I finished the Eisenhower Marathon today 5th overall and 1st in my age group (very pleased) but with a 3:10:24 (not so pleased). I knew when I was on the out portion of the race, running literally into gusts of 20-30+ mph, that a PR would be difficult, but doable. I ended up taking turns drafting with a guy who was gunning for a 2:49 (he ultimately finished 6th overall--right behind me--and we really worked well together as far as drafting). I hit the turnaround in 1:29:09, about 2 minutes behind pace, and was really psyched by the thought of running back with such a strong tailwind pushing me. And the tailwind was nice. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late. The problem on the back was the heat and the damage done to my legs when I was running hard into the headwind in the first half. The sun was scorching hot, the humidity was around 80%, and when I finished the temperature was a balmy, sticky 77 degrees. The last 6 miles were horrendous for me, as evidenced by my 1:41 second half. The temperature in Abilene hit 91 on Sunday.
Here's a great article about the 2011 race. In this article, the winner, Daniel Craig, 30, who ran a 2:40 (slow by his standards) and also won last year's race with a 2:32, talks about how the conditions affected his performance and really presented safety concerns. I was also interested in what the runner-up, Timothy Mashall, said about conditions.
I'm trying not to be too hard on myself. I think what happened was that I worked so hard running against the wind in the first 13.1 miles that when I turned around I had less in the bank than what I needed to cross the finish line in under 2:55. So I ran the last half with tired legs that turned into trashed legs, while fighting dehydration. When I stopped for a quick pee at around mile 17, my urine was almost red. Not good. And I'd been hydrating well all day--or so I thought.
So, hey, I'm not going to make excuses. I came up short of my goal--about 15 minutes short--but, on the good side, I finished top 5 and 1st in my age group with a Boston qualifier time. Historically, the top 5 guys are always sub-3 hours in this race.
Am I disappointed? Yes.
Did I give it my all? Yes.
I think the Eisenhower Marathon is a wonderful race with friendly people. Abilene reflects the values that made America great, and the town is very proud of its connection to Dwight Eisenhower. I visited the Eisenhower Presidential Library & Museum with my dad about 14 or 15 years ago, making for great memories. The race was a great experience. I only wish I'd achieved my goal.
It's hard to believe, but 4 months ago I could barely run because of plantar fasciitis, and now I just finished a marathon on only 10 weeks of training.
I'm psyched about the racing season and am now going to transition to Jemez 50-Mile training.