In Sunday’s Big D Texas Marathon in Dallas, I think I finally realized that yes, this attempt at 60 marathons this year is going to be difficult and painful. On paper, the schedule is daunting, and I’ve never run a marathon that wasn’t tough. But I think I’ve reached the point that I’m going to have to accept and expect physical and mental struggles. I went 3:24:05 in the race, a time I’d consider to be my slowest of the year when considering the course and elements.
This race, my 18th marathon of the year, was pure pain from start to finish. Granted, I ran the Olathe Marathon in Kansas the day before, so there was no reason to expect this to be easy. But the one recurring thing that kept running through my mind was how much I was hurting.
The course itself was fairly nice, but unspectacular. We didn’t run by anything that you’d think of when you think of Dallas — no downtown or anything like that. It was primarily a pass through a bunch of older sections of town — mostly modest neighborhoods, but there were a few nicer neighborhoods and some pretty bad parts of town. We spent some time running around White Rock Lake, which was nice, and almost the entire race went down tree-lined streets. Probably not a destination race, but it was a nice run. There was a competition amongst the aid stations, so all the volunteers were enthusiastic and had a good time.
The weather started in the low 60s and worked its way up to the high 60s by the end of the race. It was fairly humid, but overcast. Not perfect running conditions, but I’ve run in worse.
As for my running, I got going and felt kind of OK. I had told myself before Saturday’s race that I would attempt to go no faster on Sunday than I did the day before. I’m not good at exercising restraint, though. I still went out gunning for 7:15 miles to try to get back into the sub-3:10 range that’s been eluding me since February.
I was inconsistent early on and my legs were fairly sore. I tried to not think about the fact that I had run a marathon the day before, because 26.2 miles is a long ways and there’s no sense psyching yourself out. My heart rate was a little low, maybe around 160 (my target marathon HR is 170), so I stepped it up and was able to run right around a 7:00 pace for the most part for a little while. I turned in some good miles, but I didn’t have enough in me to hang on to that effort. I hit the half in 1:38:05, six seconds slower than being on pace for another BQ (3:15:59 for me). I had zero confidence I could negative-split the course, though.
I kept plugging along, trying to find some fight to run hard. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a whole lot in me. The entire race hurt pretty bad physically and I spent a lot of time praying about things. I thought back to yesterday, how I started a new Train 4 Autism chapter in Kansas City. Tony Rezek is going to be that chapter’s president, and I caught his attention with my attempt at 60 marathons, not my 3:07 in Carlsbad. It’s the effort I’m putting in, not the times I’m pulling out.
I realized that pain is just part of the deal. It’s my job to do this, my job to run myself into the ground, but people will respond and join me and Train 4 Autism to fight the fight. So I kept on running. Physically, I was miserable. I never felt comfortable. Mentally, I was more-or-less fine, just trying to ignore how thrashed I felt.
At about 17.5 miles in, I got a pretty bad side stitch that reduced me to a shuffle. For those of you non-runners, a side stitch is a bad abdominal pain that feels like someone is stabbing you. It makes it hurt pretty bad to run and to breathe. Normally when I get these, they last a half-mile or a mile. Today, though, it didn’t go away until about mile 22. By then, I had really slowed and at that point, it’s tough to pick up momentum.
I think other people were struggling because I was actually passing folks over the final few miles. With about 1/2 mile to go, there was a man and a woman who I’d passed a few minutes earlier and I could see they were making a charge to pick me off by the finish. I stepped it up and got my pace into the mid-6s to hold them off. Not exactly the way I wanted to finish off 52.4 miles of racing this weekend, but I guess it was appropriate to burn until the end.
I went 3:24:05 according to my Garmin. Somehow, that was good for 20th overall out of 598 finishers. I saw Ally Phillips and her husband at the finish — she’s a Dallas resident and a great friend of Operation Jack. She ran the half marathon and was only a minute off her PR!
All-in-all, it was a tough run for me individually and I’m not thrilled with my time, but I think something inside me clicked. I’m learning to be content with my effort and the progress of Operation Jack regardless of how long it takes me to reach the finish line.
18 down, 42 to go. Time to try to get another chapter started!
Me and Ally about 30 minutes after the finish. I tried to smile, but I couldn’t make it happen. Yeah, it was that painful!