2013 Big D Marathon Recap

by Kim on April 16, 2013

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*I drafted this post Sunday night and Monday morning, long before the explosions in Boston so, in retrospect, my thoughts on the Big D marathon seem very trivial.  I am so saddened by what happened at the Boston Marathon, just one day after the Big D Marathon.  The joyous and celebratory day turned into tragedy.  I’m glad that all those I know running in or spectating at the Boston Marathon are currently safe, but my thoughts go out to all those affected by this horrific turn of events.  When you hurt one person, one runner, you hurt the entire world.

I originally had no plans to run the Big D Marathon.  I did, however, plan to run the half.  The Dallas Running Club was scheduled to pace this race and the director of the our training program sent out a message to all the training program pace leaders asking them to pace this race.  I responded back to him and said I wasn’t quite comfortable pacing the a full marathon yet because I only had one under my belt, but I was happy to pace the half or half the distance of the full.  The half marathon was already covered at that point, so he put me down for pacing half of the full.  My plan was to leave it at that and target the Oklahoma City Marathon two weeks later as my full marathon of the season.  Well, the day before I was about to sign up for the OK City Marathon, I found out I got accepted into the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in DC, which happens to be on the same exact day as the OK City Marathon.  So my plans completely changed and I emailed the training program director to see if he could put me pacing the first half of the Big D Marathon and I’d run the second half without worrying about getting other people across the finish line (in other words, if I crashed and burned at the end, I wouldn’t be responsible for other people’s finish times).  Everything worked out and I was scheduled to pace the first half of the marathon at for the 5 hour pace group.  This was much slower than I expected so my hope was to speed up after I handed the pace stick off to the people jumping in at the halfway point.

320094_3002890967807_1397660592_n The entire pace team for the race

RACE DAY WEATHER
It was a warm one.  The morning started out cool and comfortable in the high 50’s with a bit of cloud cover.

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I was actually pretty chilly standing around before the race, but I warmed up right away once we got going.  The cloud cover and a nice breeze kept the race feeling rather comfortable for the first 11 miles and then the skies cleared and the sun beamed down hard.  I could feel myself burning (despite the use of sunscreen) for the entire second half of the race.  Things warmed up pretty quickly, and by the time I reached the finish line, it was in the mid-70’s.

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Now keep in mind, mid-70’s sounds like perfect weather, but that’s if you are standing around.  When you are running, you need to add 20 degrees to that temperature to get a realistic idea of how the body feels.  So, come finish line, I was basically in 95-degree weather.

FEELINGS GOING INTO THE RACE
I was actually feeling really calm and lighthearted about this race.  The weather was my only concern for this race.  The forecast all week long showed mid-80’s with full sun.  (So sad, gone are my cold races for the year.)  Being such a small race, I didn’t really feel the build-up like I did for the Dallas Marathon.

IMG_4791 The crowd getting ready to start

Also, pacing 5:00 for the first half definitely made me think this race would be no problem.  Once I found out I was pacing the first half of the 5:00 group, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I’d need to adjust my pace to get a PR (under 4:44:30) or even reach 4:30.  I’d have to pick it up quite a bit to reach 4:30, but nothing unattainable and, for sure, I should be able to get in just below 4:44:30….

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MEALS BEFORE THE RACE
I had Crockpot Rigatoni and Sausage for dinner the night before the race for carbs and protein.  I didn’t overdo it, but I thought I fueled up well and felt satisfied at the end of the meal.

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On race morning, I had my usual: Central Market whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter and jam (raspberry, this time around).  It hit the spot, as usual.

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WHAT I WORE
Well, I didn’t have a lot of choice for part of my “outfit”.

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As usual, I had my  Brooks Glycerine running shoes, and  ProKinetics insoles.  I got to change things up from all my other races this year and wear my blue (now turned periwinkle) Features running socks.  I wore shorts for the first race this year, too, my light blue Nike Tempo shorts.  And with shorts means undies…my fancy ExOfficio undies.  For my top, I wore my Brooks DRC Pace Team tank top (all the race pace leaders wore this shirt) and for my sports bra, my white cheap-o Target/Champion sports bra.  I also wore my grey Flip Belt to hold my car key, cell phone, and Shot Bloks.  Since it was tank-top weather, I was sure to BodyGlide my arm pits, which have been known to chafe.

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THE COURSE
Haha, this is where the race started to go down hill.  Like any marathon, you’d expect this one to be 26.2 miles long.  Well there was a HUGE error in the beginning and the course that was supposed to be 26.2 miles turned out to be 27.2 miles long (or 27.53 miles according to my Garmin.  More on that very soon, but here is the original course map, from the race website.

Big-D Course Map-marathon

We started in Fair Park and we were supposed to leave Fair Park right away, but there was mass confusion and we ran through Fair Park for an entire mile before leaving, hitting the “hood” as we made our way north.  We eventually crossed into some nicer neighborhoods before we hit the lake.  The full marathon started at 7:30 and the half started at 8:00.  Right as we hit the lake, the fasties from the half caught up to us, passed us, and turned around to head back to Fair Park.  We, the full runners, traveled up the east side of the lake until we hit Mockingbird Lane, then we left the lake to run around the Lake Highlands neighborhood for a while.  We eventually looped back and crossed over to the west side of the lake, running south.  We left the lake and headed into the Lakewood neighborhood, followed by Swiss Avenue, and into the Deep Ellum(ish) neighborhood (ish, because I think where we ran was a tad bit north of Deep Ellum).  Finally, we crossed over and ran the back side of Fair Park (back in the “hood”) and eventually wound our way into Fair Park for the mile stretch to the finish line.

Here is the map of the course we actually ran (with that crazy extra mile in the beginning in Fair Park)

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And the elevation chart.

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THE RACE ORGANIZATION
This race is put on by Mellew Productions, a for-profit local race company.  They put on several races in the area and this was my first one with them.  Several of my friends have run Mellew races before and I haven’t always heard the best things.  Last fall, several of my friends ran the Tyler Rose and they never got official results because the timing system got tampered with.  Other friends have mentioned how dismal some of these races were (including this particular marathon), with very low participation.  My expectations weren’t set too high from what I heard, but I expected to run a race that was actually 26.2 miles long!  Being a pace leader, I got to run the race for free, so I feel like I can’t complain too much, but heck, some things you just expect out of a marathon, like being the accurate distance.

Anyway, let me back up a little bit to packet pickup.  This is a VERY small race here in Dallas… probably 3,000 runners split between a 5k, half marathon, and full marathon.  With that said, there was no expo.  Packet pickup was held on Friday and Saturday before the race, with a handful of locations to pick from.  I chose the Frisco location because it is a 15 minute drive straight up the street from me.  I left my phone at home, so unfortunately, no pictures of packet pickup, but honestly, there wasn’t  much to see.  This particular packet-pickup was in the A Loft Hotel.  When I went to get my bib, the volunteer couldn’t find me in the system.  Apparently, Mellew totally spelled my last name wrong (which would come back and “haunt” me later).  She eventually found my name (via my email address) and assigned me a bib and gave me a participant tech T-shirt.  Again, my expectations were low, so I wasn’t surprised by packet pickup, although my name should have been right in the system.

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559011_10151649069412189_874272287_n A few Pace Team photos before the race started.

Sunday morning arrived and all seemed well.  The “gun was shot” and we were off.  The lead runners took us out on the course.  The only trouble was, Mellew had already set the 5k course up in the park and the lead marathon runners hopped on that course instead of following the marathon route immediately out of Fair Park.  Everyone followed, not knowing anything different and the next thing we knew, we were a mile off from the get-go.  To add fuel to the fire, it was feeling warm already and everyone was antsy for a water stop.  Except the first water stop wasn’t until 4 miles after we started (mile 3 in the race). I thought this was rather late for the first water stop, whether it was at mile 3 or 4.

Once we hit the lake, it was pretty clear there was something totally messed up with the course.  A woman jumped in the race with our pace group and told us that things got messed up and they were trying to figure out how to adjust the course.  At this point (probably mile 7), we didn’t know what that meant.  Were they going to move the finish line up a mile?  It wasn’t until about mile 24 that a police officer confirmed that indeed the race was going to be 27.2 miles long.  UGH!

Okay, I’m starting to give too much of the race away under this heading, but one last thing.  There were no port-o-potties until mile 11!  I never needed them, but seriously, mile 11??  Okay, moving on…

CROWD SUPPORT
I knew from the get-go that this race is poorly supported by spectators.  A few people came out of their houses to watch and the water stops (once we finally hit them) were super enthusiastic, but really, not many people come out to support this race at all.  I did have two of my pace group friends (who are training for an early May marathon up north) come out and cheer.

555843_10101526918425270_1482075915_n My pace group friends captured some shots of Jorge and me as we hobbled by

And the Dallas Running Club water stop was awesome!  Vishal, the training program director, paced the half marathon, but showed up at the DRC water stop.  As I was coming up the hill to the water stop, Vishal said something along the lines of “who knew it would be an ultra marathon!?”  I, running past him, said, “I know, what the F!?”  Some of the other water stations were great… lots of kids handing out water.

537270_647178845298810_1111356013_n Coming up on the DRC water stop

Of the few spectators out, everyone was very supportive and called out, “you are doing great” or “looking good”.  

THE RACE


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Pace team gathering before the race

Okay, well, I said a lot already under the race organization and crowd support sections, but let me dive into how the race went for me specifically.  I met the rest of the pace team at 6:45 AM and we got our pace time sticks, met one another (for those who didn’t know each other) and headed to one of the halls together.

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The hall was warm and vendors were already set up.  I didn’t explore too much, but I did snag a couple shots while I was standing around.

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Of course, my friends from the fall training program who were pacing this race got together for a photo.

IMG_4788 I was the only one of the four of us who was pacing the full, so I had to part ways with them to get out to the start line (the half started half an hour later).  I met back up with my 5:00 pace team for one last photo before Sean left us to be reunited later one at the hand-off point.

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We were off!  I was surprised we were running in Fair Park so much, but I didn’t think too much about it until we started to question the very off mile markers.

The first 12 miles were great.  I was pacing at a 11’27”, which is pretty easy for me.  I had a little bit of a stride issue at one point and had so lift me knees a little bit to knock out the pain, but overall, I was doing great, eating a Clif Shot Blok every 3 miles, and conserving a lot of energy.  Sean, my replacement, met us at the 11-mile point (really mile 10, but, as you know, we were a mile off).  I stuck with the 5:00 group for one more mile and then I flipped my pace team shirt inside out, took one more Shot Blok and headed out on my own.  I wanted to target somewhere between a 10:00 to 10:30 minute mile.  After running 12 already, I questioned how fast I’d be able to pick my pace up.  Dropping down to a 10’30” would average me out to just over 4:45 marathon, so if I could pick it up a tad, I could break 4:44:30.  A 9’10” pace would put me in at 4:30.  That would have been awesome, but 12 miles in, I didn’t think I’d be able to drop down to a 9’10” and maintain it for 14 miles.

My pace dropped much faster than I expected and I got into a nice stride.  I felt confident and comfortable… for three miles.  Then I started to get sharp pains in my right knee.  I stuck it out one more mile, but by mile 16, I needed to stop and step aside for a few seconds.  I tried to massage it out and continue on.  I really wanted to catch up to the 4:45 group, so I bared down and cussed through every twinge of knee pain.  I arrived back at the lake and was in major need of water.  There was a water fountain up ahead and I told myself I’d stop and hydrate.  But once at the water fountain, no water seemed to want to come out of it.  It was as if the city shut of the water on this day!  (Cause that fountain was working all season long!)  Ugh, back on the course I went.  I made it a little further, but had to stop once again.  So much pain.  There was a guy sitting in the lawn watching me.  Around the corner, I heard people screaming “Water, Gatorade”.  I looked up at the man and booked it to the water.  He cheered me on, telling me to push through the pain and I responded, “WATER!!”  Right at that point, I ran into one of my fellow pace leaders, Jorge.  Jorge was pacing the 4:45 group, but he ended up falling back, leaving his pace group with the two other pace leaders.  desperately needed to walk for a little while so we walked together.  We were still questioning if the race was going to be 26.2 or 27.2 but I had my heart set on 26.2 and I continued to count down from there.  Eventually Jorge and I started back up again.  He suggested we keep it at an 11’00” and I agreed, but this pace was incredibly painful.  I stuck it out as much as I could, but Jorge knew I was in pain.  We walked and ran on and off pretty much for the rest of the race.  The transition between walking and running was always the hardest and at times I really wanted to go faster because that changed my stride and relieved some of the pain, but getting to that faster pace was very difficult.

We talked and supported each other the remainder of the course.  Although I feel like Jorge supported me more than I supported him!  He was cheering me on so much as I gritted through the pain.  We eventually left the lake and headed into Lakewood.  It was then that the 5:00 pace group passed us.  Except at that point, it was just the pace leader who came in to relieve me.  Everyone who started with the 5:00 pace group was nowhere to be seen.  Shortly after that, one of Jorge’s training group people came up from behind us and ran with us for a few miles.  Jorge and I stopped for water at the top of Swiss Avenue and she, having just seen a friend out cheering for the race, got a boost and continued on.  Swiss Avenue was more walking and running mix.  As we turned onto Haskell, I told Jorge that we should run again.  We ran until the next water stop, almost back at Fair Park.  Jorge was convinced that the moved the finish line up and we were about 3/4 a mile from the end.  I was very doubtful at this point and I told him, I didn’t care, at 26.2 miles, I was done.  I wasn’t going to run any more.  Of course, his hope was dashed when the finish line wasn’t in sight, but with 3/4 of a mile to 26.2, I told him I was going to run and run until that point, which I did.  I left him (only briefly) and hit my 26.2 and the very last water stop.  He caught up to me here and we walked into Fair Park together, right past our cars parked in the parking lot (with 3/4 a mile to go).  I so wanted to just get in my car and leave.  I didn’t care any more.  Being so small and disorganized, my heart wasn’t in this race to begin with.  But Jorge kept me going.  We turned our last corner, walked around a fountain and he said we should run it in to the finish line.  As we approached the finish chute, I saw my funning friends, Carrie and Jessica, who both ran the half.  They stuck around this whole time!!  They jumped in and I said, okay, I’m taking off, and Jessica and I booked it to the finish line.  The announcer called out my name “Kimberly Deasertsfgsbshgsgh”  (like I said, that misspelling would come back to haunt me… granted my last name throws everyone off, but they guy really destroyed it).  Done.  27.53 miles.

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POST RACE FOOD AND VENDORS
I didn’t even walk over to the food area, but I heard there were breakfast tacos, potatoes, and beer.  Most likely all of that was gone at that point anyway…. the half marathoners usually do a number of the post-race food.  I didn’t check out any of the vendors either.  I stuck around the finish line with Jessica and Carrie as we waited for Ana, a girl from my training group, to finish.  This was her first marathon and we wanted to cheer her on as she came in.  A few minutes later, she came running through the finish line with tears in her eyes.  It made me tear up!!  I’m so excited for her!

NO PAIN NO GAIN
OMG, major knee pain!  I’m freaking out that I may have actually injured my knee.  I need to give it the usual few-day recovery period to see if it is sore from the marathon or if it is really injured.  That won’t be good for my upcoming half marathons in two and three weeks from now.  So far, no good, but I’m practicing RICE (rest, elevation, compression, ice).

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Besides the knee pain, my legs were generally in pain from about mile 19 on.  Once I got in my car and sat back, I noticed a pain like a bruise on my lower back.  I’m thinking this is from where my car key sat for the entire race.  Post race, I can feel it in my hip(ish) area.  My core isn’t sore at all unlike the Dallas Marathon and I didn’t get sick like I did from that race.  I did get sunburned, as I knew I would.  I have a “wonderful” runner’s tan now!

OTHER RANDOM THOUGHTS
My results weren’t posted until Monday!  Seriously?!  I had to wait a whole day for my official results?!  I still haven’t seen or heard anything from Mellew apologizing for the extra mile.  The mistake of an extra mile can break a race, killing it to the ground, and no word of apology right away really burns this race.  I’ll be interested to see what happens, but as of now, I have yet to see anything posted on the website or received an email offering any sort of apology.  Disappointing.

OVERALL OPINION
I’ll be frank.  This race SUCKED!  I will never, ever do this race again.  I have a couple of Mellew Production half marathons coming up in the summer and I’m not exactly excited about them, but once I’m done with my crazy half-a-month goal, I’m done with Mellew!

RACE STATS
Bib Number: 150
Division: Female 30-34

Official Chip Time: 5:24:09
Official Race Distance: 26.2 miles
Official Average Race Pace: 12’22”
Official Rank: 362 our of 506
Division Rank: 22 out of 34
13.1 mile split: 2:37:25

Garmin Time: 5:24:04
Garmin Distance: 27.53 miles
Garmin Average Pace: 11’46”

Garmin Splits
Mile 1: 11’17”
Mile 2: 11’26”
Mile 3: 11’30”
Mile 4: 11’20”
Mile 5: 11’01”
Mile 6: 11’19”
Mile 7: 11’20”
Mile 8: 11’27”
Mile 9: 11’09”
Mile 10: 11’13”
Mile 11: 11’11”
Mile 12: 11’27”
Mile 13: 9’45”
Mile 14: 9’28”
Mile 15: 9’49”
Mile 16: 9’49”
Mile 17: 10’23”
Mile 18: 11’03”
Mile 19: 14’56”
Mile 20: 11’15”
Mile 21: 12’59”
Mile 22: 14’17”
Mile 23: 10’53”
Mile 24: 14’28”
Mile 25: 16’30”
Mile 26: 11’14”
Mile 27: 14’02”
Mile 27.53: 14’07”

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