I did it! I finished the Texas Marathon and I broke the 5 hour mark by three minutes. Here is a report on the race:
Today was the inaugural running of the Big D Texas Marathon here in Dallas, Texas. It was also my first full marathon, so it was quite exciting for me.
This was a great race, especially because it was not too big. There were about 700 full marathon finishers (there were also two- and four-person relays). The weather was supposed to be a little warmer (70s), but it was overcast and sprinkled from time to time, and this kept the weather cooler.
Overall the race was great. The course had a few too many turns in it, but it wound through many nice neighborhoods and also skirted the "runner's lake," White Rock Lake. Course support was very good. There was an aid station contest, so all of the aid stations were very well staffed and everyone had full supplies. Every station had water and PowerAde, most had orange slices, most had Snickers Marathon bars, one had M & Ms (my personal favorite). There were stations every two miles more or less.
My goal was to complete the marathon in 5:00, an 11:27 pace. Of course I started out too fast, but the pace felt good and I had trouble slowing down. I'm used to half marathons where I can gut out a faster pace, but I should have slowed down. After the halfway point my pace came down but it was still respectable and pretty close to goal pace. I was able to beat my goal by three minutes with a 4:56:57.
However I have to admit that I would have never made my goal if it hadn't been for a runner named Amy. She was in the two person relay and was running the second half. She passed me but I was able to stay close and I realized that she was running close to my goal pace so I stuck with her. She unknowingly paced me for several miles and I almost passed her once or twice, before she asked me my name. When I told her she said, "You're the one everyone's cheering for!" Let me explain.
If you preregistered for the race they printed your name on your bib. She was a late registrant so her name wasn't printed. And she's right, when I passed crowds of people they would all cheer, but they would cheer, "Go Marshall," "Almost there Marshall," "Looking good Marshall!", etc. After I pointed out my bib we started talking. This was her first half marathon, and she had never run more than 10 miles (and that was a few days ago). She was running to help out a friend who couldn't find a partner. Anyway, she had a great smooth pace and she was just slightly slower than my target so I stuck with her all the way to the end. We talked off and on most of the way, which I don't normally do in training or racing. It was a great diversion. If it weren't for her I never would have been able to stay with the pace.
I'm sore today but not dying. I went to California Pizza Kitchen yesterday and had Hummus, Pasta with sundried tomatoes and broccolini, and some of my daughter's pizza. The perfect recovery meal!
This race has made me rethink my ultra strategy. When I have a chance I'll post my thoughts and some idea of my new strategy.