I’m finally a 3:30 marathoner.
The week leading up to the Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon didn’t start out so well. What was supposed to be a 20-mile run the weekend before turned into a pair of runs on Saturday and Sunday, a 9-miler and an 11-miler. I just wasn’t “feeling it” either day and cut those runs short. Then we had what felt like the hottest week in Portland. So I ended up with three 4-5 mile runs throughout the week and they were hard. Also, my plantar fasciitis started flaring up again. And something was going wonky with my knee, which was probably a result of a trail run. My goal going into today’s marathon was a 3:30. But considering how my week was going I wasn’t too hopeful.
The day before didn’t give me any reason to be optimistic. Cat and I were supposed to go camping outside of North Bend, WA. But I made the mistake of not reserving a campsite at primary campground I picked out or the backup campground. So we ended up having to get a motel room in North Bend. I was feeling kind of bad about spending $50 more than I planned for lodging, plus the extra money for a real dinner instead of the campfire mac+cheese and PB&J sandwiches. But hey… we got a real dinner. Plus a TV to watch the Olympics. And a real bathroom. And a real bed. As we were lying in bed we thought, “yeah… this is much better than camping.”
Then came race morning. And my alarm clock didn’t go off… again. The only reason why I woke up 15 minutes before I had to leave the motel room to catch the bus to the starting area were the people outside the room making some noise. Damn. But we managed to get out the door at the planned time. I just didn’t have the customary amount of time to stretch, eat, and relax. Okay… no big deal. I’m running 26 miles so there’s plenty of time to warm up and relax, right?
The race was real low-key. A lot of Marathon Maniacs. A bunch I’ve meet before and a bunch I got to meet today. Lot’s of good folks. The 2 mile tunnel was more humid than I expected. Actually, I didn’t expect it to be damp and humid at all. It was also darker than I expected. I probably should have changed the batteries in my headlamp I guess. I didn’t bring my Garmin Forerunner thinking it would have a hard time finding the satellites after coming out of the tunnel so my pacing wasn’t exact. Using a normal watch, I figured I was running 8:00 miles, +/- 10 seconds on any particular mile. At least I was at that pace for the first 23 miles. The gravel on the trail was a bit more slippery than I expected but nothing too bad. The real killer for me was the humidity. Every time I hit a breezy section it felt like heaven.
The last 3 miles were tough. I was definitely slowing down. But I was on track for a PR, and even better, a sub-3:30. So I needed to push myself. I had just enough Hammer gel to get some calories every mile from 23 on so I was hoping I wasn’t going to run out of gas. When I glanced at my watch and saw 3:24 I was getting a bit worried because I hadn’t seen the 26 mile marker yet. But I stayed relaxed. And then there it was, mile 26. And my watch said 3:27-ish. Okay. No problem. Then 3:28. Okay… time to panic. Then I saw the finish line and went into a full-on sprint. I finished at about 3:29:30. Official finish times aren’t in yet.
Here’s my analysis of my performance. The speedwork I did 10 days before definitely helped with that final sprint. And I think I conquered the nutrition issues finally. Hammer gel and regular water definitely suits my GI tract. No GI cramping today at all. And no muscle cramping, despite the fast pace I was a pushing. And I was sweating a lot with the humidity. Electrolytes are overrated. The vanilla flavor of Hammer gel, incidentally, only has 25 mg of sodium. Brooks shoes rock. No blisters. Zero. And no chafing in my nether regions, despite the humidity. Always a plus. And this was only the second marathon where I wasn’t forced to take a walking break. Now that I think about it, I had the best marathon of my life so far today. Still looking for the negative split. But now I’m a 3:30 marathoner.
Update: Official results are in. My time… 3:29:35!