Well, I will call this a success. Ultimately the flaws in the race were mine, due to my choices, but I will say that this pace team was the most flawed I've depended on. But my choice to depend on them was mine and mine alone. Lesson learned. I will depend on my own watch. I don't like running with a watch, but I will make the sacrifice. They were off by :48 on the first mile, and didn't settle into pace until about mile 11. I believe with every fiber of my being that I would've hit 3:30, maybe 3:25 if even they were only off by 10-15 seconds. I still set a PR at 3:42:03, shaving 2:20 off my previous 3:44:23. I believe I have a great chance to shatter that in Louisville in April with my own watch and proper pacing. I was previously not going to run the Madison Marathon, as I've run it twice and grew a bit bored, but now depending on the outcome in Louisville, I may run it. If for no other reason than I know every crack and bump, hill and dip, in that race and will tear it open.
My body is nearly completely ready to go, and only 3 days ago I ran the marathon. My thighs are still a bit tight, but everything else is ready to roll. I'm going to be swimming and rowing for about 2 weeks to get my cardio, some upper body training, core workouts, etc. My body is responding to the demands I'm placing on it and I am very happy with the results.
The day could not have been more perfect. 45 at the start, and 65 at the finish. Sun was shining. Perfect number of water stops. Great community support. Tons of bands. Some people set up bands and had parties in their front yard. Great atmosphere. If you haven't, Run Austin!
Now, back to the grind.... The finish line is an illusion.