|Marathon Maniacs before the start|
151 in the 10K, 99 in the half marathon and 39 starters in the marathon. The other races start 15 minutes after us and the 10K has a shorter loop, but mostly the same as us.
Loop 1- 6.55 miles (80 minutes 30 seconds) - Uh oh. I start near the back so as to really go slow and protect the foot as it warms up. I can feel a little nagging in there but not so bad. The pace seems plenty fast though. And soon we are climbing stairs. And up and down and up and up some more. And twisting and turning. When it is flat, it is not flat for long and the single track trail keeps turning sharply. No place to get running. The only aid station (other than at the start/finish) is about 2 miles out. It is after most of the ups and the second "half" is more runnable, but still very twisty. I am finally able to get into a running groove. With the trail so narrow I feel like I am going faster than I am. I know that I am going faster than I should, but I feel fine and my overall pace for this first loop is just under 13 minutes per mile. 80 minutes for the first of 4 loops. I am now thinking that getting in under 6 hours is going to be a challenge. Also wondering if I am racing too much, something has zapped my running energy of late. I will finish as best I can today and then take a break and reduce my mileage some.
Loop 2 - 6.55 to 13.1 miles (1:29) - Second time around the course. I have a better feel for where I am going, though the course is well marked. Still being passed by speedy half marathoners. I wish that the trail were wider so that I do not have to step off it and stop to let fast runners and recreational mountain bikers pass. The first two miles up the hill really zap me. There will be many more walk breaks now. In fact I am feeling hot and tired and am slowing for sure. Not having much fun. As I finish this loop I consider dropping out. This course is much tougher than I expected. I think about a goal that I have, of reaching marathon #100 by the Tacoma Marathon in May. If I drop now, I will just have to find another race to fit in. I might as well keep going however long this takes.
Loop 3 (1:48) - So hard. It takes forever to get to the aid station. They are so supportive out there but again I am not so sure that I will see them for the last loop. It is really warm now and I am going through fluids so quickly. I am pouring some water from my bottle onto my head to cool down. Now I find a runner laying down on the side of the trail. He looks fine and when I ask if he is OK, he says that he is done. Does that mean that he finished the race and came back up here to sit in the shade (3 miles from the finish)? No, he just can not run anymore. I tell him to walk on in to the finish. A few minutes later Maniac Monte will find him and make him get up and walk it in. Not much farther along I find another guy stopped and bent over vomiting. Again he says that he is OK and I take him at his word, but now I have second thoughts. Maniac Deb will find this guy in a few minutes and will give him the last of her water and walk him in to the finish, taking a DNF for herself. Both of these guys were young and fit looking, but neither were carrying any fluids. I myself was almost out of water by the time I passed the second guy. I will be out of fluids with a mile to go in this loop, but will make it in to the aid station OK.
Loop 4 (1:58) - My slowest 26.2 mile marathon to date was the Mountain Marathon but it looks like today I will be even slower. At least that race had long sections of straight trail or dirt road. Today there was just no place get into a rhythm. And now I am all out of energy. Walking up the steps. Now on a boardwalk bridge I start to get light headed. I have felt this before late in marathons and the S!Caps usually help. I pop my third, should have taken it earlier. Now I think about sitting down on these steps. I could just sit here for a while and recover and then walk the half mile back to the finish and take a DNF. Instead I keep moving, mostly walking. Reach the little loop and I will admit that the thought, but not real temptation, to cheat does come to mind. I consider it briefly but choose to complete the whole course. Eventually Maniac Monte catches up to me and we run/jog/shuffle and swing our arms together for a mile. Monte is one tough persistent marathoner and friendly guy. I am usually quite a bit faster than him, but he sure is showing me how to get it done today. He says to watch out because usually after him come the sweepers. There was a 7.5 hour time limit listed for this race and I am sure that I can beat that. But there was no cut off time given for the last loop and two very experienced Manics were dismayed when they were told that they would not be allowed to finish after completing the third loop.
When Monte was behind me, but catching up, I was able to push on and keep moving fairly well. Once I let him get ahead of me, I just could not keep up. I saw this on the previous loop. Heidi from Olympia was chasing me for a while and I seemed to run much better until she passed me. Left by myself I tend to really slow down and walk for way too long.
I make it to the aid station and am in the best spirits of anytime I have been there today. Guzzle two cups of cola and fill both bottles with water. Only 4.5 miles to go now. I stay way too long at the station but get moving and am able to get into a slow jog. Now another runner is catching up. I do not know her, but again I am able to push onward better with someone tailing me. She follows for about two miles, walking when I do. Eventually I pretty much make her pass me. She said that she liked following me. If the trail had been wider, it would have been nice to actually run with someone, and I am sure that I would have been faster.
Three miles to go and I can feel a blister on the side of my right foot, near the back. I rarely have blister trouble and never in that spot. If it was earlier in the race I would go change socks or something. But I am almost done. The blister slows me even more but there is nothing I can really do about it out here. When I know that I have two miles to go I celebrate by pouring some water on my head and not conserving it any longer. Drink up and keep moving. Satisfaction as I cross the finish and some disbelief that it was so hard. Call home to find that Jody was not worried about me and that it is fine that I will be about two hours later than I expected.
In summary - My worst marathon time yet. I will attribute it to a hot day, a vicious trail, a hurt foot, blister, some lightheadedness and a general sluggishness of late. So glad that I did finish and really I would not have chosen to do anything else with my time today. I do not feel a need to come back here again, but I won't rule it out either.
24th of 33 with at least 8 DNF or drop to the half
89th marathon or ultra