My first time here. Tory has put on this race for a few years now and I am happy to finally be here. Each year she selects a local family with needs and the race is a fundraiser for them. This year we will support a family of a young girl with cancer. In this age of $100 plus entry fees that are going to professional race directors it is so satisfying to have my proceeds go to a worthy cause. Thank you Tory and Jacqui! I think I paid $35 plus a small added donation. And there will be all the cupcakes I can eat at the finish line.
The race starts at the Armar trail head to the Centennial Trail in Arlington/Marysville. North of Seattle I leave home at 5AM to make sure I find the place and make the 8AM start. Its not far off the highway and easy to find, I get there in 2 hours and have plenty of time to get ready. It is going to rain at some point, but not at the start. I will wear a jacket and hat and even gloves for the first couple of miles, but really it is not bad weather.
Goal is to run my own race today and beat 4:30. Three of my last 4 marathons I have run with slower folks and enjoyed the company more than running for time. Nothing wrong with that, but I really should see where I am at physically.
Smaller group than I expected. There was the Dizzy Daze yesterday and Badger Mountain and the Dash Point Half, but still I expected more people. There is Scott S, so I don't have to worry about possibly winning. 50K too, with only 3, all women. A little tempting to upgrade to that so I can be first male, but not worth the five extra miles. Dan counts 15 runners at the start of the marathon and 50K, so only 12 in the marathon. The half will start thirty minutes later and be a larger race.
Course is 13.1 miles southish on the wide paved trail and then turn around. Very few road crossings and there will be no getting lost or confused.
Start to mile 5 - Tory gets us going and we head onto the trail. Run with Dan for a bit, then slow a little and stay behind him. Long very gradual uphill. I had been expecting flat farmland like at Wooley, so I am surprised at the incline. It goes on for a long way but is not steep. Should be nice coming back. Light rain now, but no wind. Hummingbird sighting. Then a Great Blue Heron high up in a snag. Course goes over a few creeks and also across some wetlands. Lots of skunk cabbage in bloom. I should have carried a camera, this is a very scenic route. Even pacing, trying to keep it just under 10 minutes per mile. Catch up to Dan, the pass him. Here is the only road crossing where we have to stop. Push the button and wait for a walk signal. 5 mile aid station is on the other side of the crossing. Light rain stops.
Mile 5-13.1 - Reconnect with Dan after the aid station and we run together to the turn around. Very even pace of about 9:52 per mile. Nice company and the miles fly by. Aid station at mile 10 and at about mile 10.5 I realize that I am on the part of the trail that is the course for the 6 hour Invest in Youth run. So I have been here twice before but not for three years now. Aid station at the Machias Trail Head and I hope this is the turn around, but we are told to keep going to the stop sign and then come back. It is another half mile. My GPS reads 12.9 something, but Dan's is right on. We touch the stop sign and head back. A little drizzle but it will stop soon. 2:08 on the watch. We both know that we will not run that fast on the way back. I suggest a goal of a 2:20 second half.
Mile 13.1 to mile 21 - Average pace is about 9:53 and I would like to hold that for at least 5 more miles. Dan starts to struggle though and I leave him behind. Later when I tire, I will admit to looking back and I will see him at times. But he will not catch me, though I will only beat him by about two minutes. In the mean time I peel off some nice miles. Miles 15,16 and 17 are all sub ten minutes each, with one of them being a blazing 9:44. Pass a woman who I thought was in the race, but she is just out for a 20 mile training run. We encourage each other and I slowly move ahead. Slight uphills now. Pace is steady but a little slower. If I can make it to the aid station at a 10/mile average I should be in good shape for a sub 4:30. Pull in to the aid station with a 9:59 pace.
Mile 21-26.2 - I was quick at filling my water bottle, but then I have to wait a little for the traffic light. Cross the road and now I am at a 10:02 overall pace. Not what I wanted but still feeling like I can run and I know that there are gentle downhills soon. I am able to run slowly for long stretches and I walk just to drink or take a Cliff block. Right hip is nagging a little. Twice I have to walk suddenly because something goes wrong in my left hip. It works itself out with just a few steps. I calculate that I can do 12/mile and beat 4:30 and that should be no problem. Run slowly for long segments of 0.7 and 0.5 miles without even looking at my watch. Forward progress is good and I do not push myself too hard either. A little fear that Dan or someone else will catch me, but other than that, not much motivation. Keep plugging away and soon the finish line is in sight.
Mile 26.2 - Very happy with my pacing and endurance, considering I only had one long run of 12.6 miles (the 20K last week) in the past 4 weeks. Right hip will be a little sore but everything else feels great considering, so I am looking forward to another marathon in two weeks. Finish time is not that fast, but is something of a confidence booster.
Tory gives me a cool medal and a ribbon for third place male. She says that two women beat the first man. Plenty of cupcakes left and they are terrific. Later, the results on Webscorer and just not right. The official results have me at 9 minutes faster than I was, plus has a couple of people who probably were half runners mixed in there. Not a big deal for me, I piece together my results as best I can and it does not matter. Really nice event that I hope to return to.
5th place of 12?
Marathon or Ultra # 151