I have decided to go for it again and try to PR. I feel better rested than at Capitol City having an extra week between marathons and this course is easier than the Olympia course. I ran here last year and had a very decent race. So I will try to get in under 3:48, but who knows what will happen?
Out of the hotel room at 6AM and it is raining steady in Port Angeles. It does stop by the time the bus leaves for the start in Sequim. I am not prepared for rain, and showers are forecast, but it is not raining at the start and it is warm and humid out. Wind will not be an issue so I think I will be fine in my Maniac singlet.
This is a terrific race. Nice big room to wait in. There are plenty of well staffed aid stations with friendly volunteers. Its on the paved trail, but there are spectators at many locations. Great scenery once we get off the roads of Sequim. I like the shirt this year and the medal is nice too. But I have some running to do before I can collect that medal.
Start - Visit with friends. Relaxed and feeling good. There are some pacers here and just as the gun goes off I see that Maniac Jeff Bollman is pacing for 3:45. This is great. I do not have to rely so much on the watch. I can just get in behind him and make sure I do not pass him, otherwise I am definitely going too fast. If I can hang with 3:45 most of the way I can drop back a little at the end and still PR.
Mile 1 - 353 runners. A little crowded but it will sort out. Jeff is getting ahead but not much. There is this long gradual uphill and I know that I can make up time later, I should be going even slower than I am.
Mile 3 - Its a fast pace. Fly down a hill. Feeling good though.
Mile 5 - Big loop is done, now the main road. My least favorite part of the course, separated from traffic by cones, but it is well directed and safe. I am probably 20 seconds behind Jeff. Still somewhat crowded.
Mile 9 - Now we are on the paved trail. Enthusiastic spectators and volunteers at the aid station. The long wooden bridge over the Dungeness River. Now a bear sighting. Oh its not really a bear, just a giant shaggy dog standing alone on the trail. He ignores me as I run past. I do hear a raven calling in the woods and that is cool.
Mile 12 - Have been just behind two runners with East Side Running Club shirts on. I have been watching them chat away and appear to be running very comfortably. I catch up and we talk a little bit.
Mile 13.1 - 1:53 is right on pace but I know that miles 16-21 of this course are the toughest.
Mile 16 - Just like that it gets very hard. First some wind in my face on an exposed part of the trail, then a sharp decent to cross a creek. Too steep to run fast on the downhill and I real grind to get up. Jeff is gone.
Mile 17 - Work to catch a runner and stay even with him. We talk a bit but I am struggling. Early on in marathons I don't need or like much conversation, but at this stage it is great to be next to someone. Even if no words are exchanged there is something about running side by side. You can help pace each other and keep the pace from slowing. I just can not hold it though and I drop back.
Mile 18 - There is the steepest creek bed still to come, but this section is bad too, with steep little uphills. Maniac President Steve Yee passes me. He gets a few steps ahead and turns to take my picture. I stop for the camera but he tells me I am supposed to keep running. I am looking for any excuse to slow down. Steve moves on and next up is Maniac Robert Lopez. Robert won a 50K race yesterday and here he is gaining speed and finishing strong today. I guess that if I have to be passed here it might as well be by Maniac#1 and #111. I am struggling big time with energy to run but my spirits are fine. The course has very much thinned out and I am not being passed by many runners. In fact I am starting to pass walkers who began their race two hours before I did.
Mile 20 - The dreaded last creek bed. Its insane trying to get up out of it. Small drum circle is making music at the top of the hill that is more ominous than encouraging. Finally up the steep hill and a long downhill to come.
Mile 21 - Studying the watch now. I have faltered so badly that I am fairly confident that I will not beat four hours. I will need to keep running with no walk breaks and no dawdling at aid stations in order to reach that goal and although there are no more hills, there is still a long way to go. Bob Dolphin sighting. He is walking and I am temped to walk with him a bit. He is 80 years old and has 460 something marathons complete. In fact I could just walk the rest of the way with him, keep him company and I'm sure he would entertain me. I'll at least walk a bit and say hi but as I get real close behind him he starts back up running. I pass him, just a quick hello and keep moving on ahead.
Mile 22 - Now along the waterfront, nice that there is little wind. Very minor drizzle. I have been warm most of the race, but not super hot. I can see the finish area way off in the distance.
Mile 23 - Bald eagle flying low over the water away from shore, makes a turn around and is now heading towards me. If I speed up just a little it will fly directly overhead and in fact it does. Great diversion. The finish area is getting closer but still so far away, I doubt I will beat 4. I want to walk. But I keep running and start passing some runners as well as walkers. I catch the East Side Runners and speculate on our chances of getting in under 4 hours. I am sure that I can do it if I do not walk at all, and I still do not really think I will be able to do that.
Mile 24 - Still running, actually feeling better energy level. I have found some kind of groove and I just go along at this pace. It feels like a 9/mile. Turn onto the rocky path around the water treatment plant, that half mile section where you can hear the finish line, but have to go away from it for a bit. Young guy is walking and I encourage him to get moving again. I explain that it is all mental now and all he has to do is not take another walk break and he will beat 4. He is with me for a quarter mile, but then fades and I hear him say thank you.
Mile 25 - The last aid station. I run through this one, taking just a little fluid and feeling even stronger. My body senses the finish line and I am now sure that I will make my goal. Well not that 3:48 PR. but a secondary goal is always to get in under 4 hours.
Mile 26.2 - I finish in 3:58:34. That gives me 3 marathons in 5 weeks with finish times of 3:57, 3:58 and 3:58. The 3:57 was at Tacoma where I ran conservatively and had little difficulty. The next two races I went out much faster and paid the price. Finish times were amazingly close but I felt better and enjoyed myself most at Tacoma. Next marathon is in three weeks. That will be my 50th and right now I plan to run conservatively like at Tacoma, maybe go for a negative split, but for sure not worry about the finish time so much. In the mean time, if I can get in three more short races, I can have the Seattle Rock and Roll be my 50th marathon and 200th race.
106th of 353
Race #196, Marathon or ultra#49, NODM #2