It’s a new year. I haven’t been writing much due to some outside stress in my life. As I work to resolve it, I owe a belated race report. In the meantime, I have been following all of my favorite running blogs. I’ll be writing way more often. 2011 was a terrific running year for me. I’ll recap my year and goals for 2012 in my next post.
Dallas White Rock RR
After a disappointing October marathon in Chicago, I needed my revenge. Literally, fifteen minutes after Chicago ended a friend told me, “you may not want to hear this right now but you should run again real soon.” He was right. Intestinal issues, warm weather and back spasms at the halfway point of Chicago trashed my run.
I decided on Dallas because I would have time to recover and get right back into top fitness without delaying it to spring. It was also inexpensive because we used points to fly and stayed at a friend’s house. Almost like a hometown race except for the time travelling. Pfitz’s 8 week between marathons was used. A piriformis issue flared after a hard 10k two weeks before race day. But I was able to rest and stretch it enough to get back to healthy running after 8 days off. My wife and I also have great friends that we had been promising to visit for two years.
My race really started with a change in my fueling. I switched my energy replacement from Gu to ClifShots. They aren’t as thick to me and I also wanted to avoid a repeat of Chicago. I also switched my pre-race carbo load to rice from pasta. Our friends are Cuban and we ate a wonderful pre-race meal of arroz con pollo.
Race morning I got up at 4AM to the sounds of thunder and lightning. I drove the 20 miles to Fair Park and was one of the first cars into the lot. It was 5:30 and I still had two hours before the start. I sat in the car a while and finished up my bagel/peanut butter/banana breakfast. There were several indoor building open to allow for an indoor bathroom stop. It also kept us out of the rain. I got the start line about 20 mins ahead of time. The flyover had been cancelled due to the continuing rain and low cloud cover. I was in third corral from the front based on a 3:30 guesstimation of my finish time.
Some facts about the Dallas course: Start elevation 472ft, Max Elevation 627ft, Total Gain 430ft. Hill ascents run from Mile 6 thru 9 and 20.5 thru about 22.8. From 22.8 it is all slightly downhill to the finish.
Temps were in the low 40’s and a mild N wind. We were off at 8AM under a light rain. The first mile always makes me anxious as far as pace goes. Usually a forward corral means you are running with others your speed. Ah, the joys of running without a Garmin! Suddenly I look at my watch and it reads 8:42. Missed the first mile marker. Have to judge pace on Mile 2. My watch now reads 18:xx and no mile marker. This isn’t good. I start to look for Garmin wearers and ask a guy how far we’ve run. He said about 2.3. I continue to run on feel. I start to panic when listening to another runners say to their running partner, “right on our 9min pace.” Uh, oh. More time passes as I ask another Garmin wearer. The girl is unresponsive and I realize her headphones make me inaudible. We’re running through downtown Dallas and hit an area with cobblestones and trolley rails. I ask another guy and he tells me 4.6m in and he hasn’t seen any mile markers either. I quickly do some math in my head and look at my 3:25 pace band. Very slightly behind pace but not horrible. I avoided a too fast start at least. It turns out my first 5K split was 24:25 (7:51). I saw the Mile 6 marker and hit my watch lap button for the first time. It wasn’t until this time that I finally relaxed.
10K split 48:27 (7:47 pace) Race Rank #479
We’re now running through an area of residential mansions. The mile marker dilemma continued throughout the race and I could not monitor my mile to mile pace. Instead I was forced to run on feel. A benefit of not owning a Garmin is that I run on feel a lot. It continued to rain for the entire race. Mile markers would show up intermittently or be turned around due to the wind. When one did present itself I would check the pace and see I was about 2 mins slow of a 3:25 pace.
About Mile 9 nature began to call but I fought it off. Mile 10 nature said it was time to sit down in a porta a potty and as luck would have it one appeared. I’ve never had to do this in a marathon before so I knew it would cost me some time. But running through it was never gonna happen. Mile 11 we entered the loop around White Rock Lake. Through 13.1m at 1:45:36 (8:03 pace) Race Rank#588. I estimated it might have taken up to two minutes at my pit stop. The first hill section might have accounted for some lost time as well. It seemed like every intersection had a giant puddle we had to leap or run through. I chose to leap and mentioned to someone next to me that I didn’t think we had signed up for a steeplechase.
By Mile 14 the exposed trail (read wind and rain)around the lake was getting to me a little and I had picked up my pace a little so I was brething heavier. Suddenly my wife son and friends appeared. It gave me a boost as the loop continues around the lake until Mile 21. I did enjoy the views and would be a great place to do long runs if it weren’t in Texas’ summer heat!
|Running downhill at about Mile 23 or 24
Mile 20 split is 2:39:41 (7:59 pace). I’ve passed moved up 110 places since the half. The Clif Shot station has Hooter girls…completely covered up from the rain/cold. I’ve been stalking a bald guy in a neon green shirt for half the race now and I pass him here. Legs begin to fatigue, but that is my only problem. No pain or other issues. I fight off the urge to walk through any stops the rest of the way. The Dolly Parton hills appear but there are not overwhelming. Just that they appear at Mile 21 of the course. The last four miles are slightly and sweetly downhill. I just keep the legs moving as fast as they will let me. I pass a ton of people (which inlcudes half marathoners) and cross the finish line at 3:30:25. I’ve passed an additional 89 marathoners in the final 10k and was only passed by 3.
I’m fully satisfied with my effort. A tougher course than Chicago and remove that porta stop and who knows what might have been. I loved the course, the State fair start/finish and even the weather. Dallas also has one of the the coolest finishers stats sheet I’ve ever seen. BQ can’t be far off now. A news video of the day can be seen here.