Start - Pacers arrive by limo, a reverend lifts up prayers for us who choose to join his circle, and a nice rendition of the National Anthem (with screaming seagull joining in near the end) are the preliminary events. RW and I line up with the 3:45 pacer, Steve. Same as last year. I plan to run with them only until Ruston, then ease back to the 3:50 group a much more realistic yet ambitious goal. Not the smartest strategy, but this way I get to run some with a friend. Today is more of a social event than a quest for some specific time goal.
Mile 1 - 8:18 - seems fast but we are going gently downhill. This is a tough course to be a pacer on with all the hills. Steve plans to bank a little time and that works for me.
Mile 2 - Course is different than last year. Not a major change, but I was expecting a turn that did not happen. Our little pack is close together and I would prefer some space ahead of me. These old Tacoma roads have potholes and cracks and other tripping hazards. I would hate to take a tumble or see anyone fall. Small adjustment gives me some space. I remember feeling sort of blue here last year, just not motivated and not getting into the groove. Today I feel fine and am enjoying the start of this day.
Mile 6 - Down to Ruston Way. Now we will have a three mile flat section, except the big curvy bridge we go up and down. I am thankful for my sunglasses. The over shirt comes off as I am warming up.
Mile 9 - Say goodbye to RW and purposely ease off the pace. I assume that the 3:50 pacer is not far behind me and I will soon join them while I am still able to keep up. Its somewhat humid out and my sunglasses are fogging up. I wipe them dry but do not put them on as I am entering the Ruston Tunnel. So short compared to the last tunnel I ran through.
Mile 10 - This has got to be the hardest hill on the course. It is short but very steep. Nice spectator encouragement, then we turn into Point Defiance Park.
Mile 11 - Fellow runner comments on how fortunate we are to live and run here. Towering old growth trees provide shade on a sunny spring day.
Mile 12 - This is the hardest hill on the course. It is about a mile long gradual twisting turning up up up through the forest.
Mile 13 - Maniac Matt catches me and we talk a bit. He is running well for someone with a possible broken rib. I should not complain about having the sniffles.
Mile 15 - Out of the park, down and up the big dip. Marci Martin sighting. New course variation takes us over to Vassault street so this will mimic the Sound to Narrows race almost entirely. Look for the traffic light at the top of the hill. Focus on the light, that is what we all do at StN. This is the toughest hill on the course by far.
Mile 16 - Top of the hill. How to celebrate? I know, I will use a precious tissue and blow my nose. Thick dark green snot spattered with red blood. Bloody nose would be cool if I kept running and it dripped all over. Nose is OK though and my head feels clearer. 3:50 pacer finally caught me. I have been running conservatively and not looking at the watch, expecting them to pick me up some time ago.
Mile 17 - Holding with Kurt, the 3:50 pacer.
Mile 18 - Short section turning through a neighborhood. 3:50 is getting away. I am tired. Not the usual tired. Legs are fine for this stage in the race. I am not light headed, like I was last year before I learned about S!Caps. I just feel like I have a cold, which I do, and it is dragging me down.
Mile 20 - Bridge over Highway 16. I remember getting almost dizzy here last year and it is nice to be able to run across this with no symptoms. Now the "trail" that parallels the highway. This was a horrible spot last year. Tough today, but not in a negative way. Maniac B sighting. Bright sunshine. I can see a good half mile ahead, all uphill, 3:50 still in site not too far off. Top of hill. One lone volunteer yelling most enthusiastically. Her car doors are open and she is blaring music. Bob Dylan - Tangled up in Blue. Very nice. Some more music and more spectators would be good here.
Mile 21 - Walking breaks have started. Leapfrogging a red shirted Maniac. Once I start walking without making the decision to do so. It just happened. Keeping the breaks short and moving along as best I can. Not too disappointed and not beating myself up over it.
Mile 24 - Finally that grand downhill. Before I make the turn I look back and see the 4:00 pacer disturbingly close. If I keep up what I have been doing I will be passed by him very soon. Hope this hill helps. Steep downhill. If my legs ever give way here this will be considered the worst hill of the course. It is a little too steep to fly and I maintain control.
Mile 24.5 - Another downhill, this one nice and gradual and long. Running with a young yellow shirted maniac. Both of us would like to beat 4:00. It seems doable and I think I have a chance of besting last years 3:58:10. But we need to keep moving and THIS IS HARD!! Difficult but enjoyable. Tough but fun. This is what keeps bringing me back to the marathon. See what I am capable of, challenge myself and somehow keep smiling. If I thought I was going to collapse or something I would walk or stop for a while, its not that important. But suffering and struggling are not necessarily bad things.
Mile 25 - Thank you Tacoma police for help at all the street crossings. Guy who looks like a street bum asks how far we are running. I tell him. He swears. I agree with him.
Mile 26.2 - Slightly different finish from last year. I like it. We duck in just under 4 and are satisfied. 30 seconds slower than last year, but I have a good excuse. Not as emotionally up and down as last year (S!Caps help the mind too and keep me from saying some stupid things) but I think that I had more fun today and enjoyed the beautiful course more than last year. I plan to come back for sure!!
Big shout out to the Rogue Wave for having such a good run today. I am happy for you and glad that I did not try to keep up.
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Marathon 31, marathon or ultra 32, Tacoma Marathon #2
Marathon 31, marathon or ultra 32, Tacoma Marathon #2