a couple of months back i decided it would be fun to revisit the "frisco fifty". last year was the inaugural year for this event and it was my first event beyond a half-marathon [last year's event report: here]. last year i participated in the 50k and really crashed over the last few miles. when i registered for the 50k this year i was dreaming of possibly placing in the top 3, maybe even going after the overall win.
about one week before this event i started to consider the possibility of dropping down to participate in the marathon instead of the 50k. my desire to qualify for and participate in the 2011 boston marathon has been growing increasingly over the last few weeks. i was intending to give boston qualifying a go at the "fargo marathon" on may 22nd. with my momentum from the "chicago lakefront 50k" and a very favorable forecast for the day of the frisco, i decided officially on wednesday that i would give my self two boston qualifying chances this spring. later that day, i went out for a 6 mile shake-out-run and during the 5th mile i managed to pull a hamstring muscle on my right leg. i decided i would totally rest it until race day and hoped it would not be an issue on race day.
friday afternoon scott and i went to willard middle school to pick up our race packets. i was pleased to notice an event improvement this year: the race director, richard johnson, had shirts on hand for the preregistered runners. i was a little disappointed when i asked richard about having my family crew for me during the event and if that would be considered grounds for disqualification. his response: "i don't know the rules on that." this inspired me to do some research on friday night and learn the difference between a race that is usatf sanctioned and a race that is not sanctioned but on a usatf certified course. to be a boston qualifier the race must be on a usatf certified course, but it does not need to be a sanctioned event wherein all the usatf rules apply [the "frisco" fits into the category of certified but not sanctioned].
on race morning scott picked me up and we made it to willard middle school with plenty of time to spare. i enjoyed visiting with some local runners before scott and i boarded the marathon shuttle bus. in route to the marathon starting area, scott and i enjoyed visiting with the marathoners near us on the bus.
after the bus dropped us off at the marathon start, i did some warm up running. it was my first time testing out the hamstring. i was disappointed to experience a knot feeling in my right hamstring muscle. i spent some time trying to get use to the sensation and i hoped that it would not get progressively worse as the 26.2 mile adventure unfolded.
the start was two cones 385 yards down a road from the "frisco highline trail". when we started i i found myself in second place behind a guy that was really taking it out. i didn't know anything about this guy, but he appeared to be legit. it would have been pretty glorious to be the overall winner, but runner-up sounded pretty glorious too.
as much as i prefer not to, i was pacing off my garmin watch for this event. my preference is to pace off of mile markers, but this event does not feature mile markers. my first half-mile was a bit under 7 minute pace, but once i let the leader go and settled into my own pace, i was hitting a 7:20 per-mile pace.
about a mile before the walnut grove trailhead i saw my family (robin, caleb, jacob, and meg) and scott's crew (susan and brittany) for the first time. their encouragement and presence was very uplifting. i think it was around this point that the knot in my hamstring started to disappear.
i saw everyone again at the walnut grove trailhead. i was really feeling great. i knew that the next section of the trail was primarily a gentle downhill. i wanted to stay on pace, but not let the pace get too hot in this section.
a few miles into the race i was really enjoying it. i liked the point-to-point course. it was cool to think of this event as a race to bolivar.
skinny bear with a honey stinger (pictured above).
after 13 miles of averaging 7:22 per mile i slid off pace according to my garmin. i wanted to stay sub 7:30 but i was consistently hitting 7:32s and 7:33s. i know that sometimes my garmin has difficulty tracking me accurately in some locations and i was hoping such was the case. maybe i was still on pace. maybe boston qualifying was still possible.
when i saw my crew with about six miles to go i had hoped that i was going to feel real strong at that point and be able to pick up the pace. reality was that i was starting to struggle. i was sliding to an 8:00 minute per-mile-pace. with about 5 miles to go i got passed for the first time (not counting a couple relay runners). so i was in 3rd place overall and working very hard to do damage control.
i knew the route and part of me was just wanting to make it to the final section of trail that indicates about 1 mile to go. just as i turned on to that final section another runner came up and was on pace to pass me. i inquired if she was running the marathon (i was thinking she was a relay runner). she informed me that she was running the marathon. this reality functioned as a spark of motivation. i wanted a top-3 finish. i knew boston qualifying had slid away for the day and i knew running a personal record was also very close to sliding away.
with the fresh spark i shifted gears and ran the next half-mile at a 6:49 pace. once i establish a comfortable lead i eased off a little bit and then charged up the hill into the finish.
finishing time: 3:19.18 (7:36 average). results: here.
i was pleased with taking 1 minute and 49 seconds off my marathon p.r. i was pleased with a top 3 finish. and i was pleased with getting 2nd in my age division. i was a little disappointed with not qualifying for boston [to qualify for the 2011 boston marathon i need to run a 3:15.59 or faster]. i think the reality of the trail and the reality of some climbing between miles 12 and 20 threw me off pace and wore me out. this frisco marathon is not an ez event. i think the fact that i took 1 minute and 49 seconds off my marathon p.r. on a challenging course equals a solid performance. i had another very enjoyable marathoning experience. i love the running community and it was fun to spend some hours with other runners throughout the day.
pictured above: danny douglas finishing the marathon. he is a dailymile and facebook friend.
pictured above is my great friend scott griffith (a.k.a. "the flying duck") finishing his 5th marathon and 5th state. when he finishes fargo in may he will be qualified to be a "marathon maniac" via doing three marathons in a 90 day time frame.
back to the regular scheduled enjoyable mile consumption. gunning for the bq in fargo on may 22nd and gunning for my first 100 mile finish in wisconsin on june 5th. life is good! running is my home, and there is no place like home!