Tuesday, March 13, 2012

3/11/12 Redmond Watershed Preserve Trail Marathon

I feel like over the past two years I have found a reasonable level of marathon insanity, at least what is working for me.  That is to run a marathon about once every three weeks.  I get a week to take it easy and recover, a week and a half to run harder in training and race shorter distances, and then a couple of easy or rest days before the next marathon.  With a marathon ever three weeks I do not have to do any long training runs, each marathon experience is training or maintaining endurance for the next one.  I will still run marathons on back to back weekends if I really want to do both races but the 2-4 week spacing has been more sustainable and I have been injury free for a while.  Seven plus years of over 100 miles each month.  Race times seem stable too.  A few months back I was planning my schedule and had a long gap between the Wooley Trail Marathon and the Gorge Waterfall 50K in late March so I needed to find something to race, otherwise I may have to go for a long training run.  The Watershed Preserve race was the easiest and cheapest option to fill that gap.  I have raced here three times previously and I know that I will enjoy the trails and low key mostly Marathon Maniac crowd.  Any time between 4:20 and 4:40 will be fine, previously my times here have been between 4:25 and 4:38.  I am not going to push hard, just get in the miles and a good long workout.

This race is actually now called the North West Trail Runs Spring Run for Fun, but for now I will go with the old name.  The course is different with four loops instead of three.  It is a lollipop with two out and backs that the half and full will do.  The five mile and ten mile racers run the lollipop without the out and backs.  Two aid stations on the course so I do not need to carry my fuel belt.  I do take one small bottle of fluids and stuff it in my jacket pocket.  It is about 40 degrees and gray.  The rain will hold off until we are done and the weather will not be bad, just cool with dampness in the air.

Loop 1 (1:04)
I think that 19 of the 21 marathoners take the early start.  8:30AM is not so early, and is better than starting at 9:30AM.  We did lose an hour sleep with daylight savings starting today.   I try to get in the back but most people insist on starting behind me.  After the traditional speech about the course, the confidence ribbons and the horses we go off at 8:32AM.  Small crowd and nobody is super excited, so with the mostly double wide trail it is easy to get into the desired pace.  The trail gets real muddy in bits, then hits some hills that are steeper than I remember.  After mile 1 there is the first out and back with a hill in the middle.  Now a flatter part but this section is rocky and hard in places.  I am still warming up and don't feel so good but pass Maniac Robert anyway.  I have been struggling with cold symptoms in the past couple of days and now can only hope that it does not affect my running.  Pigtails is next in line and if passing Robert was foolish, passing Pigtails would be an exceptionally idiotic move.  I stay a good 20-30 feet behind her, watch which side of the trail she runs on and follow suit.  The middle section of the loop is very runnable and includes a long gentle downhill.  The last two miles are more the the first, muddier and somewhat hilly.  With 58 minutes on my watch I realize that the 9:30 AM start is happening right now.  I am on the return part of the course, so I expect a horde of runners to come crashing towards me soon.  Eventually they come, about 100 strong.  Most stay single file on my left but a few have to duck out of the way as I come along.  A few minutes later I have completed the first lap.

Loop 2  (1:06)
Pigtails is gradually pulling away and that is fine.  At about mile 1.5 I reach the turn around of the first out and back and see that Robert is right behind me.  From looking at the list of entrants prior to the race I knew that he and I were the only two in our 40-49 age group.  In my previous two marathons I have come in 7 out of 7 and 3 out of 3 in my age group.  He passes me and it looks like I will be 2 of 2 this time.  At least he passed me early and really I was expecting it.  Now I am feeling well and enjoying the day.  Heading back to the end of the loop, at what seems like the most narrow part of the trail, I am suddenly stopped by seven horses and riders approaching.  They are all friendly and tell me I can keep moving but I do so cautiously.  Two more riders are a little farther back and also cause me to stop and then walk past, giving them as wide a berth as possible.  I figure that it cost me a minute, but it was a nice diversion.

Loop 3 (1:08)
Trail is muddier from all the runners, horses and multiple loops.  First section hills are getting steeper and longer.  Rocky section is rockier.  Flat and fast part is still nice.  The final two miles are a drag up, and down, but not so bad.  The sun almost makes and appearance.

 Loop 4  (1:13)
I check in after finishing the third loop and try to fill my fluid bottle.  I can not get the top of the juice pitcher to turn and have to ask for help.  I also hesitate about what food to grab, finally settling on some M&Ms and some sort of squishy candy gel thing.  At the middle aid station I also fumble with the fluids.  I pour from two paper cups some liquid that looks like Heed but I soon learn is Mountain Dew.  I don't want to waste it, but I also really do not want to drink this stuff at this point in the race.  The aid station volunteer encourages me to dump it and fill up with the right fluids.  I do so and thankfully my stomach cooperates for the whole race today.  The two aid station delays are minor but make my final loop time look worse that it was.  I slow for sure, but never hit the wall.  A few longer walk breaks on the uphills, but I can push and run strong if I want to.  There is no one behind me who can pass me, so I just ease on to the finish getting in the long run that I needed.

After the race I changed into dry clothes and grabbed a little food.  Hot chocolate was nice.  Talk a bit with Van, Robert, Jill and Leslie.  After I left it dawned on me that I was in some amazing company.  I just had to check the stats and in fact the five of us have a combined 1,006 marathons or ultras completed.  I was the rookie by far in that group.

6th of 21
Marathon or Ultra #80, Watershed Preserve Marathon #4

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