Texas Hill Country
October 12, 2020
Dallas Marathon 2008
I trained light the week of the Dallas Marathon. I think I only ran once and got on a trainer once. Peyton drove me up on Saturday. Got some rest and went to bed.
Woke up and downed a glass of water, a glass of orange juice, a glass of Cytomax, and a bottle of Gatorade, as well as two Clif bars and a banana. Should hydrate and fuel me pretty well. I put some warm-ups on over my running clothes, took a few Clif shots with me, and got in the car.
My dad drove me down and Peyton came along. I had to pee due to all that liquid. After that, had just enough time to stretch and get in the pack with about 8 minutes to spare.
The weather was a little warm, cloudy, and WINDY. The wind was out of the south at over 20 mph, gusting to over 30 mph. That meant that we'd have strong tailwind on the way out, but fight it for the entire second half. Ouch.
The horn sounded and I took off. Just kinda did what felt natural. Saw a guy cheat I think by the end of the first mile (he ran out of a parking lot and joined us, and I'd seen him at the start line). At the first mile marker, my time was 6:12. Whoa! Better slow this down. I only need to run a 6:45 to finish in under three hours. I told myself to calm down and let myself slow down. By the end of the first mile, I needed to pee again. I figured I'd wait on that.
I was still running fast miles for the next few miles. I decided I'd just take it since the wind is probably the culprit. The wind would undoubtedly slow me down a lot in the second half, so I should probably go ahead and try to stay ahead of pace for now. I was starting to feel it by mile 5. Not good with over 20 to go.
At mile 7 was my first "I'm gonna rock today" moment. I ran past one of the many bands on the course, this one playing "Layla." I started grinning and bobbing my head along. A spectator saw me and called out, "You got this!" Instantly, I believed her. My steps felt quick and light.
For me, it's always around mile 8 in a marathon that I kida realize "Hey, I've run a lot already." Somehow when I get there it feels like I just started, but the miles seem to have just melted behind me and I'm entering that "I can run forever" phase. Almost a third of the race has gone by and I'm not tired yet. Yesss!
At about mile 10, you hit the lake, the prettier part of the race. I was moving right along until right after the halfway point. I got there and a guy called out that I was holding a 6:22 pace. Wow! THat means I could run 7-minute miles from here on out and still break three hours! This is gonna be easy! I rounded the next corner and the wind slammed right in my face. No, it's not going to be easy. I leaned forward and pressed on.
I was telling myself to stay on pace, not based on time, but on effort. If I slow down, so be it. But keep holding strong, and make sure you don't overdo it and wear yourself out. It worked out well and I started passing people. I wanted to draft off someone, but no one seemed to be going my pace. I still needed to pee. At mile 16, I saw a port-o-potty and took it.
After a 30-second pit stop, I started up again with little difficulty. Pressed on through the wind for a few more miles before we started getting away from the lake at around mile 18. Still in the headwind, but now there were buildings and trees around to filter some of it out. Next to the lake, it was unblocked. At least now we're not dealing with it full-force.
A mean joke is pulled at mile 19. The aid stations (the places they hand out water) apparently have a contest every year where the runners vote on their favorite aid station. Mile 19 is always a big production. I really don't care that much, but they do give out free Clif Shots, so I gladly took one. The thing is, that aid station is about a half mile short of the mile 19 marker. When I saw it a few minutes later, I wasn't pleased.
At that point, I was down. I'd been fighting headwind for 6 miles and I'm about to fight it for 7 more. I can feel myself getting tired and slowing down. And the biggest hills of the course are coming up in the next mile or two. I needed something to pick me up. That's when I saw a large plastic trash can laying down in the middle of the street. I ran over and kicked the shit out of it, yelling "HAAAAAA!!!!!" That felt good. The spectators cheered. I smiled.
As I approached the Dolly Pardon hills (guess why they're named that), I was feeling good after demolishing a trash can. I ran hard into the hills and spied the aid station run by middle-aged guys dressed as Dolly Pardon, wigs, fake boobs, and all. I didn't need water, but I pulled up my shirt to flash them. They got a kick out of it.
Another mean thing happens between mile 20 and 21. You see, on the maps provided by the Dallas Marathon, the hills are finished at mile 20. They really continue until mile 21. I plodded onward through them, hoping around every corner that the hill would stop.
Finally, the turns stopped and I was presented with a long-ass downhill. I kicked into cruising gear, noticing I was slower. Certain muscles were getting stiff, sore, tired, and unresponsive. No worries. This happens after mile 20. Just keep pressing on and you'll be fine, even if you slow down a bit. My big toes were starting to hurt a lot, like my toenails were being jammed back into the toe. I tried to ignore it.
By mile 23, I was hurting, even though I just benefitted from a long downhill. Certain parts of my legs just weren't working right anymore. I was actually running out of breath. Mile 24 was a battle, and a look at my watch told me that if I kept slowing down like this, missing out on breaking three hours was a possibility. I dug in and stretched my legs.
It felt good to really get moving again, and as I felt the finish line approaching, the pain started getting easier to ignore. Right before mile 25, I passed a tall, skinny Kenyan-type guy who was walking. Was he an elite that hurt himself? I had no idea.
The last mile seemed to last a while. I kept thinking "almost there," only to not see the finish line every time I turned a corner. Finally the spectators started getting thicker and I knew it was coming up. I saw mile marker 26 and knew there was only 0.2 to go. Normally in races, you sprint to the finish, but in a marathon, there's really no point. And if you can sprint, that means you weren't pacing well in the rest of the race. I just held my pace and set to finish the thing out. Then I saw a blur on my left. Passed at the last second? I don't think so! I tried to outsprint the guy for the last 200 yards, but he immediately answered with authority. I let him go and just took it. Finished in 2:53:59. Broke three hours with six minutes to spare.
I was handed a medal, a hat, a finisher's jersey, and that weird foil thing they give you. I never use those. Then they make you walk up a hill to get anything to eat or drink. I slowly made my way over there and saw and aid station with all those little cups of Gatorade. I drank about eight in a row. Why they don't have bigger cups at the finish line, I don't know.
I wandered around aimlessly until my family found me. They offered to carry everything. I took my shoes off since my toes still hurt. My right big toenail was entirely black. Uh-oh. I might be losing it.
I eventually found the food line and slowly walked through. The people there were mostly half-marathoners that didn't feel quite as bad as I did. I grabbed some stuff and left.
No one seemed to know anything about when or where results would be posted. I just wanted to get outta there. So we went home, I showered, and had a satisfying lunch. I found out the next day that I'd won my age division! If I'd stuck around for results I woulda gotten an award. Shame I didn't. But I have bragging rights.