Sunday, September 26, 2010

9-26-10 Bellingham Bay Marathon

This is my favorite Marathon. All I expect from a race is accurate distance and timing. This has that for sure. When you add the scenic but very runnable course, the excellent organization and the enthusiastic volunteers, it just does not get any better than this. The size of the event is my favorite too. Large enough to feel like a real event, but small enough to not be lost in the crowd. Since running the inaugural race in 2007 (my Marathon Maniac qualifying event) I have come back each year. Some people grumble about the course changes every year, but the courses do seem to get better each time. This year has a major change, it is now point to point. We will not have to run the super steep California Street hill or the other hill on the trail. Less trail, but still 4 miles or so of nicely packed trail. No major hills.

Rain and wind at night. Drizzle and calm as I park my car in the dark, a block from the finish line. First bus is supposed to leave at 5:45AM. It is 5:30 so I wait in the car. Then the buses pull up and park about 50 feet from where I have my car. On the way out we get some course narration from the assistant race director. Too bad it is too dark to see anything. The start is at the Lummi Nation. We have the large warm/dry community center to wait in. Huge cedar beams and amazing totem poles. Members of the tribe come to welcome us. They sing and drum two songs for us. Then it is outside to the start line.
Start - I know some of the runners but no one who is about my pace. I will just run my own race today. I reduced my mileage in the past two weeks and think that I should have a decent run. My plan is to run a 9:02 first mile, then have the average pace drop to 9:01 at the end mile 2, 9:00 at 3 and so on. If I can do this for the whole race I will have a PR by three minutes. Not likely, but I'll pull back if it gets too hard and be happy with anything under 4 hours (9:10 pace).

Mile 3 - 8:59 pace, three seconds ahead of schedule. Feel great, holding back.

Mile 5 - No rain, nice views. Still on the Reservation. Big dog that looks like a wolf trots by. Real Bald Eagle soars overhead. Meet and run some with Maniac Tracy. Stick to my strategy and gradually pull ahead.

Mile 8 - New course has a 1.5 mile out and back here. Pedro sighting. Feeling fine. Have taken an extra gel, just to get the carbs in while I can. Surprised at the turn around to feel how strong the headwind is. Hunker down behind a larger runner,then we make a little pack with three others. I feel somewhat protected from the wind, but it probably is taking some toll. Hand slap Maniac Jill, running her 99th marathon.

Mile 13 - 8:50 pace. To lower the average pace to 8:49, I have to run a 8:36 mile here. It is starting to get harder to maintain the effort. If I had this race to do over again, I would back off right now and try to salvage 4 hours. Little did I know how bad it was soon to get.

Mile 14 - Somewhat surreal sight. Our race is fairly spread out, sometimes two of three runners together. But coming towards us is a mass of runners. Hundreds of them packed in tight and filling the road. We meet at an intersection where we turn left and they turn right. We have just merged with the much larger half marathon and they are only at mile 4. They started much later than us. The timing was nearly perfect though as they are going at just about the pace that I am going at. I am still trying to go a little faster each mile, and I do have to gradually pick my way through the crowd but it is manageable.

Mile 16- Rut Rho - I am getting very tired. Out of energy. Like I should be at mile 22. No way that I will PR. I'll ease up a bit and not worry about the time.

Mile 18 - Much worse. At an aid station (fantastic volunteers by the way) I try to down a gel and my stomach clenches tight three times. I avoid vomiting but it was very close. Otherwise my stomach had been OK, just tired legs and no energy.

Mile 19.5 - First walk break. There is so far to go and I know how tired I am, I will not even try to beat 4 hours. This is really really bad, one of my worst marathons ever. I wish I had some excuse. In retrospect I have a few ideas of what went wrong, too much to write about here. I keep a good attitude as the waves and waves of runners pass me by. Everyone I passed from mile14-18 is now passing me as I shuffle and walk a bit. I keep a fine attitude though. It is what it is, I am not injured and I will finish, not even in last place.

Mile 23 - Running on the board walk over the bay was nice. Everything since mile 16 has been part of the old course. Now I am on the trail and run/walk some with Maniac Diana. Another out and back section. Then we merge again with the half course with whom we had split from back around mile 20. So now I am being passed by marathoners and leap frogging with the tired ones, but I am also holding pace with these slower half marathoners. Making the best of my sucky running, we slog it out toward the finish.

Mile 26- Starts raining harder. I make the final turn and run fast enough so Diana can not catch me. Satisfied that I finished, but nothing that I will brag about. Oh except that after reviewing the results and comparing to previous years I have determined that myself, Maniac Jill and three others are the only five people to have completed all 4 of the Bellingham Bay Marathons. Run enough and there is always something significant to report.


173rd of 401

8th of 30 in my age group (Men 40-44) that is odd.


Race#30 of 2010
4th Bellingham Bay Marathon

53rd Marathon or Ultra


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