A roller coaster ride.
This marathon, number 13 in my collection of 26.2 mile runs, was one of the more difficult. I don’t think it had much to do with the event falling two weeks after Boston. My legs felt pretty good going into marathon weekend.
I kept a good pace until mile 19 when things started falling apart. My mind turned to thoughts like “I don’t need to push it. I just want to finish as a Maniac finisher in the group’s main race.” Yet, at the same time, I was thinking “You know if you come in over 4 hours you’ll beat yourself up”. Thoughts went back and forth until the final 1/2 mile when the 3:55 pacer passed me and I couldn’t let that happen. I gave it a final push, passed the pacer and finished with a time of 3:53:41, 13 seconds faster than Boston.
From the beginning: Details
A restless night. I was worried about Shane who was acting under the weather at home. I was worried about facing the hills on the course. When the alarm went off at 4 am, I had already been awake since 3 am but it seemed as if I never slept. The Ezekiel roll with peanut butter and half a banana so early in the morning wasn’t going down very well and only about 2/3’rds of it was eaten.
Ted and I left for the Museum of Art at 5 am, about a quarter mile walk down the road. It was raining so we put on our extra large garbage bags. No waiting in line for the bus. We got right on and left within 10 minutes. When we reached the Tacoma Narrows Airport, the hanger was open to all runners. It was damp and cold but had stopped raining. The hanger was dry and slightly warmer towards the back even though sitting on the concrete wasn’t the most comfortable.
I ate 1/2 a Clif bar an hour before the race to supplement what I hadn’t managed to choke down earlier.
The marathon began at 7 am. The half marathon at 8 am. If a runner/walker needed more than 6 hours to finish, they were able to start at 6 am, unsupported and expected to know the course.
After introductions to pacers and the national anthem, marathoners hit the road. There were so many Maniacs! It seemed like every other runner was wearing a Marathon Maniac shirt. I set myself up with the 3:55 pacer. That didn’t last long since I took advantage of any down hill early on. I knew it was a mistake to take off like that but I was unsure if I would keep pace later in the race after experiencing such a rolling terrain.
The course was well supported. Everyone cheering and making a special call out to maniacs. We left the runway, did a slight loop then headed towards the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. We ran through neighborhoods of Central Tacoma before entering Point Defiance Park at the 14 mile point. Entering the park was a death march for me. The hill seemed so steep and I knew it was quite up and down through the entire park so I saved my legs and walked a bit, thinking I’d take advantage of downhills as I did in Boston. The park, coupled with the misty, over cast weather seemed like a rain forest.
There were several areas of the route that had such a camber, it began bothering my knees.
We passed scenic view points on the left and if you looked quick, you’d see the water. Puget Sound.
There was another loop around a neighborhood (I can’t stand running around orange cones in a marathon!) before we made a long descent towards Ruston Way. Water on the left and 6 miles of fairly flat running.
At this point, my legs were heavy, my mind was trying to convince me to walk. If we hit a small incline, I did walk and that became more frequent the closer we got to the finish. Even though I could feel the 3:55 pacer closing in, I didn’t have the mental motivation to push any harder.
3 points along the course, we intersected with the half marathoners and ran side by side for the longest stretch from mile 19 1/2 to 25. Along this waterway, Ruston Way/ N. Schuster Pkwy, I stopped to check my phone. I was still worrying about Shane. I guess I knew the girls wouldn’t call me in the middle of a marathon, miles across the country, so maybe I was just gaining reassurance from a blank screen that Shane, my beautiful boy, was ok. While this was going on, I felt a gentle hand on my shoulder, a fellow runner who I had been running back and forth with for a few miles, urged me on. He said nothing, just put a hand on me as if to say “almost there, keep going”.
At mile 25, we went up the Dock St. extension and the 3:55 pacer passed me. I didn’t let her go far, dug deep and pushed past her. As soon as I crossed the finish line, Ted called out to me. It was windy and I was cold so the Mylar sheet was a blessing. Ted and I walked side by side discussing our runs before getting a photo taken and
getting me a 10 minute massage while Ted had a beer and a couple slices of pizza. I couldn’t believe they charged $2. for beer! In Utica, for all of 14,000 people, it’s FREE!
I tried to check my results but my name wasn’t listed. Luckily, at that time, one of the timer guys came up to change the results sheet. He went to check for my name, came back and said they had my finish time but not my start time. He took my Garmin and in a short while came back with the results. He said “Good News! Your time was 3:53:41 and you placed 6th in your age group”. Luckily I hung around to give the guy my Garmin so they could accurately calculate my time. Not sure what kind of hassle that would have been once we flew home.
In conclusion, I didn’t like the hilly course. The support was good, it was scenic, an interesting run. I was disappointed with my lack of mental endurance. Physically, I could have performed better. Now I wait until the fall to try to make up what I lacked in these two spring marathons. Portland, OR and NYC here I come.
How did Ted do? If you call taking 12 minutes off your half marathon time since the last race 2 months ago great, then he did FANTASTIC! He’s still got a lot of training to do up to his half iron man at the end of June but he came out of Tacoma feeling pretty good.