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Other Marathons

Other marathons I have run, which did not get a full writeup.

Quad Cities

September 23, 2007
Finish: 3:45:31 (Full Results)

Racers eating lunch

The racers and spectators enjoying lunch afterwards

Despite finishing Ironman Wisconsin two weeks earlier, I decided to run the Quad Cities Marathon with friends that had been training for it. I did not run hard, but undertaking the race on such little recovery was probably still a mistake. On top of that, during the race expo I was convinced to co-lead the 3:45 pace group. The position was vacant, and it was near when I expected to finish. I had never led a pace group though and had almost no experience holding that speed. The other captain was someone with which I had come down, but it was only her second marathon, and that time was about ten minutes faster than her inaugural PR. We thought though it would be a bunch of inexperienced kids carrying the flag, or else no one at all. Hopefully no one would be too dependant on us for a BQ effort.

The marathon itself went well. The pace was actually slower than my normal distance runs, and my legs had recovered pretty well from Wisconsin. Running at the front of a pace group was an awesome experience too. Although we never had a big unified group and our followers trickled to only a few die hard runners by the end, talking with other runners with a common goal and helping them along was great.

The course was mainly urban, but had some nice views of the Mississippi River. The only part to complain about was the loops around Arsenal Island. Due to security concerns, spectators were not allowed on the island so a long five or six mile lonely stretch challenged the runners. Other than that section, for a race that size crowd support was really good. The idiocy of jumping into a marathon did eventually catch up with me as the last five miles were pretty painful. The 3:45 pace group leaders held constant though and finished within thirty seconds of our goal time. Not to bad for a pair of rookies. I enjoyed watching all my other friends finish or congratulating the ones which beat me. Quite a few were first time marathoners, and it was inspiring to see what people who do not devote an unhealthy amount of their life to running can accomplish.

Pace vs. Mile Chart

Pace vs. Mile

Madison Marathon — Oh What a Night

May 25, 2008
Finish: 3:12:32 (Full Results)

Me finishing the race

After a disappointing time at Boston, I hopped to quickly reuse my fitness level and achieve a better marathon PR. I would try to be a little more conservative this time, but was still striving for around 2:50. Six weeks later, I laced up my shoes for another attempt at the marathon.

The first half went great, and I was on pace. A little headwind hampered the progress a couple miles after that which slowed me, but I was not too worried then. After that though, my race quickly fell apart. I slammed into the wall and slowed significantly by mile 17. About this same time the course toured an arboretum, which although was beautiful, had little to no crowd support. I knew my pace was slow and stopped looking at my watch. At mile 23 I checked the clock though, and knew I had no chance of even breaking three hours. What little motivation I had left vanished, and I reverted to survival mode until I could finally reach the finish line. I was so thankful to finally be done, but was extremely disappointed with my performance. I probably had been racing too much leading up to the race, and never gave my legs a chance to fully recover from Boston. Impatience is not something that usually benefits long distance runners, so I will have to wait a little bit longer for what a good marathon time for me. At least I had a good weekend up in Madison with a couple fellow CVRA runners.

Pace vs. Mile Chart

Pace vs. Mile

Place vs. Mile Chart

Place vs. Mile

Des Moines Marathon — Learning to DNF

October 19, 2008
Finish: DNF

My only goal for this marathon was to finally break the three hour barrier. Learning from experience, I would start conservatively and actually stick with the three hour pace group. If by chance there was anything left at the end, I could try picking it up in the last couple of miles. My race of course did not go as planned. Although I did stay with that group, my legs felt sluggish from the start. By the 10K mark, they felt like I had already covered twenty miles. I hung onto the back of the pace group through mile twelve, but coming out of Drake Stadium I finally fell off the back. We turned into a headwind at the same time, leaving me alone to battle the breeze. The three hour group increased the gap, and my thirteenth mile was thirty seconds slow. I crossed halfway in 1:30:30, which was pretty close to correct pacing, but all the time was lost in the prior mile and things would only get worse. Although I could have finished, I had no chance of making my time goal. I mentally gave up and dropped out at halfway, resulting in the first DNF that I remember. Although I was not in great shape, I still should have had the fitness to break the three hour barrier. It just was not my day however. I have had better weekends. The only thing that comes to mind was that my taper directly prior to the marathon was unintentionally too severe (no running for the three days leading up to the race). I need to do a little easy work before a big race to keep my legs sharp. Although the race was very disappointing and a big let down for me, I am too stubborn to give up on marathoning and will slay the three hour demon another day, even if my results indicate I should consider something else.

Triple D — Playing in the Snow

January 10, 2009
Finish: 5:07:30

I had not originally intended to include a report from the Triple D Adventure Race from Dyersville to Dubuque, IA (being it only around 22 miles), but after experiencing the carnage firsthand I had to record what transpired. I initially registered for the race as a challenging long run in preparation for a spring marathon (although my plans changed, and I did not run a marathon anyway). Due to some holiday sickness, my fitness was also not at a level to compete in this type of race, but I had already mailed my check, so a racing I would go.

Leading up to the race the weather had been tolerable (for Iowa in January at least), but that morning a fresh eight inches of snow blanked the ground. I had to shovel even to free my car and braved some poor road conditions on the drive up. It did not yet dawn on me what the inclement weather might do to the event though, so I just blissfully milled around with other participants at registration. At the appointed time, a limo bus ferried all other runners and skiers to the start near the Field of Dreams.

The naive runners ready to face endless snow

The naive runners ready to face endless snow

The motor coach abandoned the runners in a small park for us to make it back under our own power. The start was unceremonious as the ragtag band of runners headed down an access road towards the Heritage Trail, which would lead us to finish line twenty-two or so miles later at a bar in Durango. The first quarter mile was fine, with a cleared road providing an adequate surface on which to run. We soon, however, encountered the actual trail, which was not plowed. The prior night’s snow left six to either inches of a white hindrance to slug through. Somehow I was upfront too, so I had the honor of breaking trail.

The snow was relentless and deep. Throughout the entire race, only a couple hundred feet were clear. For the first ten miles I broke through virgin powder deeper than my ankles. The snow made an otherwise enjoyable run grueling work and a long day even longer. For the last half of the race, we neared enough to civilization that snowmobiles had packed the trail. This seeming blessing was actually no help at all, as we still slipped and skidded with every footstep in the snowmobiles’ paths. It was really no easier or faster to run on than undisturbed snow.

The race director had mentioned a detour around parts of the trail that had been destroyed by the floods. I failed to note at which mile marker this diversion actually was though. With this oversight I somehow missed the turn and continued along towards the devastated sections. Upon scampering through large washouts and two destroyed bridges, my deductive reasoning (and navigation skills) finally concluded that I was probably in the wrong place. But I had gone too far to turn back, knew I would not get lost on the trail, and was too stubborn, so I just made my way through the destruction. The missing bridges were the most interesting, since although the rivers were frozen, I was not entirely confident in the ice’s thinness. I did not get wet at least, but crossing those streams was not the smartest thing to do. To make matters worse, I was still in the lead so a couple racers followed my treacherous path. They all got through fine, but my misguided way actually took longer than staying on the official course.

Watch a video of the race
Watch a news report on the race

The long day through the snow grew long, with my legs becoming ever more tired. My water bottle even eventually froze, leaving me without adequate nutrition for the last couple hours. To survive, I kept counting down the mile markers until the end. I took it one mile at a time, trying to get slowly closer to the end.

I (surprisingly) led the entire race, but in the last couple of miles I spotted a runner several minutes back. I had little energy and fleeting motivation to actually race my pursuer, but their presence did motivate me to walk less than I otherwise would have. I especially did not want someone to pass me at the end after being in front for so long.

Eventually I reached the bar though, finishing in 5:07, averaging around a whopping fourteen minutes per mile. If not for the snow, my finish time probably would have been half of what I ran that day. Nonetheless, my performance was still good enough for the win (I survived the fastest). My efforts were rewarded with a neat, handmade trophy. With the difficult endeavor completed, I consumed some nonalcoholic post race replenishment at the bar while thawing out.

The craziest part about the whole day was the Triple D was mainly a bike race. Almost fifty people took their mountain or snow bikes into these elements. The conditions made it nearly impossible for them to ride, and they pushed their bikes for large stretches. No one even finished the entire bike race, with only a handful of people making it to the turnaround. The bikers were even more nuts than I was. Hearing their horror stories made my day seem not quite as bad.

Triple D 2010

January 9, 2010
Finish: 3:24:30

The famous runners posing for pictures

The famous runners posing for pictures

Despite learning my lessons the prior year about how miserable running long distances through snow is and having few training miles due to a vacation to New Zealand and a separate little incident with a pickup truck, I still wanted to run the Triple D Winter Adventure Race. Despite this training dearth and in spite of my better judgment, my thick headedness led me to the starting line, with very few miles on my legs.

The race was the exact same format as before, with an approximately 22 mile slog along the Heritage Trail from Dyersville to Durango. Fortunately though, the trail was in much better shape. Although there was snow, for most of the race I found decent footing and did not sink into the powder. Having to constantly search for stable ground was also a good way to distract myself from the long run at hand. The weather was decent as well, with temperatures in the low single digits, no wind, and packed snow on the ground. My water bottle froze again, but earlier in the race than anticipated (around 5 miles), so I had to go forego water most of the race. I still carried shot blocks for sustenance, and kept those unfrozen inside my gloves.

The Handle Bar-Triple D Finish Line

The bar at which the race finishes

The run was actually relatively uneventful as I plodded along the trail. Most of it was enjoyable (which is not a statement often associated with Triple D). Towards the end my legs were sore from the lack of training and constant adjustments to keep balanced on the snow. I made it to the finish just shy of three and half hours, somehow being the first one to arrive. Despite being in worse shape, I was over an hour and a half faster than in 2009, just because of better trail conditions.

Post race was a fun time of hanging out in the bar with fellow racers, sagged bikers (did I forget to mention there was a separate 100K bike race as part of this event?) and other random patrons, while trying to warm up and get some food.

Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon 2010

Where all the women are strong, the men are good looking, and all the children are above average

May 8, 2010
Finish: 3:03:26 (Full Results [PDF File])

A little incident on the bike and a jaunt to the southern hemisphere put me out of commission for several months, but I jumped back into marathon training after the new year. Unfortunately I ramped things up too quickly after my hiatus, and succumbed to fatigue from over training. This mistake threw a wrench right in the heart of my build up, which once again followed Jack Daniels Marathon plan C. Nonetheless, I made it to the start of the Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon, just outside of St. Cloud, Minnesota. “Trail” was a little deceptive though, as it ran along a flat, paved bike path.

My goal for this marathon was to finally break three hours. I had no grand plans for anything faster and 2:59:59 would have suited me just fine. Rather than go out fast and die as I have done in the past, I intentionally held that pace from mile one. I did a relatively good job of meeting my marks, being within a couple seconds each mile and crossed the halfway mark in 1:29:10.

Myself in the Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon

This marathon was small, with less than 200 participants. Throughout the race the trail was never busy, but I could always see at least one other competitor. Despite the size, the volunteers and race organization was great. Enthusiastic crowds camped every couple miles at the road crossing. In between I was left to enjoy the silence of the beautiful trail. Wooded forest, fields, a couple lakes, and quaint small towns lined the picturesque route.

I ran with another person trying to crack three hours from the halfway point until about mile twenty. The company was nice, keeping us on pace and our minds occupied. My race was going very well through this stretch, but past mile twenty things started to get hard. Instead of cruising along, I searched for mile markers, desperately wanting to check off the next one.

At mile twenty-two though I was still (barely) on pace and genuinely thought I could sneak under three. Mile twenty-three slowed some and twenty-four even more. My quads were killing me, and with 2.2 miles to go, I had fifteen minutes and fifteen seconds before the first digit on the clock ceased being a two. Normally I could have made it, but with as much as I had slowed and with my legs giving out, I had no hope. Although pride and training to endure through pain should have caused me to do otherwise, at mile twenty four I essentially hung things up and waddled in, knowing I would not break three but would still get my BQ back. I crossed the line in 3:03:26, a respectable time considering my training, but still a disappointment for not reaching my goal.

My final time was once again a let down, not breaking three hours. I had ideal conditions with a float course and little wind. But having messed up my training, I could not complain too much with my time. I was not in top shape but still came very close to my goal. Quads were the only thing that gave out and if those held, I would have made it. At least I executed a good race, keeping my pace consistent and not going out too fast. I will have to go out and fight another day (again).

Pace vs. Mile

Pace vs. Mile

Triple D 2011

January 16, 2011
Finish: 2:53 (Full Results)

At least the foot division of Triple D had grown, and my third time at the race found me on a larger bus with more people for the trip to the starting line in Dyersville. Conditions were pretty good, considering this was Triple D. It was cold, but not as frigid in the past. Also, the trail was in very good shape. A couple inches of snow covered its surface, but the powder was compacted and provided a relatively firm surface on which to run.

My plan for the race this year was to finally finish the 50K option, but when the race started and a couple people took off ahead of me, my competitive nature took over and the thought of defending my title for the official finish line at around 22 miles crept into my head.

The race progressed about the same as prior years, and the wintry landscape of the Heritage Trail felt very familiar. As usual my water froze around five miles. I need to find a better system than a handheld bottle, or not bother carrying it at all. I still had my Shot Blocks to survive though.

I stayed near the front, and took over the lead a couple miles in. I kept going at my own pace, and tried not to let the other runners influence my pace. The snow was so well compacted that it just felt like loose dirt, and I could run fairly normally on it. The race went smoothly as I enjoyed the calm day and peaceful trail. Around Graf though, about eight miles from the finish, I heard a couple runners approach from behind. I had not observed any other racers in a while, and I assumed there was a larger gap between me and second place. Although I still had my sights set on the 50K, these other footsteps encouraged me to increase my pace.

Although I was now actively trying to stay out front, a 50K finish was still my goal. This plan remained unchanged until a mile or two from the finish line, when the trail climbed a short, but steep hill to cross a road. This slight terrain change zapped all energy from my legs. I went from feeling decent to a suffer fest in a couple dozen yards. At that point I realized the 50K would not be very viable, and it would take all my effort just to struggle to the finish. The ghost runners behind me kept pushing my pace, and I had built a big enough gap to stay out front. For the third year in a row arrived first at the bar in Durango. Although thankful for what I was able to accomplish, it would have been even more rewarding to grab a 50K finish.

St. Louis 2011

April 24, 2011
Finish: 3:31:34

In buildup to Ironman, I wanted to run an early marathon, as well as shoot for a decent time after a new PR and sleighing the three hour dragon the prior fall. Unfortunately things did not go as planned. My initial weeks of training went well, but during a long run I hurt my knee. As far I as I could deduce, a blister on my left foot that developed while spinning on the trainer caused me to slightly alter my running stride, which injured my right knee (of course my good knee, not the one hurt in the bike accident). By the end of that run I limped badly and had no choice other than to take time off from running.

A quick recovery was not forthcoming, and I jogged five miles per week max for the four or five weeks leading up to St. Louis. Until a couple days prior I was unsure if I would even show up for the event, and it was only the day before at packet pickup I finally decided to run the full and not transfer to the half marathon. This decision was not the smartest given my dearth of training and still fragile knee, but I still possessed youthful stupidity.

I showed up at the starting line without much training and a questionable knee. With my condition I hoped for a 3:30 finish, but I crossed the first mile in 6:50, way too fast and the quickest mile I had run in about six weeks. I intentionally slowed myself running through the Busch Brewery and back towards downtown. I succeeded marginally, but was still around 7:15 and feeling surprisingly good.

This weekend was of course the first (and about only) warm spring weekend, so sun and a temperature slowly growing past 80 degrees also challenged the runners. I continued relatively easily clicking off the miles and crossed the half mark in Forest Park in about 1:35 — still way too quick. Shortly afterwards my anemic training caught up with me, and my legs lost their power as I ran out of gas. The hills following the park were quite the challenge. By the time I turned back towards downtown my legs were shot, and I walked most of the uphills and aid stations. What business did I have doing Ironman? My knee actually held up well though and did not bother me until the very end of the race. Just the huge hiatus in training it caused bit me.

Regardless, I was going to finish, even if it would be slow. Watching so many people and pace groups with larger and larger finish times pass me was a little depressing. My waddling eventually brought me to the end in 3:31:34, pretty close to my prediction, although I had a thirty minute positive split on the second half of the race. It was also seven minutes slower than I had ran on the same course five years prior.

MileSplitTotalComment MileSplitTotalComment
16:526:52Way too fast147:361:41:00
27:0113:53Still too fast157:391:48:39
37:1421:07 167:401:56:19
47:0728:14 177:552:04:14
5?:???:??Missed mile marker187:432:11:57
67:1542:43Avg of last 2 miles199:092:21:06
76:5449:37 208:042:29:10
8?:????:??Missed mile marker218:302:37:40
97:141:04:04Avg of last 2 miles2210:102:47:50
107:161:11:20 239:192:57:09
117:191:18:39 249:463:06:55
127:301:26:09 2513:143:20:09
137:151:33:24 268:363:28:45

Wildcat Den 50K 2011

November 13, 2011
Finish: 5:19:56

The feast at the starting line

The feast at the starting line

Wildcat Den was fun, low key fat ass race that was better organized and supported than many events which charge money. It took place at Wildcat Den State Park in southeast Iowa. For an “entry fee” competitors brought food to share, which resulted in a huge feast to eat before, during, and after the race.

The run itself consisted of five out and back loops on a trail through the park. People were free to run fewer loops though and many did only one or two. The loop format made it very easy to break down the race into 5K chunks. I never had to worry about the entire 50K, just making it through another 5K.

Like most ultra events, running extreme distance was not challenging enough on its own, as Wildcat Den covered some very hilly trails. Runners were constantly climbing or descending throughout the entire course, with a few very steep slopes. Other than the undulations, the trail was a nice experience. The leaves had already fallen, but the forest was still striking and the aforementioned foliage provided a nice carpet on which to run. The trail varied from steps, to going along cliff faces, to pine forests, and grassy right of ways.

Myself running Wildcat Den 50K

At the unceremonious start I situated myself in the middle of the pack, and intentionally headed off very slow. No better way to slow your pace than by being stuck behind a bunch of other runners. I took the multitude of hills very easy, and walked the steepest ones to save energy. The weather was nice, people were great, and I enjoyed my jaunt through the woods. Before long I came upon the turn around, and despite being a fat ass race, volunteers were handing out water and food for the runners to enjoy.

The race went pretty well at the beginning. The loops flew by quickly and I settled into a groove. I floated through that rhythm for about 3 1/2 loops before things started to get hard. The time on my feet, distance, and terrain started to take their toll as my legs tired and pace slowed. The hills seemed much larger and farther apart. By the time I was into my final loop, my legs were very heavy and running was painful and difficult. I had come this far though, and struggled through the last 10K. It was not pretty, but I got to the finish line and wrote my time in the official results book. Unfortunately I could not stick around to visit (or recover) as I needed to rush back home to try and make it to the Red Dress Run.

Approx Lap Splits (10k)

Houston Half 2012

January 15, 2012
Finish: 1:20:58

Although I only ran the half, I am including a write up from Houston because it was such a good time. Pictures from the weekend.


Escaping the cold Iowa winter (again) I took one of the rare, useful direct flights from the Cedar Rapids airport to Houston. I would miss Triple D, but Houston was hosting the marathon Olympic trials in conjunction with their regular marathon. After having such a good time at the trials in Boston four years earlier, I jumped at the chance to watch them again.

A $2 city bus ride from the airport brought me near my accommodations at the HI Youth Hostel. Although about the cheapest lodgings in town, the newly opened hostel was a very nice place to stay. A few other runners slumbered there as well, so I socialized with them while not gallivanting about the city.

The marathon trials finish line

The Olympic Trials were on Saturday morning, and I was up early for a short run of my own before heading into downtown to watch the race. The men’s and women’s races were being held at nearly the same time in the same city, a first for the trials. The men came by first in a large pack followed by the women fifteen minutes later. I only recognized a few of the big name American marathoners and was not pulling for any particular runner, but watching the competition was still neat, especially seeing these elite runners so close. Although they work extremely hard, they also make running look seemingly easy. All the while I know I could not keep such a pace for even a mile.

The course was very spectator friendly with the runners doing several narrow loops. I could watch most of field go by, then jog a few blocks to watch them pass again a few miles later on their way back.

A few of the big names had sponsor support and cheering sections, but for the vast majority of runner’s support was family, friends, and random spectators, just like any middle of the packer at a regular marathon. Although very fast, they did not have their name up in lights or cameras following their every step, but were testing themselves with those who care about them encouraging them to do their best. They just happened to run the marathon a lot faster than most people.

After their last loop I rushed to the very crowded finish line to watch the men and women cross before picking up my own race packing and exploring the expo.


Being one who does not vacation much in cities, I took advantage of my stay in the metropolis to see some sites. I visited Space Center Houston first. The museum was mostly infotainment for children, although it did contain some nice artifacts and exhibits in the back. The tram tour was the highlight though, as it explored NASA’s Johnson Space Center complex. It took us throughout the campus, highlighting the now retired shuttle mission control, design and test for next generation space exploration, and other areas. Although I never followed the shuttle very closely, I could tell the workers and entire town was very proud of their work supporting it.

I found a combo deal as part of admission to the space museum, so I also visited animals at the Houston Zoo, explored the history and art museums, and perused an aquarium, although the latter seemed to cater mostly to tourists, and not have its focus on the animals themselves as a zoo might. I was time constrained going through most of these spots, rushing through them, but they were still informative and interesting to visit.

Half Marathon

Of course I did not go to Houston just to watch and visit, but I had my own race to run as well. Training hard through winter for a January marathon did not sound like fun, so I was signed up for the half instead.

I jogged a warm up from my hostel and arrived at the starting line a little later than planned. I had a spot reserved in “A” corral though so I still lined up near the front. Standing around was a little cool in just my racing clothes, but being packed so close to all my best friends kept it warm enough.

Myself running the Houston Half Marathon

The gun finally fired and the masses headed off into the nearly dark streets, as the sun had just begun creeping over the horizon. I tried not to get caught in the large pack, with some very fast runners, and some merely starting too aggressively. I settled into a quick, but comfortable pack and tried not to worry about the people around me. The opening miles ticked by fast as we traversed mostly flat streets with good crowd support. I was running strong, but felt within my self. I did not have an exact pace goal, but I was clicking off miles in the low 6’s, which may be a little fast. I kept that pace though and felt okay.

When the full and half marathon diverged, I was very thankful to be going the shorter route. The half marathon doubled back on itself after the split, and I saw the mass of runners still coming up the other side of the street. Watching that many runners was neat, and it was also nice to be ahead of them. My side of the road was a little more desolate though, with a strung out line mostly in single file.

By mile ten the pace was getting hard to maintain, but I kept pushing with only a couple miles to go. I slowed some as I kept begging for the mile markers to finally appear. I reached the last stretch through downtown, and it took forever to get through the labyrinth of buildings. Eventually I rounded the last corner and sprinted towards the finish line, crossing it in 1:20:58. I was very happy with this new PR and solid race.

In the finish area I met other friends that raced, who also ran well. We recovered inside enjoying the food and relaxation, very glad not to be out on the course still running the full marathon. We ogled the “Houston Trials 2012” signs, but could not convince any of the conscientious volunteers to slip us one of them.

Hawkeye 50K 2012

March 17, 2012
Finish: 4:47:31

A nice long run is a great way to train for a spring marathon, so why not do a local 50K? I planned on the second annual Hawkeye 50K, but waited to long to sign up and landed on the wait list. Not until a week before did I finally make it from the wait list onto the roster. My training would not have been much different had I known I was in the race earlier, so this late notice was not much of an issue.

At the start I once again placed myself in the middle of the pack, trying not to start too fast. As the field spread out, I found myself next to a guy that was in my caravan from Triple T. We were chugging along at similar paces and ran together for most of the first loop, catching up on our triathlon careers and the rest of life.

Myself running the Hawkeye 50k

The Hawkeye 50K consisted of two loops around Lake McBride. The first ten miles or so of the loop are fairly easy, being run along paved roads with rolling hills or a flat crushed limestone trail. The course then crosses the dam between Lake McBride and the Coralville Reservoir and things become interesting. Runners negotiate a spillway between the two bodies of water, which is wide enough to necessitate everyone getting their feet wet. The water was not too high though, and I just had to be careful not to slip on the damp rocks. After playing in the water the course went along hillier trails. I had never been in this section of the park, so I was surprised upon encountering the obstructions. Most of them were not very steep or tall, but the tougher terrain at the end of the loop through me for a little shock. The course even passed right next to the finish line, although runners still had about a two mile loop before being done.

My first circuit went fairly well, being completed in about 2:15, and after a very short resupply stop, I headed out for the second time around. Being back on the road was nice, whose solid surface provided easy travel. The route was a lot lonelier now, as most of the competitors were only doing the one loop option. The day was also beginning to warm up. Despite being mid-March, the day was very warm with temperatures in the 80s. A slight breeze and some initial cloud cover kept the day bearable.

I made my way across the pavement and back onto the crushed limestone before my legs became heavy. The trail seemed a lot longer than before with my legs being very sore. I crossed the spillway again and the harder terrain got the better of me. I started walking a lot of the hills and even some flats, struggling through the last miles. I was not having fun, but at least I neared the end. My stomach had been calm throughout the race, but literally within sight of the finish line it suddenly turned south, and I was forced to pull off to the side of the course. Nothing actually came up though, and I uncomfortably made the last few hundred yards to the end.

I finish in 4:47:31, which was a 17 minutes positive split for the second lap, most of which was on the last couple miles of the second loop after the dam. I was satisfied with my performance, and relaxed around the finish area enjoying the food and cheering on other runners.

Approx Lap Splits (25k)

Rockford Marathon 2012

May 20, 2012
Finish: 3:29:10

I wanted to run another marathon and hopefully post a good time before traveling the world put a hiatus in any serious training, so I ran the Rockford Marathon, less than a month before I would hit the trail. My training was sporadic leading up to the race, with selling a house and planning for my retirement interrupting my normally religious training regime. I PRed on haphazard training before though, so maybe I could at least squeak out a decent race.

When race morning rolled around though my legs did not feel fresh. I do not know if my shoes were too old or if it was just not my day. Normally in the starting coral, my legs feel like they are floating on air, after the hard training and subsequent taper. Today they instead felt flat, and I worried what that might bring. The only way to know for sure though was to run the race, so I headed out with the rest of the field after the gun sounded.

I took the first couple of miles easy, but my legs never felt light. I kept at around a three hour pace anyway. That could mean I would blow up early in the race, or it might give me a chance at a decent time. I decided to take the risk, rather than just jog the whole marathon. Besides, with my legs beat up, slowing in the beginning might not have even helped.

Myself running the Rockford Marathon

The race was not very crowded, and sometimes the next runner would be several hundred yards ahead. I did settle in with a guy and we ran together for around five miles, until moving apart near the halfway mark. Despite only speaking about five words to each other the entire time, running with someone else was a great relief, and he helped carry me through these opening miles, which were harder on my legs than they should have been.

The half marathon split from the full just before the former’s finish line, and the course became very lonely after they left. I crossed the halfway split in a second under 1:30, but I knew I would not negative or even split the race. I had slowed a couple seconds per mile already, and it was only a matter of time until I fell apart. The course repeated itself for a couple miles, and this time it was a lot longer than when I covered this ground just an hour and half prior.

To make matters worse the day was hot. I was perfectly comfortable standing still in a tank top before the race, and it only got warmer, with highs in the mid 80s. The heat did not overtly bother me much, but it may have played a role. A few times I was not thirsty, even when I should have been, and had to force myself to take fluid. Plus after the race, despite drinking a lot, I did not have to use the facilities until much later in the day. Even if the weather had been better though, I do not think I would have had a good race. At least the race directors were smart enough not to cancel the race, like the clowns in Green Bay.

The run was over a nice course. It mainly traversed subdivision streets and trails with a decent amount of shade. A few stretches were on larger roads in the sun, but these totaled a few miles at most. It was also very flat, with only a few bumps on the course (although they felt like hills as I faded throughout the second half). Spectators were sparse given the size of the marathon, but the fans that were there were very enthusiastic, and some locals sat in their front yards as well. The police did a great job of patrolling the intersections and traffic was never a problem.

Around mile 16 I started walking the aid stations and by about 19 I walked any meager incline. I jogged when I could, but keeping even my slow pace was very painful. At least at a smaller racer not as many people passed me while walking after I bonked. Still, the top four women all overtook me in the last five miles. Although I moved slowly at the end, with double digit mile times, the race at least did not drag on endlessly. I was out there for a long time, but it never felt like an endless death march like the end of most of my Ironman runs.

During the last few miles I could start to feel the heat more, especially in the sun. The warmth could have been much more of an issue for someone running a four or five hour marathon. For me it was just a little uncomfortable during the latter portion of my race.

I eventually reached the finish line in 3:29:10, at least breaking 3:30, although once again posting a thirty minute positive split on the back half of a marathon. This was not the way I wanted to end this portion of my marathon career, but it was the race I ran. I expect to be competing again at this distance someday, so I still hold out hope to post a good time in the future.

MileSplitTotalComment MileSplitTotalComment
16:576:57 146:511:36:16
26:5113:49 157:501:44:07
36:4920:38 168:051:52:12
46:4627:25 177:482:00:00
56:1333:38Mile marker off187:492:07:50
67:0540:43 198:492:16:39
76:46 47:30 209:372:26:17Started walking “hills”
86:4754:17 219:512:36:08
96:451:01:02 229:582:46:07
106:541:07:56 239:232:55:30
116:581:14:55 2411:003:06:31
127:041:21:59 2510:303:17:01
137:261:29:25Mile had short, steep hill from river2610:263:27:28
Half 1:29:59 Finish 3:29:10