I feel just a little guilty running the half here, since I have run the full 26.2 each of the last three years and there will be many Marathon Maniacs who will assume that I am running the longer race. But a half today fits in better with my training plans, hoping to taper a bit and have a strong race in Bellingham in two weeks. Also the previous three years at Skagit have had hot and miserable melt downs in the final miles. No shade, high temps and a grind of a course. So I will run the half today and be all done before the blazing sun gets too high. Ha!! Here I am and it is raining. Off and on showers. Everyone is talking about what to wear. I opt for a light jacket and hat, both of which will come off after a few miles I am sure.
Start - After a half mile warm up I am ready to go and feel good. I cram into the start area but can not work my way up to where I would like to be. The race starts and it is slow going for a bit. At least the race is chip timed this year not that it really matters for me. I do like the custom "Skagit Runners" chip that is designed to tie into the laces and not run on the ankle.
Mile 1 - Sorted out and have room to run. Catch and run with Maniac Bob Hearn. This is fun; there a couple of marathoners I know who I can never run with because they are too fast. But they are doing the full and their 7:35-7:40 pace is just where I want to be. 7:40 would get me a PR of 1:40 and I think it may be possible on this flat course, but I will not be disappointed if I do not quite get there. Last night I told Jody that I would probably run a 1:42.
Mile 3 - Not raining, but the road is wet with some puddles. Run with Pedro, then Steve Walters. This is their holding back pace, but I am working hard. I am holding pace under 7:40 and while working hard it feels doable. I can't be much of a conversationalist at this tempo however.
Mile 7 - Made it to the turn around in good shape. Enjoy seeing all the other runners. Now it is showering and I get a little colder, but will leave the jacket tied around my waist. Huh. All of a sudden my legs feel heavy. Some right psoas discomfort, nothing I have not had before. But the sudden heavy legs was unexpected. Harder to pick my feet up and move the legs forward. I'm still going under an 8 minute mile, its just a lot harder now, and my overall pace is slowing.
Mile 10 - I could have run that 10 mile PR today as I am right there, but I don't think it should count if I had done it, if it is part of a longer event. I am still on PR pace for the half but I am slowing and I have serious doubts now. In addition the wind is blowing in my face. Its not super fierce but there is definitely a noticeable headwind. A woman passes me and her jacket is all filled with air in the back like a parachute. That must be adding to her toil. I work to catch up to a larger guy and do a little drafting. It really makes a difference. I try to not be annoying and get too close, but even from a few feet behind him the going is easier now. Well it is still very very difficult, just a little less so. After a quarter mile however he veers off to the side to get his picture taken from some friends or family and I go on ahead.
Mile 12 - I'm being passed by more people than I am catching. Legs feel awful. My form is bad and I will be more sore after this race than usual. PR is gone, but my finish time will be OK. Best thing I can do is keep working hard and hope that this is good training for the next race. Rain has stopped. I am very familiar with this course and am able to sense the finish and parcel out the energy accordingly. Thanks to volunteer Maniac Matt for hitting the timer right when I cross the line. And thanks to Race Director Maniac Terry for another quality event.
Finish - Quick change of clothes, then I drive out to mile 23 to watch the runners go by. Fun times being a spectator and seeing some of the same people I was just with.