“Go St Louis! A marathon in two States!”

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I wake up at 4 am, one hour before the alarm clock goes off, and feel a bit tired. I decide to take it easy today and more so because of the difficult weather conditions that we expect. It’s 39° F outside, with an icy wind blowing and rain is expected for 8 am.

I take my dietary supplement Immunâge®, eat breakfast and get dressed accordingly: three layers for the top, one legging, gloves, ear muffs, and hat, equipped for quite a war! I jog towards the start area four kilometers away, but decide to make a detour to run on the legendary Route 66 – the real one – and get to the start area at 6:45.

The national anthem is sung. I take place in my corral. At 7am, the gun goes off and waves of runners leave every minute. I start at 7:07.

We start with another little loop downtown St Louis. It’s crowded and on the rather narrow streets this leads to traffic jams and a slow pace of less than 9.40 min/mile for me. But I feel good about it and decide to keep this pace until the end: it will pay off today.

We leave the city and tackle the first bridge that leads us to the State of Illinois. It’s a slight uphill and I feel good, passing km 5 in 31 minutes. After a small loop, we turn back to the city traversing the river uphill over two bridges. It’s steeper than the bridge before, but since my pace is slow, there is no consequence and my running stays relaxed. We are back downtown and I pass km 10 in 1:04. After another loop, we run along the Mississippi riverfront, where there are a few uphills making the course slower than I expected. We arrive in the Anheuser-Busch complex where they really do brew Budweiser beer! The buildings in red bricks are superb and the brewery is huge. We run back downtown and I reach km 15 in 1:37. More uphill, another bridge and we get near the finish line where we leave the half marathon runners. I pass km 20 in 2:13, and the half marathon in 2:20. Everything is fine due to my slow pace. I am not trying to speed up.

We run a long hilly straight stretch that leads us to Forest Park, St. Louis vast and beautiful Public Park. I pass km 25 in 3:05. The course in the park is long, not flat at all: up and down, and this breaks our legs. However, because I do not run fast, I can keep my running regular, manage it without problem and especially without exhausting my body. I pass km 30 in 3:37. It’s still not raining. For once the weather forecast is wrong, but the sky is cloudy and we can hear the storm rumbling in the distance.

We leave the park at km 35 (that I pass in 4:05) and it starts raining. I’ll run the last hour under the rain against wind gusts. We run again on the long straight stretch until the finish line, with thunder rumbling and lightning striking nearby. As I am afraid that they will stop the race, I decide to speed up. My legs do not hurt and I still have reserves to draw on. The rain is less intense near the finish line but all at once the wind blows down all the fences just when I pass the finish line in 5:05:59.

I get my medal, a few things to munch on, but do not linger at the finish area even if I am dressed warmly: it’s too chilly and windy there.

I am happy with the strategy I used for this race, as the slow pace I adopted from the start has allowed me to run this marathon with a regular rhythm without exhausting myself: As I am writing these words, neither my legs nor my joints hurt. I feel very well and this was my goal today under such weather conditions.

This race was not as easy as I thought because of all the hills and bridges that always are hard on the legs. There were not many spectators nor much ambiance because of the weather. But with such weather, what can you expect? However, there were as always dedicated volunteers there. Many thanks to them. The organization was very good and everything was well managed.

Next Saturday I’ll run in Salt Lake City where I will start a very busy week: I had to change my challenge schedule, and will run three marathons within a week.

Have a good week, David…

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