Monday, December 5, 2011

White Rock IV

Today I ran my fourth consecutive White Rock Marathon, and it was by far my best and most enjoyable.  All week I had been checking the weather forecast for the race: low- to mid-40s and wet.  The forecasts were spot-on.  The temps hovered around 42-44, I think, and the rain came down continuously.  Thankfully, the rain wasn't very heavy; it ranged from a misty drizzle to light showers.  The result was a wet course, lots of splashing through puddles (VFFs are perfect in these conditions), and thoroughly drenched runners.  (Oh, and by the way, the rain kept some of the bands, who usually play along the course, away.  I didn't miss them at all!)
Slick and splashy was the order of the day.
One of the things I hate about these big urban marathons are the crowds, so I decided to avoid the pre-start mess as much as possible.  I intentionally went late, so I had absolutely no traffic.  I parked right at 8, and heard the National Anthem and fireworks from afar.  I got to the first bank of port-a-potties, and to my surprise there was a bit of a line, but I only had to wait a couple of minutes.  (Note to other runners: when you're doing your business in there, lock the door!  When it's not locked, some oaf like me will open it, embarrassing both of us!)

I jogged over to the starting corrals, and fell in with the crowd, walking slowly with the herd a few hundred yards to the starting line.  I ended up crossing the starting line at 8:23.  Pleased with myself for a smooth arrival and start, I began running by all the slower runners.  Since I was late I started several corrals back from the one I was assigned based on my projected finish time.  So the first mile or two I spent a lot of time weaving in and out of the slower runners.  Eventually the crowd thinned out, especially after the half marathoners split off from the full marathon course.

This was a unique element of today's race for me.  Usually, especially late in a race, I'm the one getting passed.  But today, from the start, all the way to the last mile, I passed virtually everyone I encountered on the course.  Unless I'm mistaken, the only runners to pass me were relay racers on fresh legs.  I kept thinking that it couldn't last, that I wouldn't be able to keep up my anticipated pace, but as I passed each mile marker, and remembered those places where, in prior races, my pace slowed for good, I kept pushing, determined to keep a steady pace.  Somehow, I did.  In fact, I ran reverse splits.  My slowest mile was the first, crowded one.  My fastest mile was mile 24, near the end!

At the race expo Saturday morning, I picked up a pacing arm band, which tells you what your time should be at a particular mile marker in order to have a particular finish time.  I almost picked up a 3:45 band, not trusting my training, but decided that I would give 3:35 a shot and try to PR.  I'm sure glad I did!
The volunteers had a tough, cold day, but were cheerful and helpful without fail!
I was more inwardly-focused during this race than I usually am; I didn't really talk to anyone, except to say hello to NTTR member Eunsup Kim, who I see at every race I run in.  But, as usual, I saw a couple of other runners who nearly stopped me in my tracks and made me thankful for two good legs and the ability to run.  One was a double amputee.  He ran on some of those prosthetic running blades.  I didn't stop and chat but was inspired by what must have been a huge effort on a difficult day.  A few miles later, I passed a wheelchair racer.  Just up the street was his cheering section with signs reading, "My husband is the stud on wheels" and "My dad is my hero--first wheelchair marathon" and that sort of thing. 

Besides running my best marathon time to date, the fact that I ran consistent splits and felt great throughout made this the most satisfying race I've run.  I guess I could always train harder, but I really wouldn't change a thing about my training, race day preparation, and pacing plan.  The only thing I would change would have been to lose those 20 pounds I have been meaning to lose.  How much faster could I have run without the extra weight to carry around!  I still love the trails, but come December 2012, you just might find me pounding the pavement of Dallas once again.

Bottom line: 3:33:51
462 out of 4530 overall
401 out of 2810 all men
83 out of 537 men 40-44
and best of all: Over the final 6mi I passed 285 runners and 0 passed me!