I have some beautiful, special, festive marathons coming up....but this is not one of them. Nobody "peaks" for this race. All I hear at the start line is "this is just a training run for me" and I do feel the same way. I feel like it has been forever since I ran long and doing so today will be a nice build up for future races. Goal time? I guess 4:10 would be fine. I'll probably go off faster than that but I really expect to hit the wall and do some walking. I'm happy to see RW but she has become a dilemma. If I` go off at her pace I will suffer more in the later miles, it is just a little too fast for me. I was smart in Seattle to let her go after a couple of miles and ran my own race and finished strong. But I really like running with her and in fact today I will choose to run with her and suffer the consequences. I'm going to suffer anyway, might as well do it right. Oh but as we talk I learn that she has a bad cold and almost didn't come today. That is terrific!! Not really, but it does mean that she will take a slower pace at least at the start. I tell her that I'd like to hit the half way point at 2 hours even and she seems fine with trying that. Good group of about 30 mostly Maniacs for the early start, others to follow an hour later. Fog, no wind, cold at the start....pretty much perfect conditions. Show off my new license plate to those who understand.
Mile 1 - Out of the beautiful old growth forest park and onto the 50MPH country road with little shoulder. I am in a nice pack of 8 runners which should help with safety. Happy cow comes romping over to us, as excited as I have ever seen a cow.
Mile 4 - Foot starting to ache. This is not good. I start feeling negative about the whole thing. I may end up walking a long way today if this foot gets worse.
Mile 5 - I am starting to be able to read RWs mind. I can tell when she wants to slow down or speed up. We are so used to this now, we are keeping a very steady pace, with minor adjustments on the hills.
Mile 6 - The group of 8 has become two groups of 3. RW and I meet Maniac Eddie. We talk about music, work and running of course and the miles ease by. Foot is a little better. I am in a much better mood.
Mile 10.5 - Up over the interstate. Sharp right turn and a long boring stretch to the turn around. Since we started early, there are no aid stations set up yet. Sure hope they have one at the turn around, my fuel belt bottles are running low. RW is carrying a water bottle. Nobody is talking and that water in her bottle is sloshing with every step. It is rhythmic but monotonous, on and on and on.
Mile 11.2 - A road intersects to the left. IBO ave. That is a strange name. As we get closer I see that it is 180th ave. Wow my mind is going already and I am not even halfway there.
Mile 11.7 - Our first spectator. She offers water and must be waiting for a friend or family member, because nobody comes out just to watch this race. I cheer for her.
Mile 13 - RW wants to walk a bit and I convince her to do so before the turn around, thus making our split time a little better. It sets us up to hit the halfway point at exactly 2:00 hours.
Mile 13.1 - 2:00 exactly as planned. This also sets up an interesting thought. Its always nice to break 4 hours and that has often been my goal. Now in order to do so I must run a negative split. If I can run the second half faster than the first half I will be rewarded with a sub 4 finish. I really doubt it will happen but the option is there and may keep me moving in the later miles. I move on leaving RW and Eddie behind. I plan on going the same speed we have been and I am sure RW will catch up in a few steps.
Mile 14 - Fun to see runners coming at me. I try to say hi to each one. Foot is hanging in there. This race is going great. I got 13 miles of RW time, now I can run alone and think about things. I have things to think about and sometimes the mind goes weird places later in the marathon. All the years combine, they melt into a dream.
Mile 16.5 - Starting to tire. There is another spectator. He tells me I look good. I say that I am afraid I am hitting the wall. He says it is just a bad patch, I'll do fine. Hey great words, that is probably right, I have learned about bad patches and how to overcome them. But still I worry about the remaining 10 miles.
Mile 17 - That group of three just may be coming back to me. Ever so slowly. I do like being able to see a half mile or more ahead and see if I am gaining on anyone. I have in fact passed a good number of runners and my pace is holding.
Mile 18.5 - Pass two of the three from that group. Now I have RW and Maniac Robert behind me. Both are clearly faster runners than I and I fully expect them to "pigtail" me at some point soon. It is fine if they do, but I will try to not let it happen.
Mile 19 - I remember being here at the Christmas Marathon in 2007 and seeing Tammy. She tried to encourage me but I was hitting the wall bad. That was a very poor end to that race. Well today I feel much better than that day at least. I am tired but the pace is holding. Whoa!! look who is here!! A car load of Club Oly friends. Mark's bald head hanging out the window yelling for me, Billy yelling, Deb driving her new car she just got yesterday. Looks like I am going to get by with a little help from my friends. What a surprise. They are going to drive around and stop at aid stations and Billy will probably hop out and run some. They even have a professional looking Club Oly sign with my name on it. What a hoot.
Mile 19.5 - Pass Maniac Ken. Took me about 4 miles to gradually catch up to him. I'd be happy to just run it in with him, but he is slowing and I would like to hold my pace.
Mile 20 - I have been carrying three chocolate hearts in red foil since the start. I thought it would be fun to pass them to a runner coming the other way, just to jazz up this Valentine Marathon a little. I chickened out a few times and everyone else looked too intent on running but finally here is someone just walking on the road. I pull over and make her take one. She smiles. Meanwhile Debbie is pulling up behind me and can't believe that I am handing out candy while racing. Well I am in great spirits and the pace is holding, but I still have 6 miles to go.
Mile 21 - Aid station. Head is clear but I pop my last S!Cap just to be sure. Still worried about a "rogue wave" attack. I ask Mark to start a timer, wait for her, then drive up and tell me how far ahead I am.
Mile 22 - Get the report that I have a seven minute lead on RW. She must be hurting. Hope it is not too bad, and it looks like today will be one of those rare occasions where I finish before her.
Mile 22.5 - Oh crap. Here it comes. I was doing so well and in such great spirits. Now I feel awful in many ways. Want to vomit. Energy Drained. 26 miles, 26 years. Now here comes Billy to run me to the end. Guess I won't be going deeper into space this time. Glad for the company.
Mile 24 - That rough patch is over. Try a little surge on a hill that does not work well. But the pace is holding and I could run faster if I had to. Doing math in my head. I still have a great shot at beating 4 hours. Get rid of that heavy fuel belt. What a relief
Mile 25 - This has gone very well. I never thought I would make it with no walk breaks (the one at mile 13 does not count). The legs are fine. If my foot felt better I would have gone faster. I like mile 25 here because it is only about a half mile to the park entrance where everything changes and you just sprint to the finish.
Mile 25.6 - 3:55 on the watch. Billy telling me to go faster. 3:56. Billy saying something about I should give it my all here. 3:57. Billy says I will do it. 3:58 There is the turn I was waiting for. Yes I can
Mile 26.2 - 3:59!! Negative split. Under 4 and feeling good. No aches or pains....except my foot of course. I'll head home soon to ice it. My club oly friends are so supportive, that was really nice to see them. RW finishes soon and looks good but she had a tough day. I myself can't wait for the next marathon and 5 weeks seems like so far away.