My race day didn't start off that well. I rely on my Garmin GPS watch for both pacing info and heart rate, but I didn't try turning it on until my wife dropped me off by the start, and sure enough, it was DOA despite charging it the night before. Just my luck I use it 6 days every week and it chooses marathon morning to go tits up. The silver lining is the next day I researched online how to fix it, and it turned out to be a simple solution, so at least I'm not stuck buying a new watch.
Despite freaking out that my little wrist computer was now just a decoration, I told myself I can still do this the old fashioned way. I've put in enough miles that I can come pretty close to guessing what my pace is and should be. Before I knew it, the inaugural 2010 Wichita Prairie Fire Marathon was under way. My first mile was an effortless 7:57, but I knew that was a little faster than what I could maintain. About that time I was figuring out almost every runner has a watch, I'll just start asking them for my splits. As luck would have it, a friend from the YMCA found me about mile 3 and we ran together until mile 9 using his GPS for our timing. At the halfway point, I was told we were an hour, 48 minutes and some change into the race. I did the math, and figured if I could hold pace, I would love to run a 3:36 marathon, but in the back of my mind, I knew it would get warmer, and I would hit the wall at some point, but I thought a 3:40 PR was likely. Once I was into the second half of the race, it seemed like I was passing everybody. However, most of them were either the half marathon walkers, or the early start marathoners, but I was passing the regular marathoners too.
In the mean time, I recognized a couple ladies who were there cheering on a loved one. I had met them the previous day at the race expo when they started a converstion with me about becoming a Juice Plus+ client of theirs. I said 'hi' to them, and they remembered me and started cheering for me too. Seemed like I would see them every 3 or 4 miles, and they would cheer for me every bit as loud as my own family was. It was really nice to have the extra support there, even if they thought my bib number was $$$. (just kidding)
Turned out my idea of asking other runners for my splits wasn't working out, no one around me was running my same pace. As I passed mile 18, I reflected that that was where I hit the wall in last year's Wichita marathon. It wasn't until just before mile 25 that I had to fight hard to keep from slowing down, but by then I could start to hear the crowd and the announcer at the finish line and my adrenaline kicked me in the butt. I crossed the line in 3:35:49, meaning not only did I run a negative split, but I PRed by almost 10 minutes!
|Running down the home stretch. That guy in blue had some nerve making me sprint after 26 miles|
My final thought on the Prairie Fire 2010, is how much of an improvement it was to year's past. First of all, it's nice to have an expo like all other big races do. Second of all, there was a lot more corporate support, and it showed at the finish line where I helped myself to free pizza, beer, doughnuts, hot chocolate, massages, and more. This is also the first year they handed out "Finisher" shirts, and the finisher medals were a step up in quality too. This race is going to grow year to year if they keep it up.