Sunday, September 25, 2016

9/25/16 Bellingham Bay Marathon

Tenth annual event and my tenth time here!  As a legacy runner I was invited to the pasta dinner and was awarded a very nice jacket.  There are 18 of us who have done one of the races each year, only three of us have done the full marathon every year.  I keep coming back because this is such a terrific event.

Even the waking early part is not bad this year as I wake at 4:44, one minute before the alarm was set.  On the road by 5AM and parked in my usual spot downtown by 5:15.  I get on the first bus to the start line so there is plenty of time to relax and get ready.  Again the warm, spacious waiting area at the Lummi reservation is so nice.  Chat with Rikkie and other friends, then watch the tribal welcome ceremony.  They go all out this year with dancers in costumes and their songs really are touching.

Now off to the start line.  Perfect temperature. It will stay cloudy most of the way and never get too warm.  Dry and no wind this year!  I ran the GOAT trail marathon last weekend and that was my first full since June, so I expect to lag today.  I know that I will be slow and that it is some combination of not being in the best shape and also still being worn out from last week.  Checking my previous results here I see that a 4:28 is my slowest time.  So I set a goal of beating that if I can.

Start - Line up behind the 4:15 pacer and decide to stay behind/with her.  Would be foolish to go faster than that.  Even when I see Tracy Marshall up ahead, I decide to run smart and not try to stay with her.  I never will see her again as she has a great race.

Mile 0.5 - Bald eagle in a tree close by!

Mile 4 - It has been a nice run along the water.  Staying with the 4:15 group.  There are just a couple of us (names I won't remember), and it has a great vibe.  The pacer is keeping conversation going and I try to not talk too much, stay focused on the running. Another runner has a ton of energy and great stories and is really fun to just run with. The miles go by easy and pleasantly.

Mile 9 - Aid station kids are awesome as always.  Feeling pretty good, but a little discomfort up and down my left leg.  No problem staying with the pacer, but I am losing confidence that I will stay the whole way.  Strong manure smell from the farms.  Pass three maniac friends who started early.  On to the short out and back.

Mile 13.1 - We got a new pacer and the four of us continue with her.  2:07 something at the 13 mile mark, so we are just a little slow and she picks up the pace a bit.  Miss energy is still with us, singing and dancing, but she will be the first to drop off the pace.  Now the long uphill and it is getting tougher.

Mile 17 - Merge with the half but they must have started earlier than usual, because there are very few of them. Not hard to pick around the walkers.  I will be passing halfers all the way from here to the end. But now I start to slow. Stiffening, beat up legs.  Left mostly but also the right.  No sharp pain, but harder to push on.  And not super motivated.  I see 4:15 get away, but I know that I am in OK shape for that 4:28.....if I keep running.  One of the women I have been with since the start is also fading and we run together for a while.  Eventually she is able to move on faster than I.  From here to the end I will be mostly alone, doing more passing than being passed, but not running very well.

Mile 19 - Cookie stop.  Same girl as previous years with fresh, warm chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.  So great!

Mile 21 - Through the park, then the not great slog along the sidewalk near the water and downtown.  Mostly running, but very slowly.  Short walk breaks.

Mile 22 - 3:40 on the clock as I get up that hill and have the short bit where I can see the fast runners coming at me as they are very close to the finish. I am feeling beat up but in good spirits.  Looking forward to the trail and then the turn around.  Trail is nice and I plod along.  Mostly passing people, but we are all tired and slow.  Cross the tracks and down to the water.  Thirsty, there is a water fountain and I stop for a long drink.  Been taking the offered gels and drinking at each aid station.  Stomach is doing pretty good today.  Its just the tired legs.  Now the boardwalk over the water and the steep little uphill.  I manage to "run" the entire uphill.  Spectators note that and cheer for me.

Mile 24 - After that hill I sort of perk up.  The legs are not getting any worse.  I am able to run without walk breaks so I just grind it out.  One look back and I can see the 4:30 pacer.  That motivates me to keep on running.  Going to be very close to 4:28 and that is the only goal that pushes me on.  Don't walk!  Don't walk!  Encourage the walkers I am passing to keep moving.  Tell the marathoners that we can beat 4:30 if we do not walk.  I probably pass 40 people in the last two miles, most half marathoners.  I only remember legacy athlete Eric passing me, running oh so strong.

Mile 26 - I can not go fast but I can keep running and I need to to beat 4:28.  That steep downhill and now the last bit to the end.  Lots of spectators lining the finish way.  I hear my name announced and it is over. 

Solid effort at the end, just a long bad patch from mile 17-24.  I am pleased with how the back to back marathon weekends went but will take the two weeks until the next one.

184th of 358
Race#398, Marathon or ultra#144, Bellingham Bay Marathon#10

Saturday, September 17, 2016

9/17/16 GOAT Trail Marathon

Third annual event and my third time here.  After today there will only be five legacy runners for the full marathon.  The full continues to be very small with a much larger half.  I remember loving this race and this year is no exception.  Great to go point to point (no looping) on beautiful runnable trails. 

Rain this year though.  After it has been so dry, it just started raining last night.  But not cold or very stormy.  There will be lots of small puddles during the first half, then the rain will stop and the trail is in great shape later on.  Even with the puddles, the trail is looking good.

I have not run a marathon since June, but I did get in a couple of three plus hour training runs and everything is feeling good these days.  Bellingham Bay Marathon next weekend so I do not want to over do it today.  If anything hurts I will slow way down.  I guess that my goal is to have a nice day, beat 5 hours if feeling good and plod along the last miles on the dirt road at a consistent pace to get some wall/low energy training in for next week.

Drove up yesterday and hiked a little at Hurricane Ridge.  Cheap motel was fine and I get to the shuttle in plenty of time.  Couple of vans take us to the start line.  Nice to see Monte, Sara and Will.

Start - Light rain, but once we get into the woods it is not noticeable.  Got my GR truckers hat and a jacket on.  Jacket will come off about halfway through.

Mile 1 - Only now I realize that I have a bunch of loose change in my shorts pocket.  Move it into my zippered pocket in the water bottle and it will jingle every time I take a drink.

Mile 2 - Running a pace that seems a little fast but good.  Now I am behind a string of about ten runners.  No desire to try to pass them.  I like being in the back with no one right on my tail, and I try to leave a lot of space with the person in front of me.  I know that we will all be alone soon enough, but I picture us staying together till the road, or about mile 25 and then racing it in.

Mile 4 - Small gravel road crossing and four runners pull over to make adjustments and what not.  Two others then stop to let me by and soon my pack is down to about 4 of us.  We will now run our own paces but leapfrog each other quite often the whole rest of the way.  Each of us seems to like being a little behind someone, and just letting them set the pace.  But if we get too close, the person in front will slow more, step to the side and the behind runner has to reluctantly pass.  Most likely to be passed again later.  Everybody is so friendly, it is a great vibe all the way to the end.  Really nice group here in the middle of the pack.

Mile 7 - Feel a little bunching up of my right sock and decide to take my show off and fix it at the aid station.  Don't want a blister, and thankfully I will not get one.

Mostly run the gentle uphills, with some short walk breaks on the switchbacks.  Love the long gentle downhills.

Mile 13.1 - 2:21 on the watch, and I think I remember last year I ran a 2:20 first half.  But now I slow more than last year.  No wall, and the running is not so hard, but I know that last year I was trying to keep up with Mike Mahany and he is not here today to keep me motivated.  I do pass two runners who are not part of my leapfrogging group.  Enjoy the limited views in the clouds.  I can just see Canada. Then work my way alone through the darker cedar forest, ready to break out onto the road.

Again, GPS is way off from the trail mile markers.  It is a short course, but I really can not say by how much.  Down the rocky sketchy logging "road" to the main dirt road.  4:20 on the watch.  Lets see how long I can sustain an easy running pace.  I make it to 4:40 and am really happy with that.  Just a quick slow and stop at the aid station, the run again for another ten minutes before a walk break.  Pass one of my pack and start to gain on "Run Happy" socks, but she pulls away once we reach the paved road.

Now it is a short (less than a mile?) on the paved road with cones.  No where near the 4:47 from last year.  My goal is still beat 5:00, but there is 4:53 on my watch and it will be close.  I think I ran 5:03 the first year and really anything around that is fine, but I feel like I do not want a course worst today.  Not much I can do, except don't walk up this steep but short uphill.  I tell myself that if I walk here and do not beat 5 hours I will regret it.  If I keep running and do not beat 5 then I will have no regrets. 

4:57 at the top of the hill.  I think it is a really short bit to the turn into the resort, then maybe a minute to the finish line.  Yes there is it.  4:58 and into the park.  Down the hill.  Now 4:59 and where the heck is the finish line!!  It has been moved from the past two years.  The lake is right here so it can't be much farther, just the back of the lodge building, where it used to be on the side.  Make the final turn to the back of the building and yes there it is.  Happy to beat 5 hours.

Really a great day.  Things dried out more than I expected and the temperatures stayed pleasant.  No aches or pains worth noting.  Glad to have a marathon done without exhaustion even after some time off.  Great race organization, great volunteers.  I will plan to come back and run this one again.

22nd place of 39
Race#397, marathon or ultra#143