Well, I wold have to say my first race was a success. I ran with close to 40,000 participants; 5,000 of them being timed runners. I was quite amazed at how so many people could be corralled right in front of City Hall in Downtown Dallas. The timed event was slated to begin at 9 a.m. sharp and the air horn sounded not one second later. However, I was kind of irritated that there were numerous un-timed runners mixed in with the timed runners. I also initially started out lined up according to my expected pace of 9:15 (finishing time of 1:20) but as I scanned the crowed I realized nobody was actually lining up where they were supposed to, there were little kids with their parents and runners with their dogs (however I was passed around mile 4 by a woman with a stroller), so I pushed myself closer to the start gate and found a favorable spot in the sea of serious runners.
After the horn sounded the mob slowly began to move forward and I noticed the runners on the left side of the street median were moving faster, so I ran across the median and worked my way into the faster group.
The first mile was easy. My pace was 9:35, but I felt slower until I crossed the first mile marker and saw the time clock was under 10 minutes. I knew at that point I was already running faster than I thought I was. I was also surprised that I was passing a lot of people, but at the same time was getting passed a lot as well. It was difficult to work my way through the pack at times, but as faster runners passed me I would file in behind them and follow through the lanes they opened for me. This proved to be pretty efficient. As I neared the first turn I decided to join other runners that had jumped on a sidewalk to pass others in turn. I didn’t feel bad about this, as I read an article in Runners World that said the courses are measured by the shortest distance, so taking the corners only works to your advantage.
It was during mile two that I wasted half the raw energy drink I had made. I began to feel moisture seeping through my glove and when I looked down I saw my pants and glove were covered in the sticky sports dink mixture that contained dates. It was pretty gross, but I jut pressed on through. I had forgotten to push the cap down on the water bottle during the last drink I took. I learned my lesson on that one pretty quick. At this point I also felt slow. I had passed a little girl that couldn’t have been older than five or six and then moments later I found myself passing her AGAIN! At that point I decided I had to pick up the pace, and in doing so I finished that mile with a pace of 8:25.
Somewhere during mile three I began to think how in the world am I going to finish this eight mile course, much-less the 13.1 I have coming up in a couple weeks; so I slowed down the pace a bit so I could recover a bit. But I was going way faster than I had thought! I ended up with a 8:25 and 8:22 pace on those two miles. I had no idea how much adrenaline would play a part in the race. I had been told by other runners that it would, but I never would have thought I would feel slow when I was actually pacing faster than I normally run on shorter distances. As I neared the end of mile three I faced a short steep uphill and then a long steady uphill across the aqueduct that goes over the Trinity River. It was here I decided I would take the raw energy gel I had made. But to my dismay the gel wouldn’t come out of the flask. It was too thick, so I unscrewed the cap and scooped out what I could with my tongue and then continued pounding on. About half way through mile four I started experiencing a side stitch and groin pain, but managed to fight through it. It was only the side pain that would eventually leave me, the groin pain stayed with me the rest of the race.
Even though miles five and six were mostly downhill (after the long gradual uphill) I started feeling really slow, I was getting passed by racers left and right, but mostly left since I took the far right hand side of the road until I neared the turns towards the end of mile five. I thought I was surely losing a lot of time here. I had no idea I was still running pretty strong. I did slow down, but was pacing 9:13 and 9:20 respectively. That is still faster than I typically run this distance in. Once I got to mile six the clock was broken so I really didn’t know how much time was lost, but this was only to my advantage as It helped motivate me to speed things up.
Miles 7-8 went by pretty fast, and I have Rage Against the Machine to partially thank for that. My two favorite songs to run to ended up playing back-to-back on my iPod, and that gave me that extra motivation to speed things up. At this point I began passing lots of people, even those that had previously passed me in miles five and six. Although I did not pass the one person that I wanted to pass. In mile four a woman pushing a baby in a stroller had passed me – THAT made me feel slow. I felt good thought that I had conserved enough energy to pound through the last two miles hard. This was exactly what I hoped I would do.
The start of mile seven was another long gradual uphill across the other side of the aqueduct, but ended in a long steady down hill to just before the finish line. According to my GPS data the last little stretch, that was entirely uphill to the finish line added about 1/10th of a mile to the eight I had already run. Even the route I had traced on Google Pedometer indicated the course was slightly over eight miles. I’m guessing they just wanted it to end right in front of City Hall. But, miles seven and eight ended with a pace of 8:08 and 8:01 – I had no idea I was flying so fast. The last little uphill push to the finish line clocked a pace of 6:54, which was even more of a shocker since it was a steep uphill.
The Finish Line
As I neared the finish line I saw the clock read around 1:10:15. I was stoked; I was going to be able cross the finish line in under 1:11:00, my goal was only 1:20:00, which would give me a pace of 9:15 (what I need to finish the White Rock Marathon Half in 2 hours). So, I kicked it into high gear hoping to cross the line before the clock passed the 1:11:00 mark, I didn’t quite make it, I crossed the line at 1:11:12, but it didn’t dawn on me until later that I actually had crossed the line in less than 1:11:00. My official chip time ended up being 1:10:10, with an average pace of around 8:40.
After I crossed the line I was in pain. The side stitch came back and the groin pain went through the roof. I just wanted to sit down right there, but knew I needed to find some water. As I looked around I didn’t see the water table in sight, but God was looking out for me. I looked down on the ground to see a full unopened water bottle. I quickly scooped it up and consumed the water fairly quickly as I sat at the finish line waiting for some friends to come across.
I am very pleased with how this race turned out. I only hope I can do this well in the Dallas White Rock Marathon in a couple weeks. I am currently recovering from a cold though (that developed the afternoon of the race) so have not been able to get any more runs in. I am hoping to be well enough tomorrow to start running again. I don’t think it’s likely I will get in a single 13 mile run before the race, but I have hit close to 12 already so I know I can finish. Just hoping I am able to finish strong!
Chip Time: 1:10:10
Male Age 30-34: 153 out of 342
Overall: 1,618 out of 4,462 (timed runners)