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Old December 17th 03, 02:35 AM
Lewis Campbell
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Default Race Report: Dallas White Rock (Half) Marathon, Dallas, Texas, USA

Very good and interesting report, Brian.

Hope you'll do another one for Cowtown.

Lewis. (Benbrook TX)



"Brian Baresch" wrote in message
I ran the half at the Dallas White Rock Marathon as a training run,
aiming for goal marathon pace (about 7:25 per mile, or a 1:37:30 pace
for the half). I love 'thons in large part because they tend to be
festive and exciting with lots of people cheerfully taking on a
difficult challenge, and this one was all that, even for us less
ambitious half entrants. This was the first time White Rock had a
standalone half instead of a 2-person relay, so the course was new;
basically it followed the full marathon course for about 6.5 miles,
then cut across town to rejoin the full course shortly in mile 22, or
just after the "Dolly Parton hills".

Several people I knew were running either the half or the full, and I
looked for them but couldn't pick them out of the crowd of about 6,000
runners. One person did pick me out, the Big Guy, my friendly rival
from the past two summers. He said he hasn't run 13 miles in quite a
while and was just out for some fun.

After the national anthem, including fireworks and a flyover by three
fighter jets, the gun went off and we slowly started forward. It took
me and BG about a minute to get to the starting mats. We headed under
the freeway and through the nightclubby West End ex-warehouse
district, where, with the street still choked with runners, we had to
squeeze past a city bus idling by the curb, the driver looking
somewhat befuddled. After that the congestion started to ease. We
passed mile 1 in 8:50 and I sped up a bit. Mile 2, along the trolley
tracks on fashionable McKinney Avenue, was still around 8:00; my race
strategy of going out at what feels like training pace to avoid
blowing up early had backfired, as it occasionally does, and I
actually *was* going at training pace. I cranked it up one more time.
BG was with me sometimes, ahead or behind me sometimes; he's very much
an in-the-moment runner. By this time we were running along Turtle
Creek, a real pretty part of town. There were a few hills but nothing
real bad IMHO. Somewhere along the creek BG's ebullience took over and
he started shouting, "Look at all these people running! You're all
nuts!" I hollered back, "Takes one to know one!" We were having a good

The water tables were reasonably plentiful and enthusiastically
staffed. They did a useful thing: Water was in red cups, Powerade in
blue cups. Made it easier to grab what we wanted. Crowd support was
relatively sparse (by big 'thon standards anyhow) but unfailingly
energetic; a lot of people had signs with cheers for their favorite
runners or generic "Go" messages. A number of pretty good bands were
playing, including a couple in the half-only portion of the course; it
was nice to see that. (One band was on the big TV screen near the
finish several times playing a White Rock Marathon song: "I'm gonna
run me a marathon, it's the Dallas White Rock Marathon" ... "Gotta
start training when it's 102, learn to run for four hours on nothing
but goo" -- something like that. Fun!)

I was sort of in the pace groove by this time, hitting 7:15 to 7:30
fairly well. (Next MP run I'm bringing my pedometer, dangit.) I'd lost
BG but could sometimes still hear him back behind me, yelling goofy
stuff and having fun. Somewhere in mile 7 the course split and we lost
the full 'thoners and relay runners, or about half the field. We ran
south and east for a couple of miles. The mile 7 marker was AWOL -- I
thought I might just have missed it, but later I compared notes with a
buddy and he hadn't seen it either, so it probably wasn't there. At
mile 8 my two-mile split was 13:48, meaning I'd just run two 6:54
miles -- highly unlikely. I think that segment was short. Most of the
later miles seemed about right, so I suspect the half-mara course was
short overall, maybe by 500 feet, possibly more. There was a mile 9
marker, but by this time we were back on the full course so I just
used those markers for splits. ISTR that some of the later half-mara
markers were absent as well.

We rejoined the main course on Swiss Avenue, a nice, tree-lined
boulevard that heads more or less constantly downhill for about 3
miles with a good view of the downtown skyline up ahead. I was
cruising at about my intended pace, passing a few people, getting
passed. One nice thing about doing this as a tempo run: I didn't care
about my finishing place so I didn't have to worry who passed me or
anything like that. We crossed some rough street where they were doing
some construction, went back through the West End and headed in toward
the finish. I stuck with my pace and watched the guys around me sprint
for the line. Over the mats in 1:37:56 chip time, a post-high school
PR and reasonably close to my goal, even allowing for the probably
short course. I'll take it. (138th of 1208 men, 26th of 241 in AG; if
I'd run all out and finished in, say, 1:35, I'd have been about 105th
and 18th respectively.)

They gave me a nice medal and a space blanket and took my chip. I knew
BG was probably not far back so I hung around the finish to see if I
could spot him, but I never did. (Turns out he finished about 6:30
behind me, at the slow end of his informal goal range but a reasonable
result for not having trained specifically for the race.) Finally I
went to get my jacket and went inside the American Airlines Center, a
fairly nice arena as arenas go, for food: Apples, bananas, oranges,
bagels, cookies, sweet rolls, pasta salad, tomato basil soup, beef
chili (no thanks) and plenty of water. They had long tables and chairs
set up banquet-style and a good R&B band going.

Afterward I ended up taking care of a running bud for some time. She
finished the full in just under 4 hours, with upset stomach and mild
hypothermia; she wanted to wait till her BF met her in the finish area
but decided she had to get to first aid, so I accompanied her there. I
made a couple of forays out into the crowd to look for him but no
luck. Finally she was back on her feet but underdressed for the
weather (her BF had her clothes and car keys), so I hung out with her;
we looked in the food arena, at her car and in the finish area for
more than an hour before coming across him -- he'd been doing the same
thing and we kept missing each other. I think they're gonna invest in
a cell phone or two.

So. Good support on the course. Good traffic control on the course
except for that friggin' bus in the West End. Good course. Good bands.
Good weather. Reasonably good organization. Points off for missing
mile markers for the *******-child half-marathoners and probably short
course. (I'm confident the full 'thon course was spot on.)

Three and a half stars (woulda been four if the course had been
correct and fully marked). Brian Bob says check it out.

Brian P. Baresch
Fort Worth, Texas, USA
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If you're going through hell, keep going. --Winston Churchill