Up at 4:15 and out the door by 5:10, I made it to the marathon at about 6 am - plenty of time to park, get my bearings and say hi to folks. I saw Rob, volunteer coordinator extraordinaire, and he seemed to be handling his job quite well. In fact, he took a moment to pose for my camera:
"Good Rob" is sitting on Rob's right shoulder
King Arthur was working the packet pick up and Eric was wandering around lost, since Michelle had taken the early start. Other familiar faces like Little Leslie and Van "Pigtails" Phan passed by. Soon we were ready to line up for the start. I was surprised at how small the field was; I guess since it's in its second year, word still has to get out what a nice course it is. Maybe it was because I was hanging at the back....
I was standing near the back of the crowd since my goal was to take it easy and not push my pace. A woman standing next to me asked me what my goal time was and I laughed and said it was to finish so I could be a Maniac. I hadn't run that far on pavement in a long time and my last road marathon was Boston 2006. She was aiming for a 4:30-4:45 and I thought that sounded good, so she asked if I wanted to run together. Rose turned out to be from Texas (my home state) and from the town where my father went to undergrad! She was out here visiting family in Bremerton and wanted to do a marathon out here while she had the chance. We started out nice and slow, and were not really on a 4:45 schedule. I'm fond of negative splits since I don't really warm up till much later in the race. The course started out going through town (this was my first time seeing Tacoma other than from the freeway) and then dropped down to run along the water. The half marathon leaders soon caught up to us, about mile 4 or 5, and for a while we had company. I came up to an aid station hosted by The Balanced Athlete and got a big hug from Eric! The half marathoners turned around near the end of this stretch and on their way back, I saw Iliana. She was bookin'!
By about mile 7, my feet were starting to complain, like they were spending too much time on the ground with each stride. I turned on my metronome to check my cadence and sure enough, it was slower than 90 bpm. I gave Rose, my Texan running partner, a mini-crash course in ChiRunning and how to relax the lower legs. For me, it felt much better when I got back on cadence, but I think it may have been too late in then long run (so to speak). We entered Point Defiance Park, another place I'd had yet to see; it reminded me of running through Golden Gate Park in SF. We got a peek-a-boo view of the Tacoma Narrows bridge, so I had to stop and snap a photo. It didn't turn out very good because of the haze. Rose ran on and I ran to catch up to her. That little semi-sprint felt good, and my legs were wanting to pick up and run a little faster, but I held back. I got a good shot of Rose as we were about to descend a long hill:
After we left Pt. Defiance, we entered a neighborhood. It was fun to see the locals and get cheered on by them. By about mile 13 Rose was fading and asked me to go on if I wanted. She had just gotten over a nasty cold and hadn't run for two weeks, plus other life issues were pulling at her, so it was no surprise that she was tired. I was impressed she was out there on the course! I decided to stretch my legs a bit and told her she'd probably catch up when I had to walk. That turned out to be the last I saw of her for the day.
Soon thereafter, I rounded a corner and got the most amazing view of the Narrows bridge, that I had to stop and take a photo. But first, I took a shot of the volunteer standing there:
who then offered to take a shot of me with the Narrows bridge in the background:
I ran on and soon caught up with another gal. We played leap frog for a bit and then settled down to run together for a while. This was her second marathon and she was doing quite nice. Her goal was a sub 5 hour run, and she was on target. The funniest thing was, though she lives here now, she was originally from Texas too! This was a day for the Texas gals! We ran and walked from the neighborhood and onto the bike path along the freeway. This was my least favorite part of the course because it was so noisy. There seemed to be a motorcycle gang tearing up the road, but it was a lot of old farts on their Harleys, probably going to a bar to discuss finances and investment strategies.
The Texas duo soon got back into a neighborhood and into the final stretch. She took off and I watched her fade out of sight and smiled because I knew she was gonna get her goal.
Seeing the mile 26 sign in the distance pepped me up and getting into my best posture, I kicked it in and came in at 4:59 - the new PS, or personal slowest. I later told Little Leslie I got a PR - the slowest time ever - and she said that was a PW -personal worst. But since it wasn't a bad marathon experience (except for the bottoms of my feet) I decided it should be a PS instead. I'll save the PW for another time and hope I don't ever have to use it.
So I finally got my qualifications down, and sent in my request to the gatekeeper, and got approved. Funny - I was talking to one of them at the marathon expo and I told him I had run Chuckanut and Mt Si. He said running Chuckanut alone should have qualified me - it was too hard for him! So now I am back to the trails - no more road races for a while!