Today was the 50th annual Heart of America Marathon in Columbia, MO which I ran for the 6th year in a row and my 20th marathon since 2004. This is the 4th oldest continuously certified and one of the most difficult marathons in the country and attracts around 100+ people each year. This year there were 319 registered, beating the record of 178 in 1978. I set the alarm for 5:00, but woke up a few minutes early. We got to sleep in later this year since we are only 2 miles from the start line.
When we are home I always fix a pre-race shake in the blender, but the blender was dead today so used the shaker. I hoped this wasn’t a bad sign. We didn’t leave the house until about 5:40 am which was great! I did use the bathroom one last time when we arrived at Hearnes. Then we jogged over to the start line since it was 5:55.
Temp at the start this year was 62 F with 97% humidity. This was a 10 F improvement over last year! There was quite a bit of fog, but the sky was brighter than usual. There was a huge crowd at the start line but still ran into a few people we knew. I was feeling decent today and since the weather cooperated, I planned to attempt a sub-3. Secondary goal was to beat my 3:04:08 course PR from 2007. Also, on my mind was that I just wasn’t sure I was quite ready for a sub-3 on this course. Some of the hills really slow my pace so I would need to make that up on the easier miles. I still wanted to give it a try.
Bill Clark, marathon founder started us off. Gun did not fire so it took 2 times and we were off at 6:03 am. I felt good, but kept pace under control for the first mile. I was surprised I could actually see the pace on my GPS, but the sky was a little brighter than usual for this marathon. I was trying to pick someone out to keep pace, but when we got to the uphill on Providence, I started passing people. Up the hill I was startled to see Andy P. and Ted Z. walking. I was worried at first, but Ted explained they were doing an experiment walking the hills or at least part of the hills I guess.
I skipped the first water station since I was still well-hydrated. Ted and Andy passed me again and then about mile 4 I passed them and didn’t see Ted again until he drove past me later in the race since I think he was only running 20 miles. I was kind of hoping I would have someone to run with but at this point I was on my own. I could see someone ahead of me, but wasn’t gaining on them. For Gels, the plan was to take an Accel every 4 miles so took the first one shortly after mile 4.
The volunteers and crowd support was much better than usual this year and helped me pick up the pace every so often. The long hill on mile 8 slowed my pace to 7:26. I had been tracking in my head how close I was staying to a 6:44 pace. At one point I was behind, caught up, and this hill put me behind again. 6:52 is a sub-3 pace, but by only 6 seconds. Last year the course was 0.18 longer so I took that into consideration on my goal pace.
I could see someone ahead of me at mile 10 and I was gaining on them. I thought it was Chris C. and ended up passing him before Cooper’s Landing. Last year, near the end of the race, I was getting closer to him, but didn’t quite catch him. He was in my age group, but I aged up since last year. He won the marathon in 2006 and ran a sub-3 and has run the marathon many times. Hugh’s boss cheered me on at Cooper’s before we got on the MKT trail part of the course and before the big hill.
Up the hill, I kept the pace easy but didn’t walk. Ran the mile that included the hill in 7:50. At the half-way point my split was 1:30:02. I figure a course PR is possible since I am still feeling really good, but sub-3 maybe if I have anything left the last few miles where I have always slowed down on this course. About mile 14 or so I hear breathing behind me. I don’t think it sounds like Chris. I just keep the same pace and Tom W. passes me. I figure this is normal since he has always run this faster than me. He is also in my age group. He gets a little ahead of me and I stay behind him catching up a little where there are any hills. I was actually glad he passed me since I think he helped my pace for the next few miles.
At mile 21 I am really gaining on him. After some encouraging comments from Ted, I pick up the pace and pass him. At mile 23, I am feeling really good going down hill and pick up the pace. Then hit the hill up Providence and wondered if I was going to fall apart but keep the pace steady and split isn’t too bad at 7:05. Next split was also 7:05. Then I start to feel really good again and think I am probably close to 3 hours so try to pick up the pace for the last mile. Mile 26 ran in 6:44. I sprinted to the end, and last 0.3 was a 5:44 pace. I am thinking way too much left in the tank for a marathon. I see the clock at 3-something and end up finishing in 3:00:23.
I was very happy with that time which was a 3:45 course PR and first time a sub-7 pace on this course. Next time, I guess I should make sure I can see my overall time on my GPS. Possibly could have tried to make it up earlier, but who knows. Ran the last half 21 sec slower than first which is not bad for me. This is the closest I have ever been for this marathon. I also had a strong finish which is a first for me on this course.
I placed 5th overall of 278 that finished and 2nd of 30 in my age group. My age group took 4th, 5th, and 6th place. Overall this is the best I have placed and there were more people this year.
I drank a Gatorade, ate a banana, saw Andy P. finish and then went out for a 2 mile recovery run to see a few other people come in. 1st and 2nd female had a great finish with only 15 sec apart. I headed back to the start and had just stepped into the ice bath and Hugh crosses at 3:48 so I don’t get all the way in. He kept a nice steady pace and was pretty happy with his time. He said he passed a lot of people in the last half.
We soaked in the tub. I managed to stay in for about 15 min and when we got out I did not get warm until we got to the car over 30 min later and I turned on the heat. We went home, showered, and then to Shakespeare’s for the post race pizza party. We had a good time talking about the race with friends. Everyone seemed pretty happy with their performance and to finish strong.
Overall winner had run his first marathon in 2:53 and the guy that was 1st in my age group also his first marathon in 2:58 so 4 guys ran a sub-3. I was impressed with the 2 first-timers. I ran this marathon in 3:19 my first time. They made it look easy. I guess I need to do more hill repeats to prepare for next year.
m1 - 6:48..........m14 - 7:00
m2 - 6:54..........m15 - 6:51
m3 - 6:41..........m16 – 6:48
m4 - 6:41..........m17 – 6:54
m5 - 6:46..........m18 - 7:05
m6 - 6:40..........m19 - 6:47
m7 - 6:52..........m20 – 7:08
m8 -7:26..........m21 – 6:48
m9 - 6:45..........m22 – 6:46
m10 - 6:42..........m23 – 6:27
m11 - 6:38..........m24 – 7:05
m12 - 6:42..........m25 – 7:05
m13 - 7:51..........m26 – 6:42
0.30 – 1:43 (5:44 pace)
I was 1:30:02 at 13.1 and second half 1:30:21
Overall, 3:00:23, 6:53/mi for 26.2 mile certified course. 26.3 on GPS.
Link to last previous year splits (didn't have GPS first year)
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