Monday, February 20, 2012

2/18/12 Woolley Trail Marathon

Sitting in the car with Jody, wondering if this is such a good idea.  It is very dark and the wind lashed rain is splattering heavily.  Good thing we brought trash bags to wear over our jackets just in case.  About ten minutes before the 7AM race start the grey skies start to lighten and the rain begins to die down. It is barely a drizzle when we set out for a long out and back course.

Jody is running the half marathon and I will do the full.  Although it is a trail run, it is a very flat and wide trail that will be easy to keep a steady pace on.  My last couple of marathons have not gone so well, with me hitting the wall and floundering for too many miles at the end.  Today I want to go out slower and try to have a strong finish.  More about having a negative split than trying to beat 4 hours.  Oh and I just learned that I will be running the Boston Marathon this year, so all other races until then become much less important and will be used as training runs to get me to Boston in reasonable shape and with no injuries.  I will not run through any pain in the coming weeks.  With this long out and back course and having Jody here it makes for a good plan to run the first 6.55 miles with her.  Then she will turn around and I can pick up the pace if I feel like it.

Start to mile 6.55 ( 1:05:42) - Half, Full and 50K start at the same time.  With only about 100 total (and some taking an hour early start when the weather was the most miserable), we spread out quickly.  It is very gusty at times both in our face and at our backs.  Run with Maniac Deb for a couple of minutes, then Maniac Jeff.  But mostly it is just Jody and I.  We enjoy the farm animals and odors. Tiny pebble gets into my shoe and will roll around in there for the next 4 hours.   First aid station at mile 4ish.  Now a section of trail that has been recently flooded out but it is not hard to navigate.  Jody has no trouble maintaining a 10 minute mile and we get to the aid station/half turn around at 1:05.  Jody will maintain that pace on the way back and be very pleased with her race as she should be.

Mile 6.55 to 13.1 (1:00:32) - I leave the aid station and head out a little faster.  Nice view of the Skagit River.  More farmland.  A dog chases me for a bit but is not very threatening.  Early starters and fast runners heading back toward me, but there is plenty of room on the trail to let them go by.  I am running by myself and maintaining a steady pace.  Now the rain starts to pick up.  I make it to the Marathon turn around and thank Betsy and Matt for staffing it.  I am glad that I am running and staying warm enough, rather than standing around in this cold wet and I really appreciate all of the volunteers.  It was 39 degrees at the start and will be 41 by finish time.

Mile 13.1 to 19.65 (59:56) - Heading back and feeling fine.  Very gradually catch up to and pass three runners.  I know that I am running an even pace and I do not want to look at my watch so often but I am curious as to how far I have gone, there being no mile markers.  I make up a little game. On this long straight trail I can often see far ahead.  I estimate the distance to some landmark far ahead. "That big tree looks like it is a half mile away", although I am pretty sure it is father than that.  I reach it and see that a bridge looks to be over a quarter of a mile ahead, but I add a quarter mile to the tally.  When my tally reaches 4.5 miles from the turn around I finally look at my GPS watch and am pleased to see that I have gone 5.3 miles.  Just a mile to that piece of trail along the river and then the half turn around aid station.  Just before the aid station I stop to tie my shoe which seems loose.  Two of the runners I had passed zoom on by me.

Mile 19.65 to 26.2 (1:01:33) - I fill my gatorade bottle and take a few steps on this last leg of the race but realize that I tied my shoe way too tight.  I have to stop to loosen it up. But now I am running again. Somewhere past mile 20 I realize that this will be a good one today.  Although my two shirts, hat and rain jacket are saturated with pounds of rain water and although I am carrying my fuel belt adding more weight, I feel like I am running normally and with restraint.  No nausea either.  I have had no gels, just a couple of fig newtons, but less fuel than usual.  Hopefully I will not crash due to lack of energy but right now I feel great.  This time in the marathon, miles 18-24 get so exciting with each step that I do not tire.  Of course it is always great fun to cross the finish line, or to pass people, or to run past scenery; but this feeling that is so rare, to be strong into the 20s is one of the best.   What I need to do now is to just hold the pace and not fret about the miles.  There is still a long way to go and I could use a diversion.  Gradually I catch back up to the guy and instead of passing him, I run with him, making small talk.  I don't want to be the guy that talks your ear off so I just make a few comments and ask a few questions and he talks a bit.  The diversion works great for me and before I know it we are at the aid station with just over 4 miles to go.  Now I am back on my own.  Two of the 50K runners blow by me.  I walk for a few steps at one road crossing just to take a drink but other than that I will not take any walk breaks.  At about mile 24.5 it starts to get difficult.  Well there is not much farther to go, I can tough this out.  I think that I have a chance to beat 2 hours for the second half and I can see the finish line in the distance with 3 minutes to get there.  But it is so far away.  I just can not get there in time.  But I do finish with a strong negative split and no pains so I am very happy.  Nice finishers coin too.  I would have liked to stay around for some food camaraderie and watch other finishers come in, but as soon as I stop running, the shivering starts.  I get a quick change of clothes and warm up soon enough, but for the next hour I will be hit with the shivers every once in a while.  Sopping wet and muddy, but what do you expect for February?  Nice low key event that I would like to run again.

14th of 40
Race #263 Marathon or Ultra#79

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