I had 2 goals for this race:
1. Prove that I can run the second half of a marathon faster than the first. Came closer than I have before, but I didn't do it.
2. Beat all of the half marathoners that started 2 hours after the marathoners. I don’t remember being passed, but the math works out that one of the half-ers beat me.
The course is 3 miles out, then you come back by the start, and then continue around the lake back to the start. The hilliest parts are in the first 3 miles, which you go through 3 times.
Up at 4:30. The folks at The Three Sons told me about a place I could park that I could leave as soon as my race was over. We were in the lakefront parking spot at 5. There may have been 10 people total there when we got there. Then a group of "early starters" arrived. I asked what that was. Apparently, if you are a 5+ hour marathoner, they give you a bit of a break from the mid-summer heat, by letting you go out a half hour early. So John and I, and maybe 5 other people cheered as they went off. We walked around for a bit as I stretched. Then I went to the POP one last time. It was like I walked out of the bathroom, and they started my race, like they were waiting for me. It was really kind of funny. They made an announcement that there was a guy who had run all 37 years of the U. of O. marathon, and that this was his 100th marathon. I didn't know it, but the guy was standing right next to me. He said a few words and fired the gun.
There were 4 guys that went straight out, then a small gap, then me, then a big gap, then everybody else. I know I had about a half mile on everybody else at the 3 mile turn around. At @ mile 6 really tall short shorts guy came flying by me, like he started late or something. I don't feel like I changed my pace at any point, but a few miles later, he came back into sight. So I thought I should try to catch him - Slowly. I finally passed him @ mile 17-ish. Then I was really alone. @ mile 20, I saw one of the 4 fast starters, and then I reeled him in within a couple of miles. It is really strange for me to not be falling apart at the end of a race, and to have my wits about me, and be enjoying views, and thinking of catching people, but here I was. I had gone from 6th to 4th late in a race. Crazy. I saw 3rd place guy up ahead walking with his hands on his hips @ mile 23. He saw me coming, and was really pushing to not let me pass, but he didn't have it. At the exact moment I passed him, we both passed 2nd place guy, who was sitting on the ground, getting medical attention. People that live around the lake kept telling me I was in second, but I didn't believe it, even though I had done the math to figure it out. 3:19 is a decent marathon time, and all, but for 2nd place, not so much. I forgot to stop my watch at the finish, but I knew at that point the neg. split goal was shot.
Then, I had to go swim in the lake. I had to. You can't run a race like this and not do that. It was flipping cold! and rocky! We went back to the hotel, cheering for all of the runners still out on the course as we went by. I soaked in the hotel hot tub for @ 15 minutes. Then we got in the car, and drove through 3.5 hours of CORN to get to Des Moines. We stopped in the "town" of Mallard, so I could get a picture of John in front of a Gimungous Duck. I got home at midnight, and started typing this.
This race gets a lot of bad reviews on the interwebs, and frankly, I don't get it. Maybe I just caught this race on a good weather year. The people that put on the race, were overly helpful and kind. If you need big crowds cheering for you, this ain't your race. You had to look for spray painted markings on the ground, but they were there. Plenty of powerade at the finish. I had a great time, and would rate this experience very favorably. I think that starting the half-ers late is brilliant, and all races that combine the distances should do this. The hills were a bit tough, but I handled them better than I thought I would. 50 yards of climb, 50 yards of drop, 50 yards of climb, 50 yards of drop, and so on. It was way better than the solid mile of climb you see in some races. I liked it. The only real negative thing I can come up with is that this race is not very convenient to get to.
Iowa is done. Next.
3 mile split: 20:36. Half split: 1:38:39