The competitors, who numbered in the thousands, pretty much said it all about the 1998 CVS Cleveland Marathon (formerly known as the Revco Cleveland Marathon, but corporate buyouts affect more than balance sheets). At four miles, one runner wearing a Walkman groaned, "I'm suing TDK; my damn tape jammed." At thirteen miles, on a tree-lined, neighborhood road, a runner responded to the claps of two spectators with, "Thanks. Could you go wake up the people and ask them to cheer, too?" At twenty-four miles, another participant observed, "What an ugly place," as she passed through a couple of miles of industrial buildings, highway access roads, and debris. Finally, and perhaps most insightful, TCLA member Dave Afshartous, after finishing the mainly flat course, proclaimed simply, "Mother of God."
Yes, it was one of those days, culminating a fun-filled weekend in the town overlooking grim Lake Erie. The temperature hovered in the 50's to 60's, the clouds ruled the heavens, and a light fog ruled the earth. Friday night, the TCLA support team (including Craig Jaquith, an honorary member residing in nearby Columbus) arrived and deftly procured tickets to the 265th consecutive sold-out Cleveland Indians game. The tickets were for seats located four rows from the top of the Jake, but the TCLA'ers did not travel thousands of miles to watch what appeared to be white ants scurry across a green lawn. Accordingly, other arrangements were made, and the TCLA'ers enjoyed six innings from four rows directly behind the visitor's dugout.
Saturday, the TCLA support team hooked up with their charges, Dave Afshartous and Dermot Fitzpatrick (currently training in the Boston area). To inspire the boys (and keep them off their feet), they all attended the matinee showing of "He Got Game." It was then on to the invited runners meeting. Yes, thanks to many hours of working the phones and faxes, we arranged to get Dave and Dermot seeded numbers. The crowd at the meeting resembled a United Nations delegation (though these delegates looked somewhat thinner than those you see on CNN), and they eyed each other warily while listening to the race director prattle on. That night, a fine pasta dinner at Rascal's (one of Cleveland finer eating establishments if you seek beer, pizza, pinball, and tobacco in one place) prepared the boys for the long road ahead.
The logistics for Sunday seemed ideal. The TCLA crew was staying at the Comfort Inn located at the very corner of the race start. Unaccounted for, however, was the 4:00 a.m. testing of the p.a. system. Accordingly, the day started a few hours earlier than planned to the tune of Queen?s "We Will Rock You," and the booming mantra, "Test. One, two, three, four. Steve, can you hear me?"
Once underway, the race proceeded as planned for the first half. In the second half, Dave learned the hard way that the corollary to the axiom, "If you wait until you are thirsty to drink, you waited too long," is "If you wait until you are out of energy to eat, you waited to long." Passing on PowerGel packets at earlier checkpoints, Dave hit the proverbial wall at 22 miles, but finished with a p.r. of 2:44:36. Dermot, who has run a 2:35 marathon, followed shortly after in 2:49:30. Given the humidity, these efforts are more than commendable, and if Dave ever forgets about the pain and misery, he just might try this distance again.
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