Sunday, June 7, 2009

6/7/09 North Olympic Discovery Marathon

Last three marathons I had good excuses for being slow. Cap City was running with Jody, Tacoma I had a miserable cold and Easter I had just run Yakima the week before. Yakima was a fast time for me and if I count the last three marathons as training runs, then I should be able to do well at NODM. Anyway I tried to come up with an excuse for not being my best and just could not find one, so I will set a PR pace and really work to beat 3:48.

I have wanted to run this one since it first came out some seven years ago. I always had a commitment on this date until this year and was thrilled to be able to sign up and have Jody come for the weekend getaway. She will run the half. I have heard some great things from Maniac friends and not so great things from other runners. Very interested in seeing and running this course for myself.

Start - Get on the bus at 6:45 for the ride to Sequim and the start of this point to point race. Arrive in plenty of time. It is cloudy and cool with little wind, very good conditions. I like this start area at the Carrie Blake Park. A large indoor community center with tables and chairs. I eat my breakfast and chat with fellow Maniacs. Lots of them. They keep coming in with each busload and filling the hall. I usually do not stick around after races and we are seldom so congregated before a race. It is fun to hear tales of maniacal accomplishments. Three at my table raced a marathon yesterday!! At 8:30 it is time to use the bathroom, drop off my extra clothes at the gear drop and find the start line. Everything goes smoothly and soon we are racing.

Mile 1 - I was not expecting a long gradual uphill right out of the gate. It is not steep at all, just a little long.

Mile 4 - We have completed a loop and are back at the park and start area. Been running with a woman from Wyoming for a bit. When I told her my time goal she asked if I minded if she ran with me. I thought that was nice and she is good company.

Mile 6.5 - Still waiting for this supposed beautiful scenery. Now we are on the main street in Sequim with many orange cones protecting us from the open to traffic road. At least it is flat and I am running at my planned pace. I am behind and a rather large pack though and do not like the crowded feeling. I decide to move ahead and I work my way past them. Ms. Wyoming does not stay with me and I do not see her again.

Mile 7 - Finally onto the Discovery Trail. This is an almost completely paved rails to trails bike path through farm land, across a river and couple of creeks and finally down to the waterfront for the last four miles.

Mile 8 - Gorgeous heavily shaded long wooden bridge over the Dungeness River. Running here is worth the price and effort of the whole event.

Mile 10 - Mile marker at 9 was off now it is off in the opposite way at 10. If correct this means I am running slower that my GPS has recorded. I pick up the pace to get in sync with the mile markers.

Mile 12.5 - McDonald Creek, the first of the dreaded "creek beds". Steep downhill, cross a bridge then steep up and out. Not bad at all.

Mile 13 - Aid station with cool balloon structure to run through. The different groups that volunteer for the aid stations have a competition and we get to vote for our favorite after the race.

Mile 13.1 - I am just a minute ahead of schedule so I take a short walk break. So far so good. Also I reset my watch which is reading 13.2, so I can follow this lap and continue to pace myself accurately.

Mile 15 - Running smoothly and on pace.

Mile 16 - Seibert Creek. Steep down and steeper up. Now we get into a series of little hills, somewhat steep. Any one of them are no big deal, but compared to the first half of this race, the second half is proving to be hillier. Sharp left turn and I let out a yell of dismay at the steep but short uphill. Mile 16-20 will take its toll on me.

Mile 19 - My favorite aid station. It is set up like a fine French restaurant. Kids are all dressed up formally. In front is one girl at a podium and she is obviously the Maitre d' of this establishment. Then comes tables with white linen and candles, with a crystal bowl of pretzels. Finally the water and Heed drink station. Such a nice surprise in the middle of this forest trail.

Mile 20 - Bagley Creek. Last of the creeks and toughest of the uphills on the other side. Catch a guy who is walking and I decide to do the same. We agree that it is strategic walking here. Stretch out the legs and really we are not going much slower than we would be running. Finally at the top, but my pace says 13:30 as I had reset the lap button at the mile 20 marker. Doing some math I know that I need the last 6.2 miles to be run at just under 9 minutes per mile in order to PR. Starting off at 13:30 is no good, but we have a nice long gentle downhill to go.

Mile 21 - Making up time and I get the lap pace down to 8:59. Long gradual downhill. Paved trail is a little sticky for some reason. I should be able to go faster but I am tiring.

Mile 22 - At sea level now. Trail runs along the water with nice views. Still cloudy but no fog and just a little breeze in my face. I catch up to Maniac#56 who I have not met before. He tells me to kick it in, but I am really starting to feel tired. Should have had that second gu, don't think I can down it know as I have some nausea and a little light headedness. I have been taking my S!Caps but still have just a touch of my old problems at this point.

Mile 23 - Do the math and see that a PR is very unlikely.

Mile 23.5 - Sure that I will not PR now. Take a little walk break.

Mile 24.5 - Course takes a short detour around the old paper mill. Surface is dirt trail with some large rocks and uneven surfaces. I take a few short walk breaks. It is disappointing to not PR but I have had a good run today. This will be one of my faster times, just no record.

Mile 25 - Difficult going, want to walk but keep plugging along.

Mile 25.5 - Head down, not in decent shape at all. So ready to be done.

Mile 26 - Large pack of walkers in front of me. I dodge around them, see Jody taking pictures and finish as best I can, but there is no sprint. Photo make me look like I am leading the way.

Mile 26.2 - One neat feature of this race is that every finisher has their own personal attendant to take care of you. As soon as I cross the line there is a volunteer there to make sure I am OK. He puts the finisher's medal around my neck, hands me a bottle of water and leads me to the timing chip removal station. From there he gets me my drop bag and walks me to the spectator area where Jody is waiting. Jody (2:02 half marathon PR) is very happy with her race and we get some finisher food before I shower and we drive home.

Great race, good run. Tough last four miles but emotionally I stayed in good spirits. Lots of post race stiffness and a few aches here and there but I should be running again soon. In fact it looks like I will run an easy Sound To Narrows this Saturday.

3:53:35 5th fastest of 33 marathons
96th place of 310 runners, 6th of 20 in my age group
Race #165


Ovens2Betsy said...

Andy -- last year I tried to BQ on this course and the section between mile 16 & 20 KILLED me (and my BQ hopes)! I had checked out the creek beds ahead of time, but was NOT prepared for those rollers in between. I too got extremely light headed and had to walk quite a bit. It was far more pleasurable running at a slow pace today!

KAS said...

Mile 20: "We agree that it is strategic walking here." I love that comment... :)