5AM, dark, rain pounding on the roof. I don't really want to get out of bed. 7AM, dark, rain splattering on the roof of my car. I don't really want to go get my race number. But I do. Back to the car to get organized and wait for daylight and the 8AM start. My sixth time here so I know the routine, and I have described the course previously.
Start - Yay, the rain has either stopped or is very light. Mostly Maniacs here and I know many of them as usual. We set out on the rougher trail, dodging a few puddles. I stay near the back as this is a good way to hold my pace early.
Mile 0.5 - MM111 sighting, playing the human traffic cone, at the turn around. Thanks volunteers! RD Van (pigtails), Jill, and others. Back to the start line, watching my footing and happy to see myself at about a 10:20 mile.
Mile 1.5 - Past the finish line and onto the real trail. Plenty of room now to run how I feel. In fact we are already getting spread out. Some super fast runners here, and some slower ones too. I am not with anyone and free to run as I please. Lately I have enjoyed starting slower and being able to hold on better in the last miles. I should not go faster than 9:30/mile, but I feel good and soon that is my pace.
Mile 2.5 - Catch up to Rikki. I have not run with her much but now we do. We chat and it is a nice time. This takes us all the way to the first aid station.
Mile 6 - After the aid station I can see that Rikki is all warmed up and ready to go a little faster than I should. We are with Dean now and I let the two of them go on ahead. For the rest of the race I will see Rikki's pink fluorescent Defiance vest, get smaller and smaller as she gets farther ahead, then come back towards me, off and on. That vest is one bright spot I can focus on, on this drab day. Raining a little bit more now.
Mile 8 - The long "lame" section. River crossings are done. Now it is paved and along route 169. With the rain, the cars are so much noisier. I am running fine and gradually catching up to "Crockpot". I am going a little faster than I should, so I make the tactical decision to catch her and then stay with her for a while and see how that goes. We end up spending the next ten miles together. Its a really good time. I don't know her well, but have followed her running career for a few years now. She has about double the number of marathons as I do and her finish times are close to mine. Today we click off the miles in a clock steady pace. Surprise, new this year, a staffed aid station. I will not have to carry this second small water bottle the whole way.
Mile 13 - MM#1 Prez sighting
Mile 13.6 - The turn around. 2:08 on the watch.
Mile 15 - A little heavier rain. Some headwind, but not too bad. Half drowned worms trying to cross the paved trail.
Mile 18 - I am fast through the aid station and leave Crockpot behind. She is doing the 50K so I was going to leave her soon anyway. Pass Rikki and Dean too.
Mile 20 - Now the heavy rain. I have been slowing a little. Mostly from walking a little more as I try to consume gels, S!Caps, and drink enough water. Tiring a bit, but not so bad. I do now walk to put on my stylish trash bag. Not sure I need it. It is warmer and not as windy as my last marathon, where I really did have to be careful about hypothermia. Crockpot, Rikki and Dean pass me as I gear up. Rikki is taking more walk breaks than I am, but when she runs, she is faster than me, so we stay close but not often together. Push on to the last aid station.
Mile 21.3 - Aid station. Thanks Betsy and Matt!! 3:27 on my watch. I remember that last year I finished in 4:27, so all I need to do is run the last five miles in an hour to beat last year's time. That should be easy, if I do not hit the wall. It is good to finally have a goal for this race.
Mile 23 - Mostly behind Rikki and Dean. I would like to catch and stay with them. I see them walking the bridges and I gain on them, but then I get tired legs and just want to walk the bridges myself. Happy that I am able to run for long sections, though my pace has really slowed. I know that if I just don't walk too much I will beat 4:27. Every mile closer to the finish and I am sure that my goal is too easy. It is good to have something to push for as it is a real mental game now. I do the math and maybe I can beat 4:20?
Mile 25.5 - No mile markers so I am going off my GPS and I can't remember if the course is a little long or not. I think that I have passed all the landmarks and there is not much farther to go. Tired, but able to trudge along, I finally catch Rikki and Dean. I feel a little cheap passing them. For so many miles I followed them, hoping to stay even and just cross the finish line together. I pictured myself being a gentleman and slowing at the very end so Rikki could place ahead of me. But now I cruise past them, don't look back and don't let up the pace. Getting under 4:20 would be really awesome today and I still have a chance.
Mile 26 - I think this is the last bend in the trail. Then I can see, through the trees, a car crossing the bridge that is past the finish line, so I know that I am very close. Make the slight turn and I can see the finish. I watch as the clock ticks past 4:20.
Mile 26.2 - 26.15 on the GPS. Happy to be done and seven minutes faster than last year. No pains, but both calf muscles start cramping a little after I stop running. I really want to watch the others come in, but now I start shivering. Put on dry clothes. Get some of Betsy's famous soup and a slice of pizza. I am still cold though and don't want to get these clothes wet, so I head home soon after finishing.
This race ends the year on a good note. I have work to do to get back under 4 hours and every marathon continues to be an adventure so I hope to keep on running them.
19th of 74
Marathon or ultra#119
Pigtails Flat Ass #5