Thursday, February 10, 2011

Miracle Match Marathon Race Recap

This race report is long overdue.  Unfortunately, the non-running aspects of my life have been demanding a lot of time of late.  Nonetheless, I want to talk about my recent marathon, the Miracle Match Marathon in Waco, TX on January 30, 2011.  This was my fifth marathon, and sadly a personal worst finish in 4:10:58.  While I was athletically well prepared going into the race, it was a tough course (hilly) and overly warm and humid weather, which together made for an unimpressive performance on my part.

January in central Texas is typically very mild, with daily averages in the 50s and morning averages in the 40s.  I am definitely a cold weather runner, and was hoping for cool, dry weather in the mid 40s.  Sadly, as the weekend approached, the temperatures spiked.  Race morning came and the overnight low was 65 degrees F.  When the race started it was barely still in the 60s, and the humidity was a whopping 96%!  While the humidity dropped throughout the day (down to 70%), the temperature climbed, and it was over 75 F when I finished.  Unfortunately, those temperatures and humidity were not ideal for me, and my legs felt exhausted very early in the race, resulting in far more walk breaks than I would like to acknowledge.  This really slowed me down, as did some killer hills between miles 10 and 16, and again between 20 and 24.  I even thought about quitting, but I'm glad I didn't because that would have been rather demoralizing.  Despite a disappointing finishing time, I was 43rd overall, 9th woman and 2nd in my age group.  That would be one of the benefits of doing a small race.

finisher's medal
MMM medal
The Miracle Match Marathon had some good and bad qualities.  First, the race raises money for a very good cause, to test for potential bone marrow donors.  Second, the race was well organized and a significant portion of the course was quite scenic.  It starts by going through Baylor's campus and downtown Waco.  Later, it runs along Lakeshore Drive, with a view of the lake and dam.  It finishes through the hills of Cameron Road, which are tree lined, and then along the Brazos river and across a pedestrian suspension bridge.  If I was in a better mood, I would have really enjoyed running this course.  Third, the SWAG is very good.  Marathon finishers got nice wind jackets and half marathon finishers got long sleeved technical shirts.  The medals were very unique looking, hand-cut metal.  All participants also got a race t-shirt, water bottle, and snickers bar.  The aid stations were very well stocked and frequent, and there was a lot of food and drinks at the finish line party as well.  While the course is challenging because of the hills, I would recommend it, especially to people in the Austin/Dallas area who want a change of scenery.  Traveling to Waco was easy and the hotels were reasonably priced.  However, Waco isn't much of a tourist destination, so you couldn't make much of a vacation out of it.  The other thing I was really disappointed about was the lack of course clocks - and I mean NO clocks anywhere on the course.  This was a major problem for me, because I chose not to wear a watch, assuming there would be timing at least every 5km.  Clearly I need to reevaluate my racing strategy before my next marathon, because that plan definitely back fired.

In conclusion, I finished my 5th marathon.  It was a personal worst in 4:10:58, but I tackled a new course, and ran in fairly challenging conditions.  In my previous 4 marathons, I think I was lucky to have near perfect weather, but that can't always be the case, and this time my luck ran out.  Ironically enough, two days later, the weather dropped below freezing in central Texas.  I'm hoping weather won't be a factor in my next race, but it isn't something I can control.
Until then...


  1. Hi ChemE. I'm a CivE. I found your blog looking for other runners.

    The marathon is like no other distance. It's challenging enough without doing one in bad weather. Given the conditions and the hilly course, I would say you performed pretty well.

    I've been discouraged by some of my marathon times, but found that the training lead to very good results in shorter races. I bet we'll find similar results if you do other shorter races over the next several months.

    Stop by my blog and say hello if you get a chance.


  2. I'm also a cold weather runner so completely sympathize! I think that your decision to not wear a watch was actually a good thing. In my case I foolishly retain my ambitious pre-race goal pacing strategy despite warm weather, which invariably results in my bonking very hard - with a far worse blow-up in time than you had.