Temp @ 8am: 68, feels like 68, 84% humidity, 9mph wind
Temp @ 10am: 69, 6mph wind
Temp @ 12am: 66, 17mph wind
These are the actual conditions we had to deal with.
Race morning Jennifer and I got up around 6:30. I checked the weather, and to our disappointment, it was 60 degrees. Ah well, time to don the warm weather gear. We got dressed and ate a little breakfast. For me that was an English muffin with peanut butter and honey and a cup of coffee. The best part about our hotel was that it was 2 blocks from the start line, so we only had to walk out the front door to get to the race. It pays to register and book a hotel early!
|Ready to hit the road!|
My pacer, Chris, was a great guy. Very friendly, had done 100+ marathons and guaranteed us a 3:34:30 finish. He also wore a giant orange foam cowboy hat. Before we set off Chris let everyone around him know his plan. Run 8:12 miles at an even pace, except for the first mile or two might be a little slow. He also gave us essential advice about our GPS watches. Pay attention! He said to turn off the lap alerts on our watches and to use the mile markers on the course. If we used the GPS distance/pace we would be OFF AT THE END BY AT LEAST A QUARTER MILE. So I stopped down and asked "What the hell are you talking about?" He explained that GPS calculations are always off, that whenever you turn, your distance calculation becomes less and less accurate. And when you do a race, you don't run the exact tangents of the course. When you have a goal time, like 3:35, you have to run 3:35 on the course and get to the finish line by that time, despite the fact that your Garmin will say you hit 26.2 a quarter mile before the finish. Chris was totally right too. As we made our way through the course it would seem like we were going too fast, but we would hit the mile marker flags right at 8:10-8:12. At the finish my watch had the total distance of 26.49. SO - if you are ever going for a specific goal time, be aware of this!
Anyway, we started the race at 8:05am. The beginning 1-2 miles was crowded as expected. I stayed around the pacer but tried not to be right on top of him. It is hard enough to maneuver around people during a race, even harder when you are trying to follow someone.
I wore my hydration pack so I had plenty of water. I also aimed to eat about every 5 miles. I had Gu, Shot Blocks, mini Luna bars, Zbar, hard candy and planned to pick up Gatorade and Cheez-Its at mile 17 from Peggy. I did not eat all of it though.
The half marathoners split before mile 8. After that it was much easier to navigate the course.
Around this point Chris asked me how I was doing. I thought about it and said "This is hard. I'm definitely racing." Miles 5-10 were a slight uphill and I could feel it was a lot of work to maintain the pace. I asked when the next hill was, (mile 20) but Chris just said not to worry about it. Easy for him to say.
Mile 13: 8:00
White Rock Lake. This is a nice area of the course, a wide paved path around the north side of the lake. Knowing how running around Lake Pflugerville feels I was dreading the wind. It was definitely more noticeable here. I'm still behind the pacer but now is the time I start to feel like I'm not going to be able to maintain this pace for another 13 miles. We are consistently hitting the course mile markers right on time (by the pace band) so I know we are running the right speed but it feels hard.
Mile 14: 8:03
Mile 15: 8:05
This is getting hard. I debate quitting, but I really want my finishers shirt and medal. And I dread having to tell my friends and co-workers that I DNF'd. I had spent an hour at lunch on Thursday telling my VP about the race and my goal to Boston Qualify. I WILL FINISH.
Mile 16: 8:03
Mile 17: 7:59
Mile 17 I'm focused. "Just keep running, just keep running." I know Peggy & Billy (Jennifer's brother) will be somewhere between mile 17 and 20. Through the noise of running, breathing I hear "AMANDA!" The pacer says "AMANDA!" and I see Peggy RUNNING along side the course trying to catch me! I navigate my way across the runners, Frogger style, and get my drink and snack. I am really quite impressed that she chased after me!
Mile 18: 8:01
Mile 18. Oh Mile 18. I'm running along, knowing full well that I cannot keep up this pace. We are almost off the lake, but there is nothing I can tell myself to make my legs keep running. My stomach feels yucky, my water is gone. I ate some of the Cheez-Its but the salt isn't helping. And then I realize I have to pee. No wait, I'm peeing. Yep, that's right folks, I'm just peeing. That was when I decided to walk. I admit, having twins does not help keep the bladder muscles strong, nor does the constant impact of running. But when my body starts giving up on the basic process of just not peeing, I know I'm going to a bad place. I pulled off to the side of the road and started walking. I watched Chris and his big, stupid, orange hat move off in the distance. A minute later I came up on the porta-potties and stopped to empty. I figured that was a good idea. After I came out of the bathroom I walked a little more, ate and drank some, then started the marathon shuffle.
Mile 19: 8:43
I have a delusion that I might be able to get my pace back up and maybe just stay back. I know 3:35 is gone, but I keep running.
Mile 20: 9:15
Mile 21: 9:46
Now the wheels are completely off. I'm walking, running, walking, running.
Mile 22: 10:17
Mile 23: 10:18
Mile 24: 9:02
I see quite a few runners that I started with. We take turns running past each other, walking, and running past again. One guy and I were leap frogging each other for a couple miles. At one point he stopped and put his hands on his knees. I jogged past and said "No man, don't do it, keep walking!" and he numbly said "ok". At the finish he thanked me for keeping him going and I said "I really wanted to stop with you!" The 3:45 pace group flys past me, I don't even care.
Mile 25: 10:07
Mile 26: 10:26
Mile 26.2: 10:19
Mile 26.5: 9:40
As I ran through the finish I felt like I had 0 left. I did not stop my watch right away, so my finish line photo was pretty good. Chip time: 3:48:54. I was so happy to finish, this was the hardest marathon I've done and maybe the hardest race to finish. I was 14 minutes off my goal time, but I was glad to be under 3:50, a great time. And I am glad that I wasn't even close to 3:35.
I got my medal and limped through the chute. As I made my way through the runners area, under a bridge, into the convention center, up an escalator, over to the the t-shirt pickup spot I texted John, Jenna and posted to Facebook. I did NOT meet my goal. I got some food, a beer and walked around a bit, waiting for Jennifer.
She turned up a little while later, but she was wearing a sweatshirt and didn't have her hydration pack. She said "Well? Did you do it?" "Nope, I hit the wall, not even close. And you?" Turns out, she had an even worse day than me! At mile 13 Jennifer started run/walking - which SHE never does. She decided if her mom was at mile 17 she would stop, if they were at mile 20 she would finish it. Since Peggy was at mile 17, Jennifer stopped. A DNF is epic. Epic in it's own way. That is how rough the course was. We trained for months for this race, in hot weather most of the time, did 2 18 mile runs and a 20 mile run that was pretty good.
So, we went back to the hotel, showered and dressed. I was not feeling well, it definitely felt like I ran a marathon. We went to lunch, but my stomach was kind of blah still. On the drive back to Dallas Jennifer and Peggy kept the conversation lively, so I didn't have any time to feel sorry for myself.
And I don't feel sorry. I didn't meet my goal but I feel like it is obtainable... some day. I don't really know what happened or if there is anything I could have done differently. Maybe I went too fast and should have run my own pace. Maybe the week off prior to Thanksgiving and getting sick the week before killed my momentum. Maybe I really can't do 8:10 miles for 26.2 miles.
I took a full week off from running, slept in little, foam rolled. I spent a fair amount of time perusing Marathon.com and looking at the schedule of marathons within driving distance. I'm still registered for Houston, but I can't recover enough to run the full marathon by 1/13. Austin is 2/24 but it's a killer hard course. There are other marathons in Texas in March and Oklahoma City in April, but really all have the same chance of being 60 degrees or warmer. And I kind of don't feel like running another marathon right now. I need to rest and recover. 2 weeks later my hamstrings are uber tight and my shoes bug my feet. Meh.
I thought the Dallas Marathon was well run, organized, great support on the course and crowds. The swag was good, a long sleeve t-shirt and a long sleeve technical shirt for finishing. They also had hats for the first 100 male/female finishers (not me) and beer coozies. The finish line food was plentiful and the medal was pretty cool (I left it at work but I will post a picture). The course itself was pretty, plenty of things to look at around the city of Dallas. The host hotel, the Hyatt, was great and a good location to the start and finish of the race. Would I run this race again? Yes, maybe.