Today is the grand finale of the Spring road marathon season. My 4th road marathon in 8 weeks. Previous times going back to Tacoma are 3:57, 3:58 and 3:58 so I am consistent, that is for sure. I would like to go out slower today than the last couple of races and hopefully finish strong. Anything under 4 hours would be great, but I am also celebrating my 50th marathon or ultra and my 200th race; I really just want to enjoy the day.
Up at 3AM. Leave the house by 3:30. Park at Safeco Field at 4:30. Ride the school bus with my friend Julie to the start, arriving just after 5:00. Hard part is over, now it is relax till the start, then run back to the city with 29,000 others. Full and half marathons start together with 36 corrals to stage us in. Same routine as last year so I know what I am doing. Still it takes about 20 minutes to get from the gear bag drop site to my starting area, with so many people around. It is cloudy and a little muggy, supposed to be warmer and sunny by late in the race.
I got bib#5050 in honor of my 50th and that puts me in corral 5, but I go to #6 to try to find M761. I have to enter the corral as the attendant is closing the gate on us and saying that no one else will be allowed in. This is after the National Anthem and really just a few seconds before the start. Just when I think I won't have my marathon pal to run with today, she comes sneaking in through Corral 7 and finds me right as we start moving.
Start - We walk forward a little then stop. It is a wave start and soon our group is let out. Smooth heading out. None of those crazy zigzagging people or walkers you get at Portland, the other giant race I do some years.
Mile 1 - 8:40. Under a giant balloon Rock and Roll guy. First band. Music will be the same as last year. Not as frequent as you might expect. Also, some bands you can not hear until you are right there and just as soon, the music fades away. Various High School cheerleaders are here again and I think I like them better than the bands. So encouraging and energizing.
Mile 4 - Hmm. Pace is at 8:35. The plan was to go closer to 9. At this point it feels right of course, I'll pay for it later. I will try to slow down at the water stations and not fight the uphills at all. Same course as last year, neighborhoods for now, soon we will drop down to Lake Washington.
Mile 8 - Salt packets at the aid station. That is a first. I am still taking S!Caps every 6 miles or so during a marathon and they are essentially sodium in a couple of different forms. Never thought to just take some table salt packets with me. Cheerleaders group has a costumed tiger mascot with them. I go to give it a high-5, but M761 says I should hug it. In the half a second it takes to reach it, I decide that it is my 50th celebration and if I want to hug a tiger I should do so. I think I surprised it, but it was fun and worth it.
Mile 9 - Uphill, then onto Interstate 90, out over Lake Washington. Its been a long time since I have run a course with an out and back section. It is a fun diversion to see the fast runners and to wave to fellow Maniacs. One person that I do not know well is "Double L" but I am very surprised to see her coming towards me. I know that she has yet to run sub four hours in about 150 races. If I am going too fast, then she really is. She just smiles as I tap my watch and give her a confused look. Osprey sighting.
Mile 10 - Turn around. Now a great view of Seattle and many runners both coming and going. Its still cloudy and a little cool, out over the lake the wind is sort of swirling around. Not very strong but now it seems to be mostly in my face. Most of the course is on concrete and I don't really know what effect that surface has on my legs, but I am already starting to feel somewhat beat up.
Mile 11 - Merge with the half runners and into the long tunnel.
Mile 13 - Out of the tunnel and past Safeco Field. I am having serious doubts about this race now. My legs are bugging me from the feet on up. The pace is still a little faster than I would like. I could/should slow down here, but I just don't want to.
Mile 15 - Alaska Way Viaduct. More concrete. Feel better though. At least I am able to hold pace
Mile 17.5 - Both M761 and I are feeling it in the legs and now having some low energy patches. In a moment of strength, on a downhill, I ease forward wanting to hold pace as long as possible
This is the second out and back section. I see a red-tailed hawk. Then I see "Double L" still far ahead of me. I tap the watch and smile. Looks like she has been training.
Mile 19 - Now heading back and just finishing a long gradual uphill section. Not surprised to find M761 has caught up to me.
Mile 20 - Taking my time through water stations now, extending the walk breaks.
Mile 22.5 - Made it through the second tunnel without walking. M761 now has the energy and moves forward as I maintain a slower running pace.
Mile 24 - Find myself grinding down to a walk every half mile or so. The walks are short and I get moving at my slow pace but I am being passed by many people at this point. Third out and back section and another "Double L" sighting. She will have a super PR for sure.
Mile 25 - Last uphill. Do some math and figure I can allow myself one more walk break and still beat 4 hours. One of these races I will not wear a watch just so I don't negotiate with it late in a race. It is not a coincidence that I have so many marathons finished between 3:56 and 3:59. Not really happy with the fact that I seem to be doing as little work as possible in order to get in under 4 hours. I'll have to work on that next time.
Mile 25.9 - Yes I have positioned myself well to just get under 4. Pick up the pace and enjoy the moment as I cross the line.
Mile 26.2 - Done. Immediate recovery goes well. Walk a bit. Put on warm clothes as it is colder than it was at the start, that Sun just never came out. Sit for a while, then a longish walk to the car.
917th of 4080
50th Marathon or ultra