My fourth year in a row running this race. This year it is being held in Elma out of Vance Creek Park. I have run shorter distances here and know the course to be flat and out on country roads. Today will be a double out and back. I don't mind that. With so few runners in the marathon it will gives us a chance to see each other a few more times. I am also concerned about the weather. Supposed to shower and it is awful cloudy. I don't want to wear my rain jacket. This way I can towel off and grab it at the 13.1 mile mark if needed. Since I ran Yakima just last week I am not concerned about time goals. Actually I don't seem to be too concerned about anything. Getting ready, gathering my stuff this morning and driving to the race was about like going to work on any given day. I guess I have the routine down and since I have no great expectations for this race I am totally calm. Parking and registration are a snap and soon I am lining up with eight others who will take the early start. I decide to go off at a 9min/mile pace and see what happens. I will not dig deep today and I will just enjoy the run.
Start - Good to see Evil Triplet Jim, Maniac Jim and Maniac Lesa. Good to meet Maniac Sue and new Maniac Keith down from BC. Only two people here that I do not recognize. Bob Green marks our numbers as early starts and off we go.
Mile 1 - Running with Jim, Jim and Lesa. I could stay with these guys all race and it would be fun. Here I am in elite company. For those who think that what I do is a bit much: one Jim is running his 293rd marathon, the other Jim is running his 177th and Lesa is running her 72nd and is in the middle of completing 13 in 12 weeks. Nice chatting, but just a little slower than I planned so I move on ahead.
Mile 2 - Keith and one other guy are way ahead. I knew he was fast and did not expect to be near him. Maniac Sue and another woman are ahead of me and extending their lead. Sue's times are usually a little slower than mine so I think that I will catch up to her later.
Mile 3 - Road kill rough-skinned newt. I feel sorry for the little guy. It is drizzling. My rain hat and Maniac jacket keep me dry enough.
Mile 4 - Hmmm. Chalk mark for mile 4 on the road but my watch says 4.1. If the road mark is correct than I have not gone as far as my watch indicates and my pace is off. I need to go a little faster to match my pace to the official mile markers. Light rain. Farm country. Cows being fed come jogging to the farmer and start up a big mooing.
Mile 5 - Rut Ro. Watch says 5.3 miles. I am starting to question the road markers. Time is 46 minutes. Too fast if I am at mile 5.3 and too slow if I am at mile 5. Gosh those two women are little black specs in the distance. I may never catch up to them.
Mile 6.55?? - This is the turn around so I am calling it 6.55, but that was a short mile and a half. In fact my watch now says only 6.4 miles. By both accounts I am now running faster than planned. Aid stations are now set up so I do not need to rely on my own water bottle. Rain has let up.
Mile 7 - Small stone works its way down the back of my shoe and nestles under my foot. Would hate to have to stop for a stone. But now I really can not feel it so maybe I will not have to deal with it.
Mile 10 - An hour after we started there was the start of the half marathon, ten miler, 10K, 5K , one mile and the regular start for the marathon (although most runners seem to take the early start). These runners doing all these races are now running toward me at all different speeds. Hard to tell who is doing what race. Very little traffic on the road so I have been crossing now and then to get the inner curve. Runners are on both sides of the road. One cow is munching hay by the fence and there is some hay spilled on my side. I am tempted to stop and see if he will eat out of my hand. But I keep moving.
Mile 13.1?? - A little loop through the parking area and right past my car. No need to stop. Tap the watch to set a new lap and note that the distance reads 12.8. Also I am at 1:53 about the same time as I was at last week. I think we have a short course here and it will be interesting to see what the GPS reads for the second loop.
Mile 15 - Starting to tire. Not sure what pace I should be running. The two women in black were about a quarter mile ahead of me, but now appear to be closer. Looking ahead at a long straight stretch. I decide to pick up the pace and chase them down, without going too fast.
Mile 16.5 - Caught them. Nice to have some company. Shelly from Oregon has a much faster PR than either Sue or I. They have run together the whole way and seem to be out for a fun run. I remind them that one of them could be the overall female winner, but neither one seems very competitive.
Mile 18?? - Its the mile 5 or 5.3 aid station. I sped up a little prior to the stop and then had a quick drink and moved on. Now I am ahead of the women and going at my own pace, whatever that is.
Mile 20ish - The dreaded wall. All of a sudden this is much harder. Muscles tighten, energy feels low. This did not happen last week. I am in good spirits though and I am doing the math to see about getting in under four hours. Looks like I could do 11 minute miles from here and get there. That would be really great. As long as I do not take walk breaks.
Mile 22 - Pace is now at about 9:40/mile. Still running.
Mile 23 - Several vultures circling overhead and swooping lower. Do they know how tired I am? Still running.
Mile 24 - I need to cross the road. I can not hear any vehicles behind me. I should look back but it is hard to turn the neck and keep running. Actually if I got hit and killed here I would be all done running. OK, maybe I don't want to be killed, but if I got clipped a little, maybe knocked to the ground, then no one would expect me to keep running. I could just walk it in. Oh I better look back. No cars, but Sue and Shelly are not far behind. If I melt down any more they are going to pass me.
Mile 25 - Still running and feeling a little stronger. Not going to be passed. Going to beat four hours easy.
Mile 25.5 (road marker for the one mile race) - Turn into the wind (not that strong) and long straight shot to the park. Keep moving, nothing dramatic, and cruise in to the finish.
Mile 26.2 - Mile 25.54 by my watch, mile 25.7 by Jim's watch. At least I did not PR or I would feel a little guilty. Pigtails would run another half a mile, but I am not doing that. If I had gone another half mile I think I still would have beat four so I am pleased. I'll call my time what my watch said rather than the two minutes faster the officials recorded. Sue and Shelly cross the line together. Try to eat. Socialize for a while. Watch the start of the triathlon. Wait for the regular start marathoners to come in so that I can know my place.
5th of 15 runners
31st marathon or ultra, 4th Easter marathon