Tuesday, June 18, 2013

North Olympic Discovery Marathon

Part 2 - The Marathon (finally)

I delayed on finishing this because I wanted to wait and see if there were any race photos available other than the finish line (there weren't), and for Rod to forward me the photo he took near the finish (which is much better than the crappy finish line picture).

One of the problems with waiting so long to write about a race, is that the memories which seemed so clear and sharp become fuzzy and distant. I suppose the emotions which were clear and sharp also become more fuzzy and distant, as time passes.

NODM (the full marathon) started in Sequim and finished in Port Angeles. The two towns are about 17 miles apart, but the race organizers managed to make them 26.2 miles apart by adding some zigs and zags. The race started at Carrie Blake Park in Sequim at 9 a.m. The shuttles from Port Angeles started leaving at 6:30 a.m. That meant a long wait at the starting area!

I got on a shuttle at about 6:45. It was a nice, comfortable bus and there were only a few other people on it with me. I guess most people didn't want to leave quite so early. I ate my English muffin (with almond butter and jam) on the bus. We got to Sequim around 7:15.

Luckily the park had a nice conference center with tables and chairs where we could hang out. I staked a claim on a spot (not that it was crowded yet), and headed to the (indoor!) bathroom for my first of many bathroom visits. I swear that every time I went, I immediately felt like I had to pee again. Partly it was nerves, I'm sure, and partly the grande Americano that I had been drinking.

To help pass the time, I listened to two podcasts of Another Mother Runner on my phone. One was new, and then I scrolled back to the archives to find another. This kept me entertained and distracted, and every 15 minutes I would go to the bathroom again.

By 8:30 the place was much more hopping and there was even a small line at the bathroom. I decided to go outside to the porta potties and see what was up. Surprise, the clouds from early had cleared and now it was sunny and a little bit warm! After the porta potty, I decided to take a few loops around the parking lot to warm up my legs. Most of the time I can't bust out more than an 11-minute mile until I've had at least a mile of warm-up. Of course I didn't want to expend too much energy on a pre-marathon warm-up, but a little (maybe a quarter to half a mile) couldn't hurt.

This also did the trick on my insides (not in a bad way) and I headed back to the potties for a final, thorough, visit. When I came out everyone else had already started walking toward the start! (It was down the road a bit.) I hustled to catch up and as I passed the conference center, dropped my throwaway jacket on a table inside. I wouldn't be needing it even for the start.

There was no 4:15 pacer so I decided to keep an eye on the 4:10 pacer as a guide. I've never officically run with a pace group, but I've occasionally followed one just to try to keep on track. The 4:10 pacer would be running 9:32 miles. Maybe a little fast for me. But I could always drop back.

The first mile was a little uphill (I see from my Garmin elevation chart) and it was a little bit of a struggle to keep up with the pacer. I think that's because I wasn't warmed up as much as I would like. But after that I started cruising and, I'll admit, probably went a little too fast at times. (However, I will say that although you shouldn't bank time, I still feel like those fast miles kept my average pace decent even with some really bad miles late in the race!)

After mile one we went downhill again for several miles, and in fact the first half of the race was pretty much all gently rolling hills. My favorite. My splits reflected the rolling nature of the course...
Mile 1 - 9:40
Mile 2 - 9:24
Mile 3 - 8:55 (can you say "oops"?)
Mile 4 - 9:03 (still downhill)
Mile 5 - 9:27
Mile 6 - 9:40
Mile 7 - 9:29
Mile 8 - 9:49
Mile 9 - 9:39
Mile 10 - 10:03
Mile 11 - 9:36
Mile 12 - 9:47
Mile 13 - 10:03

At the half marathon point my time was just a few seconds over 2:05. I was not foolish enough to think I could hold that for a 4:10 finish. I did think that I had a good shot at 4:15 (which was my goal time). Early in the race I had pulled ahead of the 4:10 pacer (not intentionally) and stayed ahead until about mile ten, when she passed me. I tried to keep her in my sight but lost her before the halfway point. She must have been going a little fast because we should have been at the half at around the same time. Just as well she was gaining a little time, because I don't know how anyone could not slow at least a little in the second half.

Despite some slowing, I stayed on a pretty good track through mile 16. This makes sense as the course description calls miles 4-16 "amazing." Somewhere in there we hopped on the North Olympic Discovery Trail. This was very nice, of course, but running on gravel (this was very hard packed dirt with gravel) is not my favorite for speed. I just prefer pavement.

Mile 14 - 10:16
Mile 15 - 10:04
Mile 16 - 10:08

Somewhere in mile 16-17 we experienced the first of two very steep descents to a creek, ran across a bridge, then back up the very steep hill on the other side. The course description advises walking up these hills, and I sure did! Most of the time I prefer running up hills (even a very slow 12-13 mile pace is faster than walking), but these were so steep that the effort to shuffle up was not worth it.

Mile 17 - 10:41
Mile 18 - 10:35
Mile 19 - 10:38
Mile 20 - 11:18 (hill?)

During the first half of the race I was pretty responsible about fueling. In addition to my breakfast on the bus, I ate a banana about an hour before the start. I took a Gu at about mile 7, and another about mile 13.

Then I failed myself. I should have had the next Gu around mile 18 or 19, but I didn't want it. I was just a little nauseous, and instead of Gu-ing I drank a few sips of Gatorade at the aid stations. In retrospect (and I know this!) there aren't enough calories in my small sips of Gatorade to make up for lack of fuel. By the second half of the race I'd probably used up most of my stored glycogen, and for best results I probably should have forced myself to eat some. I don't know for sure that it would have mattered, and I certainly wouldn't want to make myself sick, but it is unquestionable that my pace (and energy) dragged in the second half, and particularly in the last six miles.

In mile 21 I was cruising along and thinking "I feel pretty good" and started to pick up my pace, when I stumbled and fell hard. I got up with a scraped (and later bruised) left shoulder, a scraped but not bloody left knee, and a badly scraped right hand. A woman behind me stopped but I told her I was pretty much fine (as I was).

I ran onward but blood was running from my hand. I had to do something about it. At the aid station which I soon came to, I asked if they had any napkins. They offered a first aid kit but I just wanted something to absorb the bleeding. I rinsed my hand with a cup of water then carried a wad of napkins until just about the end of the race, when I was able to drop them in a garbage. (Two weeks later, my knee is completely healed, the bruise on my shoulder is faded, and I have a couple residual scabs on my hand.)

This wasn't a great incident for morale, especially as I was now starting the most difficult (psychologically) miles of the race. This should have been a better section for me, as the course was going downhill for a few miles. I guess that's what kept my splits okay, if not great.

Mile 21 - 11:57 (the fall)
Mile 22 - 10:41
Mile 23 - 10:42
Mile 24 - 10:41

I had also been walking a little in the aid stations, to make sure I could gulp a little Gatorade. I only walked a few steps from the time I got the Gatorade to when I tossed the cup. This is way different from the Honolulu Marathon, where I started walking at the beginning of each aid station and had a hard time forcing myself to start up again. This was totally under control. It added a few seconds to my splits but nothing crazy.

I would like to say that I got a second wind in the last two miles, but I clearly remember thinking, after mile 24, that two miles to go seemed like a long way. I think that is also when I said I didn't want to do another marathon for a long time. This section of the course was also not very pleasant. It was still on the trail but there was work or something being done and it was edged with cyclone fencing. I just remember it being hot and dusty. Even when we got back along the water (which was truly nice and beautiful), I didn't manage to kickstart my energy. Yeah, a Gu might have been a good idea. If I hit the wall anywhere, it was here.

Mile 25 - 11:17
Mile 26 - 10:55

My finishing kick (.37 miles) was hardly heroic, but at least I did it at a sub-10 pace (9:55). I tried to look like I was having a good time as I passed Rod.
Those people behind me with the stroller were half marathon walkers, okay? Actually I don't know if the stroller was even in the race or just out for an afternoon stroll in the sun. The two other women have half marathon bibs, though.

I crossed the finish line with a time of 4:28:20. So, not my goal time, but still within my secondary (or tertiary, or quadrary) goal of sub-4:30. I had another reason to finish under 4:30, which was our late check-out time of 2:00...I figured if I finished by 1:30 I would have time to take a shower before we left. And I did.

The race assigned everyone a companion to walk with them from the finish line through the chutes. The lady with me kept asking me if I felt okay. I did. I've only felt sick a couple times after a marathon. One was CIM (my PR) and once was Boston. Otherwise I usually feel okay after I stop running. Probably shows I am not trying hard enough....

Anyway, I soon met up with Rod and we walked back to the hotel (easy since the finish was right adjacent to the hote!). I got dressed and we headed for the road and ferry home.

I have pretty good feelings about this race. I thought my time was very decent. Although slower than I had hoped, I had a 10:15 official pace (and 10:11 based on the distance). I only have occasional regrets when I realize I probably will not have the opportunity to improve this time in 2013. The two other marathons I'm planning on are harder courses and of course Kauai will be very warm.

Oh yeah, one more thing--I did not stop for the bathroom once! This is a marathon first for me. Unfortunately, the time lost in my fall and related to that pretty much ate up the bathroom time savings.

After the marathon I took four days off running (Monday through Thursday) and then ran again on Friday. I was in Leavenworth for a training, so I ran five miles on the trails Friday morning and 4.5 miles on Saturday. Back in town I did a 10-mile run on Sunday and felt good.

This last Saturday I tested my speed a little by running a 5K in town (the Berry Run). I had hoped to break 25 minutes but it was not to be. They changed the course from last year and threw in a hill! My time was just over 26 minutes. I still squeaked in with a third place in Age Group F40-49. (And yes, there were more than three participants. At least four!)
Gravel again! My nemesis....

1 comment:

Tina @GottaRunNow said...

You've been a busy runner! Sorry to hear you fell, but I'm glad you were able to finish the race. Congrats on another marathon finish and 3rd place in the 5K!