Saturday, April 10, 2010

Eisenhower Marathon, Abilene KS, 2010

This was a great marathon, for me and I hope for the organizers. Lots of things can go wrong with Kansas weather, but nothing did. I ran the best time of my last nine marathons, finishing in 4:44, third in my age group and 25 minutes faster than my next-most-recent marathon, Fort Lauderdale last February. I'm getting faster, now that I'm off dexamethasone.

My Race:

Nothing went wrong for me. I seem to need two bathroom stops these days, and today was no exception, but the bathrooms were quickly available. I had recently felt echoes of an old hamstring injury, mostly when NOT running, but nothing today. I ran about as hard as I could, my legs got tired, and I slowed a little in the last few miles, but that’s pretty normal. Afterward, I feel as good as I ever feel after a marathon. Muscles ache, but nothing hurts. State number 26, marathon number 41. My sweeties ran the half and did well too. Life is great!

The Eisenhower Marathon:

This is a lovely little marathon. I haven’t seen full results yet, but last year there were 175 in the full marathon, 225 in the half. There is no time limit, and they advertise that fact. They do say that vehicle traffic will resume at 6 hours, and the aid stations will close, but if you get to mile 20 by that time, and carry water, there really wouldn’t be much of a problem - the rest is all in a park or on a road with a beautiful shoulder. They were incredibly well organized, considering that size of race, with aid stations almost every mile and roads COMPLETELY FREE of vehicle traffic.

With one exception: a motorcade of rude motorcycle morons who apparently sneaked onto the roadway somewhere. Noisy, childish, manure-brained assholes. If you ride a noisy motorcycle, please stop reading this blog until you have grown up.

The marathon is apparently too small to support an expo, but the packet pickup was convenient, right at the start/finish line, and there was plenty of parking space on race morning. In fact there are two parking lots to the Eisenhower Visitors Center, and the south one was entirely undiscovered by all but us and a car with Texas plates.

There is a pasta dinner (for a small fee) Friday night, and a post-race brunch (free to runners) Saturday. Nice. We didn’t partake of either, really, because we follow a wheat-free diet. But it looked good. The post-race meal had sausage, pancakes, fruit, and more. Two of us had the sausage, but we had our own food back at the hotel. Chili anyone?

Volunteers were numerous and uniformly helpful. We love ‘em all. Spectators were few, but quality was good, and I did manage to high-five a couple of kids.

One extra feature that we have not seen (or not noticed) at any other marathon: A runner could drop unneeded clothing (as the temperature rose) at most any aid station, and that would be brought back to the start/finish where it could be PICKED UP again. I took advantage of that, recovering a nice technical shirt that I would have had to discard in any other marathon.

The course is out and back, with low, rolling hills. Not very hilly, but not quite flat. Maybe 6 miles of It are in a lovely park, with quaint wooden bridges and lots of shade, but the rest is on highways offering no escape from the sun. We lucked out with the weather though. The forecast said clear skies and temperatures near 70 by noon. Happily, the clouds remained until I was well past mile 20, and half of the rest was in the park. The wind was fairly strong, but this is Kansas after all. Happily again, we bucked the wind on the way out, but it gave us a free ride on the way back. Much better than the reverse. And if it had been too strong, I couldn’t have made such a good (for me) finish time. It’s a masterpiece!

Splits: 29:44 (3 mi), 9:14, 22:57 (2 mi), 10:08, 9:52, 10:51, 10:35, 32:03 (3 mi), 15:02 (potty stop), 10:50, 11:13, 10:14, 10:03, 10:22, 10:38, 11:18, 11:31, 10:54, 11:38, 11:47, 13:12 (1.22 mi), total 4:44:07, pace 10:50.

I love Abilene. If I wanted to retire to a nice, quiet town in the middle of the country, Abilene would be a great place. People leave stuff out unprotected; we saw bikes parked in front of stores, unchained. Stacks of fertilizer and other products outside the hardware store, no way to bring all of that inside at night. It was once a crossroads for three different railroads, and there are MANY beautiful old mansions on the Federal Register. The railroads are still there, but the depots have been put to other uses. I visited the hospital - a nice one for a small town. Abilene still embodies the values that made America great, and we saw bumper stickers from both sides of the aisle. But you do need a home with a basement, because this is tornado country.

Let us not forget the Eisenhower Museum, where we three spent maybe an hour and a half just skimming the surface of the displays. I liked Ike, still do like Ike. He was a civil, courteous person, unlike the screaming, ill-mannered, vituperative banshees who currently “represent” us in Washington (Obama excepted). Here is a quote by Ike from wall of the Meditation Center (where Ike is buried): “Every gun made, every battleship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed . . . This is not a way of life at all . . . Under the threatening cloud of war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.” He was a man of peace, in a time of war and threatening nuclear conflagration.



Amytrigirl (aka Amybee) said...

congrats on a great race (despite the bikers!)

Artem P. said...

It was nice race!
the weather was excellent and view is amazing!

Beth said...

You did fantastic! Congrats on a great marathon and another state. I'm so glad you had a nice trip and a fantastic finish!

SteveQ said...

Congrats, both on the race and on getting off dexamethasone!