" fundraiser for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/hideki-kinoshita/kino555). I had decided to run it sort of last minute, so was not able to secure affordable lodging nearby. I decided to drive out the morning of the race. I woke up at 2:30am and left New York City, arriving at Springs School in the pre-dawn darkness of 5:30am. My friend and I parked our car on the street within a few blocks of the school. If you arrive any later, it will be difficult to park nearby. There is an option to park further away in the marathon designated parking lot then catch the shuttle bus to the start. This is probably recommended unless you can arrive early to snag a spot on the street.

We waited 30 minutes for race day packet pick-up to open at 6am inside the Springs School gymnasium. The sun wasn't fully up yet and it was quite chilly with the temperatures still in the 50's. After picking up our race materials and schwag bag (the goodies had a summer theme featuring an eco bag, a Hamptons Marathon logo embedded beach towel and neon orange race shirt with the main sponsor logo on it, which was JetBlue), we still had a full 2 hours to spare before the race start, so we returned to my car to wait it out.

It was still the wee hours of the morning, so we were wearing long sleeve t-shirts, but still felt cold while walking outside and waiting in my car. As the race start time neared, we returned to the gym; however they would not let us use the restrooms inside, so we had to use the port-o-potties outside where long waiting lines had developed.

There were no corrals at the start. They used the old school "honor system" for lining up at the start. There were signs that designated marathon paces (e.g. 6 mins, 7 mins, 8 mins, etc.), but these were largely ignored, so walkers and fast runners were all mixed together. There is no need to push and shove your way up to the front because all runners use the D-Tag chip timing system where your "chip time" only begins when you cross the starting mat and finishes when you cross the finish line mat. The race featured a lot of slower runners and walkers, so you don't want to be caught all the way in the rear though.

The marathon started promptly at 8:00am after the signing of the national anthem. Though I was no where near the front during the line up, I soon crossed the starting line at 8:01am and my race began. This race features a large presence of charity runners, especially those from Team In Training (TNT). TNT had tremendous support with coaches, family, and friends blanketing the sidelines of the first few miles. Many of these TNT runners were slow and seemed like first time runners, unknowingly forming a solid wall and preventing other runners from trying to pass by them. To avoid collisions into the slower runners and walkers, I often found myself running on the grass along the sides of the road for the first mile plus.

After running for a few minutes, you'll want to throw away your extra layer since you'll start to warm up. Starting from around 3/4 miles until Mile 2, there is a small 150 foot hill. From about Mile 5, runners leave East Hampton and enter the town of Amagansett. At Mile 6, the half marathoners split off from the full marathoners. The half runners turn left while the full marathoners turn right. Up until this point the course is residential and is shaded by trees. From this point, the half runners run their final 7.1 miles along the Miles 19.1 to 26.2 of the marathon course.

As with all marathons combined with half marathons, the course becomes lonely after the half runners split off. A good majority of the runners take up the half and not the entire full. For this 2009 race, the disparity was pretty bad: 1,159 half marathon finishers (80% of all finishers) vs. a mere 295 marathon finishers (20% of all finishers), meaning the halfer runners outnumbered the full runners 4-to-1. At around Mile 8, you leave Amagansett and enter Napeague. It is now close to 9:30am and this section of the course will start to feel hot for the lack of trees to provide shade, however you pass by scenic Hamptons mansions.

There is an out-and-back at Mile 11 where you will get to pass by your faster marathon friends (they will be returning from the turnaround while you will still be headed there) and likewise you will also get to see and cheer on your slower friends (when you've turned around and are making your way to Mile 12 while they will still be making their way to the turnaround point).

You will reach the furthest point on Long Island during this race within a stone's throw of Napeague Harbor at Mile 13.1 (precisely after having run a half marathon). There is a timing mat to record your first half split. During many races, this half point is where I begin to slow down and lose my previously established pace, and this race was no different. I would run my 1st half in 2:00:24 (9:11 min/mile pace) and slow down to run my 2nd half in 2:07:32 (9:44 min/mile pace).

Mile 12.5 to 14 would consist of a loop, then the rest of the way to Mile 17 was just back tracking the roads you covered. During this portion, you encounter the same aid stations and same volunteers. I don't exactly remember what was offered at the aid stations, but all had water, and most probably had electrolyte fluids with some probably distributing GU gels.

From Mile 17 to 19, you cover entirely new ground. Mile 18.5 featured a 100 foot climb up to Mile 19.5. From Mile 19.1, you begin to cover the ground that the half marathoners traversed. Mile 20 to 21 takes you down a 130 foot drop in elevation.

There is a final loop from Mile 22 to Mile 25.5. From Mile 22 to the finish, you face a number of small rolling hills. At this point in the race, climbing them will be difficult despite the hills not being all that tall. But you are rewarded with the pleasure of speedily running down them. Strong runners will be able to avoid cramping up during this stretch. I ran my worst miles during Mile 23 & 24, and my dreams of running a sub-4 hour marathon fell apart at Mile 23.5 when I realized I was jogging too slowly to maintain the necessary 9:09 min/mile pace to break 4 hours.

The most scenic portion of the race comes up soon after Mile 24 when the Louse Point Town Beach is within view. Despite this being the Hamptons Marathon, this is the only point of the race where you actually see the water and the shoreline. There is an aid station here and this is where the PanCAN volunteers were stationed. They were quite the sight for sore legs! This aid station acts as another out-and-back turn around point. At this point, there are only 2 miles remaining.

The finish line is the same area at Spring Schools as the starting line where you departed roughly 4 or 5 hours before. On your return approach to the finish, you will recognize the shaded streets you are running on. The finish line feels a lot further than you would hope it to be. But as you hear the voices of more onlookers and see the spectators, the adrenaline will kick in. You then make a left turn towards the finish line for the final dash. I gave the race my all and almost cramped up badly. I set a PR (personal record) at 4:07:56 (9:27 min/mile pace), beating my previous PR by almost 4 minutes. The finisher's medal featured an emblem of a windmill, which was puzzling because none could be seen along the course. When later checking out the Main Street area of East Hampton, we did pass by this windmill landmark and took pictures with it.

The finisher's area is the school parking lot. On the grass areas, there are volunteer masseuses to give free massages to those in need. Bottled water, bananas cut in halves, and space blankets were given out. One drawback was that there wasn't much food. There were people selling food at tables, but who carries money with them when they run a marathon? I had to ask a friend buy me some more food and a drink.

The Hamptons Marathon was great, with nice weather (sunny, but not humid), and supported by PanCAN volunteers and other fellow charity runners too! Although I required a complimentary leg massage, I ended up feeling good enough to run the 18-mile NYC Marathon Tune-Up race in the rain the next day in Central Park, which was an NYRR race that ran three large loops around the park.

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