I arrived the day before the race for the expo. It was located conveniently by the start/finish line. There were lots of vendors there, and I spent a leisurely couple hours walking up and down the isles sampling free products. I was a little surprised not to see any moderately famous running celebs there. Most races this size will have one or two there as a guest speaker, or on a book tour.
As the name insinuates, the course goes around a white rock. Don't be fooled into thinking you'll be witness to the world's largest white rock though. White Rock, for all you out-of-towners, is a lake. The race starts and finishes next to the Cotton Bowl in Fair Park where Texas holds it's state fair. Despite having to share the road with 6,000 other marathoners, 13,000 half marathoners, and another 6,000 5k-ers, there is ample parking at the start/finish, however, it's on the opposite side of the fair grounds.
I really didn't focus too much on the surroundings that day, but aside from running around a lake for the middle 9 miles, most of the rest of the race went through nice neighborhoods.
After getting my 2 race medals, I went in a big convention center where they were handing out free beer (Michelob Ultra of course), dri-fit finisher shirts, and free food. There was such a long line for the food that I decided to skip it. However, there was no waiting for a beer so I partook.
Overall, I liked the atmosphere of the race, but for the $125 entry fee, it seemed a bit pricey.
|As part of the perks of the race, I recieved 2 shirts and|
Now for my race experience... I signed up for Dallas in part because I thought I could expect decent to perfect running weather. As the race got closer I could see this was not going to be the case. Instead of the advertised 50º temps along with the drought conditions Texas has been in this year, I got mid to low 40º temps and almost non-stop rain the whole weekend. The only thing that worked out with the weather was the rain stopped long enough for me to get to the start line dry and warmup the first couple miles before soaking me for the final 23-24 miles of the race. I'm not sure what effect it had on my final time because I never got too cold or too hot, but I did have extra (wet) clothing on that surely added drag to my pace.
My race strategy this time around was a bit different. To avoid starting out too fast, I planned on targeting specific heart rates the first part of the marathon instead of targeting a pace the whole race and risk the bonk. Keeping in mind that my lactic acid threshold is about 175 beats per minute, my HR plan was to stick in the 160 - 165 bpm range for the first 5 miles, and 165 - 170 for the next 5 so that by the time I hit the half marathon, my heart rate would be about 175. Then I could play it by ear and negative split my way to a PR.
I ran my strategy to perfection, but as it turned out my earlier splits were coming in slower than expected. Undaunted, I stuck to my guns and HR, and planned to make it up in the second half. By the time I hit the half marathon marker however, I was at 1:50:48 meaning I would have to run the second half in under 1:40:00 to meet my goal of 3:30:00. "Well, shit" I thought to myself. I didn't take into account how much of a negative split I would be left with as I was running comfortably at the beginning. I ran a 1:36:xx PR half marathon last Spring, so I would have to run my second fastest 13.1 miles ever to clock a 3:30 finish.
On the plus side, I had never felt better in the second half of a marathon. My legs felt fresh; I was constantly getting more confidence and speeding up. Although drenched by now, the rain became mostly light, and to my surprise, my shoes didn't feel like weights from the water I had been subjected to. A little after mile 20, my quads started to tighten, but never to the point of being bothersome.
Besides intentionally slowing myself down to start, there were some rolling hills to deal with, but none worse than those around miles 21- 23 which seemed to be an almost constant uphill section. Most of my marathons, this would be a point where I'm ready to walk a little or at least hit the wall. Instead I felt like I was powering up the hills even though my pace was no doubt taking a hit.
After mile 23, the course adjusted to a flat to downhill slope the rest of the way, so my pace responded accordingly. By mile 26, I could see that a 3:30:00 was not possible, but I thought a consolation PR was, so I used that for motivation through the finish.
Despite mile 26 being the fastest mile I've ever ran in a marathon (7:36), the final 0.2 miles being an even faster 7:20 pace, and never "hitting the wall", I came in 21 seconds above my PR. Some might recall I was pretty disappointed after my PR in October (3:34:18), so you would think running a slower marathon (3:34:39) should leave me in the same mood or worse. Call it perspective, but I did so many good things in this race that I'm content or at peace with the results. This was not a flat course, and was hillier than I anticipated. Secondly the rain, the wet roads, and the wet clothes were a hindrance, and I felt I handled all those conditions well. I ran the second half of the marathon in 1:43:51 (7:56 pace), good enough to be equivalent to the third fastest half marathon I ever ran. Sure, 1 second per mile faster would have gotten me a PR in a race where I ran too conservatively to start, but there is just something about running disciplined and completing the last 10k without a bunch of lactate acid in your legs that leaves a good feeling going forward.
- Chip Time: 3:34:39
In perhaps my boldest move of the day, I drove myself 365 miles that afternoon to get home in time for dinner.
Other Race Notes:
- Jim at 50 over 40 will appreciate this: I was judicious about running the tangents around the corners. There were lots of turns, and I hugged the curves as best I could. Keeping in mind that certified courses are supposed to be a bit longer than their rated distance, I am pretty happy with my Garmin reported distance of 26.29 miles.
- Normally I follow the rule that if it's not tested, don't try something new on race day. However, got my first pair of compression socks the week prior, and decided to break them in at the marathon to help keep my calves warm if not to provide all the other benefits runners testify about.
- This was my first marathon, or race of any distance, as a 40 year old Masters runner.
|My new compression socks, pre-race. Jury is still out for me|
on how well they work.
|OK, not the best pic, but you probably thought I was just|
kidding when I said I would dangle my medal from a