I think the next time I plan a marathon "training" run, I'm going to check the profile a bit more closely; this was a very tough course. Not sure pre-profile check would have deterred me from running it, as these profiles never paint a true picture, but next time I will certianly look a little more closely....wow, was that difficult.
I didn't have a "goal" other than I wanted to run it slowly so that it felt good which I was figuring in the range of 4:15. I certainly did not want to run it hard and trash my legs....that was not the goal. I'm pretty freaked as it is about Portland and the last thing I need is going into that race with messed-up legs.
But I am really not sure I could have run that race today any harder!!??!! By the last two miles, the sun was blazing and I was dying. Owie
This course is very pretty (as is the entire town; it reminds me a lot of Steamboat). It is one of the most diversified terrain and vairied scenery I have ever run. You start on paved road with some rolling hill through an affluent residential area near a golf course and soon merge onto a bike path. I got caught up in the excitment of the race and the first mile was about 8:35 so I pulled back a little. The course proceeds through a tunnel and are on a paved road here and I got caught up in some fun conversations with two groups of guys: one group was with about 4 people and they were also "training" this marathon for their biggie in NYC in Nov. 3 of the 4 have been injured and one guy hadn't even run in a month. That always amazing me how someone can run 26 miles having not run in all that time; I see it a lot! Anyway, we somehow got into the discussion about what our "training" times were for this race based on our near-future goal time and one of the guys seemed to think I shouldn't run it over 4-hours. I really think this is one time I really didn't let that time distract me, and get my mind in a tangle. I knew my purpose here was to perform slow. The other guy I talked to for quite awhile actually was a bit older and heading up the 4:30 pace team in NYC. I enjoyed listening to him share his pacing team stories. I lost both groups at the aid station; the large group going on ahead of me and the pace team guy stopping to get water.
At the aid station, the course turn onto what is called the Rail Trail. It's a gravel trail that runs for about 7 miles and is a "gradudual uphill" according to the course description. I should also learn to read descriptions more closely before I run a race also because gradual for 7 miles can actually slow your pace and I was having the hardest time trying to figure out why I could not pick up the pace a bit here as I was thinking maybe after mile 8, I'd run about 5 miles at race pace. Nope, couldn't do it. When I decided I'd try this little pace pick-up, the course was starting to climb and is not really "gradual" anymore. I will say this about the famous Rail Trail: though it was probably the most beautiful part of any marathon I've ever run, showing off the ski resort to the West and skies lined with hot-air balloon, I did not like this trail. The gravel was hard to get a footing on and I was twisting my ankles frequently. And okay, the "gradual" incline for 7 miles just kinda sucked!
After the Rail Trail, you hop onto a paved trail and this area is exceptionally gorgeous .... but it's also starting to climb. At mile 12, I ran into my 'training for NYC' buddies and asked them if the course peaks the top at mile 13 (a few downhills would be really nice right now). They laughed and told me the worst is yet to come. Oh boy. I'm starting to have some problems with my lower back hurting and I can feel the temps rising and am starting to feel the ole glute pain coming back. For the next 4 miles, the hills are relentless. You run around the ski resort area and circle back at mile 16 where you finally get a flat section for about a mile before you start a little downhill. Okay, normally I would welcome the downhill (like at mile 12 when I asked my NYC group) but it's hard on your legs to go from one extreme to the other, especially the amount of uphill I HAD been doing and I felt I was doing some major damage to the quads by pulling back as to not go screaming down the hill.
I thought the most "interesting" part of the course was where you actually cut through the ski resort. I mean, you are literally running through where you would line up to get on a chairlift. there is no path, you are just on the grounds which is lined with ski shops and restaurants. I think at one point, you even go directly under a chairlift. But it's short-lived and you soon are in a very pretty residential area that is lined with old craftman houses. One pretty brutally steep hill that is sort, but steeper than anythning I've ever encountered in a marathon. I just walked up it as were everyone around me. Which, by the way, was down to a trickle of those I was running around - a very small marathon. At the top of the near vertical hill, you enter a very pretty residental area and are now at about mile 18 and the start of mostly downhill to the end.
Once you leave the residental area, you enter the bike path and vast, open lands. It's very pretty. One of the most beautiful on the course is passing by this big, old, beautiful white barn...which I guess is the entrance to the Sundance Film Festival. It's a vast, wide open space here and it's simply breath-taking. The course is on a bike path and soon it goes under the highway and you enter the last few miles in a wetland nature preserve. I got this second-wind and tried to pick up the pace - which worked for about 2 miles but once I got to mile 24, I was done. The sun was out in full-force, temps had to be in the high 70's; the cumulative races I had done in the weeks prior were letting my legs know they were dead; the antibiotic I was on for the sinus infection; the anxiety of going back to work; the anxiety of personal issues in my life; the fact I've done zero interval work in about 8 weeks, the altitude...and whatever other reasons for my sudden battle with the race.
The last two miles my times were hovering in the 11 minute/mile range -- and that has me a wee-bit concerned. I mean, if I held back for over a minute/mile for the entire race, I'd think I had a great deal of energy left in me to knock that baby out. I had nothing. Well, except when I saw the "26 mile" sign (my watch said I still had a half mile until I hit mile 26. Hum...), then I picked up the pace and was pretty pleased that I was back in the 9 minute range.
My friends met me after and it was so great to see them. What a great bunch! I got a flower and my medal and grabbed a chocolate milk from a wadding pool filled with ice. The best post-race food I've ever downed were the peaches at the finish line... I felt like I couldn't get enough.
I could indulge in a lot more about the weekend and what a great time I had; a great city to explore; great company.... but I am way overly tired and have been writing bits and pieces of this for the past 28 hours and it's getting pretty lengthy as it is. BTW, I finished in 4:13:55 and got 6th in my age group!
Jonathan, Me, Nicole