Thursday, July 12, 2007

Central States Marathon

Race Report
Central States Marathon
Ames, IA
Sun, May 13/07
# 286 – State # 47 (2nd loop)
3:47:37 - 2 OA

I apologize that this report is two months late but I had a very hectic travel schedule after the race. Better late than never?

I needed to run a marathon in Iowa to continue my (silly) quest to finish the 50 States for a 2nd time. The Central States Marathon was the only race in IA that fit my schedule for the year even though it was not convenient since I would have to leave on the following Tue for the South Pacific- i.e. I would only have one day to get ready and pack for a long trip!

There were a few benefits to picking this race. A friend, Rick K. from Tampa was also running and we agreed to share expenses and the cost of the race was $10! No entry fee but we had to join the Ames Running Club to get our free entry! Rick and I flew out separately from Tampa on Sat and met in Des Moines for a short drive to Ames. We checked out the route to Brookside Park to make sure we knew the route and then enjoyed a traditional pasta dinner.

It was a very small and informal race. The race was on Sun and 47 runners had the option of starting at 6 or 7 am. You just signed in at the appropriate hour and your time started from that hour! We chose to start at 6 am to enjoy cooler weather and finish earlier so that we could catch our flights home. The weather was sunny and cool (50s F) when we started but it was forecast to reach the low 80s. About 35 runners started at 6am. Rick and I had returned to the rental car to change into singlets for the warmer weather and the race started (on time) as we were walking back to the start line! We had to sprint to the start line and then turn around and chase the group! It took about 1 mile to catch/pass most of the runners. Finally I pulled up behind the 3rd place runner – a young male runner from Des Moines. I confirmed that there were only two runners (male) in font of us. The course was a 5.25-mile loop that consisted of a 3.75-mile loop back to the start/finish line followed by a 1.75-mile loop. Since I had no idea where the loops went I decided to stay with the young runner until we finished the first total loop. At the turn-around on the smaller loop we met the two lead runners who had about ¼ mile lead. We reached the start/finish line at the end of the first 5.25-mile loop in 44:54. Since there were no other distance markers on the course that was the only gauge I had to set pace. I calculated that if I could hold that pace I would finish in 3:45. I still didn’t have much confidence that I could run that fast without suffering cramps in my legs so I decided to hold that pace and see what happens?

I soon left the young male runner behind and continued to chase the two lead runners. At first I thought that I would be bored with the short 5.25-mile loop but it turned out OK. Many of the runners were fellow members of the 50 State Club trying to add another state to their list and I knew most of them. So we kept passing each other through the race and eventually I even lapped some of them. By the time I had completed my 3rd loop in 2:14:53 (fairly even 45-min splits) the 1st place runner had increased his lead to almost 1 mile but I was still within ½ mile of 2nd place. I decided to hold the pace for the 4th loop.
I completed the 4th loop in 3:00:19 but was starting to tire. However I was closing the lead on 2nd place so I used the course layout to my advantage. I convinced myself that I could hold the pace for at least the next 3.75-mile loop and then assess the situation for the final short loop. When I returned to the finish line for the 9th time the lead runner had just crossed the finish line and won the race in 3:30. But I could now see the 2nd place runner in front of me and he was fading. That was enough incentive to accept some pain and continue to push the pace! I caught and passed him near mile 25. I was hoping he wouldn’t respond because I didn’t have much left? Fortunately he was hurting too much to respond and wished me good luck. At that point I figured there was no reason to continue to hurt so I slowed down and cruised to the finish line in 3:47:37!

I was pleased with my time and place – 2nd place overall! I was even more pleased that I had not experienced any cramps in my legs! Maybe those problems were finally behind me? Because the race was so small the race director was handing out awards as runners crossed the finish line. He offered me an award – a second hand trophy from another race! I graciously refused. I didn’t need another running trophy. I only accept awards that are unusual/unique or practical like running gear.

I then had to wait for Rick to finish but there were lots of other friends still on the course so I cheered them to the finish line. One running mate from the UK was in the race so I walked/jogged about ¼ mile of the course with him to catch up on the latest news in the UK. Finally Rick finished in 5+ hrs and we headed back to the hotel for a quick shower and back to the airport.

I arrived home late and thus had only one day to prepare and pack for a 3-week international trip to the South Pacific for two marathons/countries. Now I have to write the trip reports for those races and they will be much longer.

But I did finish state #47. I only have three states left – RI, WV, PA – the same three states that I should have finished last year but missed due to that darn DVT/blood clot! I will finish them and my quest this fall!

Stay tuned for the reports!

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