Today I ran the White Rock Marathon for the third consecutive year. It was an absolutely perfect day. Sunny, cool, but not too freezing, with very little wind. The race started at Fair Park this year instead of the American Airlines Center, which gave us quite a bit more room to move around. For an urban marathon, White Rock does a great job, with terrific support and amenities.
As I said in my last post, I had several goals for White Rock today. The biggest, same as last year, was to qualify for Boston with a 3:20:59 finish. I figured this would be a stretch, and it was. I started with the 3:20 pace group, and at first thought I would struggle to keep up. But after a mile or two, I got in the rhythm and really did not feel like I was pushing it too much. In fact, when we saw the 8 mile marker, I was a bit surprised; I couldn't believe we had already run that far. I stayed on pace for the whole first half, and felt good about finishing with the pace group. But I stopped at about the 1/2 way mark to use the porta-potty, and never did catch back up to them.
Even though I was behind the balloons of the pace leader, I had a wrist band that told me what my time should be at each mile marker to finish in 3:20, and for the first couple of miles after my break, I was still on track. But gradually, each split became longer: 30 seconds behind, 2 minutes behind, 4 minutes behind. After mile 16, each lap became progressively slower. I didn't really hit "the wall," I just got slower and slower. Those last 10 miles were so discouraging, as virtually every runner near me was passing me up. So my second goal, to beat last year's time of 3:35:32, gradually slipped away, and I began to focus on beating my time at WR I in 2008, 4:03:15. I ended up finishing under 4 hours, at 3:57:29.
My brother Mark ran, too, and finished about 5 minutes faster than I did. I think a better strategy for me would be to accept the reality that I don't have a 3:20 marathon in me, and Mark and I could have run together. If we had started together with a 3:40 or 3:50 goal, perhaps we could have helped each other run even faster.
I had a lot more fun the first half than the second, finishing with my best-ever 1/2 marathon time, but that took so much out of me that most of the second half was nothing but toil, finishing with my worst-ever 1/2 marathon time. The two halves together made a not terrible finishing time, but I know had I run smarter I could have achieved a better finish. I guess I'll start making plans for the next BQ attempt!