ENOUGH WITH THE SMALL TALK. HOW'D IT GO?
I had 3:40 as a goal and without strategizing at all I managed to cross the line in 3:40:59. Given the conditions I was pretty happy -- more on this shortly.
DID YOU WIN?
Of course not, but I was safely in the top 10 percent of each grouping, which is always my backup goal. I was 38th of 420 in my age group, 186th of 2414 men and 225th of 4229 overall.
HOW'D THAT HAPPEN?
My goal of 3:40 happened to be the exact average time of my previous 6 full marathons. I figured the easy course would bring my time down, but that would be offset by warmer weather and not running at full effort.
I started off at a comfortable pace under the clouds and fog. It was quite humid and I was quickly drenched. The course was not terribly crowded thanks to the corral start, but there were enough folks around to keep me under control.
We zigged and zagged through downtown, past the Alamo and out into... I don't know, the rest of the city. Not to steal my own thunder for later but this was not a memorable course at all. Maybe I was biased to begin with because I think San Antonio is a really overrated city.
The frequent musical interludes -- live and recorded -- gave me a shot of energy, especially passing the 10K mark. There was something about hearing the line "you'll be kissing my ass" from that one Pink song that really sparked me.
Unfortunately the good times only lasted a few more miles, as the evil sun burned off all the clouds that had given us such a wonderful overcast morning. The half marathoners turned for home and the rest of us were left to wander off on the long out-and-back down Mission Road. I just tried to ignore my watch and the sun and keep moving forward as best I could.
I was pretty happy with myself for maintaining a healthy jog, until the last Gu I took around mile 21.5 decided not to sit well. I've never had a problem with gels before, but this one just felt like a brick in my gut. I was probably dehydrated because by now it was easily 75 degrees on the pavement. I couldn't fight through it and had to decide whether to walk off or keep running until I threw up. I chose the former and walked off a quarter mile, an interval I'd repeat for each of the last 4 miles.
At the 26-mile marker, my wife and kids were waiting for me. This was special because I rarely bring them along -- it seems like something you'd want but believe me, a toddler is not having a good time out there waiting around for Dad to show up. Their smiles and waves got me up the last hill and over the finish line, which came about 50 yards after my left calf started to cramp (another race first).
Sorry to have to repeat myself here but the course, though easy in terms of its minimal elevation change (412 feet of gain per my Garmin), is not a good one. It's virtually a carbon copy of the Route 66 course in Tulsa: a circuitous first half with many interesting urban features, followed by a long, dull, unattended out-and-back to comprise the entire second half. The 80 percent of race-goers who only ran the half would probably say its a nice course, but for the full, not so much.
I had a beef with the expo as well. I understand that any promoter wants to pack as many exhibitors as possible into the available space. But it seems as though no one stops to think that the more folks you have selling stuff, the more people will be attracted to shop -- and the less room there will be for everyone to get around. I gave most of the sellers little more than a cursory glance -- because I really didn't need anything and we pretty much all know what the scene is like by now -- and it took me forever to get off the Alamodome floor. Maybe, just maybe, some race will decide to forego an extra booth or three to give the runners room to breathe. But I won't hold my breath.
8:49 pace last .29
OK, WHAT ABOUT THE REAL REASON WE ALL RUN, THE STUFF?
We all got an actual goodie bag with actual goodies, with a pack of Gu Roctane among the highlights (I'm going to consider the above Gu episode as a one-time occurrence). I can appreciate other races' efforts to go green by nixing the pre-race bag, but it's still nice to get actual stuff now and then.
The medal is not bad, though it's attached to a thin, completely nondescript ribbon:
Run Like the Wind 24-Hour Run, Austin, Dec. 3.