Previous times here are 3:57, 3:58 and 3:58. I ran 3:56 at Yakima four weeks ago and then had to not race at Mt Si due to being sick. Looking forward to a good run today. And we sure have awesome weather. Bright sun. Cool at the start but it will warm up. No wind. The plan is to run with Kurt, the 3:50 pacer as long as I can. Hopefully I will not crash too bad, and just maybe I'll feel good and be able to go ahead of him at some point. My PR is 3:48:01, so I would have to leave him with enough time to knock off two minutes.....but I am just speculating and hoping. Most likely I'll sneak in under 4 hours and I'll be fine with that. But I have been doing some specific training and maybe it will pay off today.
Start - Meet my Maniac friends and line up near Kurt. Start and finish are now at the same location, the course has been altered slightly but retains all the great hills. Feeling good and relaxed.
Mile 1- Kurt likes to go out a little ahead of pace to bank some time before the hills. Plus there is a hill right here at the start. So it feels like work from the beginning.
Mile 2 - Flatter. Warming up. Getting in the groove. A little crowded behind the pacer so I move just in front. M761 follows and we run together for a little bit. Unicorn sighting.
Mile 3 - Getting ahead of the pace group. I let M761 go on ahead and I settle back. She will go on to run a 3:38 so I am glad that I did not try to keep up and I am happy for her. Soon I am running with her brother, who will also pull ahead to run his own terrific race. I really need to stay with 3:50, because we are going faster than that (still banking time) and I know that 3:50 is a stretch for me. I have only ever run sub 3:50 two previous times.
Mile 8 - Beautiful day down on Ruston Way. Nice pack of Maniacs and two first time marathoners. Running comfortably. With Lesa Overfield who is running her 100th marathon today. Last weekend I ran 16 miles at 8:30/mile pace without trouble, so this 8:35 pace is fine.
Mile 9 - Traditional loon call in the Ruston tunnel. Now the steepest uphill of the course. I have gone just ahead of 3:50 pacer. The hill is fine. Into Point Defiance Park and as I pass Judy Fisher I tell her that it looks like I am going ahead of my pace group, but they will probably catch me.
Mile 13.1 - That is such a long uphill in the park. Nice and cool in the shade these five miles. Hit the half at 1:53 which would give me a 3:46 if I can maintain. Doubt it but I feel good at the half and have been drinking well and downing some fuel.
Mile 17 - Out of the park. Down then up then a long gradual uphill that goes forever. Getting tired of these up hills. Pace slowed a little but I'm doing OK. Always interesting to see if/when I will run out of energy and really slow down. All I can do is keep taking nutrients and run within myself. I think that the course is a little different here, winding through some neighborhoods. Two guys have been running near me for a while and they are yapping away. Constant talk that I will not get sucked in to. It nice to have a little diversion. Plus this course is so interesting, the miles are sliding by.
Mile 19 - A little more tired. Need some downhills and there they are. Bad patch gets better. I think that I can keep going at this pace, but for how much longer?
Mile 20 - On to the paved trail that parallels Highway 16. Pass Guy Yogi. This is a little sad for me. For years he has been faster than me and always a few minutes out of reach. Today he is slower than usual and I am faster than usual, at least at this point. It just does not seem right to be passing him. But I do. Little do I know that he will stay right on me and finish just behind me. Being careful to not get carried away just yet. Really though it is only about 4 miles until the long downhill to the end. If I can hold on for four more miles....
Mile 23 - Chugging along at the same pace. Cheney Stadium, Target (I focus on the bulls eye for a half mile) and the golf course. I am now confident of beating 3:50. There is a chance that I could get under 3:48. I am still afraid to pick it up for fear of crashing. Coming off the trail there is a bit of a hill and my legs stiffen up considerably. First real discomfort. Woman is walking the hill and I moan that I want to walk but I will not as I shuffle past her. Make the turn onto the road and she starts running. We run together off and on to the finish.
Mile 24 - Oh the downhill is not for a little longer. I can see an aid station in the distance but I am really thirsty so I veer to the other side of the road and get a cup from a homeowner who has set up her own table. Perfect. I like this neighborhood. Boom box playing and people dancing and cheering. Now on to the real aid station where I get more water for my head and Gatorade to drink. Very helpful volunteer, as have all the volunteers been.
Mile 24.5 - Finally the turn downhill. Terry Fritz (the fast Fritz) is cheering. This hill is just a little too steep. Down to the bottom OK though and now turn onto the nice gradual downhill. A PR still looks possible. It is going to be very close. Running with that woman still. We love this finish. I am running faster for sure. When to sprint/give it my all? Still a half mile to go. I do not go all out quite yet.
Mile 26 - Merge with half marathon walkers but there is plenty of room to run. Watch at 3:46 something...I can not see the seconds. Go all out. Did not know that I had that much speed/energy left. The quest for the PR took a lot of the enjoyment away from the last miles. If I was under 3:50 but not near 3:48:01 I would have run happy and easier and been very pleased. Instead I worked so hard, crossed the finish line and let out a swear as I saw 3:48 on the watch. Watch time 3:48:05. I'll find out my official chip time in a few minutes and it will be 3:48:02, one second off my PR. Honestly some frustration, but really I should be pleased and I am. Terrific day all around. Just after getting my chip off, M761 and bro call me over where they are sitting. I share my frustration, then start to cough. Fortunately I turn away and walk over to a secluded area as my cough turns into a puke. Three or four retchings and then I feel surprising well. Not sick although I pass on the post race pizza. Feeling fine and so happy with the day. Now I have to plan when and where to try to PR. Couple of options coming up soon.
77th place of 342
9 minutes faster than last year
Marathon or Ultra #64, Tacoma Marathon #4 Race# 234