4th time here, but the last time was in 2011. Course change for this year finally eliminates the big loop in Sequim and starts farther out on the North Olympic Discovery paved trail. We will start in Blyn, at the tribal community center, then it is an almost straight west route to Port Angeles. Clouds will burn off early, it will warm up, be very bright and I will get sunburned on my shoulders.
Jody is running the 10K. We had a fun day yesterday hiking to the Sol Duc Falls and enjoying the famous Sol Duc hot springs. Jody gets me to the shuttle bus on time for the long ride to Blyn. Nice indoor waiting area. Chat with Deb and Ginger. Pose for the Maniac photo.
Start - We start on a road and soon narrow down to the trail. There are pacers and I decide to stay behind the 4:00 pacer. I would love to break 4 hours today, but am very unsure of what I can do. After running conservatively in the last few marathons and ultras, I am going to go for it today.
Mile 0.5 - With Ginger. Over a bridge and halfway through it starts to bounce up and down. It does not look like the kind of bridge that would wobble, and it takes me a few steps to realize that it is the bridge and not my legs giving out. It just gets scary with a huge buckle when I am safe on the other side.
Mile 2 - 4:00 group is getting away so I pick up the pace and leave Ginger behind. I won't see her again until she finishes 3 minutes behind me. There is a fairly large group with Josh the 4:00 pacer. I do not like being in so close, so I hang with them about ten feet back.
Mile 3 - Hillier than I expected. Fairly major uphill. Then a steep down to a creek bed and steeply up. Josh's strategy is to run an even pace the whole way. The uphill is so steep that I just can not stay with him. I have to speed up later to get back even. He also will not slow at the aid stations and I like to take my time there. Even when we are just running along at 9:10 pace, it seems fast to me. I am pretty sure that I am setting myself up for a bad second half. This pace right now, while doable, seems a little to hard to maintain for 26 miles.
Mile 5-8 Long straight stretch on the road through Sequim.
Mile 9 - Back to farm land. Lots of sunshine and warm. Pass a pair of bald eagles perched together in a tree. Right turn and some wind in our faces. I suggest to a first time marathoner, Ariel, that she get up closer to the pack and draft us for this section. Another guy in our pack looks young. I ask his age, 16, and I compliment him on his smart running for this first marathon. He is sticking to Josh when I know that he could have gone out faster.
Mile 16 - Still all hanging together in the hot sun. I know that there are 5 miles of torture ahead and then 5 easy miles. For the first steep creek bed I charge ahead of the group on the downhill to put a little time in the bank for the immediate uphill. It is very steep down and hard to run effectively. I do get ahead but halfway up the hill I am pretty much walking and Josh comes prancing past. He says that I will catch up to him, but alas I am starting to struggle.
Mile 18 - I have been fighting to catch up to 4:00. I really have tried. But tightening legs and a little nausea are slowing me down. My head is a little fuzzy and I have this fear that if I really push it I could end up on the ground. There is still far to go. I remember 2011, falling apart right here as well. MM1 and MM111 passed me here. I had given up on a 4:00 that day, but rallied later and finished in 3:59. So I should not quit quite yet. I struggle on.
Mile 20.5 - The final and steepest creek crossing. After the twisty uphills of miles 18-20, I am really feeling it and I walk much of the uphill out of the creek. It should get easier from here.
Mile 21- The nice long downhill, but I am too out of it to really enjoy it. Inner thighs are tight. I am starting to pass more and more half marathon walkers. I am taking walk breaks myself but at times I get into a nice slow running groove. For every marathoner that is passing me, I am passing about ten halfers, so it is not as depressing as it could be.
Mile 23 - Long view along the coast to the finish line. I pass the 16 year old who is walking. Leapfrog another guy who started out very fast and is having an epic crash. Ariel catches up to me. The hills did her in too but now she has rallied. As I continue having to take short walk breaks she will finish strong, three minutes ahead of me. The final miles are a mix of suffering with companions and enjoying the scenery. Another bald eagle. I am also working hard, just not moving very fast.
Mile 25 - The 4:10 pacer catches me. I ask her what took her so long. I am able to run with her for about a quarter of a mile, then I really need a short break. I still have hopes of beating 4:10 as I work out the last mile.
Mile 26.2 - 4:10 slips away, but the crowd at the finish encourages me and I finish in good spirits. 26.12 on the GPS. I had been careful the whole way to run the tangents. I wish that I could have been faster but I am OK with this time. It is my fastest marathon in a year. Now to rest up, I am registered for the Green River Marathon in 6 days. I will relax and run a slow one there for sure.
Marathon or ultra#111