Bob Potts Marathon, York PA on the Heritage rail trail.
Early wakeup for a 6:30 start. Rose (my wife) and running pals Brenda, Kristal, Lynn, Anna had rooms a few miles from the start. My nephew Jason came for the start, plus friends Sam and Tim came for support too.
Overcast, low 50s, a few sprinkles. About 400 hundred runners in the race.
The plan was for Rose, Sam and Tim to be along the race route for encouragement and resupply at about the 9 mile point (17.5 on the return part of the out and back).
My plan was to run just a little faster than the 8:35 pace that would just make the BQ time. The race started off just fine for me and I was on pace even on the first mile. I was able to stay close or slightly ahead of plan. I carried my own sport drink (water, sugar, salts) and sport gel recipe of honey and salts. I planned to skip the first aid station, then walk through each of the rest of the aid stations (every 2 miles) to get a cup or 2 of drink. I alternated water and gatoraid at each station then at 8 mile took my first energy gel. Repeated the gel every 4 miles. As my bottle got empty I refilled with water. I picked up a gu packet at the turnaround, just in case but never used it.
I had several short conversations through the race, but ran on my own maybe 95 percent of the time. It was nice to see Rose, Tim, Sam on both passes. I saw the leaders coming back during mile 11. The route goes through wooded areas, along fields and a stream, past or through some small communities, through a train tunnel that President Lincoln's train used on the way to give the Gettysburg address. The course support was nice and friendly and had lots of younger helpers. There were 2 spots where the volunteers had decorated and were dressed in an island theme. One place had a band.
Keeping pace was comfortable enough in the first half and I often had to back off to return to the planned pace. But miles 11 and 12 required pushing a bit to stay on pace. Then the turnaround meant a shift from slight uphill to slight downhill and my next 2 miles were faster/easier. In the next mile or two I saw the others in our group.
Gradually fatigue crept in but nothing surprising or dramatic. The nagging thought was whether or when I would hit the wall or have a big energy sag. I have never run this many miles at this pace, so wasn't sure of my fueling plan.
Finally a little beyond 20 miles I began believing I would be ok to the end. I began thinking about when I could pick up the pace for a faster finish. But as I got more tired and sore I then starting thinking about how much I could slow down and still make it. So really I ended up just working to hold pace and try to avoid a meltdown. My last 30 to 45 minutes were in the sun and that was less comfortable. Finally off the trail onto the street for the last half mile. Around the corner up a small hill to the college track and a half lap to the finish. Just managed a slight pickup in the last 2 tenths that included that uphill. Entering the track the announcer called out the runner's number and name and encouraged a strong finish. That was my final emotional moment during the race when the idea that I would meet my goal was within reach.
My watch time 3:42:02 for 26.27 miles - splits: 8:28, 8:35, 8:28, 8:31, 8:38, 8:32, 8:26, 8:30, 8:18, 8:26, 8:26, 8:33, 8:34, 8:08, 8:20, 8:33, 8:23, 8:24, 8:39, 8:31, 7:51, 8:29, 8:34, 8:23, 8:46, 8:22, 2:10 (8:03 pace)
Wow. I accomplished what I trained for. And I got 2nd in my age group too!