And we were off! The race course got really cool immediately as we crossed the I-74 bridge over the Mississippi River into Iowa. This is the only time that the bridge is ever open to pedestrians, and the view was spectacular. We ran into Bettendorf, Iowa, up a slight incline, then back down to run along the river. At some point in the downhill, I got ahead of the 4:30 pace group, but I felt so good that I kept on going, cruising along at or under 10:00 miles.
At around the 6 mile mark, I was greeted by my family - Steve (wearing a bright yellow jacket that I looked for all day, Jack clanging his cowbell, and my mom and Doug holding up signs for me.
I continued along the river, enjoying the beautiful views. I feel very fortunate as a runner that any time I want to go running, I can do so along the banks of the Mississippi, and to be able to run my hometown marathon there was a thrill. My family greeted me again at 10 miles as I ran through Davenport.
We crossed over the Centennial Bridge, back to Illinois, this time in Rock Island. The course ran around downtown, and there were nice pockets of spectators. My knee had an odd tinge to it that I decided to nip in the bud, so I called Steve and asked him to have ready 4 Advil for me - and a pack of Sport Beans. At mile 12 or so, he handed it off to me, then he jogged about a block with me, carrying a grinning Jack all the way.
I crossed the half marathon point at around 2:11 and felt fantastic. With that, the course entered Arsenal Island, which I had been warned was deadly dull.
To be continued...