Keeping the legacy going, for my 8th year here at this 8th annual event. For a few days before though I did not know if I would make it, and instead of the usual fun time and celebration of fitness this may be more of a therapy run. My brother was killed in a car accident on Wednesday when a minor crash on one side of the highway sent a vehicle across the median grass and straight into my brother's car going the other way. Killed instantly, a great man who will always be missed. When I heard that the service was set for Saturday it meant that there was a chance that I could still race on Sunday if I wanted to. Everyone was supportive, especially Jody. So on Saturday we drove two hours south to Portland. Attended the service and made plans to see family again on Monday. Then the five hour drive north to Bellingham to get to my Father in Law's home by 11PM. Short fitful sleep and then it is time to get to the shuttle bus.
This race is still growing, 372 will finish the full, but over 2,700 in all events. Fortunately they still allow day of race packet pickup. I found my usual parking spot and had my number soon thereafter. On to the bus for a long ride in the dark. Sit with a few friends in the tribal community center. This year the tribe welcomes us with a larger group and they are dressed beautifully.
Not feeling so good. Really tired. Deb says that I don't look so good and that makes me wonder if I am getting sick. I splash water on my face and then head outside a little earlier than I need to. I have no idea how this is going to go, don't care about my time and don't expect to do well. I really want to start slowly and at least have a chance at not melting down too early. It is very foggy and we worry that it will burn off and warm up. No chance of rain, and no wind. Great running conditions.
Start - There are Deb and Margaret. Now I get a wave of emotion. Why right now? Margaret gives me a hug and says "because running is in your soul" Wow that makes sense! Thanks for that! And then we are off, starting very close to the back.
Mile 1 - 10 minutes exactly and this feels like the right pace.
Mile 2 - Move ahead from Deb and Margaret. Quick pee break.
Mile 4 - Meet Maniac Krystal. Very gradually passing folks. No hurry. If the pace drops to 9:50 I slow down, walk through the aid stations, let the average get back to 10:00.
Mile 7 - Having fun with the volunteers. Love these enthusiastic kids! Every year they are the best. I start shouting out for the Bellingham Rangers and they like that. Run side by side with a woman and neither of us says a word for quite a while. I like her pace. We just run and don't talk. Finally something gets us chatting and it is very nice. Just when I tire of the fog and the course along the water, we turn and enter the more open area. "Leg 1 is done"
Mile 9 - Passed that awesome Father/Daughter who I met a few weeks ago in Tacoma. So inspiring. I got a little choked up when I recognized them. But they are fading and I move ahead. Now it is on to the long boardwalk along a wetland. And I have to pee again. I mention this to the person next to me and she says that she has to too. There is no place to hide here, but when we get off the boardwalk finally, lo and behold, there is a port-a potty. I tell her to go first and she does and I realize that I can just duck behind a building here, so I am back running very soon.
Mile 10 - Turn into farm country. Very gradually catching people. Another turn and a strong smell of manure. Not unpleasant to me but I can't help but comment on it. Woman next to me says "Oh I though that was you....just joking" It was funny.
Mile 11- Is this the third or fourth year they have had this version of the course? Either way I only come here once a year but I am feeling like I know very well what is to come. More flat farmland and no wind this year. The short out and back section. I love a little out and back to see who is around. Should be able to see Mount Baker, but for the fog. Amy HW sighting!! So surprising we are past each other before it sinks in. Makes me smile though.
Mile 12.5 - Another potty break? What is going on? At least they are quick. And I must not be dehydrated.
Mile 13.1 timing mat - 2:12:37, lets call it 2:13. 10/mile on the GPS which is reading 13.28 miles. My goal now is to just maintain this as long as I can and pick it up after mile 22 if I feel good.
Mile 14 - Run for a while with a nice guy doing his first marathon. Only stranger that I will tell about losing my brother. And he tells me that he is running in honor of his Father-in Law who recently succumbed to cancer but had been big into marathoning. Really nice mile, then he lets me go ahead. Another aid station (every two miles) and another boost from the kids.
Mile 16 - Long uphill and I feel great. Passing some walkers and slower runners. Get the average pace down to 9:55 but make myself not go any faster. I am not usually so disciplined. I know that the merge is coming and I ask a guy I am with whether he has done this before. I also let it slip that I have a streak of 8 going on. He has run this, is looking forward to the merge and says that we should have picked an easier distance for streaking......he has 17 years in a row at the Vancouver Marathon.
Mile 16.5 - The Halfers are streaming down the hill and we turn to travel together. Some are walking, many are 2-3 abreast and most are going more slowly than me. But it is OK. Instead of weaving around I am able to maintain my pace and pass people when I can. Enough room on the road for all of us.
Mile 18 - Lots of runners and lots of spectators. One sign says "Run now, wine later". I am still feeling really good. At 9:56/mile average and it has never felt too slow, but I still have no trouble holding it. No pains, stomach is fine. Only thing bugging me is my quads. They have been feeling more and more sore. I am regretting running that 10 miler last weekend. But it is not so bad yet.
Mile 19 - We make a turn and I see a sign that says "cookies ahead". I have to go to the other side of the road and there is a table set up. A little girl has fresh baked, still warm chocolate chip cookies, each one in a little baggie. I take one and thank her. Start running again, take a bite and it is so good and I get all choked up. Almost sob, then in a few seconds I am better. Now another little kid holding a sign. I can't figure out what it is at first so I stop. Still not sure but I think it was all footprints done with paint. Abstract and beautiful. I tell her that I love her sign and I run on. Now I start to realize that I may be in the best place in the world right now. People of all ages out on the closed streets on a beautiful day (fog is lifting) helping and encouraging each other. Wonderful. We need more of this.
Mile 20 - On to more of a major road and we are asked to stay on the sidewalk. Meet a first time marathoner and just after we introduce each other and I am hoping to pace her to a strong finish, she falls back.
Mile 22 - Passing on the sidewalk is not great but it helps me with my patience. Finally we get the road again. Now a steep uphill and I catch up to Mike. I give him a push on the back to help him up the hill, then I move ahead. This late in the race I am really getting excited to see if I can finish strong. With each mile marker, I celebrate with a Gu Chomp and enjoy the fact that I have not slowed yet. Pass by the finish area and see runners heading in to beat 3:45. But I still have the two miles on the gravel, the steep hill and then two miles on the road before I am done.
Mile 23 - Gravel path is good. Oh but some medics are tending to a halfer on the ground. I can see that she is talking, I think she will be fine, but it makes me sad. I look at the person next to me and ask how she is feeling. Then we pass another runner down and getting attention from medics. It is very rare for me to see that in a race.
Mile 24 - Made it to the waterfront. The boardwalk over the water. I see ships and think of Steve. Now the turn and the last steep hill. It is shorter and easier than I remember. I am running strong up a steep hill at mile 24!! Aid station, the first bit of water poured on my head and a celebratory Gu Chomp.
Mile 26 -Still passing people and no one has passed me since I can remember. Looks like I can't beat 4:20 but I will still have a strong negative split. Cruise on in to the finish.
Mile 26.2 - Done and feeling good. A little faster than the past two years. And not too emotional. The weather is so nice that I stay for almost an hour cheering runners on at the finish line. Another great Bellingham Bay Marathon is complete and I love this race more and more.
The chip split times tell the story: at the half I was in 273rd place. At 19.6 miles I was in 224th place. I finished in 200th place. I might be able to figure out how many halfers I passed in the last 7 miles but that will take some calculating.
For the best finish time I should have gone out a little faster today. I used to have a good idea of what my finish time should be, now it seems to be random. Much more fun to err on the conservative side and get that rare negative split.
200th place of 372
Race # 339
Marathon # 116
Bellingham Bay Marathon #8