Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dallas White Rock Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 5; 37th Edition 
957.8 miles raced; 350 yards swam and 9 miles biked in 2010
Race: Dallas White Rock Marathon
Place: Dallas, TX
Miles from home: 1245 miles
Weather: 30-50s; Sunny

In the week prior to this race, I had a family member take ill, another get in a car accident and have my own car demolished in another completely unrelated accident.  A touch of the flu with a sore throat that felt as if I was swallowing razor blades made me consider a DNS (did not start) which seemed far more intelligent than attempting the race.  I had felt mostly fine during my interview with 105.3 The Fan on Friday. And while, on Saturday prior to the race, my voice was diminished to a rasp during a pre-race talk to members of the Texas Team Beef, I was feeling fairly decent. As such, I figured it was just as easy to run the race, my 123rd lifetime marathon, than to stay in bed.

When I awoke in the morning prior to the race and I felt like death, I think my rationale for still deciding to run was that if I already felt horrid prior to the race at least when the inevitable tiredness set in late in the race, the swing would not be nearly as wide as usual.

Catching the shuttle bus to the start, I was freezing.  In my Team Beef singlet, which normally would have been perfect for me with the temperature hovering around 40 degrees prior to the gun being fired, my teeth were chattering.  The sponsors of the race had people randomly passing out rain ponchos (none was forecasted) and cotton gloves near the start.  I took both and immediately felt better.

Getting close to the start I saw the corrals were labeled by letters and I had an “E” on my bib.  I guess this was by estimated time but as I looked at the hundreds of people in A-D I was disheartened.  I definitely did not want to have to pass all these people in the race and I was fairly certain I would.  Before I could make any further thoughts about this placement I saw an older gentleman, in almost slow-motion, go flailing toward the ground.  Jogging to his own corral, he had tripped on something and went down.  With his arms locked up in a garbage bag to keep warm, he could not brace himself and took the brunt of the fall with his face.  Immediately a cut opened on his nose and he rolled over in obvious pain.  I saw a woman come to his side in a flash and surmised it was his wife.  We locked eyes for a second and I said: “Wait right here.” 

I sprinted toward the start line where I saw a vast amount of volunteers.  I told one of them we needed to get some medics to a man who had fallen.  She immediately pointed me to a man with a walkie-talkie and within seconds he was on the horn.  I then led the gentleman back to the poor runner who took the header.  His wife was bracing his head in the seated position and every time he took a cloth off of his nose it spurted.  I told her she needed to get him level on the ground and elevate his legs.  With the man with the walkie-talkie standing by me, I could hear the person he was speaking to was unsure of his position.  So I asked where the other person was and then ran in that direction to get him.  Finding an EMT who looked like he was looking for someone, I figured he was my guy.  Pointing him in the direction, I figured there wasn’t really much I could do.  But before I could decide to follow, the countdown for the race began over the loud speaker.  I happened to be standing right near the “A” corral so I just jumped in.

By this point people were throwing excess clothes brought to keep them warm to the side.  As I stepped into the corral I got hit in the face with a long sleeve t-shirt.  Almost without hesitation, I took my singlet off, slipped the t-shirt on and had the singlet back on just in time for the fireballs (yes, seriously), confetti, and gunshot signaling the start of the race.

First 10k: 6:58, 6:49, 6:51, 13:35, 5:57
42:36: 122nd place

Given everything that had happened in the week prior to the race and the excitement of the morning, I had all but abandoned my pre-race goal of running a 3:02.  For those who have not read any of my recaps lately, a 3:02 remains the only time from 2:57 to 3:30 that I have not run.  For all intents and purposes I need to run a 7:00-mile to achieve this time.  I felt there was no way on Earth I had that in me on this day.  But as the first two miles slipped by and I felt I was not even close to pushing the throttle, I thought perhaps it was something I could potentially shoot for.

Around the 3rd mile a tiny female runner appeared by my side and mirrored my moves around the people in front of us as we bobbed and weaved through the crowd.  Obviously a runner of some skill (at one point she had pulled in front of me and I heard one women she passed say to her friend: “Oh, I hate when the girls in the bun-huggers pass me. I know I am never catching them again.”) I asked what race she was running.  She mentioned she had the half on her plate for the day as it was all she had time to train for given she was in the middle of finals for pre-med at Baylor.  Oof, I bet.

Having dated a pre-med girl in college where even I felt exhausted by her rigorous schedule, I could understand.  Samantha was her name (one of my top three female names of all-time) and she would be happy with any time under 1:32, her personal best.  I said she was welcome to running with me as I was under that pace and given the windy conditions, while not horrible, would blow her around quite a bit, she was welcome to draft me.

Before I knew it we had crushed out three miles together and were feeling good (even if the 6th mile marker was a little off- there is no way I ran a 5:57!)

Taking it to the Halfway point: 7:53, 6:59, 7:02, 6:55, 6:56, 7:06, 6:56
1:30:40: 127th place
Yep. 7:53 for the next mile.  The markers were off here but never again for the rest of the race.  In addition, they had large flags marking the miles which could be seen well in advance and allowed a runner to fix their pace a little prior to them.  Love that.  Samantha and I chatted a bit and I noticed that another female runner had fallen in right behind us and was drafting right off of us.  As we passed one of the many local bands set-up on the course the volume level went up a tad.  I said to Samantha: “Don’t ask me why but follow me.”  I immediately surged forward and Samantha fell right behind me in lockstep.  For about 200 meters we accelerated and weaved.  When we settled back into our pace, Samantha looked at me with a raised eyebrow. I told her about the woman behind us and how I wanted to see if she would follow.  “Did she?” Samantha asked without even looking behind her.  “Nope,” I said.  “But thanks for trusting me.”  Samantha laughed and said, “We have run four miles together.  We are now BFFs.  That’s how runners roll.”

Passing the 8th mile, I head the loud cheers of Jennifer and Jason Matison, a married couple of whom the better half works for the Texas Beef Council and was essentially my tour guide for the weekend.  Cheering on all 40-plus members of the Texas Beef Team, they must have been chilly.  But their cheers warmed me up.  Soon thereafter the half-marathoners would split and head back towards home.  I wished Samantha the best of luck and said I would be looking up her time. (She ended up running a 3-minute PR of 1:29:20!!)

I figured I would soon drop off the pace with my good mood of running with a new friend abating my flu symptoms.  However, mile after mile, over some small rolling hills produced results I could not be angry with at all.  I knew that once we got to White Rock Lake (the namesake of the race) at mile 12 we would do a 9-plus mile loop which, while possibly windy, would be essentially flat and would allow for some zoning out and running.  I just wanted to get to that point still feeling good.  And just a few miles I did.

Cruising to mile 20: 6:56, 7:06, 6:59, 7:02, 7:03, 6:59, 7:00
2:19:06: 101st place
Now the trick was to see if I could hold this pace.  I had in the past few miles acquired a tail of about 4 or five runners who had clustered behind me.  I made an off-color joke to see if they were in a jovial mood and upon the subsequent laughter, knew we had a good group.  Kevin, Dave, Norman, and Jeff were all more than happy to stay with the pace I was setting for the first few miles or so.  Then one by one they either fell off the pace or sped up a little bit.  I told them I was running a 3:02 so they could do whatever they wanted.  Soon, I was alone.

Having had done a loop of this lake just a few days prior, I knew exactly what to expect from the course and was taking advantage of it. Around the 18th mile, of all people, I saw the wife of the man who took a tumble at the start.  As I passed I asked her how her husband was. Her look of surprise was replaced by realization and she shouted at my back that he had been taken to the hospital but was doing fine. I could not have been happier to hear that.

As we finished our loop around the lake, a large cheering section was located at mile 20.5.  I thought it was the location of the relay station but that came another half of a mile later.  Instead there was an inflatable Luke’s Locker arch here (a large running store in Texas) with actual merchandise on inflatable walls.  I asked if they had a size 10.5 in “that one!” and moved on.

Onto the Finish: 7:13, 6:58, 6:57, 14:05, 6:53, 1:32

I had forgotten there was one last hill in this course which was rather devoid of any major challenging hills.  I approached the 21st mile where the relayers were gathered and pushed through the “Dolly Parton Hills”.  Here a dozen or so men in anatomically-correct Dolly Parton costumes where cheering runners on.  Seeing my Texas beef running singlet one of them said “Where’s the Beef?”  This being about the 47th time I heard this today, I was plum out of replies. Instead I simply patted his rather prodigious belly and said “Right there, apparently.”

Running through some beautiful neighborhoods was pretty par for this course.  But here in the final miles were beautiful houses that I could actually possibly own someday, as opposed to the opulent mansions darting White Rock Lake and other venues.  Also, as was the same or a vast majority of the course, people were out in droves to cheer runners on.  This was indeed greatly appreciated by all runners, especially those like me who were beginning to fade.  I somehow was still clicking off miles right where I needed, not counting the 7:13 mile on the 21st miles hill.  I knew those lost 15 seconds were going to make it a tight finish with regard to getting a 3:02:xx.  I was doing the best I could to simply lock in on a runner and pass them as the final miles counted down  This always makes one feel they are going faster than they actually are as so many runners slow in the final miles of a marathon, even those so close to running around three hours.  So even as I passed what would eventually be the fourth woman overall and a few other marathoners, my time was holding steady.

In my first book, See Dane Run, I recap my running of the White Rock Marathon in 2006.  I mention how the two races ended together and this caused some problems as the half-marathoners and full marathoners ran into each other for a few miles.  This congestion caused some problems for some fast marathoners as they ran into the back of not-so-fast half marathoners.  I cannot say whether that problem specifically was remedied because, well, this course varied for about 13 of the 26 miles. However, this time the races only joined for the last 1.5 miles. At first there were some police barricades separated the racers where they joined and I thought this might continue until the end but it did not. Yet, for the most part the half marathoners stayed to one side which was greatly appreciated.

With my math skills failing me in the last few miles, I needed to get mile 25 to be able to fully realize how much spare time I had to get 3:02. The answer I received: not a whole helluva lot!  So I turned on what I had left and ran my fastest mile since mile 2 (which included a downhill) and saw it would be close.  However, on the final turn, with even more people cheering for my Beef singlet, I could see I had it.

3:02:48 for 81st place overall in my 40th marathon state. As my dad would say, I wasted 11 seconds in hitting my goal.  He makes me laugh. However to  be able to get such a desired goal, on a day where there is no way I should have been able to push through a head cold and a lot of mental weight to get my desired goal, makes me extremely happy.  The previous night, speaking at the dinner in front of some seasoned runner, some rookies and the gamut in between, I had told the collective masses that it is amazing when you ignore the impossible.  I am not sure if this is something which I would classify as falling into that category but given everything it definitely was pretty close.  As I know many of them will be reading this recap, I can only hope they see that I definitely practice what I preach.

Each day and each event in your life presents you with the ability to start afresh and do something you have never done. It is my intention to let as few of those moments pass me as possible without acting on them. 


jm said...

Thanks Dane for a great weekend! We enjoyed having you in Texas and look forward to your next visit!

Detroit Runner(Jeff) said...

Wow! You are fast! Great report too!