It's all in the books. Yesterday Laura and I drove up to St Cloud, ate at a nice pizza place (I had the Chicken Parmesan), slept in a cheap hotel, and got up early this morning to drive another half hour to make the 7 AM start of the Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon.
The LWTM was a great event. Though it was small and fairly low-key it was well-organized with the perfect amount of water stops. While I waited in line for my bib I talked with a nice gentleman who happened to live only a few miles away. He was running the race for the third time, which means he's ran it every year of its existence so far. He told me about the course (it's flat and fast) and let me know you could see the end from a long way off (and you definitely could).
We started off the race after an excellent rendition of the National Anthem and got to go through a sweet puddle (though I pretty much avoided getting wet). The course started in Holdingford High School Parking lot (Holdingford's mascot is the Husker, a good omen) and turned onto the Lake Wobegon Trail. From there on out it was all on the trail.
The LWT was scenic, bucolic, and provided excellent tree cover for the slight amount of crosswind. The trail went by several lakes and the scenery was aesthetically pleasing the whole way. The route was so flat that I noticed every little hill. According to SportTracks it gained 156 feet of elevation and lost 146--almost a 500 foot difference from my first marathon, the Twin Cities Marathon.
The first few miles of the marathon were great--I felt nice and relaxed--right on pace (6:50). I cruised right on through the half at 1:29:15. I ran with someone for a while who was also shooting to break three hours but he dropped off around mile 11.
Right after he dropped off another guy caught up to me and he was also shooting to break three. We chatted for a while and then around mile 19 I was starting to feel it in my legs and the bottom of my right foot (time to retire the Adidas racing flats for marathons) and he left me behind.
At mile 21 I knew I was going to have a tough time breaking three hours and then by 22, knowing I had to run under 7 minutes per mile to break three, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to make it. I'd already ticked off 2 miles around 7:05 and they felt pretty tough.
I think I lost a little bit of mental energy at 23 when I was pretty sure sub-3 was out of reach and I really dropped off pace running a 7:23 and then a 7:45. Looking back at SportTracks my heart rate dropped off a little there too so I think it was a mental lapse combined with running low on energy. After seeing the 7:45 split I told myself I was going to finish respectable-like and was able to pick it up a little for the last 1.2 running a 7:20 and then at a 6:30 pace for the last 0.2.
Seeing the finish and knowing I had qualified for Boston I was ecstatic. I wasn't really disappointed about not breaking three hours and I think I was within a minute or so of what I was capable of that day. I got second in my age group and I got a beautiful LWTM print that the artist then signed for me. I came in at 3:02:23--a PR by almost 14 minutes. I can try to break 3 another time.
The food spread after the race was great--pizza, cookies, fruit, soda, yogurt--all sorts of great stuff. They also had complimentary massages--also awesome. If anyone's looking for a spring marathon next year I'd highly recommend this one.
I have to give a million thank-yous to my beautiful wife, Laura. She was a rock star driving along the trail and stopping and various points to cheer. I showed her three spots on the map I thought would be good to stop at and marked all the water stops. I told her it was fine if she just went to the three trail access points and the finish. Instead, she was everywhere--I bet I saw here 10 or more times. Here are some pictures taken by my lovely wife:
puddle jumping start:
smiling at Laura:
running across a bridge:
smiling for the finish