When people find out that I have done several different marathons in several different states, (of course they find this out because I usually work the conversation around to talk about the several different marathons I've done in several different states) they usually ask me which was my favorite. You would think that after being asked this question so many times (especially when I am the one who usually initiates the conversation) that I would have an answer ready for them...but I never did. I would sat that I liked one marathon for one reason and another marathon for some other reason, but I've never had a clear-cut favorite...well...now I do.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon, in my opinion, is the perfect marathon. It's small, so there are no big crowds to fight through at the starting line..and the organizers didn't skimp on the port-a-potties just because it is small. It is obvious that this marathon was designed and organized by marathoners.
The scenery--which really isn't a huge thing for me because I barely notice the scenery while I'm concentrating on my pace, hydration...and not puking--but there was no way to ignore the spectacular views that were endless on this course. While running over the high bridges, I couldn't help but look around and take in the beauty that surrounded me and I remember saying out loud, "Wow!"
Like I mentioned before, this marathon is obviously organized by marathoners...and most of the volunteers must have run a marathon or two as well. I never had to wonder who had water and who had Gatorade as I approached an aide station. And they hustled to take care of all who were at their station and then got ready for the next runner coming through. Obviously, a smaller race allows the volunteer to give a runner more attention, but I have been at small races where the volunteers have the water glasses filled and sitting on the table, while they sit in their truck and get out only when the table runs out of filled cups.
Downhill. That's really all that needs to be said about that, but I should also say that there really is no reason to train for the downhill grade. It was gentle enough that I really never felt any stress or pounding on my quads. It felt like they say on their website..."you're just having a good day"...which leads me to the way I was feeling...like crap.
I think I kind of sabotaged myself last weekend while having a "good time" up at my daughter's cabin...it took me until Tuesday to really feel normal. And, with this new job, I have to wake up at 4:45 (I know, Jay is already done with a 10 mile workout and Holly has done 2 loads of laundry and prepared lunches for her family by then) but I just cannot get into bed at night soon enough to give me a good night's sleep. And then, there was Eric...just doing his stupid stuff that keeps me tossing and turning wondering what he's up to--if he's in jail or even dead or alive. (He'll grow out of it...right?) So, anyway...compound that with being a nervous wreck during 2 takeoffs and 2 landings...it just wasn't an ideal week leading up to a marathon.
I don't remember a marathon where I haven't come to a point along the way where I wonder if I'm going to be able to hold my pace...or to even make it to the finish. That point usually comes around mile 17--in fact, for the first 10 miles, I'm usually forcing myself to hold back--telling myself, "Of course you feel good, you dope--it's only been 10 miles". But with this one, I had come to that point at mile 2. Yes, I was still inside the tunnel, so I thought maybe that had something to do with it...I hoped it had something to do with it. But, even after leaving the dark, dingy, wet--but totally awesome tunnel--I still felt like crap. In fact, if I hadn't known this course was all down hill, I really believe I would have stepped off the course and tried it again another day. But, you know...I always tell Ryan, "Just because you're not feeling your best on race day, doesn't mean you can't still have a good race." I told myself that if I'm really as tough as I like to make everybody believe I am, then I'd better just suck it up and run. So...I ran.
Okay--a little story about the tunnel. I had purchased a small, lightweight, clip-on headlight just before I came to this race and I had never gotten the chance to use it. As I neared the entrance to the tunnel, I turned it on and, after imagining knocking out that monster that guarded the entrance, I entered the darkness expecting to see beams of light that would guide me safely through the tunnel. But, no--it was still dark! I had to put my hand in front of the light to make sure the stupid thing was even on. I couldn't get my balance, because I wasn't really sure where, or what, I was stepping on. In my head, I was cursing my stupid light and I was mad at myself for not bringing the headlight I was used to. I decided to just stay close to another couple of runners, which seemed to help some, but I could still barely see anything. About half way through, it dawned on me that I still had my sunglasses on. And then I heard Enke's voice in my head saying, "Don't forget to take your sunglasses off before you enter the tunnel." She had said this minutes before the start of the race and I remember thinking how could anybody be stupid enough to do that? Just call me "Stupid!"
Anyway--to get under 3 hours means a 6:52 pace. Already, by mile 3 I was a little off that pace but I didn't let it bother me because I had plenty of time to make it up. There was a guy who was running, pretty much my same pace wearing a camelback and was able to run through the water stops, while I stopped at each one to make sure I took in plenty of fluids. So I was using him as a target to catch back up to so I felt like I wasn't losing any ground. My Garmin never fully recovered from the tunnel...whatever lives within those dark, wet, and totally awesome walls took away a mile and never gave it back. So I was really questioning whether my Garmin was being accurate or not. So I used this guy for awhile to reassure myself that I was maintaining a pace that would, at least, get me close to being where I wanted to be by the halfway point.
At around mile 7, I was approaching a small group of runners who looked really familiar to me. All of a sudden, I realized who they were and asked, "Are you the Posie crew?" "We are!" they said, as I continued to trying to catch up to my "pacer", who had gotten away from me at the last water stop.
Anyway, when I hit mile 13 right at 1:30, I thought, "Well, if I'm going to pull this off, I'm going to have to negative split it." I've never been able to that before, but that's what I set out to do. I believe it was around this time when the lead woman passed me. She was being paced by a guy and they were both looking very strong. "I can't let a woman beat me," I thought...as she continued to pull away from me.
At mile 17, I thought, "Well, you don't feel any worse, now, then you did at mile 2, so you're right on schedule--get going!" I picked up the pace, leaving my poor pacer guy behind, and set out to catch, 'Little Miss Woman Leader'. I did, only to lose her again as I re hydrated myself at another aide station. By mile 22, I came to the realization that a sub 3 was not going to happen.
It's always crushing to me when I realize and accept the fact that I'm not going to make it under 3 hours. Sometimes, it's more than I can bear and I just coast on in feeling sorry for myself. But this was no ordinary marathon...and it wasn't just because it was all downhill.
The day after I posted that I had gotten into the Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon, I received a message from enke inviting me to stay at her house for my stay in Washington. Enke picked me up from the airport, she gave me a comfortable room and bed to sleep in, she took me to dinner, she got up early to put on a pot of coffee, she drove me to the start of the race...and I knew she was going to be at the finish waiting to cheer for me as I crossed the line. I could not just coast on in! I readjusted my goal to getting under 3:05 and went after it.
I was able to maintain a pace under 7:30 for the rest of the way and finished in 3:04:22...right behind the woman overall winner...who pointed out that she was 51 years old. I thanked her for that piece of information and went to find my drop bag.
That was the race. Yeah...I had missed out on a great opportunity to get a sub 3...again...but that's the way it goes. I refuse to let that damper my feeling of a successful marathon and whine and complain about anything. I feel very blessed to be able to run as well as I do...I know I take it for granted sometimes, and maybe I need these little disappointments to keep me somewhat humble.
Okay--now the really fun part of the trip! Like I said before, enke picked me up from the airport...but she also picked wildchild up from the airport, too! Then we went out to dinner with rasmussenmp and his wife...then we met up with Francesca! Yeah--how cool is that? And it didn't stop there! Before the race I got to meet Twocat, Cecil58 and his wife, pfriese and, of course, Posie...complete with wings. Yeah, this was pretty cool.
So...here's another little story...before the race, I met Cecil, who was doing his first marathon. He had done some half marathons but this would be his first full. I asked him what he was hoping for and, when he told me he was going for 3:10, I said, "Okay..." Now, I'm pretty careful about saying anything to anybody that might be discouraging or put any negative thoughts in their heads...so I walked away thinking, "There is no way this guy is going to get 3:10...I don't care how downhill this marathon is." So, when I finished, I hung around the finish area, congratulating some other runners who had finished around me, forced a couple glasses of water down, searched awhile for my drop off bag, and made my way to where enke was standing. I started to get my self settled in to wait for all the other RAers and said, "We'll, I suppose the next one to finish will be Cecil, huh." "Oh," enke said, " he finished awhile ago." "What?! You're kidding me!" So, we walked back to the finish line and found Cecil on a message table having his calves worked on while his wife just beamed...you could tell she was so proud of him...it was really cool. I'll let Cecil tell you his time but it it was very impressive...I'm still shaking my head over it.
Anyway, after everybody got in--including the Easy Pacer and the Posie Boys--one of which, Posie ran out a ways to run back in with--we stayed near the finish line and celebrated wild and posie's birthdays. Rasmussen had brought beer, Posie brought food, the RD brought a birthday cake, and we had a great time.
Later that evening, we met with Posie and the Easy Pacer and Twocat at enke's for some salmon on the grill.
So, that's a pretty cool trip, don't you think? Well--it ain't over yet! The next day, enke, wild, and I drove into Seattle and met Posie and Twocat for brunch and, after saying goodbye to Posie and Twocat, we met up with divechief! And divechief took us on a tour of his boat!
Oh...shoot...I think I might have taken a little too long with this thing...I think the others are going to add on and, when I get back home, I'll post some pictures. But right now, I'm going for a run with enke and wildchild. How cool is that?!
I will second everything Mike E said about the course. The views were stunning and the tunnel, well, it was a tunnel. Dark, cool and erieeeeee.
I could help but think just how many trains actually passed through it over the years and how much work went into carving it through the mountain.
I too, lost a mile in the "tunnel" on my garmin, maybe the tunnel rats stole it. One will never know.
Sunday was a day that I found and ran in my happy zone. Chatting it up with many other runners along the path and smiling the whole way. Thinking just how lucky I was to experience this. (Thanks Jon....) I didn't come close to hitting the time I had in my head, but this was a course too really enjoy. And I enjoyed it all. As Mike E mentioned we met up for dinner and the conversation flowed like we knew each other for years, then the run itself and lastly the birthday party/marathon celebration afterwards. But, as usual it all comes to an end way to quickly and it was time to say our good-bye and head home. (what happens in Seattle, stays in Seattle)
Special congrats to the new Marathon Maniac and to his Dad for becoming a marathoner. To Cecil who ran a wonderful first marathon race. To the two birthday ladies. One of which blew by me at mile 24 (thanks for the dust). And to all the other finishers.
Time to start making plans for the next get together/race.
Marathon Maniac #530 Mike (My Indian name is "Runs for Beer")
Way Cool, that's how cool!
I'll need to post more pictures to get everybody jealous of all the fun you and Wild and the Posie clan have been having......
And don't forget the story Mike of how we ran into "Little Miss Woman Leader" the next day in downtown Seattle....
"During a marathon, I run about two-thirds of the time. That's plenty." - Margaret Davis, 85 Ed Whitlock regarding his 2:54:48 marathon at age 73, "That was a good day. It was never a struggle."
Wildchild down the final stretch:
Part of the Posie Clan:
Mike E and Carolyn very relaxed:
Sounds like a blast!
Great report and a great race. Even though I know it's not the sub 3 you've been looking for, that some serious running!
Congratulations all around.
Mike, great race report, and I had no idea you were having such a rough day! And yet you pulled off a great race anyway, even if you aren't satisfied with your time. Glad I got to meet you and the rest of the RA crew at the race. And I would have totally agreed with you before the race, there was no way I was going to run my A goal of 3:10, I would have bet money against it. Sometimes we surprise ourselves with what we can do... How are your legs today? I'm still re-learning how to walk. I almost needed a wheelchair to get around on Monday!
The tunnel marathon was one to remember! What a fun birthday, and a fun group to share it with! I figured I'd add my two cents here, instead of starting another thread for my own RR.
First, THANK YOU to Enkie for being such a terrific hostess, chauffeur, chef, and friend! She picked me and Mike up at the airport, gave us a place to stay for 3 nights, fed us (including an amazing salmon dinner after the race), drove us to dinner on Saturday, to the race on Sunday, and to Seattle on Monday, and took us for a run on her beautiful bridle trail yesterday afternoon!
Mike E and Cecil both took first in their AGs! Congrats to both of you!
Here are a few pictures - these are all Mike E's, but I loaded them to my computer because his ipad didn't have a USB port.
Here's a picture of dinner with Mike and Sue Rasmussen on Friday:
After dinner we met Francesca for coffee. She's running the Vermont 100 miler this weekend!
Here's my birthday sister finishing the marathon:
And pfriese with his daughter and grandsons running him in to the finish:
I had an okay race - it was my 3rd fastest of 8 marathons. I finished in 4:39:49. I was kind of thinking I could PR here, since it was all downhill, and my PR is from the Flying Monkey, which isn't. But it got hotter than I'm used to, so I took it easy the 2nd half. But on the plus side, I got to run with Posie for the first 7 miles, including through the tunnel, which was really fun! And I ran with pfriese from about mile 17 to mile 20, and I passed Posie's family just before that. I met Paul at the Monkey last fall, but we didn't get to run together then, so it was a treat to run with him on my birthday, and I hope we get to run together again!
So this was marathon/ultra #11 for me, and state #7. Looking forward to the next RA meetup, whenever that might be!
I hammered down the trail, passing rocks and trees like they were standing still.
Congratulations, Mike. What's a few minutes between friends? Thanks for the great report.
Here is my addition, from the point of view of a support person.
I picked up Wildchild and Mike E from the airport. Of course this is always a bit scary, complete strangers, welcoming them into my home, but with a few years of exposure to their on-line posting personalities, I felt 98.75% confident they would not turn out to be serial killers. Since one of the two bridges across to Seattle was closed for the weekend, we decided to stay on the Eastside and hooked up for a pre-marathon pasta dinner with Mike Rasmussen and his wife Sue, at a restaurant I picked at random….which was decidedly mediocre. Well, that is the Eastside for you. But it was fun. On our way out of the restaurant, Ultra Goddess Francesca arrived and we trotted off to Starbucks for more chat time. She regaled us with a story about taking a “family” vacation over the Christmas break, which involved driving 3 days down to Arizona, sneaking in a 24 hour run (which – I inferred - she didn’t warn the family about), and driving 2 days back, much to the moaning of her kids. Runners. Well, there you go.
At home, I tried calling the Posie clan to get last minute information on race day details of pickups, drop-offs and party plans, but realized my cell phone had stopped working. It was charged, but the service was Nada. This had never happened to me before, and if I ever needed my mobile, it was for this weekend. It finally started working 3 days later, 2 hours after my guests left. Unbelievable!
That night, I heard Mike E get up twice to use the bathroom (I am a very light sleeper and wake for anything). I was convinced he hadn’t slept all night, and I was getting really worried.
For logistics, I ended up driving all the way up to the start area, at Snoqualmie pass, about a 40 minute drive, instead of dropping Mike E and Wildchild off at the buses at the finish area. About 3000 ft elevation at the start. There everyone eventually found each other, and we took many group photos. I DID warn Mike E to remember to take off his sunglasses in the tunnel!!! I picked up Twocat, and drove him to the first access point – 13 miles down the course. This was in a low clearance Beetle car, driving along a gravel pot-hole laden road, with dappled sunlight making it tricky to actually see the potholes. Then up a steep grade. Then I had to slowly go down the steep grade. Well, I obviously survived and the car didn’t slide off the edge. Twocat can relay his adventure getting to the up-course aid station from there, where he planned to pace mariposai for the rest of the race.
Then I went home to walk the dog…then back to North Bend, the race finish. As I got out of the car, Cecil58’s family was parked beside me. I overheard them say….”so Dad should be getting in in about 15-20 minutes”. Well, it was 10:45 am and the race started at 8 am, so I instantly thought…..these people have no idea how long it takes to run a marathon….especially for a newbie like Cecil….who is running his first marathon! I figured they misunderstood their Dad/husband’s instructions, and were off by an hour. Boy was I wrong! (this might be a good time to log-stalk Cecil, for those interested)
Anyway, I saw lots of fast runners cross the finish line, before the first female overall came in, at 3:04:XX. Chuck Engle was there, he was first in 2:36:15….he didn’t hang around long to sign autographs or anything. This used to be a pretty small marathon, but now, word has gotten out that it is a BQ course, and that was apparent this year by the number of fast people from far and wide that came to try for a BQ and a PB. Yup, after first female, came Mike E. I cheered. I was proud of him. But I guess it wasn’t the time he wanted. I didn’t know what his goal was. I told him a 61 year old man had crossed the line in 3:01:XX. That cheered him up considerably (not!). Sorry Mike! When that older guy crossed, the announcer said….”here is So and So, age 61…. stunned pause…..Holy Crap!” Well, in case Mike E doesn’t tell you, he was first in his AG. Congrats!
Eventually everyone crossed the line. It had gotten pretty warm for the later runners. I went out with Posie back up the course, jogging in my street clothes, with the plan of running 5 miles to meet up with her DH and sons, but it was too warm for me and we luckily met up with them earlier than expected.
And then the party started…. Mike Rasmussen brought some Growlers. And the Posie clan brought way more food than we needed, all of it awesome, then a special cake too….I’ll let mariposai mention where that came from! In the evening, we had a small gathering at my place for dinner. I tell you, being a support person was more fun than I expected.
The next day, Mike E, Wildchild and I had brunch in Seattle with Twocat and Posie. I showed these tourists Seattle’s infamous “Gum Wall”.
Twocat was very impressed Then we went onto DIvechief’s ferry, and got a VIP tour of the engine room, saw all the controls, the 4 massive locomotive diesel engines, the propeller shaft spinning at 100 rpm, we were below the water line, and it was all so cool. I should say hot actually, down there. Wildchild tried to hijack the boat for fun, but was unsuccessful. It was very impressive and kind of, almost, made me wish I had gone into engineering.
Did I mention it was a beautiful, gorgeous, sunny, just perfect temperature kind of day??? On our way back to the car, we ran into the “first overall woman” from the race. So Mike and Wildchild and awesome first place woman (who only started running in her 40s – after no athletics previously!!! – I think I hate her!) and her husband talked excitedly about different marathons they have run…..and were blocking sidewalk traffic for about 30 minutes doing this, pulling up photos on their devices of race medals, comparing notes etc. If I didn’t like running so much….I would have found this VERY WEIRD.
That evening, I took my guests for a Bridle Trails run. You know I love that trail, and now Wildchild knows why. Almost complete tree coverage, lots of ferns, soft dirt trails. We saw horses and other runners. It was about 80F, so we ran slowly, but not slowly enough for Mike E. Yes, read that again. He was wincing in pain with every step that was remotely downhill, and Wild and I could get way ahead of him on the downhills. This is the one and only time I will ever be able to run at the same pace as Mike E, which Wild informed me, was about 11:30 for this little 3.6 mile trail run. He is going to hate me for that story.
Here is my beautiful trail in the woods.
Those two are so photogenic, and skinny, it kills me!!! I guess they really are serial killers after all.
I liked reading all this. Great stuff. Great pictures.
I still haven't made up my mind as to whether MikeE is a real person, or just someone made up on the forum and it's all a big inside joke on all of us who never "met" him. Seems like too nice a guy and too fast to be be real.
I'd love to see Dive's ship someday. It looks so much newer and nicer than the one I enjoy riding across Lake Michigan.
And so it goes
GREAT report and pictures! I loved it all! And now it makes me want to do this marathon also.
and based on that last pic of Mike, I can see I need to do an abs challenge next month . . .
Dang it! I knew those shorts made me look fat!
Oh! I have another cool story to share about my flight home and, since it was part of my marathon trip, I'm going to add it here...but I don't have time right now...remind me later...
and based on that last pic of Mike, I can see I need to do an abs challenge next month . . .
Sure, he's got a six-pack but I've got a keg.
...Great RR and Wonderful pics////////
...............and just remember basically a Tunnel is just a Hole lying on it's side......
..nothing takes the place of persistence.....