Race Recap: 2017 Dallas Marathon
Yesterday, I finished my 4th full marathon, 26.2 miles of physical, mental, and spiritual ups and downs that less than 1 percent of the world’s population attempt to complete. No records were set, and I didn’t feel like it was my best race, but I’m happy with the result nonetheless. Here’s a complete racap
First of all, the weather was absolutely perfect. Race time tempuratures were in the mid-to-low 40s with out any wind. You couldn’t ask for better running conditions. Sure, we were all a bit cold before the race, but as race time drew closer, adrenaline and excitement was all I required to stay warm. My goal for this race? Finish with the 3:45 Pace Group. I finished my first 3 marathons without running with a pace group. Every race, same story: Go out way too fast, crawl across the finish line. I wanted to beat my personal best time of 3:47, so I figured sticking with the 3:45 pacer would ensure I hit my goal.
Dallas Marathoners and Half Marathoners started at the same time and ran the same course through the first 9 miles. The Marathon course takes you through the West End Side of Downtown Dallas, through the neighborhoods of Highland Park, down the streets of lower Greenville, around the famous White Rock Lake, and then after a tour of the Deep Ellum District, you cross the Finish Line in front of City Hall. Piece of Cake, so I thought. This has been my home for the last 7 years, so I didn’t think this route would provide any surprises. Boy was I wrong..
Everything was going according to plan. Through the first 13 miles, with exception to a quick potty break, I was glued to the hip of the 3:45 Pacer who was pretty great. He was talking non-stop, coaching the group through the whole race, and spilling about all these race experiences he’s had in his many years of racing. The dude has completed countless marathons and ultra distance marathons and had plenty to say about the subject. More importantly, he provided some insight into our mentality every step of the way. “Use the uphill for recover, the downhill for speed..we are right on pace, keep it going”. I felt like I was part of a run gang during this time. I stayed with the 3:45 pack until we rounded white rock and headed toward Deep Ellum at Mile 20 when it all fell apart.
According to the course map, the first half of the marathon is on a slight incline while the second half is on a slight decline. Of course they provide a squiggly line map showing the change in elevation too, but that really doesn’t provide any context for racers. Well, at Mile 20 in the middle of the decline, there’s a sharp but seemingly insignificant change in elevation. You could barely notice it on the graph. It was at this point, that I had to start walking. Even the pacer started power walking up the hill, granted at a much quicker pace. I couldn’t match the stride. A minute later, I make it up this stupid hill, and the 3:45 group was no longer within sight. Slightly deflated, the next few miles were pretty horrible. I finished them with a combination of walk/running as I calculate how much time I would finish behind the group every time I stopped. Then came the cramps.
The first cramp came in my right calf. It didn’t feel too bad at first, but then my left calf began to cramp as well. Not to be left out, then my inner quad began to take on that oh so familiar feeling. At mile 24, I stopped and tried desparately to stretch my quad. I will never do that stretch again. My entire hamstring locked up, I could barely walk afterwards for about 15 seconds. In that moment, I seriously thought my race could be over. Luckily, after a few steps..my hammy decided to let go, and we were back.
I crossed the finish line at 3 hours and 53 minutes. Nope, I didn’t set any personal records in this race, but I’m happy with the result and I learned some things in the process. One: cramps suck and stretching a cramp can cause another cramp in the process. Two: The Dallas Marathon is hillier than I thought. The total elevation change of this race is around 450 ft. But there are a lot of hills in the Lakewood neighborhood just after White Rock Lake section, 18 miles in to the marathon. I’ve gotta be prepared for that next time. Three: 3:45 is going to be harder than I thought. Naturally after running for years now, I thought beating my personal best that I set 5 years ago would be easy if I had the right conditions. Well, turns out I was wrong and that’s okay. Fuel to the fire!
I’m proud of closing out another marathon and my last race for the year. I am even more proud of my friends for completing their races as well. I love sharing the joy that running has brought me, and I get such a kick out of seeing that passion grow in others. Just hours after the race, there was already talk about signing up for next year. Fitness is contagious, and I couldn’t be happier about that. Also a big thanks to Jess, Mel, and Hillary for supporting us every step of the way. Words cannot describe how much your support truly means to us. And with that, the 2017 Dallas Marathon is finished..