Today was the 49th annual Heart of America Marathon in Columbia, MO which I ran for the 5th year in a row and my 15th marathon since 2004. This the 4th oldest continuously certified and one of the most difficult marathons in the country and attracts around 100+ people each year. I set the alarm for 4:15, but woke up a few minutes early. I slept fairly well but took a shower to wake myself up.
At 4:30 am, we expected a photographer at our house from the University of Missouri that is doing a story on the Heart of America for the www.missouri.edu website. He needed to cover some MU employees so we Hugh and I had a pre-race interview on Friday. He came over to watch our morning pre-race routine and take some photos. He also planned to follow us on the course taking photos and then asking a few post race questions and more photos after we finished. The story will likely run later this week on the web site. Hopefully, I didn’t say anything too stupid.
We had already set out of clothes and gear last night and picked up our race numbers and shirts in the afternoon. Last night Hugh cooked dinner and we had Dan over to eat and talk about the race. We were worried about the weather since every time we checked for the past week, it was warmer and the humidity was higher. It was predicted to be 69 at 6 am with 90-something % humidity and it was already 72 F when we woke up this morning which turned out to be a few degrees warmer than the forecast. I stepped outside and it felt too humid for running a marathon. We can’t always have perfect conditions so I didn’t worry about it.
We had a pre-race meal (protein shake with bananas and peanut butter). I had one large bottle of water at about 5 am and we left home for the race which starts at 6 am. Shane, the photographer followed us to Hearnes so he could take more photos before the race.
We arrived at the Hearnes at 5:30 am. Unfortunately, I wasn’t having much luck going to the bathroom at home, but once we got to Hearnes parking lot they had the bathrooms inside open this year and I used them twice.
The start this year was moved back to Monk Drive when the course was recertified so we had to walk a little further to the start line. We got to the start line about 5 min before and didn’t seem like much time to mentally prepare. There were 152 runners registered, but not sure how many actually started. At 6 am sharp, Joe Duncan (race director since 1970) had us off running in the dark. He is very strict about starting on time. I would estimate the temp was still at least 72 F at the start and it still felt humid. I’ve been lucky until this year that temps were in the 60s at the start and actually felt a little chilled, but it was not the case today. In fact, we had trained on the course this summer with cooler temps than today.
My A goal was to try to run a sub-3 on this course although I wasn’t sure I was ready. With the expected temps, I figured it was very unlikely too. B goal would be to beat last year’s time of 3:04:08. C-Goal is always to try to have a good time and at least finish. With the temp at the start, I figured I would be lucky to run a sub 3:10. I still started with these goals in mind and figured I would adjust along the way. The race is only $25 so not really much to lose other than maybe not finishing for some reason.
It quickly became apparent the first water station at 3 something miles wasn’t coming soon enough for me. I usually keep running and drinking through water stations, but decided to stop and drink 2 cups at the first station. This became my strategy to get the water I needed. Then I would speed back up a little faster than my pace and caught up to anyone that passed me when I stopped. I kept up the routine of drinking 2 cups for most of the race. I took my first Accel Gels at 5 and then 10 miles.
I had been running off and on with 3 other guys and at one of the water stations before we hit the trail at Easley, I didn’t catch back up to them. Up Easley Hill I ran and didn’t walk and passed one of the guys. It seemed like the hill went quickly this year and wasn’t too painful, but probably took more out of me than I realized at the time. At mile 13.1 they told me my time was 1:31:28 so I was already 1:23 off my overall A goal pace. Most miles other than a few hills had been sub-7 up to this point and run about the same time for the first half as I did last year. I’ve always run the second half a 1:42 or less slower (never quite negative) so decided there was no way I could keep up the pace with the temps warming and humidity and more hills to come. I decided to take the pace down a little and run low 7s if I was going to survive 13.1 more miles.
Shortly after the monster Easley Hill, Darrin and Melanie were stopped and Darrin gave me my other 2 Accels that I had given him at the start. The guy that I passed on Easley was back running with his friend and they both passed me and said they were running until mile 18. We usually get quite a few runners that plan to run part of the course. Darrin and Melanie came buy again and offered to take my shirt I had been carrying since about mile 10 so I took them up on the generous offer.
Someone told me I was in 10th place at one of the water stations. When I got to Piermont at about mile 18, the 2 guys were there and wished me a good race so I lucked out and moved up 2 places. Then at mile 20, the other guy I was running with earlier was walking up the hill and said he was cooked and to have a good run. I told him he would probably pass me later but he didn’t’ think so. He ended up being the only person I passed and stayed ahead.
The new Garmin 405 worked pretty well other than sometimes drips of sweat or water that I spilled would change the screens. I need to remember to make it less sensitive or lock the bezel at the start of a race in the future. There were people lightly scattered on the course and at various points or riding bikes that offered encouragement. The traffic seemed worse than usual this year and I heard there was a guy out driving erratically since he was pissed the race was going on. Shane kept showing up to take my photo and somehow managed to be everywhere and photograph Hugh as well.
I make it to Providence Rd and at about mile 21 I look back for the guy I passed and see no one. I was hoping once he got up the hill he would feel better and I would at least see him. It turns out he did not finish the race so he really was cooked. Mile 23 pace started to fall off just a little at 7:18. The next 3 miles my legs were feeling tired, I could see no one at all behind me and a guy ahead of me that I didn’t think I could catch so I ran comfortably and slowed down another 30 seconds. I would have had to dig a little deeper to run harder and there was the final hill up Providence. In a race this small with no one around to pace with it is a struggle for me to maintain pace. With the heat and knowing I wasn’t going to run faster than last year, motivation was low. I just wanted to try to enjoy the rest of the race as much as possible.
The last few water stations came a little more frequently so I had cut back to one cup and ran through them until I got to the one before the hill on Providence. I stopped and drank the cup and then was ready to tackle the final hill. I’m wishing I was done at this point and see no one behind me so figure if I can just keep running, I won’t get passed. It does seem like I am getting closer to the runner in front of me which looks like Chris Cook and turned out to be him, but there wasn’t enough time to catch up before the end. He is also in my age group so maybe I should have tried harder.
I did feel pretty good in the final mile, but not great.. I just kept the pace steady and finished in 3:07:30 which is my second fastest run for this course.. Considering the heat, humidity, and the course is now a little longer, I am happy with this time. Someone handed me the plaque for 3rd place in the 35 – 39 and I had finished 7th overall out of 113 that finished Times were noticeably slower this year due to the heat..
Shane had a few questions for me and then a Missourian reporter than I had also talked to yesterday at packet pickup. I’m not sure if he will use anything I said in the article or not. He may have gotten pictures as well, but don’t remember seeing him on the course.
I wait for other runners to come in and Matt N., a 24 yr old that we run with finishes in 3:20 in 8th place so there was a big gap between me and him. He does a decent cartwheel at the end of his first marathon and placed first in the 0 – 24. I was very impressed with how he ran his first marathon and in the heat. I see Phil come in next and then see Dan after he finished behind in 10th overall. These 3 are all guys I run with.
Dan and I were looking at the standings and notice that Chuck Engle who had won the race last year came in second at 2:57 and is in our age group. He must not have signed up until yesterday or this morning since he was not on the list of runners Saturday. A local guy beat him by 10 minutes. I was surprised he had come back and run it again. Unfortunate for Dan, since he was 4th in our age group, but ran the course faster than he did last year and placing in the top 10 where he placed 19th last year. Also, was amazed that 5 guys went sub 3 this year. I’ll be in a new age group next year and it is just as tough as the one I am in now.
First overall female was Destiny another runner I run with and I had told her before I thought she could win and she did it and ran a really good race. I was guessing we would see Hugh between 3:45 and 3:50 and he came in at 3:47:36 and placed 2nd in the 50 – 54 age group. He was 21st overall moving up from 55th last year and taking over 12 minutes off his 2007 time in the heat today.
No major issues during this race other than a little slight left knee pain at times, and thankfully no cramping. I had a banana after and eventually got into the pool of water which wasn’t as cold as previous years so I could actually stay in there for a few minutes rather than seconds. .
Since the start and finish are a couple miles apart Hugh rode back with Dan and his parents and Shane took me back to our car. We made plans to meet Dan and his parents at Golden Corral at 11:30 for our post race meal. I was hungry but ended up eating a little lighter than I normally do there since I filled up quickly.
While we were waiting for Dan to arrive a guy walks up to us and asks if we ran HOA today since Hugh was wearing his medal. He says the guy standing next to him started the race. It turned out to be Bill Clark. There is some interesting reading on the history of the race in the foreward by Bill Clark on the race web site Articles
So far feeling good and can’t believe I finished another marathon. Hopefully, we get cooler temps next year for the 50th running and maybe I will have a better chance of running a sub 3 on this course.
m1 - 6:58..........m14 - 7:02
m2 - 6:52..........m15 - 7:00
m3 - 6:45..........m16 - 7:01
m4 - 6:44..........m17 - 7:11
m5 - 6:44..........m18 - 7:08
m6 - 6:30..........m19 - 6:58
m7 - 6:39..........m20 - 7:27
m8 -7:17..........m21 - 7:14
m9 - 6:39..........m22 - 7:09
m10 - 7:02..........m23 - 7:18
m11 - 6:44..........m24 - 7:48
m12 - 6:54..........m25 - 7:54
m13 - 8:07..........m26 - 7:50
0.38 - 2:35 (6:53 pace)
I was 1:31:28 at 13.1 so ran the second half in 1:36:02
Overall, 3:07:30, 7:10/mi for 26.2 mile certified course
I had 26.38 on the GPS which was expected on the newly certified course. I think it was difficult to cut the tangents on parts of this course.
Link to last 4 year’s (didn't have GPS first year)
Race Articles and blogs:
Heart of America Marathon Draws Diverse Field
Local Minister Runs 13th Marathon
Heart and Feet of America
Labor Day Triple
Another Hill Climbed
Hills are Alive...Heart of America
Heart of America Marathon - Doug
Barefoot Rick Report
Nicole Tanner Second Place Female Report