Marathon: St. Louis, MO, October 23, 2011. When I signed up for this race, I picked St. Louis for more than one reason. First, I love St. Louis. The course went right past Busch Stadium and through some of the historic areas. Plus, downtown St. Louis is relatively flat. Sure, there are hills, but they are gentle, rolling hills. I figured I could handle 26.2 miles of small hills. I should have looked at the elevation profile. Starting just before mile 18, the course ran uphill for 2 miles straight. I'm still trying to figure out when they put hills in St. Louis.
My problems with the race started the day before. My sinus infection set in with a vengeance. Jill and I took Erica to the City Museum... and after an hour of walking I was so tired, I had to sit down. Bad sign! Not to mention, I've been suffering from a bad case of tendonitis in both Achilles Tendons - since March. But I gave it a whirl. Before I hit mile #1, my iPod failed. It would replay the same minute or two over and over, then play on fast forward, then on rewind. Sometimes it would jump ahead, and sometimes it would back up. After several miles of feeling like I was listening to an infomercial for 80's greatest hits CD's, I put the iPod away and ran without the music. This is a blurry picture of my backside, just past mile 3:
At Mile #5, I encountered an old Army problem that I haven't seen in several months: I developed bad knees (from jumping out of airplanes and running in loose sand). My left knee gave out on me, to the point it couldn't support any weight. I kept running by making quick hopping steps on that left leg, combined with longer steps on the right leg that kept me from falling. I decided not to quit... after all, I only had 21 more miles. The extreme pain only lasted about 1/2 mile, then faded to a mere annoyance.
By the halfway point, with the problems I'd seen, my goal had changed from finishing in four hours, to just finishing without stopping or walking. The miles rolled on. In the South County area of St. Louis, I found out just how hilly the terrain would get. Just shy of mile 18, the course ran uphill for two straight miles. That's evil!
Near Mile #20, I stepped in a hole and turned my ankle over. But at that point, I was so tired that I barely noticed. By then, the mile marker signs all had clocks on them. Between them and the GPS running application on my phone, I realized that my four hour goal was still within reach. I maintained a decent pace, and by Mile #26, I saw my chance. I kicked it in for that last half mile, for a final time of 3 hours, 59 minutes, and 21 seconds. Made it!
The Rock & Roll Marathon tracks your time for you at different points in the race. My times:
- 5K: 27:02
- 10K: 53:47
- 13.1 miles: 1:54:01
- 16.4 miles: 2:23:37
- 20 miles: 2:57:19
- 23 miles: 3:27:39
- 26.2 miles: 3:59:21
Some random pics:
Me approaching the finish:
Me a little closer to the finish:
And some post-finish photos: