Marathons: Paul #56, Leah #46, State #39 : Conchas Lake Marathon 2015
8th March 2015, Conchas, New Mexico, USA
Finish Time (Paul) = 3:35:35
Finish Time (Leah) = 3:44:04
Paul: 1st Overall
Leah: 2nd Overall, 1st Place Female
A few things fell into place in the lead up to the weekend that meant we were free to enter the Conchas Lake Marathon. We had missed online registration by the time we determined that we could take part in the event but after contacting the race director we knew registering on the day wouldn’t be a problem.
It was a 400 mile drive down to Tucumcari so we rented a car and considering we were going to spend over 12 hours in it, we upgraded to something special for extra comfort. We got given a brand new Lincoln MKS with just 200 miles on the clock. That will do!
A massage with your drive?
We spent the Saturday driving down through Southern Colorado and into New Mexico, trying to identify the spectacular mountains among the scenery we were driving beside. While playing around with the menu system in the car and carefully adjusting the “multi-point seats” in 3 different places I noticed an additional option.. massage. What? I turned it on and our seats started massaging us while driving. This upgrade was worth every dollar.
We arrived at our hotel in Tucumcari in the evening, unpacked our supplies and ate the dinner we’d brought with us. In the morning we made the 45 minute drive to Conchas State Lake Park. For the first time ever we went over to the table and registered for the race 30 minutes before it was due to start. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this as a habit, it’s much more expensive.
The race was organised by MainlyMarathons, who host a number of marathons across a lot of States and have quite a following. Everyone was very friendly and it had a very personal feel to it. It was a small crowd, in fact the smallest event we had taken part in. There were 18 in the marathon, 8 running the half-marathon distance and 5 running the 5K. After the race director gave his opening speech we set off and Leah and I found ourselves running up front from the beginning. The event wasn’t about competition but more focused on the challenge. We weren’t there for competition either, well only between us and the clock, to make sure we completed New Mexico in under 4 hours. However, it was certainly a new experience to be leading the pack and also a bit daunting. Usually you don’t have to think about where to go in a marathon, you just follow the people in front of you. But when there’s no-one in front of you it adds a new dimension to the race – navigation. We’d all been told at the start that turns were marked with cones so we were just looking out for those. They were well marked, each time we saw cones we’d make a turn… and then check over our shoulders to make sure the others were still following us!
What was on our side was the course was a 3.27 mile run out, a turnaround and then 3.27 miles back to the start/finish. The half-marathoners did that twice, the full marathoners four times. So once we’d done the 3.27 miles out we knew the course for the rest of the run. The weather had started out pretty cold but was due to heat up, typical desert climate. We wore some extra layers for the first part of the run and once the sun came out we got rid of them.
The course was really nice, mostly road surface leading over a huge and impressive dam. After crossing the dam we turned down into a a dirt / dust track and ran out to the turnaround. There were 3 aid stations set up (including the start/finish), so you would pass a total of 6 per 6.55 mile out-and-back segment.
Leah and I ran together for two thirds of the race and then she eased off a bit. Feeling good, I carried on and with the out and back nature we still saw each other at various stages, high-fiving as we passed. I’m sure she faked me out one time but she insists it was an innocent miss.
The out and back repeats nature also meant you saw a lot of the other runners and they were all encouraging and most seemed to be enjoying themselves. I had a great run, keeping fast, even splits throughout. The last few miles were tough due to a headwind that had picked up and I definitely noticed the last hill more than previously.
I finished the race strong in 3:35, my 3rd fastest marathon ever and was the 1st finisher. It was a huge buzz, even if it wasn’t in a traditional competitive-style marathon. I waited at the finish and Leah came in shortly after, finishing in 2nd place in 3:44.
We were very pleased. New Mexico can be a tough State to check off the list, with limited options and tough marathons if you wait until the hotter part of the year. Even in March with an 8am start time I got sunburnt.
We cheered on some of the other runners finishing, before changing and hitting the road so that would be back home by the evening. You know that seat massage option was on full power the whole way home!
Elevation Graph from my running watch:
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