Monday, September 26, 2011

9-25-11 Bellingham Bay Marathon

This continues to be my favorite marathon. Not that I always run well here, but I can not blame the RD for that.  Everything about this race is well done.  Some complained about the new $5 charge for day of race packet pick up, but with almost 3,000 participants they need to encourage folks to get their number the day before.  At least day of race pick up is still an option.  We are staying with Jody' parents and she is running the half marathon. My only complaint this year occurred at the Expo the day before the race.  A large projection on the wall was showing a video tour of the race.  I overheard two people who were watching comment on how we will be on the trail and have to run up the super steep California Street hill.  "Oh no", I had to correct them, "They are showing the video from last year. This is the Bellingham Bay Marathon where the course is radically changed every year"  I will miss the long dirt trail part and maybe even the big hill, but the fifth edition of the course, for the fifth running of this event, is really great.  Flatter and faster, though that does not concern me so much, but still very scenic.  About seven miles along the bay, ten miles of rural roads and farmland with a short out and back, then a merge with the large group of half marathoners who will be at their mile four, through residential streets and some park trails, down to the waterfront and back to the downtown finish.

Start - Loud wind gusts kept me up last night.  At 5:45AM as I boarded the shuttle bus it was raining pretty hard.  So although it is warm in the 60s, I will bring my Maniac jacket and a large trash bag to wear as a rain coat if needed.  The rain stops by 7AM but the wind persists. So nice to have the indoor area at the Lummi Reservation.  Warm welcome with drumming from the Lummi's is so cool, just like last year.  Great to see many Marathon Maniac friends.  Eventually we head out to the start line and the race starts right on time.

Mile 0.25 - Downhill but into the fierce wind.  A hat comes right off a woman in front of me and the wind is so strong that the hat just smashes into my chest and stays there.  I am able to hand it back to the runner.

Mile 0.5 - Left turn and now running along the bay.  Gulls in the air are facing us and making no progress as they hover in the wind.  Gusty wind is mostly slanted toward us but generally at our backs.  Feels great.  I settle in and make myself not go out too fast.  I really want to run a negative split and I will not try to PR.  Hope to run the first half in 1:58 and then go faster after that.

 Mile 8 - Rain is holding off, jacket is tied around my waist.  Away from the water now.  Feeling good.  In fact I need to rank my feelings on a scale of 1-10 and I give it an 8.  The sticker on my bib identifies me as a subject in a psychology research project.  A professor at WWU is collecting data on marathon runners and I thought it would be fun to participate.  I will learn the actual focus of the project later for now I am just to answer some questions.  I filled out an online survey a week before the race and I will fill out another survey later today. At three points in the race someone will run along side me and ask me three questions that I will answer on a score of 1-10.  How good do I feel?  How bad do I feel? How likely am I to run another marathon?  The last question may skew the results and there are a couple of other Maniacs doing the survey too.  I am already registered for six future marathons, so I will answer that with a 10 each time.  At mile 8 I feel good at an 8, and feel bad at a 2.  I think that I may have answered 7 for feeling good but I had just passed through an aid station.  Each aid station is staffed with these amazing kids who are so supportive and fun.  They give me a boost every time and are one of the things that I love about this race.  It truly stands out from other races.

Mile 10 - new section of course and I like it.  Very Skagity if you know what I mean.  Flat farmland.  But now we are turning into the wind.

Mile 11 - Strong wind in my face and a long straightaway.

Mile 12 - Short out and back section.  Grandma Lee sighting, she is going really fast. 

Mile 13.1 - Hit the mark just under 1:58, right where I want to be.  Now I will pick up the pace just a little.  Go about ten seconds per mile faster than I had been, nothing to dramatic.  But it is another long straight shot right into the wind.

Mile 15 - Near the edge of the road with a steep ditch.  Blast of wind knocks me closer to the edge and I have to twist my leg a little to keep from falling down the embankment.  A minute later the wind actually almost blows a contact lens out of my eye.  I get it back in place OK though.  Now my right ankle which has been giving me some trouble for a few weeks starts to flare up.  Discomfort bordering on mild pain off and on.    At this slightly faster pace I am passing some runners.  Very gradually picking them off and wondering if they will catch back up if/when I slow later on.

Mile 16 - Feel good=5, feel bad = 5, will race again = 10.

Mile 17 - Merge with the halfers.  Wonder if I will see Jody.  But they are going just a little faster than me.  Now I am swallowed up in a much larger race with almost 1,800 participants, compared to 443 in the full who are all spread out at this point.  As I am passed, if I care, I can look to the bib color and see what race the person is in, mostly it will be halfers though.

Mile 20 - Some stomach issues/nausea off and on.  Ankle a little worse and now I am just getting tired.  Pace is slowing.

Mile 22 - Really slowing now and it is just too difficult to keep going at any pace.  Disappointing.  I find a slower groove and stay with that along with some walk breaks, especially when the ankle hurts.  Major shift in focus now, from pacing and trying to have the fastest result, to just keeping up a happy spirit.  More jokes with the spectators and volunteers.

Mile 23 - Along the water and really into the wind again.  On the boardwalk over the water and the wind is so strong it almost stops us a couple of times.  Now up the hill and I am running but so slowly that I get passed by a walker.  Funny.

Mile 24 - Good =1, bad = 9, will I race again = 10.  I must love suffering.

Mile 25 - Tracy Marshall passes me with a smile.  I catch up to Maniac Christopher who I was with at the very start of the race.  He had passed me a while back but now we are struggling along at the same pace.  I decide to just stick with him and we run the final half mile together.

Mile 26.2 - Done.  Horrible second half but I take some solace when I check results and split times and see that many runners who finished around my time also had very bad second halfs.  Still a great race that I will come back to next year.

161 of 443
Race#250, Marathon or Ultra#71, Bellingham Bay Marathon#5

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