Most of my race reports involve some sort of zany antics but this marathon went pretty smoothly. Brad,
lives 3 miles from the starting line, so I went to his house in the morning for my final flush-toilet. His sister was in town visiting and she drove us to the race. Let me tell you, that's the only way to travel. No worries about parking, no long hikes to the starting line.
This is a fairly small event: 300 marathoners, 1000 half-marathoners, 800 5k-ers - so it did have a somewhat low-key vibe. I liked it. The aid stations were great, ESPECIALLY the one at Mile 4. (That's where Brad's kids were handing out water.) I was very vocal going through the aid stations, clapping and cheering "VOLUNTEERS ROCK!" That made THEM excited so I always got extra support back from them.
I wore a sign on my back that said "I Blame Brad". (He got me signed up for my first 5k, so this was his fault.) During the first 13 miles, I think only 3 people asked me "who's Brad?" But in the second half, as the heat and exhaustion and misery kicked in, people seemed to inherently know who Brad was. I probably had 8 or 9 people come up to me and say "I blame Brad too!"
The half-marathon followed the same course as the marathon and it was good running with a pack of people. For the most part the path wasn't crowded, but there were plenty of people nearby to keep things interesting. Unfortunately, they all broke off at mile 12 and all of a sudden the roads became far more lonely. There were several times when I felt like I was just on a training run- people were so spread out you'd have no idea we were actually participating in a single event.
For the most part I liked the course. Much of it was on a bike path following a dry riverbed. Rather scenic. Unfortunately, when you run upstream, that means you're running uphill. It's a very gradual climb between miles 15-18, and it slowly sucks the energy out of you right as you come up against The Wall.
I took my first (and only) potty break around mile 21. This was dangerous territory, because in the L.A. marathon I fell in love with the port-o-potty. (After hitting The Wall, sitting down - anywhere - was better than running.) I peed like a girl and I could once again feel myself being tempted by the glamour of the port-o-potty. Ah... sitting down... so nice... Fortunately, the john had been baking in the hot sun all morning and I quickly realized "hey, it's pretty hot in here. Kind of making me dizzy. I should get out of here soon." So I did. The last 3 or 4 miles were rough, but I walked-a-little, ran-a-little, and crossed the finish line in style.
So how did I do? Well, I'm a moron. I wanted to do a 10-minute pace which would put me in around 4:20-4:30. Well I did the first mile in about 8.5, and I knew I was going too fast but I didn't slow down enough. I hit the half-marathon mark and just under 2 hours (9.1 minute pace) which is too fast for me too maintain. I knew this. But my (incorrect) logic at the time was that for every 9-minute mile I did in the first half, I could do an 11-minute mile in the second half. The math works out that way, but the body doesn't. For every 9-minute mile, my body wanted to do a 12 or 13-minute mile later on. Yes, I crashed a bit in the later miles and ultimately came in at 4:31:20. Just 1 minute off of my 4:30 goal. You may say "close enough", but I say it doesn't quite count.
However, don't think I'm down about my time at all. I'm actually more excited about my 18-mile split time- 2:49, which is 17 minutes faster than my much-flatter 18 mile training run last month. That's a nice personal best for me and next time (did I just say that?!) I'll maintain the pace even longer.
The star of the day has to be Brad,
who did 4:37 in his first marathon and beat his goal by 8 minutes. He's been bitten by the marathon bug; he's doing the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon next year.
Photos and more thoughts later.