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The Palm Beaches Marathon: A Confession From a Cheater

On Sunday, I decided to do a tune-up run for January's ING Miami Marathon. Problem is, I'm not in good enough shape to run 26.2 miles, so I signed up for the Palm Beaches Half Marathon, figuring to run 13.1 miles -- slowly, ten minutes per mile or so.

After paying the steep half-marathon entry fee, I joined the 4,000 or so people at 6:15 a.m. running south from West Palm Beach. I felt so good at the point where marathoners kept going and half marathoners turned north that I continued with the big boys.

Once I got to between 11 and 12 miles, I decided to turn around. My longest run had been only 13 miles before Sunday, so I figured 18 was just fine for my tired body.

A proctor tried to tell me I was taking the wrong turn, but I yelled "training run" and

kept going. A couple of minutes later, I was heading north when people started cheering loudly. They offered me high-fives and yelled encouragement. A sweet lady on a bike even paced me.


Then someone yelled: "You're in second place."

I felt terrible. I told everyone who cheered that I had cut over.

"Can't you see how slowly I'm running?" I shouted to one lady.

"They all look the same when you are standing still," came the response.

A few minutes later, I watched as elite runners zoomed by. As soon as the full marathoners' path joined back up with the half, I moved into the half-marathon lane and finished there. My final time: 18 miles in three hours. Just fine for me.

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Chuck Strouse is the former editor in chief of Miami New Times. He has shared two Pulitzer Prizes and won dozens of other awards. He is an honors graduate of Brown University and has worked at newspapers including the Miami Herald and Los Angeles Times.
Contact: Chuck Strouse

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