Sunday, July 24, 2011

7-24-11 Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon

I have fond memories of doing this race three years ago, running strong and setting a PR of 3:48. Hoping to do even better today. A little worried about the weather forecast, with hot temperatures predicted, but not much I can do about that. I carpool up with Ron and Jennifer and enjoy their company. Get to the bus in plenty of time for the ride to the top of Snoqualamie Pass. It seems cool here, but in the 45 minutes before the start I can feel it warming up. Race is sold out, but bib pick up and restrooms are no problem. They have a 7AM start and an 8AM start and I think that many runners did take the early start, to beat the heat. Getting up at 4:10AM seemed early enough so we are starting at 8AM.

Start - No one seems to want to line up at the front, so I end up close to the start line. We set off right on time. Very short out and back in the bright sunshine.

Mile 0.3 - Sunglasses come off and the Knuckle lights come on. Fun Father's Day present, this is my first time using them. They cast a wide swath of light and serve me well.

Mile 1 - Mile marker is a chalk line in the dark tunnel. Thanks to Matt and Betsy and RD Brian for putting this race on and for providing mile markers on a trail race. The tunnel is a very unique place to run. I enjoy the chance to do this, but I am also watching the light at the end of the tunnel slowly grow, and I look forward to getting out. It is humid in here and at some places there is water dripping from the ceiling. One large drop of water splashes down and gets me right in the eye.

Mile 2.7 - Out of the tunnel and it feels much cooler to be out. Knuck Lights off and into the drop bag that will be sent to the finish line. Soon it warms up, but very runnable, for now. GPS is off from the mile markers by about three tenths of a mile. I settle in for a nice downhill run at a comfortably fast pace.

Mile 6 - Getting warmer. I have been cruising along at a steady pace that will get me a PR. Bob Dolphin sighting, he started at 7AM. Someone is close behind me but not passing. When I run the tangents on this rocky dirt road, she is crossing over and staying right on my tail. The sound is more annoying than anything else. Crunch crunch on the gravelly trail. The course is rockier than I remember, sharp little rocks that I will not trip on, but will wear out my feet long before this race is over.

Mile 9 - Warmer. At an aid station I pass a runner who had been ahead of me but is now dousing himself in a small waterfall. Since I am carrying my fuel belt with water and gatorade I do not need to stop at every aid station and I am able to get away from the woman who was tailing me for three miles. Somewhere around here I apparently ran past a bear sitting in a tree along the trail. Lots of people saw it, but not me.

Mile 16 - Alternating sunshine with shady spots. Really hot in the sun and I have done very little warm weather running this year. Here I realize that my right knee which had been hurting a little after last weeks race is doing great. No aches or pains, just getting sluggish from the heat.

Mile 19 - My pace is slowing and I know now that I will not PR. To mark the moment I walk long enough to grab a ripe salmonberry off the trail edge. Back to running and at least beat 4 hours.

Mile 22 - Getting very hot and difficult now. It is a different sort of tired. Not the typical wall, just a gradual slow down that I believe is due to the heat. The problem is that I keep getting slower and slower. At this point I start to doubt that I will beat 4 hours. Cold water on my head at an aid station instantly turns warm as it trickles off my hair and down my neck.

Mile 23 - Still passing some 7AM starters, but also getting passed by 8AM runners. Not as many as I expected though, perhaps I am not the only one wilting. Catch up to Monte. He encourages me to keep going. At this point though, even though I have eased way back on the effort, it really is a struggle to even shuffle/run. Now this has become a training run, to just keep moving, but it is very very difficult. One of the hardest races I have done in a long time. A couple of times today I have had some light headedness and nausea and I made the easy decision to back off the pace and not end up needing medical aid. Sure I would like to be faster and there is a time to push my limits, but not today.

Mile 26.2 - I can see the finish now and am so glad for this to be over. Someone has run out to encourage another runner who is just behind me. I decide that I have been passed enough for one race and do not let him catch me. Not much of a sprint, but I do get in before him. I forget to stop my watch at the finish and will not know my official time for a while.

Update 7-26: Official time is posted and I added photos by Jennifer Seward. Thanks Jennifer!!


119th place of 287

Race#244, Marathon or Ultra#69


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