I reached the North Bend shuttle location near the race finish at 6 pm. I could have taken a later shuttle but didn't want to take a chance! The shuttle ride to the start ended up being extremely uncomfortable since I was over-hydrated and desperately needed to pee. So as soon as I got there I staked out a porta-potty!
My bib number was a nice and round 50. Perhaps it was because I had registered on the very first day.
I ran into Cyrus at the start... He was going for a BQ and a sub-3 (unfortunately, it would not be his day. His calfs cramped and he was quite off target).
The early runners started off with quite a bit of fan-fare at 7 am.
As I removed my hoodie, I was shivering... That's always a great sign because it indicates that the weather will be just perfect when you start running!
The start was very low-key indeed. I was behind the 3:40 pacer. In a sense that would ensure that I didn't go out too fast :)
The race started with a brief out and back, before we entered the tunnel. To be honest I didn't enjoy running in the tunnel very much and I was glad when we were out of it. Some runners were making risky passes on the uneven surface - as if they were running a race which ended once they came out of the tunnel!
I didn't bring a source of lighting. As I had read in reports, there were enough runners around me to light up my path. For the first bit I stayed behind the 3:40 pacer before pulling ahead.
The first mile marker was comically misplaced, and not too far off from the second mile marker. Remarkably my Garmin 225 held signal all through.
There was a photographer strategically placed outside the tunnel. The first water-stop was soon after. Manning the water-stop was Izi, Ken and gang. It's always nice to run into familiar faces.
Hitting the downhills make running a lot easier. I noted that the gravel meant that you could not run on the center - only on the sides. That made cutting tangents a little more difficult. I'd hang in behind runners at times because it would take more effort to pass.
I found myself behind a guy talking to himself... I really hope he had a GPro else I'd have to say he was mad or delirious :p
The water stops in this race are less frequent than most marathons (at 2.6, 5.3, 8, 10.7, 13.4, 16.4, 18.8, 21.2, 22.8, 24.5). I was therefore more careful to have my gels when I saw a water station up ahead. I was on a 6 gel strategy as usual. I did slow down, almost to a complete. In some stations I took both water and the sports drink.
I was happy that I had managed to keep my HR around of below 160. It's typically higher for my long runs. That meant that at the very least it would not be an aerobic struggle, more of a muscular struggle. Having it fight both is when it's so tempting to quit.
As is often the case (in training runs or races), I set myself distance goals to get to - 1/3 done, half done, 2/3 done, just 10 more to go, 5k to go... Something for my brain to focus on.
While I was focused on the race, I could not help but marvel at the beautiful and serene trail. It would be nice to come back and run/walk a part of this trail at a leisurely pace :)
This mile marker was on a beautiful wooden bridge. Followed immediately by a photographer.
The first signs of the carnage of trashed muscles - some folks walking or struggling.
My legs were certainly tiring but in general I felt OK.
Izi and co. were cheering at this stop :) It was where the trail took a turn. Some of the folks in the group were helping pace the last 5 miles...
Mentally I channeled the 3 miles on the waterfront trail. In my six mile runs on the trail the 3 mile turn-around always gives me a boost!
I noticed a red shirt and someone looking like Ken in the distance. It indeed was - he was pacing David. I would go onto pass them as David was struggling.
Motivational signs in the final stretch...
The finish wasn't quite visible amidst the tree cover. It was only after the 26 mile marker that I saw it.
Net Time: 03:27:39 @ 7:55 min/mile
The Streak Lives On
Indeed. My marathon streak lives on for another year... barely...
Overall, I am happy with my execution of this run. My average heart race was consistent and in fact lower than it tends to be on my long runs!
An interesting note - I noticed that this was a course which punished the folks who went out too fast (a lot of tales of cramping and quads giving way) and rewarded folks who ran sensible races. Not to stereotype, but I saw a lot of females passing walking guys in the last 10k...
An interesting fact - this time is very close to my time for my first marathon. (That however was on a tougher MCM course on a 80F+ day). So it looks like I've come a full circle and am ready to move on.
For the rest of the year I hope to work on getting fitter and stronger, with the hopes of a memorable 2017 (the year is a prime number so that has to signify awesomeness)!!