I arrive plenty early and find my same parking spot. Enjoy seeing lots of Maniac friends. Marathon Maniac Club reunion race and there are a whole lot of yellow shirts all around. Its cool and cloudy and windy. I had planned to leave my long sleeve shirt behind at the start but it is so chilly that I decide to keep it on for the run. I often do this and just tie it around my waist when I warm up.
Start - M761 and I line up with M61 the 3:50 pacer. I know I wrote that I was hoping for 3:57 but I would like to run a few miles with my friend and then drop back early, before I get tired. I feel good and relaxed and the start goes off with no issues.
Mile 1 - The long straight on Market Street. Head wind is really strong. Eventually we make the sharp turn and run with the wind. We comment on the fact that we really can not feel it at our backs however. It often seems that way, strong in the face, then calm when you turn around. It must be helping though, or else I am just warming up as the running gets a little easier.
Mile 3 to 6 - Through the park, past the High School and down towards Ruston Way. Time to say goodbye to M761. This is nicer than the times that we run together till mile 17 and then she trots on while I suffer and flounder. I ease back gradually planning to run now with the 4 hour pace team (M1681 and M171). M985 catches up to me and we run together for a bit.
Mile 8 - Quick Port-a-Potty stop. I am really fast in there but as I exit I see that the 4 hour group has passed by and I have to hurry up to get even with them. Soon enough I am in the pack and on cruise control.
Mile 10.5 - That hill after the tunnel is super steep.
Mile 11 - Pace groups are great, but I don't like being packed in so tightly. I ease ahead some, just to have a good clear space in front of me. Tacoma could do well to pave some of these roads, but I have not tripped or seen anyone fall yet. Better to have a good line of sight though.
Mile 12 - That long long hill in Point Defiance Park. Something of a grind, but I am holding a steady pace. I'm not checking behind me but I think that I have increased the distance on the 4 hour group. I had planned to stay with them till mile 20 or so, but it looks like I have struck out on my own now. Running with a couple of first timers and we don't talk much but it is nice to be in step with them, yet have plenty of running room.
Mile 13.1 - Clock reads 1:57 and something. I'll have to run the second half in 2:00 to get my 3:57 finish.
Mile 15.5 - Out of the park and into the wind. Down the big hill, up the big hill, turn left then turn right onto Vassault Street. Major hill for the next mile and a half. The hill itself is bad enough but the wind is really blowing right at us. I still feel good but I know that this is zapping my energy. My legs have felt a little fatigued since early in the race (perhaps due to yesterday's race) but they have been able to hold the pace well. It is the energy level that I am worried about. My overall pace has dropped some on this long incline with wind, but as long as I don't really tire soon, I am in good condition.
Mile 18 - Highest elevation of the course. Oh I remember being here last year, ahead of my current pace, but really tiring quickly. Today I feel OK. I have also been able to choke down some gels, I have had three already, and my stomach is tolerating that and all the fluids.
Mile 19 - Finally the turn onto the paved trail that parallels Route 16. My least favorite part of the course, but now I have that strong wind at my back. It is so strong that I can feel it pushing me along.
Mile 20 - Under a bridge, then a turn and now the wind seems to be in my face again. I was not expecting that. Maybe it is more blowing sideways, but I was hoping for a push all the way to mile 24.
Mile 21 - I can see the Target store more than half a mile ahead. I try to relax and focus on the bulls eye and flow along at least till I get there. I can not zone out completely, but I am still running and I am pleased that I have made it this far without "hitting the wall"
Mile 22 - Run for a bit with M1106. This is a great place to have a little company and keep moving. I hit the lap button on my watch to set a new overall pace. I can run 10/mile from here to the end and still beat 4 hours and I am thinking that I should be able to do it, especially with the wonderful downhills to come.
Mile 23.3 - Almost off the trail and I take my first little walk break. I also take my long sleeves off for the first time.
Mile 24.2 - One more really short walk break as my pace the last two miles was about 9:45 (after the break). I expect to turn down the hill and not walk anymore.
Mile 24.5- The hard part is over. Long downhill, a little steep for tired legs, then flat and gradual downhill till the race is almost over and the excitement of the finish can carry anyone through. I feel very confident that I will beat 4 hours. Can I get in under 3:58? It is too close to call at this point.
Mile 25 - 3:48 on my watch. Better keep moving. Really pleased with today's run. I think those ultras this Winter paid off with better endurance. Can't say why I did not have my usual nausea but I'll take it for sure.
Mile 26 - Hey I will beat 3:58. Terrific. No need to sprint to the finish, I just cruise along like I have been and at the finish I feel like I could keep going for a few more miles. Very rare that I have finished a marathon feeling so good.
3:57:34139th place of 391
Marathon or ultra #47, 3rd consecutive Tacoma City Marathon
Race # 194