Quad Cities Half Marathon

By Matt Vortman

The Quad Cities Marathon was held September 28th, 2008. In conjunction with the full 26.2 mile marathon, they have a marathon relay, half marathon, and 5K. I chose to run a half marathon about a month ago. I actually ran the Quad Cities Marathon in 2005, my first. It was a miserable experience. The weather was hot and humid and I got stopped by a train; not once…TWICE! Apparently the race director was P.O’d that the railroad was operating that day and decided to park his SUV on tracks to stop the train for the elite runners. I got stopped at miles 22 and 24 and just never recovered. Needless to say, the Quad Cities Marathon left a bad taste in my mouth.

In March of this year, I headed downtown to sign up for the Lincoln Memorial Half Marathon, here in Springfield. I had the opportunity to meet the director of the Quad Cities Marathon and he mentioned that I should try the course again. He stated they changed the course and had added several features to make the race unique. I told him I was planning to run the Chicago Marathon, but would keep it in mind.

Matt Vortman

Well…I never signed up for the Chicago Marathon. In August, I got the itch to start training for a race of some distance. I pulled out the brochure for the Quad Cities Marathon and decided to try the half. My training for the half marathon was less than stellar. I did get several ten-mile runs in, but never one that I felt was great. My longest run was 12 miles, but I bonked during that. However, I knew I could run 13.1 flat miles if the weather was cool and nothing out of the ordinary took place.

The weekend of the half marathon, I took off for the Quad Cities on Saturday afternoon. After hanging out with a good friend that evening enjoying some pre-race Whitey’s Ice Cream, I got to bed early to rest up for the race. On Sunday, the 28th, the weather was absolutely perfect. It was overcast with slight breeze out of the northwest and temperatures in the lower 50’s. I was excited because the last time I did this race it rained as we lined up, got sunny and humid as the temperature got up into the 80’s! I arrived at the John Deer Commons in Moline, Illinois early to do some stretching and light jogging.

The race started at 8am. They start all the races at one time, so you have to be careful to “run your own race”. I felt good from the start. My goal for this race was 1 hour and 50 minutes. I was shooting for a pace of about 8 minutes/mile. The first mile or so, I was going too fast and had a pace of about 7:10 minutes/mile. However, by the time we hit the I-74 Bridge, I had settled into my 8 minute/mile pace. I was able to maintain this pace pretty much for the whole race. As we headed east on Lincoln Road in Bettendorf Iowa, I got passed by a pace leader with a goofy hat that read “Pace 1:45”. She literally left me in her dust as we headed down towards the river on 18th street in Bettendorf. However, I tried to keep her in eyesight, knowing that if I kept up with her group, I was going to meet my goal of 1:50.

At the half-way point for the marathon in Davenport Iowa, I was still feeling good. At 6.55 miles, my time was 50:30. The half-marathoners departed the marathoners at mile 8 and we headed onto Arsenal Island in Rock Island, Illinois. At this point, my left hip really started to hurt. I’m not sure why, but when I run long distances, I always have problems with my left hip. I did everything I could think of to shake it. I didn’t stop; but I wanted to.

After 10.1 miles, my time was 1:19. I knew I was on pace to finish in under 1:50. With just under a 5K to go, I kept my focus on the goofy lady and her goofy hat. According to my Garmin, I was still running at a pace of 8 minutes/mile. Somehow, somewhere on Arsenal Island, I forgot about my hip hurting. I got passed up by a group of Army men and women running the relay and tried my best to cheer them on.

Then at 12.13 miles it happened; I got passed by the runner leading the marathon. It is amazing to watch somebody run that well after running so far. I believe he was 7 miles ahead of us and he still had some out-and-backs to run before he would get to the same finish line. I had less than a mile to go and as I left Arsenal Island, I knew I was within my goal. However, I could still see the crazy hat lady and thought “why not shoot for 1:45”. I looked down at my Garmin and my pace had dropped to 8:40 minutes/mile. At that point, I picked up the pace and shot down River Drive to the finish line. I finished with a time of 1 hour 46 minutes and 49 seconds.

I was proud of my finish overall. I felt I ran a good race. It was fun to run through four cities, an island, and two states. I got a chance to meet several runners who were familiar with Hardybreed.com. I also met a couple of my old friends from Iowa. The Schnucks-Miller Lite Post Race Party was fun. I had three beer tickets on my racing bib that I took full advantage of. They also had plenty of Happy Joe’s Pizza and were cooking hot dogs and brats. Jynocel Basweti of Kenya won the marathon with a time of 2:18.04, after two runners ahead of him pulled out with injuries. Vince Temu won the half marathon with a time of 1:12.49.

– Matt Vortman

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