Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tacoma City Marathon

Tacoma City Marathon
Marathon Maniac group photo

Race Director Tony Phillip looking ready for some down time.

I've run the Tacoma City Marathon in its inaugural 2007 year and every year since EXCEPT 2008, when I wasn't sure I was ready to run those hills again.  Too bad I'm not one of the few that have run it every year.  Tony Phillipi, Main Maniac #2 and race director, heads up this great race and always makes sure the Maniacs have something special awaiting them at the finish line.

The expo was Friday and Saturday, with a Maniac awards ceremony, pasta dinner with guest speaker, Gary Allen, on Saturday evening. I picked up my packet on Friday, scored some clearance Maniac gear and enjoyed visiting with some running friends I hadn't seen in months.  Terry Fritz offered to drive me to the race with him on Sunday. After figuring out that I would be going solo to yet another race, this seemed pretty smart, especially since we live on the same road!

I debated about what to wear:  Brooks ID singlet or the clearance red Maniac singlet.  I was wearing my Maniac hat and opted for the Maniac tank...BUT I didn't like how it was so swirly around my belly.  I needed a LARGE because of the length.  So I did what every marathoner does on race morning.  I got my sewing machine and did a quick alteration on the seams.  Wah-lah!!  Much better.

Terry and I hit the road about 6:10 a.m. and  made it in plenty of time for the 7:30 a.m. start.  Parking was easy and a nice surprise.  We made our way to the empty porta-potties and then waited for the Maniac pre-race photo.  I seem to miss these quite often so I was happy to actually get to join in on this one.

Lots of friends to see!  I was feeling nervous but pretty good.  And then it happened.  Mental games.  A comment was made to me by someone that hurt my feelings.  I'm sure it was unintentional but I couldn't get it out of my head and I had to go off and cry a little.  I know this person wouldn't ever say anything to be mean.  I tend to be a little emotional on race days to start so any off-handed remark can feel like a blow to the stomach.  After gathering my emotions, I lined up at the start along with hundreds of other runners.  Mary Hanna was there but told me this was a training run.  Her goal would be about a 3:30, faster than most runners will finish, but for her, a walk in the park.  My goal was to finish faster than 3:30.  That's it.  Or just finish.

Terry was hoping to finish in 3:20 and would go on to get a 3:11!

Miles1-3:  We started on Commerce Street to Jefferson and head out on a long, slight incline until turning right to Jefferson towards Wright Park.  First mile was 7:30, a little slower than I had hoped but it felt like a good pace to start.  The first 3 miles are more uphill than anything.  Not terribly steep (except for 4th street to Wright Park) but noticeable.  Mile 3 was 8:16 and I wasn't thrilled to go over an 8 pace but I had a lot of miles to go.

Miles 4-6:  Going through Wright Park was nice because I knew it would be awhile before I had the bigger hills in the second half.  I enjoyed some spectator support through the park and downtown streets, running a 7:10 in the 5th mile.  Pedro (not Pedro I.) caught up with me and we ran for a few minutes together before he picked his back up his pace again.  I think I lost satellite reception here because I had an 8:37 pace and the mile markers were off from that point.  I know I hadn't slowed that much.  There's also a "drop" in my Garmin from a 6:23 to a 40 minute pace at this point and I never stopped during the marathon.  Other friends came up short on their distance but we all know it's not a short course.

Miles 7-10:  The long straightway before the hills.  I was hoping to run close to 7:30 during this stretch considering how it was overall fairly flat.  I managed to run 7:39-7:49 miles, mostly solo, which makes it harder for me to keep up my pace.  Terry F. and Pedro I., both passed me along this road after making a bathroom stop.  The course ran along the Tacoma waterfront and I recalled the last time I was there, running and gasping for air at the Ruston Way 5k.

Miles 11-15:  Point Defiance.  Coming off the waterfront, we climbed a short but steep hill.  I walked about 5 seconds and then picked it back up, my only walk break in this marathon.  Here is where you gather your courage and try not to think too much, at least for me.  In the past, I have burned myself out on the hills, only to run slowly on flats and downhills later in the race. I decided to let pride go and keep my effort level even, and when the legs start burning, to back off and not to look at my Garmin.  Mile 11-12  I'm positive is all uphill.  Don't look up too much, tell jokes, sing songs, recite poems...do anything but think about this mile.  I finally crest the top and was greeted with a nice downhill for half a mile.

Half-way:  1:40-1:41.  Cannot remember exactly and my Garmin hadn't matched up with the miles since the 6th mile.  A 3:20 was most likely out the window given that a negative split on this course for me would be just shy of a miracle.  After some more rolling hills through the park, we made our way towards Vassault after a demolishing downhill/uphill park exit that slapped all the runners on the butt as a "thank you for visiting" memento.

Miles 16-20:  Tony P. altered the course last year with a much-welcomed turn off Vassault through flatter neighborhoods.  This is where runners find out if they have any oomph left in their legs.  I felt like I was dogging it in mile 16 with an 8:10 but was soon feeling the hills leaving my legs.  The energy was returning and I got to mile 20 with a smile on my face.  I'd been taking gels, a total of 6 during the race, about 3 more than I normally have, and it seemed to be working well for me.  My thought as I went through the 20 mile aid station was that I was feeling better than I have on this course in the past and that if I can get keep my rhythm for 4 miles, I will have a great 2 mile downhill finish.

Miles 21-24:  We ran along the Scott Pierson trail which paralleled the highway and as I approached the Cheney Stadium aid station, the Dirty Girl relay team was going wild!  I had been seeing them at various spots and honestly it didn't occur to me that their team was close to the same pace as I was.  Wenche quickly passed me and they would go on to win 1st in their relay division with a 3:21  finish.  Their cheers for me gave me an added boost of energy.  Mile 23 around Union Avenue always has a police office to help us cross over.  This is a major intersection with lots of drivers who wish they hadn't taken that street.  I ran along the trail past the golf course, polo shirts out in full force.  The trail ended and deposited us onto 25th street.

Miles 25-26.2:  The downhill didn't start as soon as I hoped and I clocked a 7:27 at mile 25.  And then the fun began!  I was feeling good and told myself I only had to run one mile.  Run one mile as fast as you can!!!  I started ticking off runners in front of me and then I saw a female runner ahead with only half a mile to go.  The road was running out and I wanted to give everything I had.  It was a Maniac Diva I didn't know and I didn't make time to introduce myself.  I caught up to her and kept going!  Go! Go! Go!  Mile 26 - 6:36!!

The finish line was in sight and just in front of me was one of the Piercy brothers. I told him, "Come on, finish with me!" and he kept pace with me through the finish line.  3:22:46, my second fastest Tacoma City Marathon.

I'm super happy with my time and even though I'd like to run up the hills at a better clip, I know I raced well for my own capabilities and training.  It gave me hope that I can get back into the 3:teens on a flatter course.

I was the 5th woman overall, 2nd master (after Merita Trohimovich) and 1st in my age group.  Love this race, love the volunteers and race crew.  I would recommend this race.  Next year should see changes to the course involving flatter, faster roads!

At the finish with MM#1 Prez Steven Yee
Oh yes, I'm happy!

Lizzie Lee and I at the finish.

Avg Pace
79 ft. -17:29.81.007:30
167 ft - 27:37.51.007:38
331 ft - 38:16.01.008:16 
281 ft - 47:35.11.007:35
147 ft - 57:10.21.007:10
48 ft - 68:37.11.008:37 - Garmin lost satellite (?)
37 ft - 77:43.01.007:43
19 ft- 87:47.81.007:48
13 ft - 97:39.01.007:39
22 ft - 107:39.71.007:40
81 ft - 117:48.81.007:49
249 ft - 128:35.41.008:36
251 ft - 137:49.01.007:49
316 ft - 147:48.71.007:49
220 ft - 157:35.21.007:35
241 - 168:10.41.008:10
320 ft - 178:00.51.008:01
354 ft - 187:58.61.007:59
382 ft - 197:49.81.007:50
371 ft- 208:02.01.008:02
313 ft - 217:36.21.007:36
309 ft - 227:44.61.007:45
325 ft - 237:47.41.007:48
354 ft - 247:58.01.007:58
206 ft - 257:27.01.007:27
100 ft - 266:36.01.006:36
87 ft - 27:25.30.085:30