I was in town to run this race for the 4th time in 10 years because it is a must-do race. The course is not particularly beautiful, although it has its moments. The crowds aren't ten deep but they have their spots. The weather is a little volatile but can be fine. But the organizers put on one of the best races in America and for those who are stuck on bling or mountain visages and do not realize what really makes a race tick are all the things you haven't the foggiest CLUE go on behind the scenes, you go with the people that make those things work. That is the Quad Cities Marathon for you.
As I was running this race and knowing I would not realistically be going for a PR, I spent a little more time evaluating it from an organizer's perspective. I had to think about things which I would improve or change. Right away that tells me a race is well run.The race provided not only free pictures but had them up on the website 48 hours after the race was done. The swag in the bag was very nice with gloves, a great shirt, a mylar blanket and a beanie to wear if you were cold at the start. There was a timing mat at mile 4.5 and mile 10 which means in theory the runners could set new PRs at those distances if they were certified. I have run a fair amount of these downhill races and have always told the organizers that if they threw a mat down at 5k, 10k, 15k and ten miles they could advertise how their race could provide so many chances to set PRs. I did not stay around for the finish line festivities but if they were anything like the rest of the race I am sure they were top notch. I was however very proud that one of the athletes that I coach ran a 7 minute personal best in the half, so kudos to Jessica for that! Person after person seemed to be streaming in with a smile on their face and a new R in their pocket. Will downhill running help assist you in running faster? Of course, but you have to take it. No one just gives it to you.
That is what I told myself when I chose the Windermere Half Marathon as my first race as a Masters runner. I had run the marathon put on in Spokane two years ago when abysmal and abnormal heat had left me demolished on the side of the road before finally nearly crawling to the finish. I figured that record-breaking temperatures wouldn't happen again. I was, of course, wrong.
I ran the Oakland Half in 2011 and surprisingly ran what remains my 3rd fastest half marathon ever. It was surprising for a number of reasons, the least of all not being that the course was not exactly forgiving. It was not hard, per se, it just wasn't what one would expect to run fast on. But that is why we toe the line as we never know what race day will bring. On this race day, however, I had a fairly good idea roughly where I was going to run. Coming back from the flu there would be no such heroics or personal bests set on this day. But I felt I had done well enough in my recovery to run perhaps in the 1:27-1:28 range.
But before I get to my race, let me set the stage for this indoor marathon. Three lanes of hard surface track surrounded the longest speed skating rink in the country. Longer, by two feet, than the rink I had run a four hour timed event to close out my 2011, it was indeed an interesting venue. Time and again I heard people tell me they would get bored or this would drive them out of their mind, even though they had never done anything similar to this. Sure, at first blush, perhaps some would equivocate running 47.5 laps as boring. To which I say, run harder and you will be more concerned with your lungs than your boredom.
I have run the Miami Half or Marathon previously on five occasions, including in 2006 as part of my 52 marathons in one year. I have almost always been doing something which required a lot of extra energy. This time, however, I would "only" be running the race. That doesn't include working the expo with a book signing the two days prior. Always invigorating, it is also rather tiring. Far from an ideal way to ready oneself for a race but worth it for all the wonderful people I get to meet. Even the rather rude, uncouth ones make for good stories later.
I had about a mile to walk back to my hotel to think about the event. Unfortunately, I could not stay for the post-race party which everyone raves about. However, I can tell you my experience as a runner and a racer at this event was absolutely top-notch. In only its 5th year, the Louisiana Marathon has already established itself as one of the must-do races in the nation. The course is solid, the weather is usually fairly predictable and good for racing and the organization was top-notch. They have partnered with a group called Ainsley's Angels and their wheelchair pushes and athletes in chairs throughout the race were a welcome reminder of how lucky we all are to be out there pounding the pavement.
I wasn't as impressed with this course and how it was set up as I had been in previous years. Granted I was walling in a pity party for some of the race but some of the little things which made it great before were missing. It was not a bad race by any means. And to the countless volunteers who stood out in the elements, my hat goes off to you entirely.
This is the third year that the race has been affiliated with Veteran's Day and the third year I have run carrying the US Flag. I have only run with the flag on one other occasion and that was on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. It is a wonderful feeling to have people cheer when you run by with the flag. However, I have limited running with it to those rare occasions because doing so feels, well, a bit unsavory. I am not a veteran (although my brother and grandfathers are and were) and running with the flag seems not exactly patriotic but a rather little pandering. This isn't saying others can't do it for their own reasons. Just for me, there has to be a special particular reason for me to carry Old Glory.
Taking on inaugural events is usually a mixed bag of happenings. It is exciting to be on-hand for the "first" of a running event. However, being the guinea pig for something in which you are also testing yourself physically can leave you hung out to dry. I have experienced both the pros and cons of being involved with inaugural races in the past and as such am more selective with those I involve me, and my legs, with these days.
When I think about recommending a race to others I ask them about two different things: are they looking to run a good time or are they looking to have a good time. Very few races offer both except for the fact that running a good time can often trump whether you had a good time along the course. Having said that, the Twin Cities marathon is not an easy course. It is not exceedingly difficult either, especially in today's world of making races difficult for difficult's sake alone. However, if you wish to be involved in a race which is very well-run, extremely well-supported and showcases two beautiful urban areas in the United States, you would be hard pressed to find anything much better than this race. Will you run a good time? Perhaps, but you will work for it. Will you have a good time? The odds are highly likely you will.
Overall, the race was fairly well-run. The road was not closed to traffic on the way down the canyon but there was very little traffic to worry about. The volunteers at the aid stations were very friendly and the finish line spread was quite nice. I had worked with ASEA to give all competitors their own personal 8 ounce bottle at the finish. I was happy to see so many runners undoubtedly trying it for the first time and being exposed to a product which has helped me run 55 marathons, 60 half marathons, numerous triathlons and adventures races all in the past 6 years. More importantly, even though I knew the last marathon was an aberration, it was good to have a fast race as my last race run. Knowing what you can do, and having done it, are two different sides of the story. Now I must simply build on that for the remainder of the fall season and see what can happen as the weather finally, or hopefully, starts to cool down a touch.
I would highly recommend running this race if not just for the relatively fast times you can run but for the overall excellent race organization. Hands down, this is my favorite Arizona marathon. Great volunteers, excellent aid stations, finely-tuned and of no surprise to be gaining more and more runners each year. Sincere kudos to those at the Phoenix (hopefully soon, Mesa) Marathon.
Back when I was running 52 Marathons in 52 weekends in 2006, I saw the elevation profile for the Pocatello Marathon and knew someday I would run the race. The downhill portion really suits my strengths and at the time I had never once been to Idaho. I just never assumed when I did run it, that the race would be the first marathon I had run in over three months with only three 12-mile runs to serve as “long-distance training” in between. But that is what life does to you. It makes you deal with the unexpected. The only question which remains is how will you handle it?
Jun 5, 2016
Sep 3, 2016
Mt. Nebo Marathon
Sep 3, 2016
Twin Cities Marathon
Oct 9, 2016
Milwaukee Running Festival
Nov 6, 2016
Santa Barbara Veterans Day Half Marathon
Nov 12, 2016
Dec 11, 2016
Jan 15, 2017
Icebreaker Indoor Marathon
Jan 29, 2017
Jan 29, 2017
Feb 25, 2017
Oakland Running Festival
Mar 26, 2017
Big Cottonwood Marathon
Sep 9, 2017
Quad Cities Marathon
Sep 24, 2017