Saturday, April 11, 2009

SunTrust National Marathon

In its 4th year the 2009 SunTrust National Marathon and Half Marathon would once again see a record number of participants. With its self-imposed limit of 8,000 runners by race day, a big increase from the 5,000 registrations received in 2008, race officials made a big push and extended their marketing tour all over the country. They canvassed races up and down the East Coast, from Richmond, VA to New York---and that help spread the word about the scenic race that takes runners past monuments and historical locations. It also helped recruit more international runners than in the past.

With that said, the registration caps placed on a hometown race such as the SunTrust National Marathon allows many unseasoned marathoners the opportunity to take their first stab at the distance in an officially sanctioned race. Not too big and not too small, the National Marathon provides that "just right" feeling when one attempts their first row with the almighty 26.2 mile distance. Some win, some lose, most are sore afterwards and all are certainly proud to have accomplished what 6 months ago was an impossible and daunting task. One such individual to take on that task was Kevin Pierson: Basement dweller of 1009 Independence Ave. SE Washington, board treader of the Washington Stage, a Michael Chiklis look-alike and my brother.

Long time coach potato, 1st time marathoner. What's was once a much larger version of a brother was now toeing the line at RFK stadium Saturday morning nearly 35 lbs. lighter than we he began this transformation. Question was: Would it translate into success? The PRIMARY goal---finish the marathon. The GOAL WITHIN THE GOAL---finish in under 4:00:00. (Exactly :10 under my 1st marathon nearly ten years ago.) The IMMEDIATE goal---keep one foot in front of the other.

The morning came early than expected. My thoughts of getting up and photographing the race for him passed by in my thoughts, but a recent running injury to my right shin left me doubting my ability to move well enough to photograph him. But guilt and the inability to return to a reasonable repose gave way to better judgement. Pants on, Under Armour layered up, batteries charged and bike helmet snapped, I took off down the street in hopes of catching the action before it such luck. The lead group was coming at me at full speed and my only thought was "SHIT! How am I going to find Kevin in this throng of people?" If he was smart and stuck true to his word he would find the 4:00:00 pace group leader and stay close by his side...........And so he did.

My goal today wasn't to interfere with his race. My hope was that I could be as covert as possible, but we both know that wasn't going to be possible. Over the course of 26.2 miles I was bound to be spotted, but by no means would I attempt to coach him in this race. It was his race, to be run the way he thought best and by no means was I going to even talk to him. (Though near the halfway point level heads prevailed and a brotherly word was spoken here and there.) So...with target locked in, camera switched on and table trays secured in their upright position we took off---Kevin on foot, myself by bike. This is story of Kevin Pierson, 1st time marathoner.

Post-race photo I made Kevin pose for...still in good spirits.

Monuments, monuments, monuments.
(Kevin is in the middle at the background with the white hat and has yet to notice me)

Do you think he noticed me?

Yes, and notice me he did.

A smaller marathon than DC's other marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon, but in my opinion---much more scenic.

RFK Stadium
Former home of the Redskins and Nationals.
Current home for D.C. United.

First time marathoner and already a veteran at communicating with the volunteers for water.

Coming out the the 12th St. Tunnel.

I judge thee a true marathoner.

Home of the National League Washington Nationals

This is my favorites sequence of pictures from the race. There's always a story within the story. Notice Kevin pointing for the water in frame 1, eyeing the water and stretching the hand out for the water in frame 2. Then notice the intruding hand creeping into the picture in frame 2. Enter frame 3 and the thievery that then ensues. Now notice Kevin's face.

"21 down, 5.2 to go. What's my pacing? Can I make 4:00:00?"

The hills of Minnesota Ave.

Yes, that close. It was interesting to see Kevin to go from jubilation, to exhausted, to smelling the barn and then back to jubilation. A roller coaster of emotions packed in to one tiny race.

RFK and the finish line up ahead.

Officially a net time of 4:02:56, but with the slow start behind the line, the chip time was 3:58:01.

As you would expect, Kevin quickly made friends with the runners around him. Kevin and David Peikin, pictured here, ran together for nearly the 1st 20 miles. Misery loves company.

Smiles return shortly after finishing, perhaps even slightly before the line. Perhaps 3 feet before the line when you're sure to finish even if you pass out---that's if you fall forward. :-)

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  1. The photos are great bud! Congrats!! :o)

  2. Great pics, Kip! Congratulations, Kevin!!!