Three special things about today's race. First is that it is the hometown race, and I have many friends running the full or the half. Really too many people to try to mention them all. We had 31 people at our house on Friday night for pasta and strategizing. When I combine my local running buddies with my Maniac friends I see friendly familiar faces everywhere I look. The second reason that today is special is that one of those local runners, going for her first marathon, is Jody. Jody has been doing long runs with Nicky and Nicky is running her first marathon too. Nicky is one of the two angels who offered me aid at my dizzy episode over a year ago. So great that we are now friends. The third special thing is just my own goals for today. I have decided to run the whole race with Jody and Nicky and encourage them and celebrate with them. This will mean running closer to 5 hours than 4 hours. About a week ago I decided to not taper at all, to turn this race into a long training run for my next marathon (NODM) where I can try to be faster than usual. Instead of resting, I piled on the miles last week. I ran double workouts on Wednesday and Thursday and had a chance to beat my all time miles in a week, but had a total meltdown on Friday afternoon. I am still lingering with a head cold, and on Friday I thought I might be getting really sick again. I definitely hit a breakdown point on Friday and was not sure that I would even start today. But two days rest has me feeling better. If I finish today I will have 58 miles for the week and that is a lot for me, especially considering I ran the Tacoma marathon just the week before.
We picked up our numbers and timing chip last night. Number 33 for my 33rd marathon or ultra. Jody wants some fan support so we have the kids and her Mom meeting us at the start. They will drive around and cheer for her at various locations. Also Saki, Billy and Tammy....and I really should not try to list people today, I know I am going to leave someone out. We get to the start in plenty of time. But then Jody decides to go back to the car to get some water and I do not see her for a while. Everyone is moving to the start area and I go with the crowd. I have lost both Nicky and Jody before the race even started but I am sure they will turn up soon enough. Help a stranger with her Garmin, then Paul and I see that it is 6:58 and we are going to start very soon. Aha there is Jody and right away we are off. I am in my singlet and worried about the heat. Sunny and going to warm up for sure.
Mile 0.5 - Bob Dolphin sighting
Mile 1 - 9:55. Only thing I am going to insist on today is that they go no faster than 10 minutes per mile. So we slow down a bit and settle right in at 10:00
Mile 3 - Meet Maniac Marie. She is trying some run 3 minutes then walk one minute routine. It has us repeatedly leapfrogging. Since the crowd has thinned out this is not a problem and it is nice to put a face to a name and continue to meet new club members at every marathon I do. Lots of yellow shirts here today.
Mile 6 - I can see Maniac Betsy and Maniac Mike up ahead. Would be nice for them to meet Jody but they both get going a little faster and get out of reach. Right achilles tendon is bugging me. That is a new one.
Mile 9 - Meet a new Maniac father/daughter combo. Nice distraction on that long uphill. I can feel a little tiredness in my legs. The achilles is about the same.
Mile 11 - Happy horses
Mile 12 - We have been slowing ever so slightly. Now Nicky seems tired and wants to walk. Potty stop ahead and both ladies take a quick break. Nicky seems better and we continue on. Warming up but not excessively hot. We like the shade and the gentle breeze now and then.
Mile 14 - Woodard Bay - sea level; then the steepest uphill with some walking.
Mile 14-19 - Long straight fairly level section. Mostly open sunshine. Cows, a donkey, "farm dogs" and an emu. I am really pleased that Jody and Nicky are still running. We are even starting to pass a couple of runners who are struggling, walking, limping.
Mile 20 - Jody is tiring now, Nicky seems to have perked up. Short walk breaks. I try to not set the pace. My achilles is worse, but runnable. At every CCM I have run they have handed out wet sponges. Welcome on a day like today.
Mile 21 - Nice crowd of spectators sitting on lawn chairs in the shade at a turn on the course. I see an empty chair, run ahead and plop down to rest. This gets some good laughs and a smile from Jody. But they are getting away too fast and I need to hop up and sprint a little to catch them.
Mile 22 - Jody struggling down Legion hill, how will the next 1.5 mile uphill treat her? Jared joins us and he and I find it strange to be among people who are suffering so much, barely able to jog up the hill. Jody says that she loves the encouragement of her family and friends who came to cheer for her today, and that I am a good Sherpa. Lots of short walk breaks gets us up the longest hill and it looks like we will beat 5 hours. Hot.
Mile 23.5 - The two cutest little girls ever are offering "free water" from a table in their driveway. I have to stop, take a cup and thank them. And the water is much colder and better than the warmish stuff at the aid stations.
Mile 24 - Cups of cold beer. I will take anything cold at this point and the beer tastes really good. At this pace I have had no upset stomach and I ate a granola bar a while back there. My achilles hurts and I am worried about it, but everything else is fine. Unique perspective being in the race, running along for almost 5 hours and certainly getting a great workout, but not nearly struggling like everyone around me. I have to remind myself of what they are going through, what mile 24 was like the first twenty or so times I ran it. Jody and Nicky are both doing great, keeping up a great attitude and have been a pleasure to run with.
Mile 25 - Capitol Blvd. All down hill. Billy in a skirt to run a half mile or so with us. Then Tammy, Sabrina and Jennifer join us for the final leg. They keep saying what a great job Jody and Nicky are doing and right when I am about to say "hey what about me?", Tammy says "and Andy too".
Mile 26.2 - We did it. A little emotional for Jody. Walk off to get our water bottle. Jody gets the last one, I guess that we really do not need two. No medal this year. Just a piece of paper into which you can slip your souvenir disposable timing chip, that is "suitable for framing". Running jacket is pretty nice, matches the pants from last year. We eat. Fun to see Jody experience how delicious oranges are at the finish. I opt for a slice of pizza (only for full marathoners). After some socializing and recovering we hobble off to the car. The question that many are asking remains unanswered, will she do this again?
2:17/2:37 split (ouch)
33rd marathon or ultra
6th Capital City Marathon, 9th Cap City race of any distance