Here are the details if you care to wade through it.
First of all, Thumbs up. A big thumbs up for this marathon. Numbers-wise this marathon is the smallest one of the three I've run. (Eugene and Portland are the other two.) There were 500-600 runners. There are no wave starts or pacing groups. There are no timing chips for your shoes. The start is much like an low key ultra marathon start. I enjoyed it all of it. I actually prefer races of 600 participants over races of thousands. Also, the race course is gorgeous. The amenities of the race are tops. (Little details, like boxes of clean clothing at packet pick up to keep warm with on marathon morning. Nice buses for transportation. Showers after the race.) And not least of all- the most terrific race volunteers are at this race. (But hey, aren't all race volunteers terrific?)
I'd never seen that many Marathon Maniacs in one place. I guess the Tacoma City Marathon takes the cake for Maniac presence but I've never personally seen so many red and yellow Maniac shirts at a race. For me, seeing a large recognizable group of undeniably certified crazy, committed, addicted, wild, and awesome runners is far better than seeing any other kind of famous celebrity. Many of these runners are the nameless but real over-comers and heroes.
I sure noticed those Maniacs love their Lenore (Dolphin)- hugging on her at every opportunity. (Even along the race route.) I did not go to the pre-race meal or the awards meal after the race, so I probably missed a lot more of that Lenore love at those events too! ;-)
The week preceding the marathon was a bit rough for me. I was sick, one of my kids was sick, my dog was sick, (even my car was sick). I was really looking forward the race even though I had come down with a cold. In my mind, choking on mucus is much more desirable than being plagued by injury.
My last two to three weeks of training were starting to indicate that I should adjust my pace chart a little. I was aiming for a 4:05 marathon but my training was starting to look more like a 4:10 marathon. (That's when I started putting my leash on to slow down my recovery runs.) I decided not to lower my goal and I wore a 4:05 pace band.
I arrived Friday afternoon, checked into the motel and picked up my race packet. After being sick all week I was really tired so I did not want to go to the pre-race dinner, I just wanted to get something to eat, become zombie-like as possible and then try to go to get to sleep early if possible. We did take time to drive to the race finish area (this is a point to point marathon) just to make sure my mom would know how to get there, but after that headed to the motel to at least sit around and try to relax.
While we were eating an early dinner my mom checked the messages on her phone and learned that my grandma had fallen and broken her leg and shoulder. (So I was able to add one more stressful event to the tough week.)
Saturday morning I got up around 4:30 to get ready for the 6 a.m. bus ride to the start. I showered, and made some coffee by boiling water and pouring it through a coffee filter into my cup. Why did I do this? Well, let's just say I always inspect a coffee pot's water reservoir before making coffee. Yeah, 'nuff-said. I then had my regular oatmeal and chia seed concoction and some emergen-c.
I put on capri tights but quickly changed my mind and changed into shorts even though it was a chilly 28 degrees. I wore a short sleeve shirt and arm warmers and then I put on some extra layers to shed off after the bus ride to the start.
It was cold at the start, but it was to be a dry beautiful sunny day. The temps rose into the 50's by the time I finished, however much of the canyon is shaded and so it was cold for a long time. The most important choice I made was to wear double gloves, one pair to keep on, and a second pair to throw off at some point, and I had some hand warmers. My hands stay cold for quite awhile so this works well for me. It seems like if I keep my hands warm the rest of me can tolerate cold much better.
I kept on pace for the first 6 miles and then I got off by about two minutes due to a bio-break. I had to run off the course into the brush because every time I passed a porta-potty there were at least 2 people waiting. I intended to make up the time by picking up the pace 30 seconds or so per mile for 4 miles. Despite my intentions, I never really made any time up. So I reset back to my 9:21 pace and held that, but fell off pace again when my stomach begin to protest gels and powerade.
Around mile 20 I noticed my left IT band was beginning to protest slightly so I began to (intentionally) run with my pelvis as stable as possible. This brought relief and I had no additional alarms through the race.
It was quite obvious at mile 22 that I was not going to make up any of the time I'd let slip. It was more of a matter of holding to the pace I had going. Mile 22 marks the start of a long hill and just when you think you are done, you take a turn and it continues on. It's a good mile and a half long. (I ran my slowest mile at mile 23 in 12:28.) My mantra along there was, "all you've got to do is not walk." Sounds like a negative mantra but it wasn't, I was encouraging myself that I was guaranteed a personal record if I didn't succumb to walking. It worked, I plugged away at the hill and when I reached the top I found enough energy to pick up the pace down the hill to the finish.
A crazy thing happened in the last tenth of a mile. A race volunteer was driving by slowly in an SUV with her window down encouraging the finishers. I did a double take and recognized her as someone I ran cross-country with in college and hadn't seen since! So here I was finishing the marathon and we were yelling back at forth at each other. She pulled over at the finish and we spent a few minutes chatting before we both had to go. Good times. ;-)
And with no further delay, I headed for the showering facilities and then it was time to head out of town to home. I could not stay for the awards dinner. Maybe next time!
A day later, other than my left hip flexors being a little bit tender, I feel great! No delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)--which I had in both of the other two road marathons I've run. No blisters (drymax maximum) and no tender toenails. I consumed Fluid recovery drink within 10 minutes of finishing and I tried to keep moving and stretching my legs as much as possible on the ride home in the car. I also put on my trusty compression socks after showering at the local jr. high after the race. (I do love those socks--they go on after all my long runs.) It is a really nice race bonus by the way--getting to shower before a long ride home is super! They even provided towels and shampoo!
Oh, my time? 4:16:48. Not what I was shooting for, but it's my best of three! I've worked hard and made progress, I'm not content with that time but at the same time, I'm satisfied with it and grateful. Does that make sense? Now I also know, for future reference, this isn't probably the course to go after a marathon PR on, but it is a great marathon!