I decided to take Friday off work so I could sleep in then spend the morning getting my stuff organized and packed instead of rushing to do it the night before. After a nice relaxing morning I picked Jen up by her office and we headed out on the road to Newport. We took the turnoff for Bay Road in Toledo in order to drive the majority of the course (it was four miles in town then out and back for the remaining 22.2) and get some pictures of where I would be running.
Once we arrived at the hotel we checked in then walked downstairs to the packet pickup where I got my number (no chips) and asked about the shuttle in the morning. I wasn't sure if I was going to take it or walk (it was about a mile) but I figured I would at least find out where it was picking up. After that we went to our room, drove to the store to pick up some chocolate milk for after the race and regular milk for morning coffee, then walked around a bit and hit up the hotel restaurant where I ordered a great pasta dish and had an after dinner cocktail.
Race morning I woke up to clear blue sky and after having my toast and coffee we walked over to the start. It took about 20 minutes and was a really nice way to start the day. Once we arrived at the start I hit up the port-o-forest then walked over to the starting area and made my way to the front of the pack. Since this was not a chip timed race (it's a small race that is capped at 800) and I wanted to run a 3:10:00 I tried to line up as close to the front as I could. About three minutes later the countdown began and we were off!
I knew that the key to me running my goal time was going to be even pacing and no miles that were unreasonably fast. I kept that in mind as we started out and tried to stay relaxed and run strong but easy. The first four miles twist and turn through town with a few ups and downs and at 4.5 we passed by the hotel for a short but steep climb (which we would come back down right before the finish) then headed out onto Bay Road for the out and back section.
Paces: 7:06, 7:18, 7:10, 7:06, 7:32 - 36:12 (0:03 ahead of pace)
The next five miles went by fairly uneventfully. I got into a groove and kept pace with the few people that were around me. By mile 10 I was starting to wonder if I could hold the pace which started to worry me but I decided to take it one mile at a time and not let myself start to get negative this early in the race:
Paces: 7:14, 7:13, 7:19, 7:14, 7:15 - 1:12:27 (0:04 ahead of pace)
Ahhhh headwind - how sucky can you be - let me count the ways - mile 12, mile 13, mile 14. At one point around mile 13 I passed one guy who tucked in behind me and breathed in my ear for the next half mile or so. I could really feel myself starting to get tired but I also knew the turn around would be coming up soon where I would see Jen and then be heading back to the finish line. Right around 15 I saw Jen and she handed me a new water bottle and shouted some encouragement (and snapped a couple of pics).
Paces: 7:11, 7:20, 7:24, 7:24, 7:23 - 1:49:09 (0:23 off pace)
"On a long and lonesome highway east of Omaha, you can listen to the engine moanin out his one note song"
And the fade begins. After I passed by Jen at the turn around I could feel myself start to slow bit by bit. The sun was hot and the formerly stiff headwind was now a lazy tailwind that did nothing for me. At around mile 17 I realized that I wasn't going to make 3:10:00 and found myself not being upset about it at all. I remember thinking "this shit is hard" and "what did I get myself into" a number of times during miles 17 and 18. Finally at 19 I decided to take a 15 second walk break while I took a drink - that 15 seconds blew by and next thing I knew I was running along again. When we hit the water stop at mile 20 the guy in front of me walked through the stop and I thought "what an ingenious idea, I'm going to walk the water stop as well!" - I still only gave myself 15 seconds and again, it was gone before I knew it.
Paces: 7:33, 7:22, 7:36, 7:42, 8:12 - 2:27:33 (-2:31 off pace)
Holy Hell what did I get myself into? These last miles were SO hard. A couple times I considered grabbing onto a car as it drove by and sort of hooky-dragging along for a while. I figured my arms weren't nearly as tired as my legs so I could hold on for a good 30 seconds or so which seemed fantastic. I didn't think any of the other racers would get upset, in fact I figured I would start a hooky-dragging chain reaction when people started realizing what a brilliant idea it was.
One of the best things about this race being small was that everyone around me at this point was suffering as much or more as I was. There were eight or ten people within a half mile of me and not a single one of them was consistently running. There was guy cramping way worse than me, guy with audible stomach problems, run fast/walk slow guy, and 'oh my god it's another patch of shade' guy just to name a few.
Around mile 23.5 my right quad started cramping with every push off and I thought that if I didn't stop to stretch it out I was going to be in trouble. I stopped and grabbed onto a pole and tried to do a quad stretch but my hamstring stated in no uncertain terms that it would not tolerate any sort of contractions. I immediately put my foot down and rubbed my quad then started running again. My last 15 second walk break was at the mile 24 water stop.
Paces: 8:23, 8:00, 8:34, 8:54, 8:22 - 3:09:46 (-8:29 off pace)
The quad cramp hit me hard in the last mile and I had to stop one last time to shake it out. Audible stomach problems guy was right in front of me and I set the goal of beating that gassy bastard to the finish so I pushed it hard up the final incline then kicked it into high gear as I was coming down the hill to the finish. I could hear gas master's steps behind me so I gave it all I had and made it across the line before him.
Final Time: 3:20:23 - 7:39 AP
8/38 Age Group (30-34)
The guys in the chute asked me how I was feeling and my response (after a few moments of deep thought) was "thirsty". They gave me a bottle of water which I took a few drinks of before dumping the rest over my head. I walked over and got another bottle then saw Jen and she ran over and gave me a hug. She was kicked out of the finishers area a minute later so I stood in the shade and ate a few orange slices before walking over to where she was standing. I spent a few minutes stretching out then we headed back to our room where I took a shower and changed.
We walked over to Rogue Brewery and had an awesome lunch and a couple drinks then spent some time bumming around Newport.
Finishers Medal - made by local glass shop in Newport
Goodbye Marathon Beard
Overall it was a great race and even though it kicked my ass it made me hungry for more. Jen and I are talking about our next marathon but I'll leave the announcement to her as she is the family race planner.