I survived! I followed a 3:41:25 marathon on New Year's Eve with a not-too-ridiculous 4:15:51 on New Year's Day.
DID YOU WIN?
My goal was to finish in the top 10 on at least one day and I did that on Saturday, finishing 8th of 93 men and 8th of 156 overall. On Sunday I was 11th of 53 men and 18th of 89 overall. When you add the times of those who ran full marathons both days, I was 6th of 42 men and 8th of 64 overall.
HOW'D THAT HAPPEN?
As I mentioned in my preview, I struggled a bit with how to approach my longest back-to-back runs. In the end I chose to just run Saturday comfortably, similar to San Antonio, and see where that took me.
The way the course was arranged, I'd be able to tell pretty easily how many folks were ahead of me. On the second lap, I was in 6th place, feeling strong. But about a third of the way into the third loop, 3 guys passed me all within just a few seconds. Suddenly I didn't feel so hot. On the way back, I started to feel some fatigue setting in. My longest run in the previous 4 weeks was 14 miles; could my legs really have forgotten the 57 I logged in Austin?
By the time I set out on the final lap, I had tailed off quite a bit. I was working in some walk breaks and keeping my fingers crossed that no one would pass me and drop me to 10th place, where panic would set in. After turning around and heading for home, I passed one of the guys from the pack of 3. He had some friends or family with him and looked like he'd pretty well had it. I jogged on to put some distance between us, then walked a great deal of the remainder as it appeared that neither he nor anyone else would catch up. The way the numbers settled out, it was a perfectly average performance.
I had to get home to babysit so I couldn't stick around for the awards and thus still didn't know what they were. I stayed off my feet as best I could, but you can't be completely immobile with a toddler in the house. I think I carried her up and down the stairs at one point, which was surely a bad idea.
Sunday morning was cooler by a good 10 degrees at the start, not counting the lower wind chill from the winds turning from south to north. I parked in the same spot and sat in the car. I considered the merits of warming up but decided that saving miles for the race was my best play. I worked over my IT bands with a lacrosse ball until it was go time.
I jogged over to the restroom at a rather slowish pace and pondered how in the world I'd be able to run any faster. It wasn't that anything particularly hurt, but I just felt nothing in reserve, even though I'd spent the previous afternoon and evening gorging on carbs and protein to replace what I'd lost and load for the next day.
Once the race was underway, the weakness did seem to give way to actual pain. My left hip and upper leg were bearing the worst of it as I absolutely could not stay below a 9:00 pace. I strongly considered dropping down to the half marathon distance several times, but every time, my pride crushed my sanity in that debate. I walked through the water stops, and walked some of the time I was facing the wind, and tried to jog the rest.
Though this time I harbored no ideas about coming in the top 10, I went ahead and counted guys coming the other way anyhow. I was shocked to find on the third loop that I really wasn't that far back from the top 10. Unfortunately I really didn't have the energy to chase anyone down. My pain had reverted back to simple fatigue, and with the wind behind me on the back half of the final loop, I managed to pick things up a bit. Trying to avoid a personal worst was a good motivator, and I cleared that mark by a good 7 minutes.
After sticking around to chat with some of the other finishers, I was shocked to hear that marathon awards for this day would be handed out 15 deep -- and I was even more surprised to learn that I'd held on for 11th place.
I had my reservations about a pair of 1,000-person races being held on a looped course that was essentially a sidewalk of varying widths. I had great fears of getting trapped behind walkers or having to dodge stray elbows. But contrary to what you might expect, congestion was rarely an issue. Verbal warnings and on-course signage that directed runners to stay no more than 2 abreast worked well. Every time I went down the lone decline on the course to tunnel under Angel Parkway, I feared a violent collision with someone coming around the corner, but obviously that didn't happen.
Speaking of which, the tunnel caused plenty of GPS chaos. A lot of folks with Garmins complained afterward that the course was long (as you see by my splits below, I recorded 26.7 and 26.55 miles), but I would suggest that losing reception in the underpass might have something to do with it. My 305 drew a pretty crazy map:
I think the popularity of this event grew well beyond initial expectations. Coming 4 weeks after White Rock, the vast majority of the casual marathon crowd -- the once-a-year folks -- would be off the market. But everything from the aid stations to the post-race food and in between seemed to scale up pretty well. The lone stumble was during packet pickup, which was limited to 9 hours over 2 days in a single location prior to race day. I've been in events from a couple dozen people to over 10,000 and never had to wait more than 5 minutes to get my bib. This one took 5 times as long thanks to the crush of runners all trying to pick up at the same time.
9:15 pace last .70
8:19 pace last .55
OK, WHAT ABOUT THE REAL REASON WE ALL RUN, THE STUFF?
Two races meant two shirts, a short- and long-sleeved version of the identical shirt. It's a nice shade of blue, but this is one time where I might've preferred that one of them came in white. For some reason I was also given two plastic bags full of promo cards for other races, which seemed a bit silly.
The medal design was a stroke of genius. The finisher's medals for each day fit snugly together in a Challenge Plate, with a spot for the unhooked ribbons to be reattached:
The medals are shown above at a jaunty angle since I was one of a few folks who got a faulty plate (one of the magnets was installed backward or something). As of now I'm still waiting to hear whether the vendor will supply a replacment or I'll need to do some surgery.
The awards were a pair of champagne flutes with the race logo -- that's a pair per race, so I got 4 in all:
WHAT'S NEXT?Miracle Match Marathon, Waco, Jan. 29.