Monday, February 16, 2015

2/14/15 Woolley Trail Marathon

My third time here, 6th annual event.  Best weather by far.  Stayed in Bellingham with my Valentine, so it was easy to get to the 9AM start.  Maniac friends that I could run with, but with the 50Ks and trail marathons I have not had a good 26.2 mile course in a while. This is trail, but nice crushed gravel and very flat.   I will run my own pace and see what happens and run with someone if it is meant to be.  I would like to see how long I can hold a 4 hour pace and then how well I can keep moving when I do slow down.  More of a test to see how far I am from 4 hours, I am not really expecting to be there yet.

Start - Nice to see Tracy, Mica, Dan and Suzanne.  I could end up running most of the race with any of them.  I do start off with Tracy.  After about two miles I move ahead, maintaining my 9:10/mile pace.  It feels fine, but faster than I know I should be going.

Mile 3 - Bald eagle in a tree, not so high up, right along the trail.

Mile 5 - Here is that little muddy section from previous years.  RD Terry had said that there was about two inches of water a few days ago.  I have run this course twice before and this section always has some mud.  But my oh my, this year it is bad.  There is a much longer section with super MUD on the side and a clear shin deep creek in the middle.  I am following a woman along the mud way when a runner comes splashing through the water.  My feet are soaked and heavy with mud and water after this section and I decide that on the way back I will just go through the water.  At least my shoes will be cleaner.

Susan Hui brought her camera so here are a few photos of the trail:

Other than this one section, there was no mud.  Some small branches a rocks to look out for, but very runnable the whole way.   Most of the trail is open to the farmlands, but I like this tree lined section:

 Mile 6.6 - Half marathoners turn around at the second aid station.  My socks and shoes are wet but feel OK.  Course thins of runners and I head out along the Skagit River.  Pigtails is about a quarter mile ahead of me and I ever so slowly gain on her.

Mile 11.5 - Feeling good and still approaching Pigtails.  Rather than run right behind her, and not wanting to pass this master of pacing, I decide to catch up and run to the marathon turn around with her.  I assume that she is doing the 50K, which she is.  MM27 was one of the first Maniacs, whose career I followed and inspired my to step it up and see what I could do.  It has been almost ten years now and today it is a treat to be able to run aside her for a mile.  We cross Highway 20 together.  I slow a bit before the turn around, to get organized and so my split time will not be so horrible.  At a 9:12 pace, 2:02 for the half.  Pigtails goes on and I turn around at mile 13.1

Mile 13.2 - Dan and Suzanne right behind me.  They will stalk me down but it will take a while.  Tracy not far behind.  "False Dan" far ahead of me and I gradually gain on him.  A bit of a head wind, but nothing too bad.  Prez and Krez sighting.

Mile 17 - I like the long straight sections where I can see so far ahead.  Tell myself to not look at the distance until I get up to some landmark and it must be more than a half mile away.  Realize that my ankle/foot is not giving me any problems.  Really happy about that.

Mile 19 - Start to tire.  Pace is gradually slowing but not so bad.  I passed one guy who was falling apart, now I catch "False Dan"  At the aid station I look back and see the real Dan, and Suzanne are close behind.  I keep running, to the mud.  Plow right through the water and it is so cold.  It feels great on the feet.  I could really stomp through it, lifting my knees, but instead I take my time and keep moving as I have been.  Out with clean feet and back on the trail.  My socks feel a little bunched up in the front.  If this were a 100 mile race I would want to change them for sure, but I am almost done now.  Post race I will find three small blisters on the tips of toes.

Mile 22 - Aid station.  Ditch that extra water bottle from my pocket and just go with my small one.  Long straight open sections and I am counting down the miles, but trying to not look at my watch too much.  Able to run a full mile, then a very short walk just to have a drink and another S!Cap.  I have felt a little fuzzy headed in the second half and have taken more salt pills that I thought I would need.  They really do help and very quickly too.  Back to my slow run.

Mile 24 - Dan and Suzanne finally pass me. I try to keep up, but just can not hold one.  I am not walking other than to have a drink, just my running keeps getting slower.  I find a nice short stride and everything feels good for mile 24 of a race.  I know that if I go faster I will fall apart, so I am content to jog it in like this.  Wondering if I can beat 4:10.

Mile 26.2 - 26.23 on the GPS.  4:11:36 on the watch.  Five minutes faster than last year. No real wall, just a gradual slowing and I am happy with the results.  In the second half I passed two people and was passed by two others. 

No post race cold and shivering.  I dry my feet and put on sandals, then hang around for some food and to watch the others come in.  Really nice to sit in the sun and cheer for the finishers.

$20 entry fee, parking at the start, great aid stations.......a great February race option.  Especially if the weather cooperates like it did today.

16th of 55
Race#348, marathon or ultra#121, Woolley Trail Marathon#3

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