Sunday, February 20, 2011

2-20-11 Birch Bay Marathon

43rd running of this event, but my first time here. Jody and Niki are running the half and we enjoyed our stay with Jody's Dad last night. We got our numbers yesterday, so I am comfortable arriving a little later than I usually like to for a race. I like the personalized bib. We arrive at about 7:30 for the 8:00 AM start and I am glad that we did not get there sooner. It is so cold that I just wait in the car until closer to race time. Wind has died down from yesterday but it is cold (about 30 degrees) and sunny. I am cold in my shorts, but have multi layers on top that I hope will keep me warm enough.

Start - With Jody and Niki, Team Kuhl, and a couple other Maniacs, but as soon as we start moving I find myself running alone. Well not alone, just not with anyone I know. Great to be moving and hopefully warm up some.

Mile 1 - About 9 minutes. Crowd is thinning out and I feel good. I am getting warmer, but the hat and gloves will stay on for now. Bit of a head wind.

Mile 3 - Aid station and then up a little hill. Course is on open to traffic roads, some with little shoulder. Great views of the Bay and the mountains. Here the course does a ten mile loop that we will do twice before heading back to the start/finish at Birch Bay State Park.

Mile 5-6 Down a gradual hill to an aid station. The half course splits off shortly and now the crowd has really thinned out. Running by myself. Huge eagle. All black though, so it must be a juvenile. Long big uphill now. Good thing that I scoped this out yesterday, before then I had no idea that there would be such a hill. Two ahead of me are walking. I pass them near the top.

Mile 7 - Now a nice gentle downhill. The pavement has changed to that chip seal stuff that is somewhat uneven on my feet. I can feel the little stones that are glued into the cement. We will have to run on this for about three miles, two times.

Mile 9 - Pass three runners. I am holding a nice pace, not letting myself go too fast. Every time that I pass someone I wonder if it is a bad idea, they will probably catch me later. I am running alone and it is sort of boring. Just waiting to see how it will play out when it gets difficult. There are spray painted mile markers on the road, sometimes with orange cones to see in the distance. The loop is not exactly ten miles, therefore I see the mile 18 marker, then the mile 8 marker about a quarter of a mile down the road. Run for a while, then I can expect to see the mile 19 sign followed by the mile 9 posting. One gripe, but at least I knew about it before hand, is that on this back half of the loop the aid stations are about 3.5 miles apart. I am used to drinking a little every 2 or 2.5 miles. I decided to carry a small bottle and only fill it half way, just to get me through the longer sections. I have it in my jacket pocket and it is bouncing around some, but better than not having the fluids. I also have new shorts that are longish and have a pocket that is down on my thigh. Four fig newtons and one gu gel are swinging around in there at times. Well I'll just eat a newton and try to reposition the stuff as needed.

Mile 13 - Meet back up with the half course. Pass a couple of the slower runners. Mile 10 of the half and I think that Jody must be up ahead a little, but I do not see her. I do pass Mel Preedy who took an hour early start on the marathon.

Mile 14 - Second time on the big loop. Strange "campfire" still burning in somebody's yard. Two big logs and a large electric fan blowing the smoke away from the road. Nobody tending it.

Mile 16 - I've been looking forward to my second time up this long hill. After this there really are no more ups. Can I run the whole hill? I see someone walking ahead of me. I have been worried that a big hill like this at mile 16 could zap my energy for good. I let the pace slow a bit, but keep at it and it really is not hard at all. Soon at the top and passing a couple of people.

Mile 18 - Things are going very well. Hat comes off, then back on. Its cold but I am running well and relaxed. Tick the miles off and hold a steady pace. I feel like I am still holding back and that is a great feeling.

Mile 19 - Still holding back

Mile 21 - This is going to be a good one. Two more miles on the loop,then three to the finish. Little bit downhill, then flat. Stomach feels good so I eat that gu I was saving.

Mile 23 - Final aid station. One runner passes me there, but other than that I was not passed at all after mile 8. Jody is there to cheer me and take pictures. Now my legs start to tighten up a bit. No pain, no cramping, just tightness. I am not holding back anymore, but it is not so difficult either. I do the math and realize that I will beat 4 hours easy. I also have no chance at a PR. Remember to stop looking at the watch now and just run strong.

Mile 24.5 - Debate whether to give Jody my jacket and hat, but decide that the jacket will be a minor struggle to get off with my big GPS watch and I do not feel like stopping to have someone yank on my arm. I drink the last from my bottle and sense a woman runner just behind me. Incentive to get moving faster and she is not able to catch me. The last mile seems really long, but eventually I am in the park and nearing the finish.

Mile 25.9 - Pass a runner who is walking it in. I encourage him to get moving but he just walks. See the clock and am happy with my time, although I expected to be a little lower since I felt so good. Cross the line and walk a bit to recover.

Mile 26.2 - No immediate stiffness as I walk around and encourage those just coming in. It took about 18 miles of feeling like I was just out for a long run, but after that I was so happy to run the whole race and feel strong all the way to the finish. Now I need to figure out how that happened and how to make it happen again. Unfortunately the training regime that I have been diligently following for about two months is going to be difficult to continue with, now that marathon and ultra season is in full swing.

Next is the Mountain Marathon on March 5th. Goal is to finish this tough course with no injury that makes me unable to participate in any of the other races that I am registered for.

36th place of 96

Marathon #50
Marathon or Ultra #59

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