Every May I run the same two races (Tacoma and Capital City). Every April I find something new to run. This year I finally get to run the Whidbey Island Marathon. Been wanting to run this one for years and doing so will get me another Washington State County that I have run a marathon in. Jody is off on a trip with her Mom so it is a solo overnight for me. I get there early enough on Friday to explore some beaches, but alas see no orcas. The island is so pretty, I hope to come back with Jody some time for a longer stay.
Start time is 6:30 AM but we have to catch a shuttle from the finish of this point to point course. Hotel is a short drive away, so I am up at 4:30 to catch a bus by 5AM. I get to ride next to Pedro. Great to catch up with him, especially since he resists all social media. It feels very cold out here at Deception Pass. I have a hat and fleece that I will put in my drop bag, but even with those I am shivering. The time goes by quickly enough and then it is time to run.
Maniac Pace Team is here. With the course supposed to be very hilly and I am not at top form, I see no need to try to set a great time. A second half faster than the first would be wonderful. I think that 4:15 is just a little too aggressive and the 4:30 pacer is Super Sabrina who is a ton of fun energy, so the choice is easy to plan to stay with her for a long while, then go faster later in the race if I feel good.
Start - The road is closed for the first couple of miles so we can run right down the middle. Starting at the park and then onto Route 20. Over the Deception Pass bridge. Yesterday I stopped here to get a couple of photos. There was lots of traffic zooming past the narrow sidewalk and with the sweeping view I started to get vertigo. Today I stay to the center and enjoy the scenery. Mostly a few steps behind Sabrina and with a little pack.
Mile 2 - On to a side road that is quiet but like the rest of the way will be open to traffic. So we get to see and stay inside of every traffic cone in the county. It makes us run no more than two together. Aid stations every two miles or so and nice temperatures with sunshine. Easy comfortable pace.
Mile 8 - The little pack is much smaller and I have had the chance to chat with Sabrina. I don't know her so well, but have been amazed at her running career. Talking with her, the miles eased by. I even get to hold the pace sign for a few minutes as she makes a quick stop. I take my duties seriously and make sure the pace stays even. Other than that I don't have to think about pace. It is so relaxing to trust a pacer and let them do the work of timing. Sabrina is also a certified coach and I get some good advice, most of which I already know but just don't do enough of. Maniac Coconut Boy sighting, running his 499th marathon!
Mile 15 - Up, down, up down. I ran the Bremerton Marathon last year and remember that being the hilliest road race I had done. Today is even hillier. My watch data will show Bremerton as having over 1,700 feet of elevation gain and Whidbey will be closer to 2,100 feet. But I feel fine. Taking lots of gels and shot blocks as my stomach feels great. Just three of us now staying together. Smart to stay with Sabrina (and fun).
Mile 18 - More uphill. Nice views of the water, but I think there are better places to race on this island. Lots of twists and turns with no long straight views of what is ahead. Hard to know if this is the last big hill or not. I had looked at the course profile and it showed just about all downhill after mile 21. But some people are saying that the course is different this year. The great thing is that I feel strong and light and have no trouble getting up any hill. Walk when Sabrina does.
Mile 20 - After a nice downhill it is up again. Right hip flexor is starting to bug me, but not so bad. I had planned on staying with the pacer until mile 21, then going faster. But I feel good enough to not go slow on this uphill and without a grand goodbye, I just ease ahead. After a quarter mile I realize that I am ahead of her for good (hopefully) so now it is time to go faster, work hard and see how much I can beat 4:30 by.
Mile 21 - And right here we get a fantastic downhill with a long view of more than a mile ahead. Meet up with a guy named Micah and we pick up the pace. Passing the half marathon walkers now. There will be more and more of them, but we will not have trouble getting past them.
Mile 23 - Had been averaging 10:15/mile for the first 20 miles. Now I am running about 9/mile. Not blazing fast, but moving along fine. I realize that I have 5K to go and I remember the four 5K races that I ran last Saturday. That seems so short. I am tired but not as stiff as I was at the start of the last race last week. Now a discouraging little uphill that slows me down. But after that it is gentle downhill and then a steep down to the finish.
Finish - 26.35 on the GPS. Happy with my time and the about 2:14/2:12 split. No wall or real struggle. I guess that I could have gone out a little faster, but if I had really tried for a fast time I could have had a very bad race, with that course as hilly as it is.
Whidbey is done. Off the bucket list. Nice enough event but I don't feel like I need to come back again any time soon.
76th of 138
Race#388, marathon or ultra#139