Dallas Rocks! That’s the theme of the Dallas White Rock Marathon, held on Sunday, December 5, and it holds true. With just one mind-boggling exception (see below), this was a well-organized and enjoyable race. My husband decided to come with me on this trip since he is originally from Texas and he enjoys Tex-Mex food. One of the big draws of Dallas was, I am a bit embarrassed to admit, the idea of REAL fajitas (as opposed to the pale imitations found outside of Texas).
We left early on Saturday to catch a flight to Dallas via Atlanta. On the way to our local airport I realized I had forgotten to put on my watch (I rely heavily on it for my time during a race), decided against going back to get it, and just made up my mind to forget time and pace, and concentrate on enjoying the race experience. The temp on race day was supposed to be in the mid-thirties, cold for me, and I could not find my orange fleece gloves when I was packing, so I had to take some tired old holey gloves instead, with a pair of disposables to wear over them. We arrived in Atlanta about 7:30, walked to our next gate, on the way saw a co-worker who had been stranded in Salt Lake City for a day and night because of snow and was now trying to get back home, and upon boarding our flight discovered we had been upgraded to first-class (thanks, Delta). That was a treat!
Arrived in Dallas around noontime and took Super Shuttle to the host hotel, the Hyatt Regency (very nice hotel, about 1 mile from downtown and several good restaurants). There were shuttles from the Hyatt to the Expo held at Fair Park (where the State of TX fair is held every year) as well as to the start and finish (also at Fair Park) on race day. Our room at the Hyatt was ready so we checked in, deposited our suitcases, and headed to the Expo. Packet pick-up was easy, with bib and D-chip and goody bag at one end and tee shirt (long-sleeved cotton, which I like) at the other. It was very crowded and far too many booths were pushed together in a small area, lots of people and baby carriages, so rather than walk by every booth and explore, we just got my packet and shirt and left. We were hungry, so we shuttled back to the hotel, brought the goodies up to the room, and headed off searching for lunch. We ate our full at the Iron Cactus, beef fajitas for two and tecate beer, wonderful, and then back to the room so I could prepare for the race tomorrow.
Race day dawned chilly but clear, 31 degrees, so I dressed warmly, with 4 layers of clothing, my throwaway scarf (a dish towel pinned around my neck), lots of tissues, my energy bars and salty foods, and headed for the first shuttle. Race began at 8 am, shuttles started at 6, I was there at 5:45 and there was already a bus almost packed with runners. I joined them.
Now the only thing I DID NOT LIKE about this course was the wave start. I was in corral N and there were 2 corrals behind me. The course was supposed to be open for 6.5 hours, with the roads opening at 2:30 pm. That meant that if there were to be truly a wave start with each corral leaving every 2-3 minutes, people in the back corrals (like myself) would have to really hustle so we would not be pushed to the sidewalks towards the end of the race. And, indeed, each corral was held for about 3-4 minutes – my corral did not even get to the start line for 43 minutes. I could only imagine how long it took corrals O and P to get there. Remember, the temps were in the 30’s and it was cold just standing there.
Finally, we took off. It was 2 miles into the race before my muscles warmed up and I could feel my legs. From that point on, I enjoyed myself immensely. The half marathoners split off just before mile 8, but there were still plenty of full marathoners around, even at the back of the pack, so I was not concerned about getting lost. The course was varied enough to keep me from becoming bored; we toured several up-scale neighborhoods decorated for the holidays, but the highlight for me was the long section around White Rock Lake, very scenic and colorful. There were more bands than I expected (very nice), lots of enthusiastic volunteers and helpful police, a fair amount of spectators (about how I like it since big noisy crowds are not for me). I’m not sure how the race organizers did this, but it seemed like there were a lot of downhills and very few hills to climb up so that was pleasant. The last few miles to the finish line were all downhill and racers then were directed into a building where we received our medal (nice heavy metal on a brightly colored lanyard), finisher’s shirt (long-sleeved tech), yogurt, oranges, and cups of water.
Met my husband outside and we shuttled back to the hotel, where I changed and then we took off for lunch, this time at Sol Irlande’s grill (more fajitas and tecate). Slept well, flew home early Monday, back to work on Tuesday. My time (had to wait until Monday to check) was 5:44, exactly where it usually is.