Saturday, April 2, 2011

4-2-11 Yakima River Canyon Marathon

Third time here. I really like this race. With all the rain we have had I am looking forward to driving to the east side of the mountains and getting some sunshine. With a point to point course this race offers a variety of logistical choices. The first two years Jody came with me and met me at the finish. That worked out well. This year, she is in Italy so I am solo. I decide to have the convenient part on the front end of the race. I stay in Ellensburg, a shorter drive from home. I can sleep in, then get my race packet and go back to my room till just before the start. It is cold and windy but sunny. I See lots of Maniac friends as I eventually walk over to the start area. Start - Hat, gloves, jacket and sunglasses. I feel good, my lingering cough/cold is pretty much gone. This being my third marathon or ultra in three weeks I wonder what will happen but I am not nervous. When I signed up for Dizzy Daze, the race I ran last week, I resigned myself to the fact that it would hurt my Yakima time. I'll just have fun and do my best. Smooth start, this is my favorite sized race. Mile 1-13.1 - Before the start I had been looking for Half Fanatic Jennifer Seward who is running her first marathon, though she did walk a couple some years ago. I could not find her but at about the half mile mark she finds me and we run together. We run a steady 8:55 pace being careful to not go any faster than that. Around the big block, see a very excited horse, then into the canyon proper. Up and down "Baby Bear" hill. This course is so scenic, I really need to come back here every year. Feeling good, diligent with the pacing, drinking fluids, and alternating fig newtons and S!Caps at the aid stations. At mile 9 there is a blast of wind in our face. The next half mile is into the wind and if this keeps up it will really zap my energy. It does die down and even becomes a nice tailwind. We hit the halfway mark in 1:57:09 Mile 13.1 to Mile 17 - At 13.1 I strike out just a little faster and leave Jennifer behind. About a mile of flat and then the "Mama Bear" hill. It is long but not steep. At about mile 16 I begin to feel soreness in my quads. I have had this before when I run marathons on back to back weekend or just log a lot of miles. Not only did I run long the last two weekends, the month of March was my highest mileage month ever, topping out just over 200 miles. My legs are feeling it now. But I have energy enough and I also have some experience with this so I know that I can keep going without having to slow too much. Big downhill is tougher on the quads. Strong tailwind or side wind at times. Mile 17-21.5 - With 9 miles to go I am feeling good other than the quads. I have a couple of miles of flat, then a big hill, then down hill three miles to the finish. I mentally divide the rest of the race into these three sections and it all seems very doable. Passing some people, briefly run with a couple of Maniacs. Bob Dolphin sighting. Strong blast of head wind at mile 21. So strong I can barely move forward. I see that the road curves along a cliff and shortly the wind is no longer in my face. Mile 21.5-23 - "Papa Bear" hill. Not nearly as steep or difficult as in previous years. The uphill gives my quads a break. I run the whole thing, passing walkers. Near the top I remember to pump my arms and that helps me get up the last bit. My pace has slowed with the hill but I am very confident of beating 4 hours. Mile 23-26.2 - Downhill. Tougher on the quads. Really achy now. I maintain pace. Still a long way to go, but energy level is good. Goal now is to run the whole race with no walk breaks. I wish that I could pick up the pace but I just can not do it. The flat last mile is actually easier. Final two tenths seems super long, but I plug away and have a little sprint left. Very pleased with how I felt and how consistently I ran for the whole race. This is one of my favorites and I vow to return with fresher legs. Now the downside to staying near the start line: After walking through the finish area I see two buses ready to take runners back to the start. The driver of the front bus says that they will leave in 15-20 minutes. Great, I walk back to watch runners come in to the finish, then ten minutes later try to board the bus. But it is full and leaving now. I am first on the next bus but we wait here a long time, then go to the shower facility, the race HQ, then back to the finish line, back to the showers and back to the race HQ/Civic Center to wait for stragglers. I am on that bus for three hours before I get back to my car. It all worked out in the end and I had a great day. 3:56:33 Results Pending Race#233, Marathon or Ultra#63 *****