Sunday, June 5, 2011

6-5-11 North Olympic Discovery Marathon

3rd year in a row at this terrific event. Been feeling good and rested and I have no excuse to not try to run fast, so I will go for it today. The problem with "going for it" is that if things do not go as planned for some reason I will pay for it greatly later in the race. Won't know unless I try. One factor that has come up in just the last day is the weather. After a long cold and wet Spring, we finally had a warm day yesterday and today will also be warm. It is not super hot, but I am not heat acclimated and I am sure that it will cause some slowing.

On the first shuttle bus and get to the start in plenty of time. Get to talk with old Maniac friends and meet some new ones. Russ from Guerrilla Running is here to run his first ever marathon. He beats me in the shorter distances but I wonder if my marathon experience will give me an edge today. As usual I am not really competing against anyone, just myself, and I hope that all of us have a good day.

Start - Race is sold out, but only has 339 runners so the crowd is very manageable. The much larger half starts at the same time, but 13.1 miles down the paved trail, so we will not see them at all. A couple of Maniac friends took the 2 hour early start and it will be fun to see if/when I catch up to them. It is very sunny and comfortable in my singlet. It will warm up as soon as I start running. Place myself closer to the front than I should and we are off.

Mile 2 - That first mile is uphill and into the sun and I am plenty warm now. First aid station I drink and pour some water on my head to cool off. That is a bad sign that I am so warm already. I will pour water on my head at every aid station today.

Mile 5 - Big loop in Sequim is done. I am comfortable at 8:25/mile pace and not letting myself go any faster. This is much faster than my PR pace and probably a bad idea. I have been doing my long training runs at about this pace, planning to race a little slower than that. 14 miles at 8:25 last weekend was no problem. I will walk through the aid stations today and that will slow my average pace to a more reasonable level soon enough. I do feel good and like I am holding back some.

Mile 9- Too much sun. Downtown Sequim, then on the paved trail and finally into the shade. Magnificent view of Hurricane Ridge and the Olympic Mountains. Wooden Bridge over the Dungeness river.

Mile 12 - Back into the sun and uh oh, starting to tire. I'm at 8:30 pace but so hot and it has become much more work to hold the pace. Now it is 8:31.

Mile 13.1 - This is going to be an ugly second half. I can not hold 8:30 and I know that the hard part of the course is the hilly miles 16-20. Time to rethink my strategy. I hit the lap button on my watch and monitor my new pace. Settle into a comfortable 9:00/mile before I really crash and I am able to hold this. I will not PR, that is a given. So why am I here anyway? Oh, yeah, I like to run and do races. It is fun. Whatever pace I can run, I can choose to enjoy the time that I am here. For the second half of the race I will thank the volunteers and spectators, I will think of funny comments such as "which way to Port Angeles?, is this the finish line?, are you my relay exchange partner?...", I will hand slap as many little kids as I can and instead of running just behind someone I will catch them and just run next to them for as long as the pace feels right. No long conversations with other runners, but a few hellos, yes it is hot, and pace off each other. I'll see my time at mile 21 and go for a sub 4 hour finish if that is possible, but if not, I will still finish in one piece. A couple of times the heat really gets me and I feel like I should slow, for medical reasons.

Mile 18.5 - Oh that awful hill after a sharp turn. This is where I fell apart last year. I have to walk up it.

Mile 19 - Catch up to Russ. He is struggling but will finish. Its a tough day for everyone. But lots of great aid stations and support. One aid station is themed after the Survivor TV show. One of their buzzwords is "Outlast" and as I see that on a poster and can't help but say to a volunteer that at my current pace I just may be out last. Gets a chuckle and I move on.

Mile 20 - Insanely steep down and up out of the last creek bed. Now I know that all the uphills are done and a nice long downhill is here. Only place on the trail where we are close to Highway 101. As I run down the hill I raise my arms and get a couple of honk responses from vehicles just like I had intended. Finally look at my watch and switch the screen back to overall pace. 8:55 per mile which means that a sub 4 hours is still very possible, but I will have to work for it.

Mile 22 - Tiring and want to walk. Its a shaded area and I had just passed an aid station where two cups of water went on my head. Here is a woman who has brought a garden sprinkler across her yard to the trail. She asks if I want to get wet and although I don't really need it right now, I figure it can't hurt. I say "Ok, a little and angle away from her" and wow she blasts me all up and down and gets my back too. My shorts are thoroughly soaked and heavy.

Mile 23 - Back into the sun for the final bit along the water. Been back and forth with red shirt guy. I have watched his black hat get increasingly encrusted with white salt. He has minimalist shoes on and now he is taking them off due to cramping. He will put his shoes on and pass me, then take them off and I will pass him a couple of more times. The gravel half mile slows him down quite a bit as well. He is nice company and we run together some. When he stops to put his shoes on one more time I pass him for good.

Mile 25 - Really going slow and I have taken short walk breaks off and on. I have been doing 10 minute miles for the last five miles and will have to keep that up to beat four hours. It will be close. It has been more of a gradual slow down due to heat that a hard hitting of the wall. I am out of energy for sure but I can not say exactly when it happened. Pretty optimistic of beating 4 and I predict a 3:58.

Mile 26 - Final "sprint" to the end. Looking for Jody, finally see her. Jennifer Seward sighting. Pathetic kick to the end, I just do not have anything left. Happy to barely beat 4 hours. More happy that I had a fun time and kept a good attitude despite not being near my best today.

I really like this event, but there are other options for this weekend and I think that I will try something else next year. Don't need to decide that right now. I do need to see how I recover as I hope to run the Sound to Narrows 12K on Saturday. I am not registered for it yet. And I have full marathons on June 19 and 25. I will not set out so fast on either of those races.


89th place of 339 finishers

3rd NODM, 66th Marathon or Ultra, 237th race


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