Quad Cities Marathon, September 22, 2013. PERFECT weather: 50ish (start) 70ish (finish), sunny!
If you follow along, you know my race recaps are more of the fact versus a story, well this one may be a tad different. So grab some sport beans and Gatorade, kick back and enjoy.
Pre-race / expo: The expo was held the Saturday before the race from 10am to 6pm. This was your only chance to pick up your packet. However you could have someone pick it up for you, they just had to sign a form saying they did so. There were scheduled events during the expo and a pasta party in the evening. With your registration (approx $45) you received a shirt, bandana, coozie, udder cream, a poster and lots of papers, pamphlets and flyers. (virtual race bags would have been nice, as my flyers hit the recycling bin) I have yet to actually attend the expo, it interferes with my love of Hawkeye football.
There are approximately 5200 runners, with the 5k, half, full and relay; so there are no issues with parking Just need to make sure you have enough time to maneuver through the area as the main streets are closed for the race. Lots of parking in the lot adjacent to the Mark, or whatever the place is called now.
Plenty of port-a-potties lined up before the race. Here is a tip: Early morning race? always nice to have a headlamp for the port-a-potties, it’s dark in there! Hand washing stations were also stationed near them.
Before the race, I met up with my running friends and spectating crew. I had prepared bags with maps, snacks and water. I think spectating a big race is just as important, nothing like a friendly face to help keep you plugging away. I would be running most of the race with Laura, it was her first. Josh was running his first as well. Joel was conquering his 4th and Tereasa was out to set another PR on the 5k course. Spectator Kate was in town from MPLS, my sister Amber and niece Ella, and Laura’s man Tom wished us well in the parking lot. Kelly also caught up with the spectator crew on the course and Sandy, Tereasa’s mom gave high fives near the starting line.
Race: All races started at 7:30, in the same undivided coral. It was also the finishing shoot, which was set up with tents on either side, it was a bit of a bottleneck. The race is chip timed so not a huge problem with timing, just a problem with too many people in one spot.
The national anthem was sung after some announcements and we were off.
The course covers 2 states and 4 cities. It starts in Moline, IL. This part of the course was on paved city streets with some places in need of repairs, many holes and cracks. We then approached the I-74 bridge, yes we ran on a major highway and only one lane was closed for traffic. The bridge had a slight bounce to it as all the runners crossed. At this point I was running with Laura and we passed a guy running backwards while juggling, he was running the full. We then caught up with this guy who told us this was his 40th marathon (he wasn’t sure, he didn’t keep track.)
We continued on and ascended the “one hill” and looped through Bettendorf, IA on the paved city streets. All the streets had hazards, just needed to look out for them. There was a cheerleading squad with running specific cheers. From here we made it to the path that runs along the Mississippi River towards Davenport, IA. I joke about the one hill, but the bridge ascents are a hill!
This part of the course is flat, it covers miles 4 – 9ish. There have been a few water and Gatorade stops along the way and at least one GU stop. This section was the best surface to run on, no major hazards. We approach miles 6-7 and see our support crew. Laura and I take some treats from my niece, as the first food stop is near mile 20. We also have to use the bathroom, and up to this point all the stops on the course have lines. We found a hidden bathroom and carried on.
The support crew was wonderful on this part of the course. They met us again at mile 9 and then as we looped back around before mile 10. Kate debuted her “sign” which was a 3D cigarette, Laura is a smoker…and yet some how she runs without problem. Laura grabbed the sign and ran with it..but gave it back when we saw them again, I about peed my pants from laughing so hard.
We were on our way back to Illinois, we had to cross the Centennial Bridge and we would be in Rock Island. As Laura and I ran across the bridge we pulled out our smiles and waved at all the passing cars. There were some that looked frightened, keeping their mitts at 10-2, then there were some who honked and waved with cheer. When we came off the bridge Laura spotted her parents, Gary & Judy…I went in for a high five, to which I believe Gary wanted a hand shake…I was ready to pull him along with me, lol.
The next few miles had us snake through the “district” and we spotted another smiling face, Kelly with the #runchat sign. We trotted through Rock Island where it was pretty quiet, we had split from the half marathoners a few miles back and it was just us and the hazardous streets. As we were ready to leave Rock Island we passed the support group once again. This time my niece ran up to me, so I grabbed her hand and we ran back to her mom, it was too cute!
The support crew with Jake and Elwood in Rock Island!
We were about to approach some of the toughest miles, miles 13 – 20 on Arsenal Island. Gary & Judy were just at the entrance to the island, I tried for another high five, but it was another awkward hand shake. Arsenal Island has restricted access to the public, so it was just Laura and I and the music in our ears. The course started on a bike path trail, it was loose gravel which turned to warped asphalt, very uneven surface. We passed a Gu stop and Laura took a wet towel. There was a turn around on the island and we’re fortunate to see Josh and give him a high five.
We carried on Aresenal Island, passing a beautifully groomed golf course. It was about mile 15-16 when Laura was pulling away from me. We could see the 4:55 pacer up ahead. I told her she looked good and if she felt good to catch them, and let them do the work. I felt good with my current pace and kept plugging away.
All mile markers were clearly marked, and a balloon was attached to each one. The water stops were also clearly marked as to whether the paper cups had water or Gatorade. The course also had various musical acts along the way. I always stop my music and make sure to clap or fist pump as I pass.
Mile 17 came and I passed 2 guys wearing WDW shirts, one with the half and one with a Goofy challenge, I joked with them and told em I would see em at Dopey. These miles weren’t too bad as far as the pavement went.
Mentally it was getting tough, but I knew there were at least orange slices near miles 19-20, all I could think about was the orange slices. Hey I like food, what can I say. I finally made it to the food stop, there were also gummi bears and bananas, I was overly excited. I took a banana chunk and a slice, felt rejuvenated and moseyed along.
This was almost the end of Arsenal Island, and it is the most solemn part of the course, the cemetery. It is similar in appearance to Arlington National Cemetery. There were bells playing in the distance. I felt like I should have taken my hat off and paid my respects, very moving.
I then approached a walking runner, as I got closer I noticed I knew this guy, it was Joel! He said his legs were tired, but his mind was still in the game. I told him to just keep moving and the support crew should be just ahead if he needed anything. We were able to run together for a bit, which was nice to have a familiar face by my side.
We descended the bridge back into Moline, IL and high fived the crew and headed out to cover the toughest part of the course. The last 6 miles were an out and back along the river, on the paved streets with many holes ( I saw a girl fall to the ground after her foot was caught in one)
I kept rolling, stopping at each water and Gatorade stop. I remember ice cold Lemon Lime Gatorade, it was delish! I made a comment to Joel and kept moving, at this point I believe I lost him. There was also another fruit stop, of course I grabbed some grub.
I spotted some friends doing the relay and a Daily Mile friend, encouragement at this point is much appreciated. Then I spotted Josh, I was so happy for him, he looked good. After spotting all my friends, it became the battle of the loud DJ music, which I quite enjoyed, I really had a spark in my step when I heard Back in Black.
All I wanted at this point was to make it to the turnaround point, I knew I had it once I got there, and then my ipod blessed me with “Some Nights” by Fun…it’s always the music, this song reminds me of Kelly, so that helped. I continued stopping at the water/Gatorade stops, perhaps walking a little too long. Then I was about a mile from the finish and my shuffling ipod stopped on “Eye of the Tiger”…yes I turned it up! Then I could see the finish and the next song was Dolly Parton’s 9-5 (which Kate had just sand at karaoke)
Ahh, I knew I could do it, there was the support crew, Ella came running up to me again, so I ran some steps with her. I passed Josh, Laura and Tereasa holding signs for me. Then I heard my name announced on the speaker as I crossed the finish line of my 3rd marathon.
A medal was placed around my neck, my shoe tag was clipped and I grabbed a chocolate milk and bottle of water. Then I grabbed some grapes and a cookie. Bagels, chips, hot dogs, granola bars and snack crackers were also available. I then went after that cold beer!!!!! I found a spot to lean against, I saw Joel after he crossed and we sat and enjoyed the sunny day. The rest of the crew came over.
What a great day for a race. I really felt good, I had a slight problem with the bottom of my feet, they hurt! There was a lot of pavement, and my shoes maybe had 50 miles on them, so who knows why? My Garmin beeped before I hit every mile, and at the end it had said I ran 26.46 miles in 4:56. My official time was 4:58:09. I hit my sub 5 hour goal, keep in mind I stopped and peed, lol. I also ran the entire course, except walking through the food and drink stops.
I would recommend this course to a first timer, it is relatively flat. There are hills, but they are manageable. There are also plenty of spectators and entertainment on the course. I think the down falls are lack of food on the course and it’s kinda boring in parts.
I am very lucky to have such great support. I would like to thank my sister, Amber and niece, Ella, Kate, Tom, Gary & Judy, Kelly, Tereasa and her mom Sandy. It’s hard to accomplish things like this without a great crew. I would also like to say I am extremely proud of Josh and Laura for kicking ass!!! A shout out to Joel for finishing when his legs didn’t want to. Let’s not forget Tereasa, another 5k PR!!!
You all may be wondering what is next for me…..well this week is technically week 4 of training for the Dopey Challenge in Walt Disney World January 2014…so I guess I will keep running. I am also doing a half in October, and I am sure you will catch a 5k recap in the near future.