Monday, June 15, 2015

6/14/15 Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon

My 5th time here, though it has been a couple of years.  This event now has grown to about 500 runners and sells out on the first day of registration.  I remember not being thrilled with the high registration fee, but that was so long ago I don't miss the money anymore.  I will get a T-shirt, nice medal and bus transportation to the start as well as a bus ride from the finish to the new parking area a couple of miles away.  Aid stations have gotten larger and staffed with volunteers.  Lots of helpful volunteers all over the place and it really is a well done event.

Up at 4AM and out of the house by 4:20.  Gets me to parking and the bus in plenty of time.  Cool at the summit, but I have a winter hat and long sleeves.  As soon as the sun rises above the mountains, it warms right up.  Hat and shirt go in drop bag to the finish.  Maniac Central, most of the cool people are here.

Tracy and I have the same plan, to follow the 3:50 pacer and hold on as long as we can.  I have run conservatively in marathons lately and I think it is time to try to be faster.  I feel like I am in shape to beat 4 hours, maybe do much better.  I won't know unless I try.  I ran 3:48 here one year and that is one of my 3:48 best times.  Tracy needs sub 4 for her BQ so she has real incentive.  We have been very close in times recently, so we will run together to start, but then do our own thing as the race unfolds.

Start- Last time I was here the race was chip timed but only at the finish.  Now I think that we have a new system, it is above us and will scan our bibs, so no mat.  But there is a scanner at the start.  I start my watch right away and it is about 15 seconds to get through the line, so that will hopefully be subtracted for my chip time.  Crowded out and back on the pavement, then dusty, rocky path.  Lisa Woods sighting

Mile 0.5 - Knuckle lights are on and into the tunnel we go.  Hoot for the echo.  Pace is so fast.  Trying to stay with 3:50.  Crowded and dark.  Really have to watch the footing.  Other than here, I have never done anything like this.  Trying to run safely.  Tracy is getting ahead, finishers reflective cape flapping into the dark.  I wait for an opening and move ahead when I can safely do so.

Mile 2 - Behind Tracy but ahead of the 3:50 pacer.  Running way faster than usual, almost out of breath. Maybe it is the altitude, or low levels of oxygen in the tunnel?  The light is getting bigger now but there is still a long way to go.  The light at the end of the tunnel gets bigger and bigger but takes so long to get through.

Mile 3 - Out at last.  Into the bright sun.  Fast transition here.  Knuckle lights off and into the bag that I carried through the tunnel.  Hand off to the the Prez, get a quick cup of water.  Tracy is still ahead but I catch up to her.  Two track dirt road.  Lots of stones in the middle and too many stones in the tracks.  It is really better to stay in a track.  Still crowded but eventually it thins out and we can run side by side.

Mile 5 - Running way too fast.  About 8:35/mile pace.  9:10 is a 4 hour finish.  8:40 is my 3:48 PR, 8:35/mile is a 3:45 finish.  But the 3:45 pacer is way ahead of us, so maybe my watch is off.  Then as the real 3:45 pacer passes us, I realize that I have been following the 3:40 pacer.  3:45 (MM Scott) goes past us quickly and we are left between 3:45 and 3:50.  We probably should slow down and get behind 3:50 since that was our aggressive plan, but we don't.  Running so fast that we can barely talk.  We pretty much just quietly push on.  Gentle downhill the legs are warming up and although it seems fast, it is not hard to go this pace.

Mile 8 - Tracy has to make a quick stop.  We are now averaging 8:31/mile, though still a ways behind the 3:45 pacer.  I slow a little bit and then go faster again.  Tracy does not catch back up and I have no idea how far she has fallen back.

Mile 9 - Sock rubbing on my right big toe.  Its feeling warm and I am probably getting a blister. It is not painful, so I just keep running.

Mile 13 - Take a little walk break and when I reach 13.1 miles I am just under 1:53.  That would mean a PR of 3:46 and I start thinking that it just could happen.  But I am probably fooling myself as there is a long way to go.  And it is getting warmer.

Mile 15 - 8:31/mile pace, catching up to the 3:45 pacer.  But my left foot is starting to hurt.  Plantar pain like I have not had in a few years.  Gradually gets worse.

Mile 16 - Left foot is a real concern now.  Right foot blister is doing fine.  Mostly running alone, friendly people though that I pass or get passed by.  Amazing scenery.

Mile 17 - Left foot has settled down.  Does not hurt nearly as much.  Just a little bother, but very runnable.

Mile 19 - Catch Scott at 3:45 pace.  I am smart enough to not pass him.  Enjoy patches of shade much more than the sun.  Start to tire and let Scott slip ahead.

Mile 21 - Tiring for real now.  Happy to make the turn off the trail.  Jill Hudson sighting, just when I am most discouraged and taking a walk break.  No PR for me today.

Mile 22 - The long flat sunny slog to the finish.  Been calculating that 10 minute miles will get me in at 3:54 and that is what I seem to be doing.  When I run I am going OK, but there are too many short walk breaks.  Leapfrogging others doing the same.  Some folks are really struggling.

Mile 23 - The 3:50 pacer passes me.  Would I be right here now if I had just stayed with him as was planned.  I can not say.  Anyway I just need to keep tromping along and I will have a decent finish time.

Mile 24 - It is warm now, but not oppressive.  Glad that I have the big water bottle and can pour water over my head with it, while drinking at the aid stations.  After a walk break it it harder to get running again.  Legs are stiffening up.

Mile 26 - Under Highway 90 and there is the finish.  Do the best I can to finish strong. Photo by Kay.

Mile 26.2 - 26.23 on the GPS.  Chip time will get me just under 3:55, my 14th fastest marathon.  Second best out of five times on this course.  The volunteer drapes the medal around my neck and then Tracy taps me on the shoulder.  She finished just a few steps behind me and got her BQ with 5 minutes to spare.

Take my time at the finish area.  Fun to recover and relax with fellow finishers.  Kay is here and she can text Jody, so I don't feel like I have to hurry back to my car.  When I do get back to my car I peel off my socks and am surprised at how large the blister is on my toe.  It is huge but has not popped.  Also my left foot/plantar is acting up again.

Monday - Wearing sandals all day and the blister is still intact.  I have been icing the other foot and am less worried about it than I was last night.  I think that I might not run the 5K scheduled for this Saturday.  It would be smart to give up on the mileage game I have been playing, at least for a while.  The warning signs are there that I need to protect my foot.  Good thing I don't have any marathons planned until September.  Next race might not be until Lakefair in mid July.  If so, this was a good way to finish off the racing season.

201st place of 495
Race#359, Marathon or Ultra#127, LatEotT #5

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