Weather is the wild card for this race, with its late November date. Long range forecast had called for sun, but yesterday it was changed to cloudy with a chance of showers. This morning there is a one word description of the weather - fog. Fog is good in that it means no wind. This fog is so thick that it is almost drizzle. Roads are wet. Jody is running the half marathon which for reasons I can not understand will start 45 minutes before the full marathon. Therefore I am not stressed to get there early. We went to a concert last night then stayed at BKs condo so it was a quick trip to the start line. Multiple trips to the porta potties as I watch the marathon walkers, half marathon runners, and half marathon walkers take their separate start times from outside the Experience Music Project and the Seattle Center. One last potty stop ( I am abnormally hydrated today) and then it is our turn.
Start - Look for RW among the crowd. It is easier to find her dad and know that she will be close. This is at least the 8th race in 2008 where the three of us have lined up together at the start. There she is with nice new Maniac gear. I should stash that cookie I am carrying in her back pocket, but don't think of it at the time. Soon we are off, just we three and 2,109 of our closest friends.
Mile 0.5 - 5th avenue. So crowded. Try really hard to not slam into the monorail supports as we weave around the slower runners. No need to rush though, this pace is not too bad.
Mile 2 - Onto the I-90 express lane. It is fun to be here but it is all concrete and somewhat slanty. At least the walkers are in another lane as we pass many of them.
Mile 4 - Into the tunnel. Mile long, dry, well lit. Strange clanking noise the whole way. Getting stuffy but I have been in worse tunnels
Mile 5 - Bridge to Mercer Island. Lots of fog, no view. I feel like RW should be going a little faster than me. Our pace is not too fast but is a little on the quick side. It is probably better to let her go now rather than have me suffer more later. Tempting to just stay with her as long as possible, but I have done that before and paid the price. Also I am not feeling so good, just a little off. So I say good bye and wish her well.
Mile 6 - Maniac Eric catches up. He is running a triple today (third marathon in three days) and we talk for a minute before he goes on ahead. Amazing. Fast runners are coming the other way from the turn around. Great to see so many familiar faces. Soon I am at the turnaround myself and heading back to Seattle.
Mile 7 - Easy to see each of the mile markers. They are large and taped to a Porta Potty. Pace is fine but I do not feel smooth. Something is wrong but I am not sure what.
Mile 8 - On to Lake Washington Blvd. Very flat long section ahead. I have to pee.
Mile 8.5 - On my 151st race and 27th marathon I make my first ever bathroom break. I see someone come out of a porta potty and there is no line, so I duck in for quick relief. Soon I am back on the road and much more comfortable.
Mile 11 - I have not been running well since mile 6. How to describe it? Pace is OK, but just a little hard to maintain. Usually I am well rested before a race and the early miles are so smooth, easy and pleasurable. Now I am just plodding along, not feeling very strong. My mood is OK, but not that happy. I should be having more fun but I am tired and getting really worried about how the later miles will play out.
Mile 13 - Doing a large loop around Seward Park. I can see the halfway marker ahead. I am at 1:53 and would like to be closer to 1:55 to 1:56 at the half. I should walk a bit like I did at the Light at the End of the Tunnel marathon, use some of that time in the bank right now, before I really need it. At least my split time will not be as bad this way if I walk a little now. Whoa there is a good sized pack passing me and chatting and I see that it is the 4 hours pacers. I want to be around 3:55, I can not have the 4 hour team passing me here. I thought I was ahead of schedule, they really are. Now there are significant hills to come, so maybe they are going fast prior to that. I never did work out a plan for pacing this interesting course.
Mile 14 - I "lapped" my watch at the half and sped up to be ahead of the pacers. I am starting to feel better, more of a groove
Mile 17 - Well this is going much better. I am still running the same pace, but somehow it is much easier.
Mile 18 - Larry Macon sighting. Introduce myself to the man who is running at least 100 marathons this year.
Mile 19 - Up a little hill, then back down to the water. Other people seem talkative and that is fine. Having nice short conversations and passing lots of people. Hey this is mile 19, this is really good. But torture lies up ahead.
Mile 20.5 - Left turn onto Galen street. Super steep hills are one thing, but at mile 20.5? This is a monster steep but fairly short hill leading to a longer, less steep hill. You can not run fast up this hill, there is no way. A shuffle does get me passing the walkers, Oh, hello calf muscles. Long time no feel. Wow you are making yourselves known just now. Top of the steep hill and the feeling passes.
Mile 21 - Nice to see this mile marker. I can run 10 minute miles and still beat 4 hours. It is getting difficult but no wall yet. Mood is much improved.
Mile 22 - That which is difficult can still be done. That which is difficult can still be fun.
Mile 23 - Judy Fisher sighting. Meet Maniac Coconut Boy. Pigtails!! Pigtails is on the third day of her triple, and I think she ran a 50K yesterday. Saw her at the start and told her that I should be able to beat her. Guess I was wrong. But that is fine. My problem with Pigtails is when she passes me in meltdown stage, because I did not pace properly. I am running a little slower than earlier on, but I am not at the wall and I am feeling good. I probably could stay with her for a little while, but there is too much distance to go and I need to stick to my plan. Nice hills in the arboretum, reminds me of the Sound to Narrows course. Interesting to run this course after not being here for three years and only then running it once. It seems very familiar.
Mile 24 - Another little uphill, but it is difficult. Meet Maniac Michelle and use her to keep from walking. If I can keep running it will make four marathons in a row with no walk break meltdowns. I used to do that so regularly, but in my 12th marathon of 2008 I am gaining some confidence.
Mile 25 - Lovely downhill, except it is so steep
Mile 25.5 - Last water stop, staffed by Maniac Betsy. Aid stations were plentiful and well staffed. Good course organization.
Mile 25.7 - Spectator tells me to keep pumping. I start pumping my arms like mad and it makes me go faster. Entire left leg decides to quiver, that was weird. Keep on running.
Mile 26.1 - Into the stadium and across the field. Pick up the pace for the finish
Mile 26.2 - Done!! See RW who beat me by about 6 minutes. Shuffle off to the recovery area. Pick up a banana and it is really warm, that is just odd. Find Jody and we head home. Right foot starts hurting as usual. Ice and ibuprofen seem to help. Two toes are bleeding but I am not sure why. If I could just get that foot fully fixed I would have a much easier time with recovery. Not sure if I will do this race next year. I like the big time race, but the slanty concrete is tough and many of the paved roads need lots of patching. Challenging and scenic though. But who knows about the weather for next year?
702 of 2109 runners (walkers timed separately)