When I began training for marathon number four, the one thing I was sure of was that it was not going to be in Texas. Of course, life almost never goes according to plan and I ended up on the starting line of the Dallas marathon on December 9th instead of CIM on December 2nd.
Without the fast course that CIM promised, with the extra week of taper (which left me feeling a little stale) and warm/humid conditions predicted for race day I knew I would have to reevaluate my race goals but I didn’t know how much adjustment I would have to make and couldn’t really know until race day. So I decided not to fret to much before hand.
We drove up to Dallas early on Saturday. We stayed at the Omni which was perfect for packet pickup because it is located right next to the convention center. It is also close to the start finish areas, so I would recommend it to anyone looking for good place to stay for the race. Packet pickup was easy, the only thing I would/could quibble about was having to walk the full length of the expo to pick up the shirt (honestly I would probably would have walked around anyway but it would have been annoying if I was in a hurry and just wanted to pick my stuff up and leave). We ate a quick lunch at the hotel restaurant and then I chilled in the hotel room while Hubby and the kids walked around Dallas a bit.
We decided to take a drive to Highland Park to look at the Christmas Lights (which were awesome) and while there we found a cute little Italian restaurant, Amore, which was the perfect for carbo loading. I really made an effort to eat a little more this time around because I did not want to end up feeling depleted like I did during the Missoula Marathon.
The alarms went off and of course the first thing I did was look at the weather. Here is what it looked like about an hour before race time and the weather pretty much stayed this way the whole race, the only thing that changed was that the wind picked up for the second half of the race (more on that later).
As I mentioned earlier the Omni was in a great spot for the race and getting to the starting area was super easy, just a short walk. The corral system they had set up was a mess. I was in corral B and had to enter through the back of it. The pace signs in this area were 11 min/mile…much slower than my goal pace obviously. So I had to push my way to the front of the corral, once I got there, the pace signs said 9:30/ per mile. I was still much further back than I should have been and knew it was going to be a pain to get past all these people if I couldn’t get further up. A bunch of us were in the same conundrum and we considered jumping the gate, but then they opened the gate up and allowed us to move forward. So I again pushed my way forward and finally made it close to the 3:35 pacer. Because of the weather I was not planning on running with him but I figured being between him and the 3:45 would be a good place for me to pace. The start of the race was pretty cool and very Texan, with Cowboys on horses and Texas shaped confetti raining down on us.
I did not want to wimp out and make excuses for myself but I also did not want to be stupid. I have had great fast long runs in cool weather with low humidity this cycle, I have also had long runs in warmer/humid weather where I started fast and was practically crying and walking at the end of because I did not adjust the pace. So the plan was to stay relaxed and just run the first half at a pace that was comfortable and then push the second half and finish as strong as I could.
The first mile was really crowded, I felt like I was barely moving. If I had actually been trying for a 3:35 I would have been pissed but because I was trying to stay relaxed I was thankful that the crowd slowed me a bit. I kept the 3:35′s big orange hat in my sights but didn’t try to catch him. I was already sweating pretty badly by mile 2, which is never a good sign, but staying at the pace I was going felt easy so I just continued to tail the pacer for the first 5 miles. As we were crossing the bridge during mile 4, I passed my nemesis and finally crossed the finish line before him (pretty sad goal I know, but he beat me at 3M twice and crossed the finish line right before me in San Antonio)
Right after mile 5 we hit a hill and I took it really easy on the way up, right afterwards we went right back down and I caught up with the pacer but he started to speed up so I backed off and decided to just let him go and keep my effort in check, especially since I knew we had almost 4 miles of slow steady climbing to do. I did not attack the hills but I also did not slow down too much.
Once the climbing stopped we had some downhill and flat miles. I managed to pick the pace back up a bit. At this point I was feeling really good about the race and thought that maybe I could pull off a 3:40 or at least PR.
While we were going around White Rock Lake I we turned in to the wind and it kept getting stronger as the run went on and I started to slow down.
Then we hit the “Dolly Parton Hills” …The Dollies were hilarious and made me chuckle even though I was moving pretty slowly up those hills.
Dollies Photo: CarolynADobson
My pace recovered a little in the next 2 downhill miles but after that I slowed back down. 3:40 slipped away and then a PR slipped away, I pushed as hard as I could but I just couldn’t get my legs to go any faster. They did not hurt like they did in Missoula they just would not go fast. I did manage to pick it up just a little bit for the last .47, seeing my family at mile 26 was a great boost. They are the best!!
3:45 (7:58 pace for the last .47)
Even though my time was slower than my last marathon, I was happy with the result, finishing a marathon is always a great accomplishment. The weather conditions were much tougher, the course was much hillier and I felt better in the last few miles than I did in Missoula but I think I ran a smarter race and I felt confident that if the weather had been better I could have met my goal.
After the pain subsided and I thought about the race as a whole, I realized I enjoyed it and would run it again. I would train with more hills and make sure I added some at the end of my long runs to prepare for those final hilly miles. The course was varied and ran through some interesting neighborhoods/areas, the crowds were a great distraction, water/gatorade tables were well stocked and the long sleeved finishers shirts were nice. This race usually has cooler weather which is another but Texas weather this time a year is always a crap shoot, so there is no guaranty especially if you judge by the past 2 years.
Not meeting my goal on this race means I will be trying again… I am looking at a March race right now. I am hoping that if I run enough of these I will get good weather eventually