Written by Bob Woelk Tuesday, 12 December 2006 18:00Notes from a quick half-marathon trip to Dallas last weekend:
We took off Saturday morning, Todd Lehman, his fiancée Julie Stoltzfus, Glen and Susie Kliewer and I. We headed due south for the 36th annual White Rock Marathon and Half-Marathon.
The race was to be Todd's ninth this year in his effort to run 13 marathons in 13 months as a fund-raiser for the M-2 program of Offenders Victim Ministry, an organization that helps victims of crimes reconcile with the perpetrators, giving both parties some closure and forgiveness.
M-2 is responsible for securing volunteers for prison visits. If you would like more information or want to support this cause, visit fmchillsboro.ks.us.mennonite.net and click on the marathon challenge section.
Todd talked me into going to Dallas about four weeks ago. Honestly, that is barely enough time to train for a half-marathon, a distance of 13.1 miles.
My most recent endeavor of that sort was the Wichita Half-Marathon in October. That run proved to be my best time ever at 1 hour, 39 minutes.
I had trained pretty hard for that one, so I was just planning to take the Dallas run at an easy pace, especially since Glen and Todd were participating in the full marathon, a 26.2-mile odyssey.
Todd, of course, does more than just finish marathons, he eats them for breakfast, along with just about everything else he can get his hands on these days. One 26.2-miler will raise a person's metabolism big time. I can't imagine how high his must be after his recent string.
Anyway, the trip out was fairly uneventful. We cruised along the interstate at a respectable 73 mph.
There was very little road construction to stand in our way and very few dead armadillos along the side of the road. Apparently they are not only nocturnal, they go into hiding when the weather gets chilly. They may be stupid, but they are not insane.
My dad, who has certainly done his share of traveling in his lifetime, told me he actually saw a live armadillo this summer. It was his first spotting ever.
As we entered Texas, we saw a sign that informed us we should drive like Texans. I suppose that meant we were supposed to be friendly, but to truly drive like a Texan, we would need to speed up about 10 mph over the limit and start passing people on the right.
Coming into the Big D, we discovered we were on the George W. Bush Expressway. I commented that I guessed that meant we were on a road with no exit strategy. That one drew quite a laugh from the occupants of the van. I thought it was a pretty good one myself.
Traffic in Dallas is crazy, and that is an understatement. The streets downtown are all one-way, and they generally went the opposite way we wanted to go.
After the race, I asked a couple from the area if the whole town was laid out by a drunken cowboy. They said the street layout took some getting used to.
Every respectable marathon has some celebrities on hand. I have met Olympians Dick Beardsly and Bill Rodgers at past events.
But, Dallas was the clincher for me. I shook hands with the immortal Jeff Galloway, a regular contributor to "Runners' World Magazine" and inventor of the "Galloway Method" of marathon running where disciples of the plan run for a distance then walk for a minute. The change of pace actually improves overall times.
It was Galloway who inspired me to run my first full marathon two years ago. None of us had a camera, but I did get his autograph on my race number. It now occupies a prominent place in my shrine to racing.
Later, as we were packing up to leave our hotel, we saw him again. This time, Todd was ready with a camera, and we took turns getting our photos taken with him.
Jeff Galloway is one heck of a nice guy, too, by the way.
The morning of the races was cool and windy, about 44 degrees with a 20 mph southerly breeze. The marathon took off at 8 a.m., and we wimpy half-marathoners started an hour later. Olympic sprinter Michael Johnson was the starter, and Joan Benoit Samuelson, who won the first-ever women's Olympic marathon in 1984, participated in the half, though I never saw her.
I did see about 5,000 to 6,000 other runners, however. My time was a decent 1:42.21, so I achieved my goal of finishing with an average mile time of under 8 minutes. I was 37th out of 251 in my age division and 411th out of 4,571 finishers. Not bad for an old guy.
Todd's marathon time was one of his recent best efforts at 3:09. Also not bad, considering he had a mere three weeks to prepare following his last event. He finished in the top 125 out of 3,507 in the entire race.
Glen was fairly happy with his own effort, finishing somewhere between 4 hours and 5 hours. Like me, he had not trained particularly hard in the weeks leading up to Dallas.
We wrapped up the whirlwind weekend with a stop at a Dallas Whataburger (just to say we had eaten at one) and headed home.
By the time we arrived in Hillsboro late Sunday, we had logged 885 miles in about 36 hours, not including the mileage we covered on foot.