I found this marathon when I was looking for a race to run that would fill out my June race calendar. To my surprise I found a trail marathon in Dubuque run on the same trail as the Triple D Winter race I ran in January http://www.mikemac356.blogspot.com/2012/01/triple-d-winter-race.html . As a bonus the race was put on to benefit our men and women in uniform. So of course I registered. I intended on using the race as my last long training run before my upcoming Ultramarathon.
I woke up at 0300 and grabbed my gear, hopped in the car for the 2 hour trip (including a stop for McMuffin) to the shuttle van pickup point. My plan worked well and I arrived about 30 minutes before the shuttle was to take us to the start at 0530.
This was a point to point course starting in Dyersville Iowa and going 26.2 miles along the Heritage trail and finishing in Dubuque Iowa. I grabbed my gear (Camelbak minimule) and got on the van. The ride to the start was interesting as I talked to a gentleman from Wisconsin that shared my interest in ultra running and we talked about some of the races we had run. The van dropped us off at the start and I picked up my packet etc..
We had a pre race meeting where the race director talked about our wounded warriors and introduced the parents of a young Marine that had been severely injured in Iraq and was still at the national naval medical center. As is traditional for a lot of military events there was even a bagpiper. Eventually we moved to the start. The gun went off and we were paced from the start by an old jeep complete with .30 cal machinegun.
We followed the jeep up and back .2 miles on a paved road and then hit the crushed limestone Heritage trail. I passed a guy with a 75th Ranger Regiment patch on his fuel belt. I introduced myself, told him what Ranger class I had been in, and wished him good luck as I moved in front of him. I accomplished the first mile at an 8:30 pace and the second in the same. I started feeling like the day was going to be a good one, even though I was using this as a training run I felt like I might set a personal record. My previous best marathon time had been 3 hours 59 minutes back in 2005. I still took the time to snap some pictures along the way.
The race organizers had ATV moving up and down the course offering water and checking on the health of the runners. The day had started at a temperature of 76 degrees and was slated to get into the high 90's. The aid stations where well stocked with water and electrolytes. I continued my usual nutrition plan of 2 electrolyte pills and 1 GU every 30 minutes. Approximately the 10 mile mark I heard footsteps behind me and a guy ran up beside me. He said hi and he continued to run at my pace. He looked extremely easy and relaxed and we started talking. Over the next 16 miles we would talk about alot of things. I found out he was trying to run 50 marathons in 50 states in 1 year. He even had a website to chronicle this http://www.50statesin2012.com. He was extremely upbeat, greeting everyone we passed and as the miles clicked by I found myself running easy along side of him. My breathing was relaxed and my foot turnover was light. We maintained an 8:30 to 8:45 pace and the miles just kept clicking off. I don't remember ever becoming fatigued. He mentioned his goal was to complete the race in under 4 hours. I told him that would be a PR for me and he seemed happy about that.
Before I knew it the finish was in sight. I crossed the finish in 3:53:02 a PR by 6 minutes!!! I did this while carrying a camelbak and in oppressive heat. I think I am ready for the Dances with Dirt 50 miler.