Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Race Report: St Louis Marathon

This past weekend, Laura and I flew down to St. Louis to see some friends and do some running. I was ready to take a shot at a marathon PR, and though I was feeling like it was unlikely due inconsistent training and my knee issue, I was going to take a shot at it anyway.

On Saturday after we came in, we picked up our friend Stephanie to go with us to the Rock 'n Roll St. Louis expo. It was in downtown St. Louis, where the World Series just happened to be taking place. The expo was pretty good--lots of exhibitors, a cool Brooks section, and some quality free samples.

After the expo, we went with Stephanie to tour around downtown a little. We checked out the stadium where all the fans were gathering before the game. It was cool seeing all the excitement for the home team, but not so cool walking through all the secondhand smoke. There were tons, I mean tons of people smoking. It maybe wasn't the best place in the world to walk around before a marathon, but it was fun anyway.

We also spent some time at the St. Louis Arch. I'd never seen in up close before, and I didn't realize how massive it was. We asked several people to take our picture in a comedy of errors where no one could seem to get the arch in the photo.

After a pre-race meal, we went to bed early before the Sunday morning race. I didn't sleep too hot--I'm nervous before every marathon because there's just so much that can go wrong.

The morning of the race, we got downtown pretty easily. It was chilly, but thankfully they had some heaters for people to stand around, which we did after checking in our gear. After setting a meeting place, Laura and I said goodbye and gave each other a good luck kiss--I should have asked for two.

Race start
 I knew going into the race that setting an PR and breaking 2:50 was going to be a tall order. The first few miles, however, felt pretty good cruising at a 6:29 pace. I chatted with another runner named Nathan off and on, and he helped me out seeing the turns. The sun was blinding and for a lot of the race I had a tough time seeing. I also thought they could have done a little better job having course marshals letting people know which way to turn, as it was sometimes tough to tell.

Running into the blinding sun (image credit to Stephanie)
I'm not sure when I lost Nathan, but when I did I ran a long section of the race by myself. The course went into Forest Park, the most scenic part of the race, and also the location of the friends we were staying with, Andy and Stephanie. When I first ran by them, I tried to throw them my visor, which caught on my numb fingers and went about three feet. Thankfully there was no one else around and they had no trouble picking it up out of the middle of the road.

Andy took Stephanie's picture while she cheered in the park.

Soon after I saw them I really started to feel fatigued. I was fighting to keep on pace, and losing. Around mile 18 a runner named Chad caught up to me. We talked a little about matters of faith, and he encouraged me to stay with him. He really provided a needed pick up at a tough point in the race.

Going into the last few miles I had lost Chad and was again running alone. I was getting the dreaded lightening bolt cramps in my hamstrings and calves, but was still moving. I managed not to walk--but barely. I tried to keep a cheerful disposition and hammed it up a little bit, cheering for the runners going the other direction and waving to the crowds.

Hamming it up at the finish line

I'd never been so relieved to see a finish line. I was able to pick it up a bit and looking a the pictures afterward I didn't look too bad. My time was 2:57--not even close to a PR, but at least I hit my "B" goal of running a sub-3 hour marathon. I maybe could have done better if I had gone out for a PR, but oh well.

Laura met me at the finish line--she'd finished the half in 2:05, which was about what she expected after having ran Twin Cities Marathon two weeks previously and not having done a ton of running in between. We were both pretty beat.

I learned some good lessons from this race, but I think I'll save those for another blog post.

Happy Running!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A very reputable time even though it wasn't a PR. I hate walking through smokers as well. I also never sleep well the night before a big race.