We stayed at a cheap motel in North Bend this time and I took the marathon bus to the start, trying to get the full experience. The motel was a dive and the lady working the desk was totally drunk. Even so, it wasn't nearly as scary as the one for Big Sur with the bullet proof glass and the CSI van in the parking lot. This one even had a microwave so I could heat up my morning gas station java bought the night before without bugging the attendant.
Everything about the race was very well organized just like last time. My only complaint about the race is the ugly red shirt :)
The tunnel was extra humid and foggy this time so I was completely drenched within the first 2 miles. My fancy flaming dress shirt was a little heavy being soaked like that, but it served very well to keep me cool through the rest of the race. It was cloudy and 65°-70° through most of the course. I started out in the back of the fast pack. There were about a dozen of us that were a 100 yards or so out front by the time we exited the tunnel. Over the next few miles I ran with a couple guys and their personal bicycle support dude as the rest of the pack pulled away from us. They eventually left me behind too at the mile 8 water station since they didn't need anything. I slowed down just long enough to get two cups of water and continued on at my previous pace, not wasting any energy trying to catch up. I only kept them in sight for another mile or so and then I was on my own without another runner in sight for much of the race. Just before the half I got a wicked side stitch that hung on for about 10 minutes. It had me worried, but passed soon enough with a little direct pressure and some intense focus on my breathing. After a bunch more solitary miles I caught up to the two guys with bicycle support and passed them before the turn-off to Snoqualmie Valley Trail at mile 21. Mile 22 is flat as a pancake and just that little change of decline from about 1% to 0 threw my calves into a fit. I had a sharp pain in my right calf Thursday morning that I convinced myself was just a taper-madness phantom pain, but in the back of my mind I was still worried, especially now. This is also the same place on the course where I started to cramp up last time. I backed off the effort just a little and tried to keep steady. I could feel a constant little twinge, but not enough to affect my stride. At this point I was going completely by feel and didn't even want to look at my garmin. I was just happy to be moving along at what still felt like a respectable pace. In mile 24 I caught up to and passed the leading lady on the course. She looked pretty strong, although she did not seem to be moving very fast at all. I thought she might have been an early starter, but she finished not far behind me with a 3:12. The last two miles felt very long.... My garmin was off by nearly a quarter mile because of the tunnel and all the tree cover on the trail. Each mile it would beep at me and then what seemed like an eternity later I would finally pass the mile marker on the trail. It felt like doing each mile twice.
Any time I had felt good during the first 20 I thought about how I should just keep it steady and then really pick up the pace for the last 6 miles if I had anything left. That turned out to be a good plan even though I had nothing left to speak of by then. It was all I could do to keep on pace and not completely blow up during those last few miles. I'm a little bummed about missing my sub-3 goal, but I know I ran my best and have no regrets about the day. I am also pretty sure that a BQ-17:
3327 will get me in so I better start saving for another trip to Boston!
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