My San Antonio Marathon 2011 Experience

By James Dodds:

I have to start by saying I feel guilty calling this a RACE report. I did not approach this brutal day with racing in mind. I have been training all summer for a 3:29:59 on Dec.4th in Dallas, Texas. I still plan to do this. Nonetheless, I switched jobs and can no longer run on Sat. with my fellow Rogues. Thus I have been doing long runs on Sundays. The biggest group I could draw was 4 people … once. Normally it would be my wife and one other friend. Needless to say, getting long runs in has been difficult, but I did them.  As the summer ended I knew I had to get a 24 miler in. Being the prima donna I am, I couldn’t bare the thought of running 24 miles without some type of recognition. So why not add 2.2 and get a medal, a day off from work, a huge meal, and Jordan saying, “Way to go, babe!” Thus, San Antonio …


I stayed the night with good friends in SA and kept everything quiet. I had a pre race meal with pasta and was asleep by 8:30 pm (Yes, I meant 8:30). I slept soundly and woke up to my little starbucks coffee cake I had purchased the night before. I took note of the humidity and planned to have a strong, smart long run. My PR is 3:48:55 and I knew I was in shape to run 3:30. However, this was not the A race. All I wanted to do was put in a good effort and “sand bag” a PR (told you I am a prima donna).  Frank Shorter was at the starting line saying, “This is not the weather for a PR. Don’t even try it.” He was right but he did not know my case. I settled in to 8:20s and was surprised how great I felt despite the humidity. I was for sure going to break under 3:40 for the first time (something I have actually been trying to do for a year now). With every passing step I held on to this mantra “save it for the real race.” As I cleared the ½ marathon mark with confidence and ease, the sky parted and the sun shone brightly. I knew then that this would was going to be a terrible day for anyone making an all out effort.


Instantly, I adjusted. I settled back to 8:45s. I took one water to the head and one to drink at EVERY station. I also took in a Gatorade at each station.  Twice I took in salt packets. Within 30 minutes my shoulders were already sun burned and I started to think about all the Rogues who trained with this race in mind for the summer. This race proved to be difficult for me, but I had no pressure.  I started easy and adjusted to easier when the sun hit. I knew many of our runners would not do the same. They had too much riding on it. I caught up to more than 3 runners who are all faster than me. This was more trying on me than the sun. I wanted badly for people to have a great race but the weather was truly a beast. At mile 22 my pace slowed back to 9+. I knew I could finish 26.2 but at that point it felt like a race effort. This part was not planned. I truly believe running 8:20s on a cold day would be easier than doing this run at 8:45 as an overall average. This was my learning point from this race.


As a younger/newer runner you think “no excuses” is the only way to approach a marathon. After 6 marathons now, I know this is not the case. Running a marathon is like going to battle. You must adapt/out -smart your enemy. You have to take what the day gives you and adjust for a win. The situation reminded me of Texas playing Rice at the beginning of the season. Many people want to think that playing Rice is a guaranteed W for Texas. This was not the case. At the half, Texas led by only 7 points. It seemed like we tried everything before slipping into a strong lead. That is how I felt in SA. The day should have been an easy, breezy 3:39 but instead became an all out battle to sneak in a 40 second PR.


In the end, I am very proud of the SA 2011 effort. It surprised me and tried to rob me of a PR and a little confidence. Nonetheless, I took a humble, smart approach, stood my ground and did the best I possibly could on that day. I want 3:29 in Dallas and I want it BAD! I will try with all that I can! In the mean time, SA has given me confidence to believe I am strong and smart. I hope Dallas makes me feel fast!



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