It is done.... 3 marathons in 3 months and I am a Marathon Maniac (bronze level!).
My birthday is the 30th and I have been known to consume a few brewski's in celebration but this year we spent a relaxing night in a nice hotel in Bellingham and had a nice birthday dinner at Anthony's because on December 31st I was running my 5th marathon of the year and my 3rd in 3 months.
Regular readers will know my goal to join marathon maniacs this year so with Victoria and Seattle under my belt all I needed was to crawl to the finish in the Last Chance Marathon. Its been snowing a in the Pacific Northwest so training has been hard the last few weeks but most of the hard work was done long before the snowflakes fell. I admit to feeling like I've not had a good run in a while so really uncertain how my legs will be over 26.2 and who knows what the trail conditions will be.
We headed out to the 9:00 start via The Bagelry (don't all rush round there - seems like its run by lazy students who don't give much of a damn. And who ever heard of a bagel shop that doesn't toast the bagels!) and as we arrive the Outback decided to make some very bad noises. While J called a tow truck I headed in to register for the race. There's only 50 or so run the race and its free! You get to choose your own number - I chose 41 in honour of my birthday - and they write it on your face. No chip, no number, no shirt. Pretty much everyone else is wearing their maniac shirts and of course I don't know anyone. The tow truck driver arrives just as we start so J and I yell goodbye across the carpark and I head out.
The first section of the course had packed snow and ice on about 80% of the trail so everyone has to run single file down the sides of the trail. I'm happy to be close to the back. Yes not only do these people run more marathons than me - most of them are also faster. There are a couple of sections on the course where the snow covers the whole path so at these points I stopped and walked the hundred yards or so. No point in getting a broken ankle at mile 2. Mile 3 was a fairly nasty hill - even on fresh legs everyone was walking it... I say everyone but a maniac called Monte managed about 90% before giving up. I was impressed enough at the time but if you look at his page you will see he ran a triple marathon (3 in 3 days) while I did Seattle and he's done another one since then.... the feeling of being the weenie maniac is something I will need to get used to because no matter how crazy you all think I am these guys are hardcore crazy!
After the hill I ran with Monte and Jenny until the turnaround point. Jenny fills me in on her plans for running a hundred miler, how she and her friend ran their first 50 miler on a course with a 1 mile lap and many more stories that make me realise there is much more maniac things to do in the future. I'm feeling a bit slow and my calf is a little sore - we're a little under my planned pace but its nice to have someone to run with since I'm just not getting into the race. At mile 7.5 we turn around and head back. I'm quite surprise to see J - the car fix was trivial and the tow truck guys got it all sorted. I strip off all my layers - its in the low 40's but I'm way too hot. I started in gloves, shorts, 2 shirts and a vest but I lost the gloves at mile 4 and the vest and long sleeve shirt get dumped as I turn around and head back. My pace is right around 11:00 bit off a PR but not bad.
As I come back I feel great - I pick it up and catch and very slowly pass a handful of people. Going back down the big hill is just as slow as coming up it - I can't run that steep. The icy sections still haven't melted either. I have some great miles under 10:30 and one was 9:30 (must have been downhill) - and I get back to the start line at in 2:22. I was hoping for more like 2:10 for a PR. To PR now I will need to run a 1:50 for the 2nd half... I'm feeling good but I don't think its going to happen. That would be a half marathon PR. I scarf down some snicker and milky way bars and head out again.
Once I have done the icy sections for the 3rd time I'm at the hill.... man 2nd time around its very tough. OUCH. It takes me a while at the top to get the legs going again and that's pretty much where my legs started complaining. Mile 16! At first its not too bad, but a glance at the watch tells me I've slowed. There's 2 guys in front of me who have been just in view for the last 6 miles so I try to use them to speed up but I lose sight on a walk break and now I'm all alone again. The nice thing about running 9 marathons is that I've been here plenty of times before. I'm starting to hurt but I know its not bad enough to quit and I know I've felt worse than this a couple of times and still finished. So I enjoy the view from the trail, I wonder if the snow has loosened any big rocks that I should watch for and I work out how I will avoid them if they crash down the cliff. I eat more candy bars and Gu and before I know it I'm at the turnaround point again. Quick Hi and Bye to J and the water crew and I've just about 5.5 miles left.
The legs are still slowing though and my average time creeps back over 11 minute pace as my miles take 11:30 then 11:50 and finally 12:00. I'm still running - just slower. Around mile 22 Jenny who ran with me at the start catches up and passes me. Can I keep up? Nope.... Oh well I tried - for about 4 seconds ;-)
Mile 25 and I'm back on the snow and ice - I'm pretty sure I am going to be under 5 hours if I can just keep going and then I see the guys I've been trailing for the last 16 miles and they are walking.... and I'm catching them.... I get within about 100 yards and they hear me and look back. But then their walk break is over and we are running the same pace. As we approach the turn off to the park one of them turns around and yells "come on Andy catch us up" or something like that. Of course I am wearing my shirt with my name on and everyone has been super friendly as we passed each other. So I pick it up and try really really hard - they get to the last downhill before me and though I've gained a little I'm not going to catch them even though they keep yelling at me. But the end is in sight and I can hear people yelling for me... 4:52. Way off my PR but who cares I am a maniac.
At the finish line its very cool. Tony from marathon maniacs comes over and says hi, apparently him and Mary went and fetched people out to cheer for the 'new guy' as I approached.
J bought me a marathon maniac hoody for my Birthday so I put that on and got my picture taken. Everyone was very friendly. Inside they had Burritos for us and plenty of snacks. The food was better than marathons you pay $100 for (yes Seattle I am talking about you!).
This was an excellent race, nice people, nice price and nice trail.. I totally lucked into cold but decent running weather too.
To further prove my maniacness I got up on January 1st and ran a 5k with a polar bear plunge in the lake. My group run this every year and running a marathon the day before wasn't going to stop me from joining in. I took it a bit slower than I normally would which meant I got to run with J which doesn't happen often. I loosened up nicely by mile 1 and had another good run. The lake was cold as usual but its a good way to start the year. (Side note here that when we overheard the other maniacs talking about running on the 1st we assumed they were talking about this 5k... but no they are maniacs so they were running another marathon the next day.... like I said I am a weenie maniac)
Today I'm still a little stiff but who cares I'm taking a few weeks off from running and I'm Maniac #1273 http://mm.littlemarathon.com/MyMarathons.asp?ManiacId=1273