My 9th time here. A few course changes. Fewer old Maniac friends. I have been thinking that this might be my last time here. Packet pickup is a hassle, so early to get to the start, high price unless you register very early which I did, now it is the same weekend as Capitol Peak. CP is now 50 miles or 25K so not the marathon or 50K that I prefer, but still the trails I love. Jody was doing her own running on Saturday and now I will be gone on Sunday so it is almost a lost weekend for us. But I am here now, I might as well enjoy it.
Except it is so darn cold again. Bus drops me off just before 6AM so I have an hour to shiver in the cold and wind. Got to find a place out of the wind. Some runners are huddling just behind the port-o-potties, yuck. I venture off to a building. There are two other running hobos there next to the dumpster, across the broken glass, scrounging for some place to sit. I find a small but sturdy plastic cart on its side and can sit on it with back support on the wall. Pretend to chase away other shelter seekers, I tell them that this area is for elite athletes only. Hunkered down and shivering despite the hat, light jacket and long pants. Feel sorry for those in shorts and short sleeves. It can't be that cold but I feel like it is zapping my energy.
6:30 head over to the main area and find the Rogue Wave. We wait till the last minute to drop our gear bags, then find a patch of rising sun to stand in. Just before the start a bald eagle lands on the ground, not far at all from some people. And it stays there as our race starts.
Start - RW and I head out together. We have a plan to keep it just under 10 minute miles and hope to not slow too much, ending under 4:30. Fun to be at the same level as her and it has been a year since we have run together! Out of the airport and left instead of the out and back to the right. First of many course changes. Maybe I should have studied the map a little better, but I doubt we will take a wrong turn. So many volunteers to direct the way.
Mile 2 - Beautiful but windy morning on the Narrows Bridge. Strong side winds. By the time we are 2/3rd of the way across we are both ready to be done with it. Now the long uphill and the first aid station not until mile 4. From here on the aid will be closer together and I will be fine without carrying water.
Mile 10 - Tour of North Tacoma. Nice quiet neighborhoods mostly. Hills but keeping the average pace at about 9:42/mile. This is the fastest I have gone out in a marathon in ages. Hope I can hold it. Hip and groin feel pulled on. Hope it does not get worse. Meanwhile it is sunny and cool, but very comfortable for running.
Mile 13.1 - 2:07 something on the clock. I can do a 2:20 second half and still beat 4:30 easy. RW needs a quick break, but there is a short line. I keep walking, then run a slow pace. I could wait for her, but I don't know how long she will be, plus I fear that I may get real tired and slow at any point, just to see her go on ahead.
Mile 14.5 - A little surprised when she calls to me on the steepest part of the uphill before Point Defiance Park. Great time to walk and let her catch up. Now we enter the park and some confusion as we are told to go right, but here comes speedy Robert Bondurant towards us from the left. Oh he is 5 miles ahead of us and finishing the long loop that overlaps for a short distance. Soon we are directed left and onto 5 mile drive, after some constructions side route, grass and mud.
Mile 17 - Going counter clock wise through the park (different from previous years) means the long twisting hill. Pace is slowing. Approaching the famous Blues Brothers aid station. Suddenly I feel a little dizzy and it is not easy to run. Somewhat scared, I walk it into the aid station. Take off my sunglasses and focus on overcoming the situation. It passes very quickly and I am soon back on pace.
Mile 18 - Ravens calling. Now just like on the bridge, this is a spectacular place to run, but I am ready to move on. Out of the park it will be a mostly straight shot along Ruston Way to the end and it will be nice when we hit mile 20.
Mile 20 - Nice to be here. Legs are tired but no pains. Upper legs and hip have not gotten any worse. New course goes left then onto the very start of the Point Ruston walkway. Wide curving path. A little breeze in my face at times and some warm pockets of air, but not bad at all. Three miles right along the water on a pleasant morning. People and dogs out walking, but not so crowded.
Mile 21 - RW has her music in and picks up the pace some. I do not try to keep up. I have a nice slow groove going, with very short walk breaks and just don't feel a need to push it.
Mile 22 - I do catch a young guy and he says yes when I guess that this is his first marathon. He is in good spirits and I don't chat him up too much. But we run step in step for about a mile before I pull ahead.
Mile 23 - Super Sabrina sighting. Alone, spectating, like she has been banished from the event. My 4:30 buddy from Blooms to Brews. We will run together soon I hope. Now the big hump on Ruston Way. I run the whole thing and only slow at the water station at the bottom.
Mile 25 - 4:13 on the clock ensures a sub 4:30 finish. No desire to push it. I am running, just slowly. Plenty of runners around, we are getting excited for the finish. Grinding metal sound as we are next to a slow moving train. So slow that I am running faster than it. Up and over the tracks and the final stretch.
Mile 26 - Oh darn it, one more hill. Up and around to the final turn and pick it up for a nice looking finish.
Mile 26.2 - Immediate recovery is much better than at Blooms to Brews where I worked so hard at the end. Happy enough with my time. And the event was really great as always. Really tempting to come back again next year. I should at least do an even ten times here.
151st of 298
Race#416 Marathon or Ultra#153 Tacoma City Marathon#9