Saturday, October 23, 2010

10-23-10 Sammamish Trail Marathon

Inaugural race and I have never run here before. I arrive at Marymoor Park in plenty of time. It is still dark and although the sign for the race seems to be pointing towards another parking lot, I can see runners parking and getting ready off to the right. I pull in to a spot and can see a small registration area. People seem to be in a hurry and ready to run, yet I know I have ninety minutes to the start. Then I realize that the check in table says "Team in Training" and that this is a training run for that group. So back in the car and drive to the far parking lot where the race is happening for real.

This week I happened to look at a package of Fig Newtons and see that the serving size of two cookies is remarkably similar to a gel in terms of calories/carbohydrates, and salts. I have packed eight Newtons to carry along instead of four gels as an experiment. Although S!Caps have helped the nausea issue (and been wonderful for the fuzzy head feeling), I still get an upset stomach late in a race and I think that the gels are not helping any.

Since I ran the Defiance 50K just seven days ago and my last marathon was a PR attempt but became a death march at mile 16, I have decided to run conservatively today. M761 is here and feels the same way, so we will make ourselves run a slower pace for the first half, then pick it up later if we feel good. I'm shooting for 1:58-2:00 for the first half and if all goes well I will be very happy to beat four hours.

Race is a little pricey with a nice cotton shirt and no medal. Aid stations every five miles so I will carry my fuel belt. Great volunteers though and safe crossing at the few intersections. Forecast calls for rain. It was supposed to be raining already, but I can see the sun rising, however dark clouds loom not far away. No wind and will hit fifty degrees, so I wear shorts and a long sleeve "Brooks Running" shirt, leaving the jacket in the car. I hope the rain will hold off.

Race is sold out, but the marathon group seems small. Larger half marathon group was bussed out 13.1 miles and will run back here. We will run out and back, with the halfers charging towards us at some point.

Start - I start way in the back with four Kuhlmanns. One is qualifying for the Maniacs club today. Good instructions from the RD that I am half listening to. We start right on time. A quick right turn and a mile out and back on pavement before we get to the East Sammamish Trail.

Mile 2 - On the trail proper now. This is a flat course. No hills at all. Maybe a slight incline or decline here and there, but so gradual. The trail is essentially a well crushed gravel road, very smooth with no stones on the two tracks and easy running in the middle if needed.

Mile 8 - Smooth running. Halfers streaming towards us now. There was some light rain but it has stopped now and I am not very wet.

Mile 11 - Trail did not change much the whole way out. Long straight sections where you can see up ahead. Feeling great. Three Fig Newtons consumed and holding a nice steady pace. Now we go off the trail and onto sidewalk and civilization. Follow the orange ribbons and chalk makings into another park. More twists and turns here, on pavement. I get off course a little as I see orange cones ahead, but that is not the way to go and I am directed back to the right way.

Mile 13.1 - Aid station. As I leave I hit the lap button and see that my halfway split time is 1:59:15. That is right where I want to be, but does not leave much room for slowing down.

Mile 14 - Significant pace upgrade. We are going faster, but it feels fine. Not that fast.

Mile16.5 - Holding that faster pace and I feel great. Mile 16.5 is where I hit the wall in Bellingham and also had big problems last week. I feel way better than at either of those races.

Mile 19 - Relaxed and feeling good. Passing people now.

Mile 21 - Eat my fifth Fig Newton and it goes down well. This is going to be a great running day.

Mile 23 - Still holding that faster pace, but very suddenly I am out of energy. Just like that M761 builds a lead that I will never narrow. But I am in a great mood. I can handle the last three miles at low energy. I'll settle into a slower pace and try to not take any walk breaks and I should have no problem beating four hours. Ah, I remember my 3:57, 3:58, 3:58 and 3:59 marathons from last Spring, where I would have four hours in the bag and then run/walk as slowly as possible but still beat four. I know that if I do not look at my watch and just give it a good effort I should have a better finish time than that.

Mile 25 - Near the finish, but have that out and back to do. I can drop my fuel belt here and it sure feels great to do so. Grind out the last mile and am so pleased to cross in under 3:55 by my watch.

Shout out to "Kimpossible" on the PR and first sub 4 hour marathon.

3:54:45 (1:59/1:55 negative split)

27th place of 77 finishers

Race #213, Marathon or Ultra #55


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