B&A Trail Marathon near Baltimore. (in this case trail means paved rails to trails course)
My goal time was 3:45/8:35 per mile and I finished a couple minutes faster.
Things went well early. I was on pace or a little ahead at halfway, very comfortable till about 17 miles. Still on pace with a little more focus required at 19. My watch showed 2:44 and I thought ‘I can do the last 7 miles in an hour’ which just meant holding pace. On my next check of my watch the screen was blank – the battery went dead.
I realized pacing would be more of a challenge as the later miles always take more effort just to hold pace. I checked with a couple runners for pace info and decided to hang behind 2 runners I was told were doing 8:30s. One was pacing the other. I didn’t intrude, just used them as pacers, so I never really knew their pace and whether they were slowing or not. And it got harder to hang with them. I was counting down the miles and just working to ‘hold pace for now’. Finally the turn from the rail trail at 26 miles. As I approached the finish the clock was hidden from view, then I could only see 3:4x:xx with the minutes/seconds hidden. With about 50 meters remaining I could see 3:42 ticking away and then it was 3:43 before I finished. No finish line kick, just surviving the last steps.
I think my watch problem actually gave me a better finish, since I most likely would have settled just to meet my goal time. And I think the runners I paced with were maybe picking up the pace a little.
For race nutrition I used a homemade honey/coffee mix with some salts added for sodium/potassium. 5 ounces honey, 3 ounces coffee. I drank only water on the course except for one cup of Gatorade.