The alarm went off at 5 am. First thing I ate my pbj sandwich, drank some sports drink and my can of Starbucks doubleshot coffee. I had plenty of time so took a shower and got dressed. I was undecided about wearing my maniac singlet since I was worried I might be too cold. When I went out on the balcony to check the temperature I saw two otters swimming in the creek below. Very cool. Our motel was only a few blocks from the start so I left the room at about 6:20. The boys decided to sleep in. However I had discovered the day before that the course went by the motel at about mile 5-1/2, so they promised to be out there to cheer me on.
Near the starting line, I found the other maniacs including Eric and Rob who had run at Capitol Peak the day before. The sky was overcast but it felt warm and I was glad that I had decided to wear my maniac singlet. I had on tube sock arm warmers and really didn't need my throwaway sweatshirt I was wearing. Since my motel was so close I didn't have to get in the porta-potty line and it was a nice change to just be able to hang out and soak up the pre-race atmosphere.
Eventually, the start time neared and I made my way towards the 4:30 pace area. I was wearing my garmin gps and my plan was to start out at a 10:15 to 10:30 pace and then pick it up if I could. The first 5 miles of the race wound around through the university and the immediate neighborhoods. There were a few hills but nothing major. Having on the maniac shirt and hat brought me instant friends. I ran for a bit with Monte who had already run 11 marathons this year and also with Rick who is also a member of the 50 state club and has 8 more marathons this year to finish that goal. I also ran with Patch for a few blocks, who I've met before and is part of Michelle's group. During these miles my legs felt tight, but not really bad. One of the things I've gained from ultra running is the knowledge that things will usually get better. (And things can get worse, but we won't focus on that!) So I wasn't too concerned. What I was concerned about was that I was going too fast! According to my gadget, my pace was under 10 min/miles. I kept telling myself I need to slow down, I need to slow down. But I guess my body was going at the pace it wanted to run, because despite my attempts to slow up, I just kept chugging along at this pace.
I eventually came upon the spot where the course passed our motel and there were the boys with their cameras. I had been carrying my handheld and decided that I could make do with the aid stations. I had originally wanted to carry it as practice, but found it was just an annoyance when running at a quicker pace than I would in a trail run. So I handed it off and posed for a few quick pictures. They ran with me for a few blocks and then I said good-bye til I see you at the end.
The next aid station was out of water and then, after running through a shady area by the river, we started a longer stretch out on the streets in the sun. I wondered if I had made a mistake to drop off my bottle, but I concentrated on drinking at every aid station and I was okay. At this point I discovered that I hadn't sealed my ziploc full of sports beans, ginger candy and electrolyte caps very well and it dumped out into my pocket. After a moment of panic I realized that this was okay. I don't think I'd plan on it for the future, but it was actually easier to just grab a few beans directly out my pocket.
During these miles I maintained my sub-10 pace and still had thoughts of trying to slow it up. The marathon and the half-marathon shared the same course, but around mile 10 they split, with the half taking a short-cut, and then joining the marathon course again at 11-1/2 before splitting off for good at the full marathon's mile 13. Around this final split off point every volunteer kept saying, you have just 1-1/2 miles to go. This happened enough times that I started to wonder if I had missed a turn and was on the half-marathon course. I was feeling pretty good about my sub-10 pace at this point and I didn't want anything to ruin it. But I soon came to the split and realized I was okay.
At mile 15 I came upon Rob, who had run a 55k at Capitol Peak the day before. We were at an aid station so we walked together for a moment. He was tired, but said he felt good...no nausea or dizziness....just tired. No kidding! I'd be tired too if I had run that far the day before. Eventually I started on my way again. Thus began a 4 mile stretch along the river that was on all concrete. It was at this point that my legs started to feel noticeably sore. We were also running into a slight headwind. I just kept thinking to myself, that when we crossed over to the other side the wind would be on my back and there just had to be softer asphalt again eventually! Fortunately when we did cross over the river that was the end of any significant concrete.
Picture courtesy of Tom Riley
At mile 20 I saw that I had about an hour and 15 minutes to beat 4:30. Breaking 4:30 has been my holy grail and I would have felt really happy about making this goal. At every other marathon I've slowed down in the last six miles. So even with a slow down I figured I had a really good shot at breaking 4:30. But I've never felt this strong at this point either. I started thinking that breaking 4:20 was attainable if I could just keep up this pace. I'd been saving a double espresso clifshot for just this moment. At the next aid station I downed it with some water. It sure was nasty! But it did the trick. From this point on I was only passing others, and I don't remember getting passed. I'd see someone ahead and think, they look strong I'll catch them and run with them. But then I'd pass them. I kept telling myself, you are strong, you are strong. And I didn't have to convince myself of it, I really felt it! I also told myself, you are an ultra runner, you can run right through this marathon! At mile 23 the course went through Skinner Butte park where there were a lot of people out cheering. I grabbed their energy and carried it with me. I felt so good! I think this is where I saw Tom R., taking pictures. It was great to see someone I knew. I also received a lot of "go maniac' cheers through this area too. And I just kept on reeling the other runners in....
Oh well!) They ran with me along the sidewalk for a few blocks which was a lot of fun. But eventually the little guy couldn't keep up so we agreed to meet at the finish. I kept going strong and was still picking off people. Soon I reached the 26 mile marker and I turned it on. The course rounded a corner and I could see the finish line with the clock ticking off 4:17:xx. I was exhilarated to see that I was going to break 4:20 and kicked it in. Chip time: 4:16:21
I hung out in the finisher's area for a short time, grabbed some food to go and then exited so I could find the boys. Soon Darrell found me and then the boys. We all chatted for a while. Darrell will tell his own story, but it sounds like he had a good race despite being sick from a cold. Eventually we ran into Eric and Jenny who both had good races too. We chatted for a while longer but by now the boys were getting antsy. So we decided it was probably best to head home. I'm sorry to have missed the post-marathon meet-up, but I was glad that we were able to meet up for the time we did. Hopefully we'll have a chance to see each other again soon.
I'm thrilled to have a new marathon PR. But even more exciting for me is to know that I can keep up a steady pace for the marathon distance. I was tired and sore for the last few miles, but I learned that doesn't have to prevent me from maintaining the intensity. Running a sub 10 minute mile pace in a marathon is huge for me. It's changed my thinking about what I'm capable of accomplishing.