No I am not in Alaska. Yukon Harbor is a part of Puget Sound, near Port Orchard where today's race is. Second year for this race, but it is my first time here. Assuming that I finish I will have 39 races for the year (40 is my record set last year), including 20 marathons or ultras (16 last year) 1,734.9 miles for the year, 21 new T-shirts, and I will pick up a new county for my Washington State Marathon County list (#13). My streak of 100 mile months is going strong into its 8th year.
The temperature is sub freezing. Slipping on the ice in the parking lot. Hat, gloves, 2 shirts and a jacket. But I wear shorts as I expect it to warm up a little and it is not super cold. I have little knowledge of the course other than it will be a double out and back this year and that it will start with a long downhill but the rest of the course should be flat. The finish is at the bottom of the hill, so I will need to walk a ways uphill to get back to my car afterwards.
Start - We start just about on time and I am glad to get moving in this cold. Flat, then gentle downhill with a little black ice to watch for. Woman next to me slips but does not fall. Flat again and now I can see a very steep downhill. What is strange is that all the runners in front of me are veering off to either side of the road. The road is completely iced up and very steep. We cling to the edge and skitter down on lawns next to the road. On to the road that parallels the water. Mile 1 takes ten minutes.
Mile 1-5 - This section is along the water. I am disappointed to find that there is no scenic walkway, in fact there is no sidewalk. So we run on the road, open to traffic, with little orange cones to keep us safe. It is not entirely flat either, some nice little hills that are easy to manage, but were not expected. More runners in the half but soon it is not very crowded. Most of the time I will run alone and there really is not safe room for two abreast in many places.
Mile 6-8 - Short out and back, up and down a hill where cattle are lowing. Then a turn off the main road and up a larger hill. Around a corner, down a hill and there are two horses and two camels. First camel sighting in a race for me. Now on to Manchester State Park. Down and up with two little lollipops that do not allow me to see who is directly behind me. I am afraid that these hills are going do me in when I come back for the second time. Back past the camels and start heading back to the finish/turn around. On the way back we are directed to skip the short out and back.
Mile 9-13.1 - I want to run the first half in 2:00 and hope for a negative split. So I have been keeping my pace around 9:10/mile even taking walk breaks when I find the average pace getting too fast. But now I compare my GPS watch to the mile 10 mile marker and see that they are two tenths of a mile off and I will need to pick up the pace in order to match the markers. No more walk breaks and I head out faster than I should. Passing lots of halfers, now a few full marathoners coming back to me, but not very many. I expect some people finishing the half to put on a big sprint but no one does and we all just cruise in to the finish area. I am sent to a separate lane and head out for a repeat with 1:59 and something on the watch.
Mile 13.1 - 16 - Dodging halfers who are coming in to the finish. Bob Martin (in boot) sighting. Now volunteer Kimpossible sighting, she is skipping rope to keep warm and helping with traffic control.
Mile 17-21 - I start to tire. Way to early. I sort of knew that it was coming. Big muscles in the legs have been tightening up and I almost fear cramps, which I never get. I wonder if the cold temperatures have had an effect. My right foot feels fine and will cause me no problems today. It will go on to be a very pain free race, but all up and down both legs are just not right. And I am a little nauseous, probably from the cytomax that I am not used to. I can not take walk breaks now if I want to hold a 9:10 pace. I should try to eat something. I had my two fig newtons and one Gu earlier. I declined a Gu at the first aid station because I was still carrying my own, but now I see that no other aid stations have them. Soon I find an unopened Gu packet on the road and I take it. The hills do me in as I expected. Lots of walking and a negative split is out the window. At least with a small race like this I will not be passed by streaming hordes. I do run for a bit with a Maniac from Ohio. Nice diversion and it is so much easier to keep going when I am with someone. But he stops at the aid station and I am alone again. Catch a runner skipping the little out and back where there is no volunteer now. When I point out his mistake he turns and goes up the hill on the proper course.
Mile 22-25 - A bit of a second wind. I am able to run OK at times, though slowly. Then some short walk breaks. Maniac Jenny Apple passes me. I do not care about finish time any more. I mostly want to run hard just to get this race over with.
Mile 25-26.2 - Older guy named Rich, I think, catches me but then I come back even to him and we run together. He is running his 298th marathon and is great company for the last mile. We settle in to a slow but steady pace and enjoy a nice conversation. With about a third of a mile to go I realize that we are going more slowly than I need to, so I say goodbye and put on a last good effort to the finish.
Finish - 26.6 on the GPS. Only a few people hanging around. Fortunately one is Maniac Ginger and I am offered a ride back to my car. That big hill would not have been a fun walk. Not sure that I need to do this one again, but I have a year to decide.
24th place of 86 finishers
Race#259, Marathon or Ultra#77