Missouri- Take 2

My primary goal is to run a marathon in each of the 50 states plus DC. Along the way, I got progressively faster and created a “stretch goal” of doing each of them under 4 hours.

Two goals at once? Yes. Here’s how I see it: I always want to be challenging myself. If I’m in a position to look back and say, “that was nice. What next?”, I’m doing something wrong. Always have another goal on deck.

There are some states where I have completed a marathon, but not in under 4 hours. I don’t always choose my races based on time based goals, so sometimes I don't intend to run in under 4 hours (Run with the Horses in Wyoming, The North Face Challenge in Wisconsin) and will inevitably visit the state again. Missouri is another story. I wanted to earn a sub 4, but it simply wasn’t my day at Lewis & Clark back in 2009 and I crossed the line 9 minutes late. Hindsight is 20/20, but I believe my bonk in St Charles had to do with being a hardcore vegan at the time; as such, I was never able to recover properly.

Having just spent 6 months living in the show me state and coaching a Crossfit Endurance program at the local CrossFit affiliate in St Robert, I had a great group of people to do St Louis Rock & Roll marathon with- Karen, Greg, and Beth Anne. It was a surprise to finally have someone out-shop me at an expo (looking at you, Beth Anne) and fun to share a pre and post race meal with this crew. I will always have fond memories of Missouri because of the time spent and people I met in Karen and Greg’s gym- sharing this event together was like the “cherry on top”.

On the way IN to the expo. Beth Anne's hands were full with shopping bags on the way out..!
I'll always love Missouri because of my time spent with these people
On race morning, Suzy Favor Hamilton fired the start gun (fun side note: 2 months later, her scandalous double life would be uncovered) and we were off. I thought the start of the race might be a bit fast, considering the mix in with half-marathoners. The original plan was to go out at about 8:45 pace, to give myself some breathing room from the sub 4:00 target. Sure enough, the first mile was fast, starting around 8:15 pace. I maintained this through the mile and hit the 5K mark at 24:42.

Pre race "I get to wear a skirt today!" smile

Perhaps to my demise later in the race, I didn't slow down. I was energized by passing people during the next few (hilly!) miles. It’s a heck of a lot easier running up hills in minimalist shoes, and I was strong on inclines from my training. In Waynesville, hills are non-negotiable. All of our intervals at Crossfit Endurance were done on steep inclines and declines. Many ups and downs later, I crossed 10K in 50:24.

Around Mile 8-9, the course split and the half-marathoners disappear from the course. With fewer competitors on course, I was able to slow down a bit but was still way ahead of the conservative 8:45 pace I had originally thought through. Non-marathoners will read that and say, “oh, good for you!” Anyone who has ever run 26.2 miles and understands pacing strategy knows what a mistake it was to cross the half marathon point at 1:46:56.

I don’t need lots of on course entertainment, but it was uplifting- the cold morning didn’t stop bands, cheer squads, and spectators from pouring energy into supporting us. A month prior, I completed the GoRuck Challenge and was disappointed in the route we took. The course for this marathon was what I wanted GoRuck to be: we started toward the famous Arch, looped downtown, ran past Cardinals stadium and Fox theatre. The thing both events had in common? Forest Park. I hated it just as much during this race as I did during the Challenge.

Forest Park may be a great place to run in general, but it was a momentum killer for me. Physically, I was paying the price for my earlier pacing errors and slowed down substantially. Mentally, I was reliving that damn 30 pound backpack torture fest all over again. Physically, those fast early miles had caught up with me and, with every painful step, I was forced to slow down. Once my momentum died it never really seemed to come back.

Definitely not in the most controlled fashion, but I earned my 23rd sub 4 hour marathon by averaging 8:26 per mile and crossing the line in 3:40:56. Other stats:

Overall place: 217 out of 1766

Gender: 46 out of 825

Age division: 11 out of 153

The best part of this entire race (aside from crossing the finish line 19 minutes early) was watching Greg drink everyone else’s post race beer before we got back to our hotel…which was about a half mile from the finish. Who needs a post race concert for entertainment?!

Sub-4 hour Missouri: check!
Post race "close the sub 4 book on MO" smile