Although I’ve already run a marathon in the fair state of Missouri I was already going to be in St. Louis that weekend for a coaching clinic.
You might say that this was an opportunistic marathon. That’s one of the benefits of staying in marathon shape—you can sign up for a race at the drop of a hat.
After spending two days sitting in class from 8-5 and cramming my head full of information I was ready to run 26.2 miles. I stayed at the lovely Drury Plaza Hotel and my room had an awesome view of the Arch. I shared my room with Danielle (T-Rex Runner) who we interviewed in episode 79 and her friend Amanda. When they got into town on Saturday (after running a marathon that morning in Indiana) we went to the race expo together to get our race packets. I was embarrassed to be unable to help with directions around St. Louis in the slightest.
My sense of direction is so poor that I probably shouldn’t be allowed to go running by myself. Being in a city makes my already weak internal GPS have a panic attack. Thankfully Danielle and Amanda were armed with a car GPS (which was throwing a fit) and Google Maps.
Race Expo and Maniac Dinner
The expo was held at Chaifetz Arena and had convenient packet pickup and a nice variety of vendors hawking their wares. Personnel on site made sure traffic was flowing in the right direction (and they were quick to point out if you touched the wrong door). The official race shirt was a nicely designed tech shirt in a vibrant pink (for the ladies).
The next morning started out with temperatures around 59 degrees and I knew that it was going to be a warm day. We left the hotel room around 6:15 am and headed the 10 or so blocks to the starting line area. There were around 15,000 runners between the relay, half, and full marathon. I slid into corral B and we were soon running downtown toward the Arch.
- The course took in part of the Anheuser- Busch Brewery (the air smelled yeasty) around mile 3.
- Then we headed toward Harris-Stowe State University and the infamous “Holy Hill” on Olive Street between miles 6 and 8. My first clue that Holy Hill was beginning was the Very Reverend Mike Kinman sprinkling runners with water (holy water, I guess). The crowds were very enthusiastic at this part of the race and I didn’t think the hill was too bad (more about the hills later). Age group winners of the Holy Hill received a special medal and award (I wasn’t one of them so obviously I wasn’t pushing too hard).
- Next the race went through the Forest Park area and by Washington University. The park was beautiful and the spectators weren’t as thick through this area. By mile 18 I was feeling really warm and starting to dread the frequent hills. It was about that time that I decided a sub-4 hour finishing time wasn’t in my near future. Live to fight another day (or in this case the Garmin Marathon in two weeks).
The aid stations were plentiful and well-stocked throughout the course although I carried my usual Hammer gels and Perpetuem. Although the runners had thinned out after the half marathon split away there were fresh relay participants popping in at miles 5.5, 13.5, and 21. I was wearing my Maniac gear and enjoyed chatting with other Maniacs along the way. However, I’m starting to suspect that the back of the pack MM have more fun.
At around mile 22 I ran across my friend Mary who was running her second marathon. I was surprised to see her because I expected her to finish well ahead of me. Unfortunately she had cramped up and was taking walk breaks to relax her muscles. We chatted for a while and she urged me to keep going (and like a bad friend I did). For the next couple of miles the spectators were few and the hills kept coming. At this point I was hot and had no shame about walking up hills.
The Finish Line
The start and finish line was at the same location so there was great support for the last 1.2 miles. As usual I sprinted the last 0.2 miles and finished in 4:07:06. The finisher’s medal was very cool and there was a nice variety of food. There were the usual offerings of bananas, water, beer, and granola bars and the unusual like ravioli, fruit cups (which you were practically forced to take) and ice cream cookie sandwiches (which should be mandatory for all non-winter races).
I walked (limped) my way back to my hotel room and forced myself into a cold bath for 14 minutes and 30 seconds (yes, I timed myself and that was the limit of my endurance). After packing up my stuff I started the 2.5 hour drive home before my post-marathon euphoria turned into post-marathon zombie mode. All in all it was a good weekend.
I would recommend the Go! St. Louis Marathon to anyone who wants a well organized race, a great St. Louis experience, and isn’t afraid of a few hills.