I can sum it up in two simple words: great race. I didn't break 3:10, but am super stoked to have run the course in 3:12:09 and set a new PR (old one was 3:12:41 at Boston last April). I also bested last year's MDI time of 3:14:33 by a good amount. Stoked.
Kate and I arrived on the island around noon and hit the expo. Checked in there, went for a short run with Kate at Eagle Lake, hung out with Ryan for a bit, then met up with Jim D. and Shauna at the pasta dinner (always very good, but it seemed especially tasty this year), then headed back to Kate's folks' place in Brewer to spend the night.
Ran 2.8 miles @ 9:52/mile pace.
Lower 60s, sunny, windy.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, long sleeved shirt.
We drove back over and arrived at the race a little more than hour before the start. My stomach had been feeling a little off that morning, which worried me a bit. I was also feeling very nervous and anxious, which surprised me a bit because logically there really shouldn't have been much to worry about. It wasn't BQ or die unlike last year. Nothing was really on the line. But yet, I couldn't relax. At least I had the Trail Monsters to talk to and also kept bumping into other folks I knew.
|Trail Monsters take to the roads. Jim, me and Ryan.|
|We're off! Courtesy: Maine Running Photos|
Ryan and I hung together and we linked up with two other runners, Anita and Ty. Similar paces, similar personalities, and we laughed and joked as we worked together until just past the half marathon mark. This was completely awesome and VERY welcome. Last year, I was alone for most of the race. It was great to have other folks to run off of and exchange jokes with.
The distraction was especially important for me, as I was feeling really out of sync and all sorts of negative thoughts were running through my head in the first half. I remember thinking to myself at mile four "Man, I am simply not feeling it today". My stomach also still felt a little off (thankfully, it never became a real issue).
Miles 5-10 - Pushing
|Seal Harbor. About 8.5 miles into the race. Courtesy: Maine Running Photos.|
Still feeling out of sync and still wondering what was up. I was valuing Ryan, Anita and Ty more than ever as they were pulling me along. Pace was great and conversing with them was a perfect distraction, but secretly inside my head I continued to wage a bit of a mental battle with myself. Cooksey Drive was also a great diversion, as it provided stunning views of the ocean. Took my first Gu one hour into the race. Despite the questionable stomach, it didn't do anything to upset it. Whew. An important test and I had passed it. I also ditched the disposable water bottle I had been carrying and felt a bit more freed up as a result.
Miles 10-15 - The Mental Demons Die
|Ty and I at Northwest Harbor|
We went through Northwest Harbor and it was great to see Kate and her folks here as well as the others... another lift. Still out of sync. But then, an eye opener occured. We crossed the half marathon mark in 1:34:57. Unacceptable. I crossed in 1:34:22 last year. I was ticked and knew I could do better. Fortunately, I was able to use that and my splits began to drop. For a while, I was a bit ahead of Ryan, but then he passed me up (and for good). Anita and Ty were now behind. The Fantastic Four had been broken up, but it was inevitable it would happen at some point. Took another Gu around 1:45 into the race.
Miles 15-20 - Cruising
|Coming off of Sargent Drive. Despite the pained expression, I was actually feeling really good here.|
|A little after mile 18|
Miles 20-25 - Tough Hills and the Headwind of Death
|Around mile 21. Arrr matey, there be hills ahead!|
Okay, now my legs have caught up to me a bit and were feeling tired. And having a cruel headwind along with some big hills in this stretch wasn't helping. But still, I trucked on and the pace was still respectable (for me) at this stage. I was calculating my finishing time, and early on in this stretch I knew I would probably beat last year's time if I could keep it up. Took the third and final Gu when the Garmin hit 2:30.
The miles and hills ticked by and the time calculations became more clear. Now, setting a new PR seemed possible, but I'd have to book it. Was still picking off a few folks and only one guy had passed me (the only one since around mile 15, now that I think about it).
I soon saw the amply named Top of the Hill Restaurant which marks the top of the final big hill. Sweet! A very welcome sight. I honestly didn't expect it to see it when I did, I thought it was still further up the road. Big downhill, then a very small uphill was all that was left.
25-26.2 - The Final Stretch
The new PR was now the firm focus but I knew I'd have to work hard. I was also keeping in mind that I had a BQ for 2013. Those two thoughts kept me going and I was pushing with all I had left. I cruised on the downhill, and soon came up on that minor uphill. If there's a nice thing about that final incline, it's that you know that once you're at the top you can see the finish line.
Kept glancing at my watch all the while, and when the finish line was in sight I let loose with all I had left (which wasn't much). I got closer and closer and knew a PR was in the bag. I pumped my fist in victory and crossed the finish line in 3:12:09, good enough for 24th place overall. Excited as heck, but too depleted to express it. Ryan was right there to greet me and I used the man hug as an excuse for him to hold me up. By the way, Ryan rocked it with a 3:10:11. A gargantuan PR for him and he was seconds away from a negative split. Kate was also right there as well as Blaine (who rocked it with a 3:03:02) and the others.
|Approaching the finish|
I found a chair and sat down, recapping war stories with Blaine and Ryan. We flushed our legs for a good 10 minutes or so, which helped immensely (I'm surprised more endurance runners don't do this). Milled around and chatted with others, and made our way over to the beer tent for some beverages and a pulled pork sandwich (courtesy of Kate's folks.. big thanks!).
|Minutes after the finish|
Legs continue to feel surprisingly great. Sore, yes, but nowhere near the degree as MDI last year or Boston last April (I guess I didn't run hard enough, hardee har har). Very stoked still to have PR'd and qualified for Boston for 2013, but running that race again in 2012 might be enough for me. Plenty of time to think about it though and nice to have the option.
Ran 26.2 miles @ 7:20/mile pace.
Official chip time: 3:12:09
Overall placing: 24th out of 926.
Age group placing (35-39): 7th out of 59 (stacked this year)
Upper 40s to upper 50s, sunny, windy.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, singlet, plastic water bottle first 10 miles.