Sunday was the White Rock Marathon, and I’m so happy that I’ve had another “boring” successful event. Why was I doing White Rock? Well, I’ve always wanted to go back and wipe my horrid ’05 experience there out of my mind. It was my Personal Worst Marathon for many years (that is, until NYC in ’08 when I ran sick); we’d been doing many long trail runs and I was flat out burnt out and over trained. It was so bad that I took a mini-break right afterwards to rest, which led to my best pacing effort at Freescale ever and a successful 50K at Bandera in ’06. The other reason was my friend, Stacey Hamilton, had approached me some time back to go with her; she was going for a new road marathon PR and a Boston Qualifier. How can I say no to a road trip with a friend? What’s not to love?
Dallas White Rock Marathon Goals
I thought I’d be coming off my own new road marathon fast time at the Nike Women’s Marathon and up for a new course record at White Rock. Then the whole plantar fasciitis thing reared its ugly head, Nike was painful, and the weeks afterwards involved working to get well while while still running enough to keep my trail goals.
I went into White Rock with these goals: to finish pain-free, to have a successful supported long run on the road in preparation for Bandera 100K, and to end on a positive note, knowing that I could physically run (many) more miles.
I met every goal and had the icing on the cake of a course PR. I even ran a bit faster than I did at Nike…and I know, had I not done a 50K two weeks before and actually done some road preparation for this, I could’ve hit my Nike Marathon goal time of being back in under 5:00 for a road marathon.
Running a Road Marathon Like a Trail Event
The world of difference was in how I felt. I smiled and enjoyed myself the entire way; my nutrition was great, despite the fact that I didn’t actually hit the start line until almost 9 a.m. (due to late start of the marathon plus a weird corral system that took forever), and my energy stayed high. My strategy was to not look at mile pace but to work within what felt like a “comfort zone,” meaning that my pace actually varied quite a bit. There was certainly no negative split…I was quite a bit slower in the second half. My mental goal was to finish miles 1–20 as “Loop 1” and to keep in mind that I was going to have a Loop 2 and 3 at Bandera, so I needed to run a pace where two more loops felt possible. Strong, steady, and comfortable were the watch words of the day.
I had to be reminded of that goal at mile 16, when I found myself attempting to do some nutritional things on the fly rather than “waste time” stopping. The truth is, I’m going to stop at Bandera and I was NOT at White Rock to wear myself out trying to shave 10 or 15 more minutes off my finish time.
So at mile 16, I completely stopped, walked over to the aid station table, and spent almost 5 minutes refilling my bottle, adjusting my clothes, throwing out trash, repositioning food in my pack, etc. My miles after that were super slow…but I looked at the spillway, read signs*, chatted with people, and kept the mental focus positive. I hit mile 20 feeling like a million bucks. From that point on, I gradually picked up the pace (still never moving outside my easy, peasy comfort zone).
Then vs. Now
The contrast between ’05 and ’10 couldn’t have been greater. I laughed as I rounded the corner where I remembered seeing my friend’s husband and being embarrassed because I was crying. The point where I’d been crushed to be passed by the 5:00 pace group came and went; this year, when I let the 5:00 group go, it was with a smile and lightness in my heart over the fact that I was running pain-free and enjoying the lake view. I remembered the last marathon I’d run around a lake, and all those good feelings from Ironman Coeur d’Alene added to my pleasure at running at such a beautiful place. I think I cursed every bit of Grapevine Lake in ’05, and I know I hobbled into the finish, embarrassed and hurting. This year, I finished running strong, picking up a new “course friend” that I goaded into a faster finish.
I’m amazed at how well my foot is doing. It’s a bit achey but nothing bad or really too out-of-the-ordinary for 26.2 on the road after nothing but trail since October. I could walk when I finished, and I iced and massaged in the car on the way home, thanks to Stacey’s driving. I hope this holds up as I’m getting into the home stretch on any preparation I can do for the 100K. I’ll have several marathon+ length trail runs between now and January 6, and I’m looking forward to all of them. Hopefully, my body will continue to hold up and I’ll make it to the start line ready to give it my best.
(And yes, Stacey met her goals, too!)
*Three best course signs seen at the Dallas White Rock Marathon:
- I’m proud of you, random stranger!
- Chuck Norris never ran a marathon.
- Run faster — Betty White is right behind you! (seen at about mile 22)