Sunday, October 21, 2007

Lewis & Clark Siouxland Marathon

What a perfect race!

Great weather, beautiful course, wonderful volunteers. Very few but very friendly runners and spectators (this was a very small race). No altitude issues, ankle injuries or GI problems.

Man, what is there left to write about?

Well, thanks to all the photos that Dave took, I got over my initial writer's block quickly. Plus, the faster half of this race was going to count as my Phedippidations Worldwide Half Marathon, which I was running as part of Team Elijah, hence the yellow reminder band I'm wearing in the photos, and so I owed the team a report.

First of all, let me clarify that the Lewis & Clark Siouxland Marathon actually starts in South Sioux City, Nebraska, and ends in Sioux City, Iowa. According to the 50 States & DC Marathon Group and 50 States Marathon Club rules (there are two organizations that track 50-states marathoner achievements), a race that starts/ends in two different states can count for only one state, you choose. I choose Iowa, since I've already run the Lincoln Marathon as my Nebraska marathon.

So this race was my 42nd marathon in my 32nd state (I've run more than one marathon in some states, obviously). The crowd at the start, however, was one of the fittest looking group of runners I've ever seen. That's what happens when you give 4+ hour marathon finishers an hour earlier start. Yeah, well, not to be intimidated, I lined up in the middle. I was feeling good and thinking there were probably some folks who just decided to sleep in an extra hour.

As soon as we took off, I settled into a 8:30-8:45 pace. Of course, I hadn't trained to run a 3:40-3:50 marathon recently (heck, I was only running 20-30 miles per week and very little of that was under a 9 minute pace with the heat & humidity in FL and HI). But, 30-40 degree cooler weather makes a big difference, HUGE. I felt like someone had removed the shackles from my legs!

So I chose to run by feel. As long as the pace felt easy and I could comfortably talk, I knew I'd be OK. Early on, I chatted with a guy who'd run this race last year and asked him about the hills (the course elevation map showed a few hills but had no scale!). He warned me that the ones between mile 15 and 17 were really steep. Well, at least they're not really late in the race. I hate hills much more after mile 20.

Approaching mile 6, we crossed a bridge into Iowa and then ran on a quiet bike path along the Missouri River. I hardly saw anyone on this stretch but was quite preoccupied by the gorgeous riverside view and some trees with leaves that were turning (I've never lived in a place with 4 seasons).

Around mile 10, we turned off the bike path, went past a big park, and started climbing up a gradual incline. Near the top was Dave, the first time I saw him since the start (he'd gone to park the car at the finish and rode his bike backwards along the course to find me). With his hi-vis yellow bike shirt on, I could spot him from quite a distance. By then, I'd warmed up enough to not need my gloves any more and so I gave them to him rather than carry them with me tucked under a shoulder strap.

He confirmed that the hills to come were steep, like the race director didn't like us runners (gee thanks, Dave). A mile later, I crossed the halfway point mat in 1:57:08. The two pit stops I made at mile 5 & 10 cost me a couple minutes each but the little break for my legs was probably useful. It was doubtful that I'd need to make any more, though, since I'd finally started to noticeably sweat!

And more sweat was definitely in store because Stone State Park, miles 15-17, was where all the "fun" was. The first hill was a real doozy, a good 14% grade (OMIGOD!). Then we had a little downhill and uphill to recover (Ha!). But lurking around some corners were a couple more drawn-out 10-12% grade climbs. UGHH!!

Fortunately, there was a guy not far ahead me. He didn't know it but he was helping me get up the hills. As usual, I'd attached an imaginary line to him and was using it to pull myself up. I was gaining on him slowly but, still, my pace took a dive down to a 12:22 mile. I may be slow but I will not walk!

Dave, being the supportive husband-cheerleader-photographer, was at the top of the last hill to give me extra encouragement. As I crested it, I passed the guy I was behind, thanked him and then began celebrating by pulling away, fast. I knew it was pretty much all gradual downhill or flat from here on out. Dave rode his bike ahead and caught me doing what Chrissie Wellington, the recent Ironman Kona female winner, did when she knew she had the race in the bag.

Miles 18-21 were my fastest miles of the race with the nice easy downhill slope helping: 8:22, 7:48 (whoops, a bit too fast!), 8:07, 8:16. I began seeing some folks who had started an hour earlier. Here I am next to a Marathon Maniac who has probably run over 100 marathons and plans to run another one tomorrow. And you thought I was crazy?

The course then flattened out as we turned onto a bike path that followed a little creek. With no cloud cover or shade and temps now well into the 60's, I was starting to feel plenty warm, despite being from FL. There were very few people in sight along the course or on the course so I was glad Dave was at mile 23 to give me a mental boost. More of the same until the last mile of the race, he told me (thanks again, Dave).

By now, some of the celebrating had waned and I had resumed an 8:30-8:45 pace that felt manageable but was definitely not as easy as before. Mile 25 was actually the hardest mile of the race for me because most of it was straight down the same road for something like 10 blocks. Orange cones for as far as I could see ...

But finally I got to that last cone, made the turn and then one more to see the finish line. There it was, only 3 blocks away. Anyone between me and the finish? Well, let's see, one guy and one woman, but both are probably out of reach ... Oh, what the heck!

So I did the traditional sprint to the finish. To my surprise, the woman slowed to run across the finish line with her daughter, who was only like 2 or 3. She made it easy for me.

Net race time: 3:50:15, a Boston Marathon qualifying race time (BQ)!
First 1/2 split: 1:57:08
Second 1/2 split: 1:53:07, 4 minutes faster!!
3/8 F45-49
8/46 total Females
51/166 total Finishers

But since masters awards at this race went 3-deep, I ended up winning a 1st place age group (AG) award. Always nice to earn some extra hardware!!!

Post-race notes:

Dave and I flew home a few hours after the race. My legs feel very good, probably the best they've ever felt after running a marathon. I should have no problems being fully recovered in 3 weeks for Miami Man. But I need to come up with some new race goals for the Las Vegas Marathon in early December. My original goal was to run a sub 4-hour marathon.


Wendy said...

Awesome Shirley!!!! And a BQ, too. Way to go!!!

Susan said...

FABULOUS you BQ woman!!!! This was an excellent report, Shirley. It looks like it was cookie-cutter perfect for you. You rocked!!!

I forwarded the post to Elijah's mom, of course. She'll love it!

Brent Buckner said...

Sweet hardware!

Great report. Sounds like a good race, but for *shudder* hills!

lizzie lee said...

SHIRLEY, CONGRATULATIONS... What a great pace, and a BQ!!! Wow... The Bank of You must have great dividends.....!!!!!

CewTwo said...

Cool! Cool! Cool! I love your race reports. They're great. AQgain, I felt like I was there. Dave is a very supportive guy. You have to appreciate that!

Great race! Sounds like you did great and felt great about it!


MarathonChris said...

Congrats on a fantastic race!! And a great race report! Cheers to Dave for his great support and picture taking!

IrishBlue said...

I'd say you need some new goals. Looks like your achieving them too fast! Awesome job lady!!

Maddy said...

You are AMAZING!

Congratulations on your BQ and your extra hardware!

Job well done!

Rural Girl said...

OMG, that was awesome! Congratulations on winning your age-group and a Boston qualifying time. That is so cool. Yes, please let us know your plans for the Vegas Marathon, I'm following you.

peter said...

Nice marfathon, you handled it well. A negative split (and a BQ), nice.