Following a full day of work for Scott Griffith, my wife, and myself, we departed from Springfield, MO heading for Buffalo Grove, Illinois. Robin came along to spend the weekend visiting with her sister and her sister's children. The trip went smooth and all of our creature comforts kept us occupied and entertained.
Saturday 10.08.09: Travel Day #2
I got my streak run in on the roads and sidewalks of Buffalo Grove and then Scott and I made our way to Jackson, Michigan. We pulled over to get our traditional State border crossing photo.
A few minutes after getting back on the road Scott lowered his window to allow some fresh air into the car and in the process his brand new Marathon Maniac flag took flight. That was a bit of a bummer.
Before heading to pick up our race packets we checked in at Mark and Misty Ott's home. Mark offered to host us for the event. Mark and I became Facebook friends following the Mother Road 100 and then actually got to spend some time together the evening before the St. Louis Marathon.
Mark drove us to packet pickup and then gave us a tour of the course. I really wanted a tour knowing that it was going to be a small field of marathoners. I didn't want to be second guessing the route during the race. The tour revealed some rough gravel roads and some significant hills (this helped me decided to wear my gaiters).
Following the tour we returned to the Ott's abode for an awesome meal and inspiring fellowship that included the Otts, and a couple of Mark's local running friends: John Yohe and Joel Medina. It was the eve of Joel's first marathon so that brought some added excitement to the conversation. John is a runner that was able to liberate himself from foot issues via barefoot running so that too was a stimulating topic.
Scott and I headed to bed inspired and ready for the canvas of 26.2 miles that awaited us in the morn.
Sunday 10.09.2011: Race Day
I slept pretty good and woke up ready to run. The drive to the starting location was short and we arrived with plenty of time for addressing our final preparations at a relaxed pace.
Following a very short kids' fun run event, the marathoners got there own designated starting slot. At least 88 runners finished the marathon, so I am guessing we had about 95 runners at the starting line. I love this size marathon.
Soon the started gun was fired and we were off and running. I was committed to sticking with my plan (details: here). I started my Nike+ GPS app, my playlist on my Spotify app, and after a couple hundred yards I started my interval timer on my Timex. I was gliding along comfortably about 25 yards behind Mark and Joel. I took note when I glided past the 1 mile mark that I had my mile for day 60 of my United States Running Streak Association streak. I was about a 1.2 miles into the marathon before my watch beeped to indicate that it was time for my 1st walk segment. I really appreciated that walk segment because I could sense that it was going to prevent me from taking out the first few miles too fast.
Miles 2-5 were on the Falling Waters Trail. I really enjoyed this paved rail-to-trail portion of the course. With my cycles of running for 8 minutes and 20 seconds followed by walking for 40 seconds, I had one runner that I was yo-yoing with. It appeared that I would soon be beyond the reach of him passing me during my walk segments, and that became a reality during mile 6. I did meet him again at the finishing area and we had a great conversation about marathoning (this was his first).
Mile 6 had us jumping off the Falling Waters Trail and heading out onto the local farm roads. I was feeling really good and relaxed. My mantra for the next few miles was: 20 mile warmup 10k race. This mantra helped me relax and run my own run.
At the 13 mile mark I joked with the volunteers about the climb that was clearly in front of me and they replied that it was the first of many. I was always pleased when my walk segments would arrive during a climb, but I wondered if It would be beneficial to modify them when I was in such a section of rolling hills.
I got a boost passing 3 runners during miles 13-15. The 16th mile was downhill and I enjoyed letting the legs loose (being cautious not to step on one of the big walnuts covering the road).
Mile 17 ended up being a bit of a bummer. It was primarily on gravel road and it was very open to the sun. I tried to stay relaxed but I could sense the sun draining me a bit. The 18th mile was primarily on paved road, but it was hilly enough that I was not getting the recovery I desired. Coming into the 19th mile I passed a runner that I had my sights on for 5 or 6 miles. Just after passing him we arrived at a significant climb and I broke my routine for the first time. I walked the climb. When I got to the top he passed me (huffing and puffing). When I finished power walking the climb, I shifted back into my glide and floated past him.
During the 20th mile I walked a couple more climbs and I was officially out of my routine. The dream of dropping the walk segments for the last 10k was now gone and I was looking for an alternative strategy to cover the last 6 miles. I knew once I got back to the Falling Waters Trail it would be flat, thus I resolved to walk anything that appeared to be a climb until I got back to the trail. Prior to getting back to the trail during the 22nd mile I got passed by two runners. I quickly tried to guesstimate if they were possibly in my age division (they looked 39 to me).
When I hit the trail I adjusted my intervals to 4 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking. After a few of those intervals I adjusted my intervals to 2 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking.
When I had 2 miles to go I attempted to run it in. This attempt only lasted about a quarter of a mile. I went ahead and looked at my iPhone and it was clear that I was going to have a solid sub-4-hour time. No one was passing me and I was picking off a handful of guys who were really struggling. For the last 1.2 miles I just did some striders between mailboxes. It wasn't a very glorious finish, but I picked off 2 more guys during that last portion of the course.
I finished feeling tired but not sick and not totally drained. I quickly learned that I was 2nd place in my age division and I was stoked to get a little extra hardware. I saw Joel and Mark hanging out in the finishing area. They had been watching for my finish, but I managed to sneak in without them witnessing it. All 3 of us got 2nd in our age divisions. Mark paced with Joel to help him out. It sounds like Joel had a rough final 10k. He did manage to get in under my personal best by 9 seconds (nice). John had a solid barefoot half-marathon outing (report: here).
After I showered up I gave Scott a call and I believe he had about 5K to go. That gave me a little bit of time to charge my phone so I could video record his finish. Scott had another solid finish and got himself another State. This has not been an easy journey for him due to some of the challenges his body throws at him.
I was pleased with this one. The weather was not what I had hoped for (got warm), and the hilly gravel roads appeared to zap me a bit. My next event is a trail marathon so I will be using a different strategy, but I believe for my next road marathon I will use a very similar approach to what I used in Concord. I think I will go with 8 to 1 (instead of 8:20 to :40), and I will be open to improvising a bit when I encounter significant climbs.
Cheers to more (re)creational marathons and more sub-4-hour States! :)
Official results: here
Scott's event report: here
Mark's event report: here