Thursday, March 20, 2014


Where are you located? I asked the voice on the phone. The flat vowels were reminiscent of Prairie Home Companion. 

“I’m here in Duluth,” he told me.

The voice belonged to John Magnuson whose business, MTEK, times races, “from Dallas to Duluth and Boston to L.A.” I’d called to interview him about my experience of being in first place, deposed to second place and then back in first. 

John told me he reviewed the first place holders who were within 95% of a world record and found that the runner who “beat my time” had no chip times from the start to past the half. 
He disqualified her. She’d run less than half the race. He put me back in first place. My chip times reflected my 10 minute pace for the first half, slowing to 10:25 at Mile 18 and then down to a snail’s pace when leg cramps jammed my legs down to a walk to the finish. 

I asked John, “Do you get many runners jumping in?”

Youbetcha,” he answered. “Sometimes they want the finisher’s shirt, are injured and can’t run the whole race, or run a friend in the last few miles.”

“So you were in L.A. last week-end and you know how hot it was,” I said.

“Oh yah, when it’s winter in Duluth, I pray for races in warm places, and LA was one of them.”

Saying good bye to John, I knew that the peaks and valleys of the L.A. Marathon ended up in a peak. 

I’d taken a risk, told the readers of my local newspaper that I was trying for first place the year I turned 70, and I’d made it in spite of 85 degree weather and debilitating leg cramps. 

Here’s the real truth: The Saturday Runners made the win possible.

1. Jill and Jake drove me to L.A. to get my bib. Jill planned the meeting point. Jake had to put up with anxiety producing L.A. freeway traffic. I was care-free

2. Caroline and Catherine rented a van for marathon morning with JohnO driving. JohnO dropped seven Saturday Runners off at the start. No parking challenges, I was care-free.

3. I forgot my pre-race peanut butter sandwich so Catherine shared her PBJ sandwich with me, Judy gave me a power bar. I was nourished, pre-race.

4. The week before I used Jill’s advice: NO fruit or vegetables. I’d eaten several cups of white rice the day before. No potty stops needed.

5. I’d followed (most of) Jake’s, Caroline’s advice on work-out mileage and taper—no running the week before. I was prepared but rested.

6. JUDY PACED ME THE WHOLE RACE. She and Caroline got me water, creased the cup for drinking on-the-run and kept me on the center of the street, level ground. Judy stuck with me at a regular pace which kept me from surging ahead or looking at my Garmin. I looked at Judy.

7. When leg cramps struck and I willed myself to run but a solidly cramped leg nearly toppled me into face-plant, Judy gently encouraged me. 

When I knew I couldn’t run safely and said nasty things, Judy gently encouraged me. She responded sweetly to my despondent rantings.

I came in only about 2 minutes ahead of second place runner. 

That two-minute-advantage, I owe to Saturday Runners. 

Besides, they gave me lots of material for column after column and I didn’t even tell the all the racy parts. 

Stick with me for the off-color future.  

XXOO to Saturday Runners from Carrie

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