Members of Club Oly (Olymia WA) have been training long and hard for this one. I ran some of their long runs this summer when I was available and got to know some great people. I had planned to drive down with Bill and stay with family but at the last minute Jody and Tammy decided to come and Jody suggested that we get a hotel. Jody and Tammy will run the 5 mile race. All of the normal hotels close to the start were full, but the Hotel Modera had a suite available and is only four blocks from the start. The Modera is different, its got style and that style is something modern/trendy/chic/European. The best description I can come up with is that Dieter from Sprockets probably stays here. So the four of us had a nice Saturday. Lunch, then the expo to get our numbers. Bill and I took the bus tour of the course, then the four of us went to a pasta place for dinner.
My goals today are in a broad range. Having run Bellingham seven days ago I have limited expectations. My worst time ever is 4:24 and it is good to have that as a goal to beat if I have a real bad day. I would really like to beat 4:06, last weeks time. Sub 4 hours would be fantastic. I will be running with a group that wants to get in under 4 so I will pace with them, there is no way that I could PR or do much better than 4 as long as I stick to the plan and stay on pace. I doubt that I will be much good after mile 18, but I am fine with that. All I have to do is finish and I get my third Maniac star, for completing 12 marathons in 12 months.
Bill and I leave our hotel at 6AM and walk to the Hilton hotel/race headquarters to meet others from Club Oly. I learn that the public restrooms on the second floor have no line and are somewhat nicer than the port-a-potties lining the start area. We find the other four hour hopefuls: Bill running his 4th marathon with a previous PR of 4:14, Debbie so close to 4 on her first two marathons, Mark who had knee surgery in July but has been running well (students of my blog will remember Mark from October 30, 2004 where he heat me by a millisecond in a 5K), Dave who is running his first marathon and showed very good potential to be fast but had some first timer injuries and has been training conservatively recently, Shannon with a taped ankle, and me the idiot who ran a marathon last week thus blowing any chance of a speedy time.
Start - We work our way to the start and struggle through the crowds to get behind the 4 hour pace team. We are so crammed in there that we can not get within 30 yards of them. This will have to do. There are about 9,200 runners and many brought spectators to the start. Way too crowded and I am ready to get going, but relaxed. Temp is nice, but it might sprinkle. We are in the second wave and when our wave starts it takes us over a minute to get to the start line. We have our new disposable chips on that everyone except me put on properly, so it does not matter when we cross the start.
Mile 0.5 - The drums. I always get emotional here. Got to love the drums as we go down the narrow street in the semi dawn.
Mile 1 - 10:30. That is not bad considering the crowd. We can pick up the pace later. At least we are all together. Some people are throwing away really nice clothes. I want to stop for that beanie hat, but I would cause a major crash of people if I stop right now.
Mile 2 - I step into a small pothole and twist my ankle almost falling to the ground. I think that the two strangers next to me would have caught me if I had started to fall, they are so close. I keep running and everything seems fine. What a scare though, that could have been awful, for me and the herd I am with.
Mile 4 - Bill and I start crusing down the long hill at a faster pace. Debbie and Mark warn us to hold back and we do so. Most of my gang is very focused on the pace and I need to stay near them and let them be in charge. I am just along for the ride here. Not feeling very talkative either, but it is nice to be with the gang.
Mile 5 - The five mile race started a while ago and we could see the runners coming the other way. As we approach the side street from which they are coming I take one last look and then see Tammy!! I yell to her and she sees us!! That was unexpected and fun. Jody ran well and Tammy ran so fast that she was awarded with a plaque for 9th place in her age group.
Mile 6 - Starting to drizzle
Mile 7 - Out and back section. Fun to see the fast Maniacs
Mile 10 - There it is, quadricep soreness. I remember and expected this from my first back to back weekends in May. Hopefully the quads will stay strong enough to hold the knee cap in place and not cause knee pain. I can run on tired and sore legs as long as there is no pain.
Mile 11 - The four hour Red Lizard pacer is a little ways in front with a group of about 150 runners packed in all aroung him. Behind that pack is some running room and that is where we are. I think this is a great place to be. Keep that guy with the red lizard sign in sight and stay out of that pack. No need to look at the watch, though of course I do. We are spot on a nine minute mile.
Mile 12 - I make a deliberate small surge to meet the back of the pack. I assume that the others are right behind me. We have not been talking much anyway and I guess that I do not want to be in a position of trying to encourage anyone who may start to slow. Some people like to have someone "run them in at the end" and offer encouragement, but not me. I love to be cheered by spectators who I can run past, but I do not need anyone all fresh running circles around me trying to get me in with words while I am wilting. Lizard pace man is in front of us and we all have watches. I feel like we are on our own to see if each of us can hold the pace and reach their goal. I am not going to slow for anyone, and besides I am expecting to hit the wall or have knee pain any time now. Later I would find out that Mark got violently ill just behind us here and ended up vomiting five times before continuing on and finishing just under five hours. I give him great credit and guts points for finishing that race. Had I been with him when he got sick I would have stopped at least until I was sure he was OK.
Mile 13.1 - Just under 1:59 for the first half. We are all where we should be but will have to maintain that exact pace to beat 4.
Mile 14 - Light rain and some puddles forming. Some one steps in a puddle and the water splashes onto my shoe and down into my socks. Starting to remind me of winter running in Olympia. First marathon in a long time where I have not been hot at this point. I am more worried about getting wet and chilled. Good thing it is not too windy.
Mile 15 - Nice thing about this race is all the live entertainment. The course has long sections of industrial ugliness, but with so many High School cheerleaders and various musical groups, as well as fans, aid stations and balloons marking the miles, there is always something to distract and entertain. Now I approach a band that is playing "Walk Like an Egyptian". Of course I think of Charlie. She is probably still all snug in bed on this rainy early morning.
Mile 16 - Up the hill to the bridge. No one in the pack is talking and I think that a little conversation would be a nice distraction. Bill is just off to the side and Maniac Rodger is up ahead. I talk a bit with a woman who understands my purpose for the chat and we get ourselves up the hill with little trouble.
Mile 17 - High above the Willamette River on the Saint Johns bridge. Would be nice if it was not raining.
Mile 18 - 2:44 right on pace. Should hit 19 at 2:53. Billy is doing fine but along with the others has been mostly behind me.
Mile 19 - 2:53. Should hit mile 20 at 3:02
Mile 20 - 3:02. I am really pleased with how this is going. Our pack is smaller and I am just behind the pacer. Dave is with me but I have not seen the others.
Mile 22 - Love that long downhill. At each aid station I have slowed to take a drink, then caught right back up with the pacer and had no trouble speeding to catch him, then settling into a nice pace with him. Woman with ruby red hair next to the pacer with the red lizard sign. Keep that red right in front of me.
Mile 24 - Dave had made a move ahead but now we have caught him. I so hope he can hold on and finish strong. Band is playing a jazzy tune that sounds like Phish. Phish!! I just learned two days ago that the second best band ever is getting back together. That joy should carry me for a mile at least, not that I am feeling like walking. Hey I just may be able to run this whole thing. Crossing the steel bridge. The rain had let up but it is coming down hard now. It is dripping of the top of the bridge and we have to run through some showers.
Mile 24.5 - Pacer Steve tells us to get in front of him and that he will chase us to the finish. I started about a minute behind him chip time wise, so I am in great shape. Dave moves ahead and looks strong.
Mile 25.5 - Band is playing some sleepy mellow tune. It would be nice if I were inside drinking coffee and looking at the rain. I am running next to a young woman and she agrees that something a bit more uptempo would be nice to push us on.
Mile 26 - Turn to the finish line. Jody is yelling for me. I hear her but do not see her.
Mile 26.2 - Cross the line in good shape. By far the easiest marathon I have run. Never even considered walking. 1:59/1:59 split. So pleased and surprised with my time. Work my way through the recovery area, grabbing some food and drink. I've got my medal and space blanket. I cram a few cookies and a drink into my pocket. Now I get my pin, rose, cedar tree and shirt. Then it is off to the reunion area. It is so crowded, trying to make my way through the masses. I am overwhellmed with my performance and I want to see Jody and I feel like crying. If I see her across the people I am going to do my Rocky impersonation. Fight my way to her and yell "yo Adrianne...I love you". But alas I do not find her and I figure it is easier to just meet at the hotel. I also want to find Bill but they had us keep moving through the finish area. Hotel is the best option. Plus I can shower and then dry off and warm up. Jody finds me a block from the hotel and I get a great hug. Bill arrives in a little while and I learn that he and the others finished a few minutes after four hours. I hope that they had a good experience. For me, I am looking forward to racing again in three weeks.
25th marathon, 3rd Portland marathon