Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Marathon

The facts:
20th lifetime marathon/ultra
10th 2007 marathon/ultra
2nd fastest marathon
2:02 1st half (fastest 1st half in a marathon)
:04 Minutes spent shedding unnecessary clothing at the turnaround
2:14 2nd half
4:20 finish time (2nd fastest marathon - PR is 4:16:21)

I drove up to Olympia late Saturday afternoon to spend the evening/night with Sharon. It was fun to catch up and also nice to not have to get up at the crack of dawn this morning. I planned to take the early start (9:30am) so that I could get back to Portland before dark. For the past few days the weather forecast has been ominous...rain, wind, cold. I prepared for the worst and had brought with me what seemed like most of my winter running gear.

This morning the forecast was a little more hopeful, but it was debatable whether the storm would arrive late morning or into the afternoon. Turns out that I way overdressed. I wore my medium weight tights that hold up well in the rain, lightweight short-sleeve top, heavy long-sleeve half zip over that, maniac ball cap, gloves, and at the last minute I threw on my maniac singlet over that. I wore my single bottle belt and in the pack carried my rain-repellent over mitts and had my super lightweight, hind shell jacket around my waist. It was cold and cloudy at the start so I didn't feel over-prepared. In fact if the storm had arrived right then, I think I would have felt just right. But the storm didn't arrive until just after I finished over 4 hours later. We did have some wind, but it was warm enough for me to take off my gloves and at one point, I could feel the warmth of the sun peaking out of the clouds. You could even see Mt. Rainier, almost to the top.

The first half felt steady but not particularly fast. I ran with a few maniacs here and there that I hadn't met before. I set my timer for 45 minutes and took a gel each time, for a total of 5 gels. I'm glad I had my water bottle with me because the first open aid station for the early starters wasn't until about mile 11. I was getting a little stressed about wanting to re-fill....I can only imagine how those without a bottle were feeling. This is definitely a race where you should bring along your own supplies! After that the aid stations were stocked with water and gatorade, and some with gels. I'm glad I've switched to just water and gels. It seems to be working well so far.

I was really surprised to arrive at the turnaround at 2:02. That's my 1/2 marathon PR! (from 2005). Makes me think I need to race a 1/2 marathon sometime soon so I can bring that PR down below 2 hours. I knew that I couldn't continue with my heavy shirt, so took the time to disrobe. I continued on wearing my short sleeve and maniac singlet with the lightweight jacket and heavy shirt around my waist, along with my water belt. Not ideal but way better than trudging along getting overheated. Before long I started to see the regular starters, including Bret. (who ran the Tucson marathon recently and won an award! Go check out his blog to see.) We had a moment to cheer each other on. By now the wind was picking up, from the southeast. The course winds around on country roads so it was slow going when heading into the wind and a nice break when the wind was at my back. Thankfully the wind was behind us for the last six miles.

I could feel that the second half was slower but I tried to keep a steady pace. My legs started to get tight and I thought I could use a electrolyte pill. But I never full-out cramped so it wasn't a problem. The last six miles were a bit of a mental challenge for me. A few times I thought how nice it would be to walk. And a few years ago, under the same circumstances, I probably would have walked. But I told myself that I really didn't need to walk. I wasn't cramping, I wasn't nauseous, I wasn't dizzy....I wasn't even really that tired. So I should just keep running. And so I did.

Finally got to the finish, maybe picking it up just a bit the last 1/2 mile. My watch said 4:20 exactly. The race clock was a few seconds faster. And supposedly my official time is somewhere around 4:18. Any of the three make it my second fastest marathon. I guess without the wind and with better wardrobe planning on my part it could have been a pr effort. Go figure.

I hung around at the finish, but not for long. I wasn't that hungry yet, so grabbed a bowl of chips and a bottle of water and headed back to the car to change. Just as I pulled out, it started to rain and the wind picked up.

This is likely the last race for me this year, although I am considering the Purge and Splurge on 12/31. Marc wants to do the PS too, so its possible we'll be there together. I'm sure I'll write more in the next few weeks about 2007, but for now, I can only think that it has been a exceptional year for me. I feel like I'm hitting my stride and if I can continue to improve in 2008 I'll be tremendously pleased.


Jamie said...

Great job Sarah! Congrats on the PR! Nicely done.

Bob Gentile said...

AWESOME Sarah!! That is a great Marathon time...Congrats on ur PR! and way to close out the year!

You have had a fantastic 2007 Season and look forward to following you in 2008'...

You better document 2007 with a re-cap report, it's has been a great year for you and your hubby!! You guys make an awesome team that supports each other so well.

I was just thinking of that time when Marc stepped in an ran a race( I think a 50 miler) when u weren't feeling good or injured? pretty cool for a non-runner--haha anyways u both rock!

Merry X-Mas & Happy New Year!!

olga said...

Good on you, Sarah! I will fear you next year:)

Backofpack said...

All I know is that you looked strong and fast at Autumn Leaves, so I am not surprised at your good times here. You are having a great year! Congratulations!

Joe said...

Terrific run, Sarah!! Great write up as well!

You paced yourself wonderfully and then, when the going got tough, you toughed it out.

Your water/gel pattern does seem to ran hard and didn't cramp up. Good for you!

What a hoot trying to out-guess the weather!!!! Glad you made the decision to cool down at the midway point...I'm sure that helped you a lot on the run back. We never get "perfect" days, we just make do with what we have!

Way to go, proud of you! What a good year you've had!!!

Catherine said...

Congratulations on a great year Sarah. It's been a joy reading your reports. Looks like you have an exciting 2008 planned (plus some unfinished business at Mt Hood 50M).

My daughter saw your Weather Pixie and insisted that I get one on my site. So now I have a spikey purple haired girl that my daughter picked out. :)

Enjoy the holidays.

robtherunner said...

Great race, Sarah! I always enjoy the Christmas Marathon. You had a break out 2007 and I am sure there is more in store in 2008.

Jack said...

Great job Sarah! Have a great holiday season!!

PNW Runner said...

It's a big bummer I didn't make the race, I totally would have loved to but some other time we'll share a race.

YOu're really pouring it on lately, all these fast times...what's your secret? Way to go on a strong run.

rick said...

It has been an exceptional year for you. I still remember reading about your 15-16 milers with Sharon earlier in the year. Now look at you, just pounding out marathon distances no problem. You also bounced back nicely from your injury during the summer. Have a great Christmas and New Year.

Isn't this also the year that Mark finally came out of the closet about his running habit?:)

angie's pink fuzzy said...

good job!!!

Bret said...

Sarah you are so darn fast these days! Good for you! 2008 is my year for speed work, 2007 was quantity 2008 is going to be quality. Yeah when I saw you at the race I thought maybe you were running away from home with all your clothes! ha! Excellent job on the race. Probably see you at the P&S.

Pinkcorker said...

Your stats are amazing! I can't believe you have done so many marathons/ultras in one year!

Darrell said...

What a great way to end (well maybe unless you decide on P&S) 2007. Your rocking year gives me hope.