Event is a fundraiser of the local YMCA. RD is a Marathon Maniac and most of the runners are Maniacs looking to get in a long run. Instead of a set distance, we will run as far as we can in 6 hours. As long as I cover 26.2 miles I can count it as a marathon. The farthest I have ever run is 31.6 miles so my goal is to beat that if possible. I will try to run 10 minutes per mile for as long as I can. I know that I will be running faster than that, but then I will take scheduled walk breaks to keep the pace at 10/mile. Up at 5AM for the almost two hour drive to Snohomish County, I find the Machias trail head to the Centennial Trail. It is a wide and paved rails to trails path with some areas of runnable dirt trail along side. Mostly very flat, just a little incline at one spot that will actually be good for the legs. Very few road crossings. We will run out 2.575 miles and then back to the start. This is great because I will not get lost, I will always be fairly close to the car if something goes wrong and I will see lots of friendly faces as we pass each other back and forth. It is surprisingly cold, but brilliant sunshine and it is going to warm up to be a terrific day for running. People are gathered in the picnic shelter but I stand in the sun trying to get some warmth. Eventually a few friends join me, then it is time to start. Each lap is 5.15miles so at a ten minute mile I should complete a lap in 51:30 to stay on pace.
Lap 1 (0-5.15 miles) 51:28
There is no aid on the course except at the start/finish so I will carry my fuel belt with Gatorade in order to stay hydrated. At this slower pace I should be able to digest some foods so I will try to eat more than usual while running. I would never go without food from 8AM to 2PM and although I will not stop for lunch, I will try to keep consuming small amounts of something. I find myself with Betsy and Jessica and the pace is good. Scenic course, bright sunshine, trout stream, pasture, baseball field. After about 3 miles I realize that my hands have thawed and I am feeling good. I hit the finish area a little ahead of schedule, use the bathroom and ditch my jacket. In order to stay on pace I can not dawdle and I need to head back out.
Lap 2 (5.15 to 10.3 miles) 51:07
Running alone now and will be solo for the rest of the race. Except that everybody is well spread out and I am constantly seeing a friendly runner come towards me. Plenty of room to pass each other and wave hi. Some runners started early and are separated from the bulk of us. Occasionally I will pass someone and run with them for a bit. Sunglasses off on the out route but I have to put them on for the return run directly into the bright sun.
Lap 3 (10.3 to 15.45 miles) 50:22
All warmed up and naturally moving faster. I have places now, 2 miles out and 3.5 miles where I take my intentional walk breaks. Course is familiar but not boring.
Lap 4 (15.45 to 20.6 miles) 51:47
Feel the first tweak of the Achilles at mile 19. Its not bad and will not bug me until hours after finishing. Then it will be sore and creaky for a day or two, at least that is how it has been for the past two months when I feel it while running. Every time that Guy Yogi passes by me, going the other way, I am on one of my walk breaks. He must think I am walking the whole thing. Lots more bicyclists on the path now, but as long as I stay close to the side it is not an issue.
Lap 5 (20.6 to 25.75 miles) 54:06
At 24.5 I start to tire and have trouble holding the ten minute pace. This is disappointing because I should be able to run that fast for a whole marathon. Shawn "laps" me, looking very comfortable. I have to check in at the aid station so my distance can be recorded. They only have water and soda, no Gatorade type drink, and only pretzels to eat. Good thing I have a stash of gu and also some fig newtons to munch on. I linger too long and time is going too quickly.
Lap 6 (25.75 to 30.9 miles) 58:17
Long sleeve shirt comes off and I run in short sleeves. I have seen Winter change to Spring and now to Summer in 5 hours. I pass Monte at the start of this lap. There is a sign set out at the half mile mark, so I could just run one mile and be done with 26.75. He tells me that I did not drive all this way to cut it short now and I agree. Running low on energy. I decide that 12 minute miles will be fine and if I can hold that I can still make my goal. I expect things to get much worse but they do not. I have thrown in extra walk breaks but they are short and I am pleased that I can hold the pace around 11/mile.
Lap 7 (30.9 to 31.9 miles) 11:08
The 11:08 includes checking in at the aid station, dropping my fuel belt, drinking something and generally relaxing knowing that I can do this very slowly and finish in good shape. The half mile trip out is easy, it just seems so close after all the longer laps I have done. Great attitude, try to encourage others and just enjoy the time. Very pleased that when I did tire and slow, it was not nearly as bad as the wall I hit in my last marathon. This is the farthest I have ever run.
Lap 8 (31.9 to 32.9 miles) 11:09
Victory lap. I finish in 5 hours 40 minutes which is also a time on feet record for me. Someone suggests that I have time for another lap and I really feel like I could, but I decline. "Save something for next year" I say. This is plenty good enough for today. I am amazed when Shawn lopes in at 5:48 and Tony tells her that she has 12 minutes left, she should go do one more mile, and she trots off like its nothing. Going beyond both the standard marathon distance and the 50K mark puts me ahead of some runners who are much faster than me. Official results have me in 7th place, but somehow missed my last mile. Correcting for what I did actually run puts me in 6th place, but really today was not about "winning" other than accomplishing my personal goals. I did run farther than ever and to do so comfortably, on such a beautiful day, with so many friendly people, made this a terrific day.
6th farthest of 58 participants
44th marathon or ultra, 1st 6 hour endurance run