I've been running the last two months, but with no runs on tap I considered it my break for the season and wasn't logging high miles. So, although I feel like I'm in great shape I didn't know what to expect from my legs on a hilly road marathon.
We were in Spokane the day before to watch a show so I thought it would be nice to stay there overnight so I wouldn't have to make the 70+ mile drive at 5am. It was a good decision. I got some sleep (kind of...the Red Sox/Rays game went into extra innings) and felt good in the morning.
But it was cold at the start. Very cold. 25 degrees kind of cold.
This is what it looks like in Spokane when it's sunny and 25 degrees before a marathon
This is what it looks like at the start of a marathon when it's 25 degrees
As with all my races, my first goal was to not kill myself. I want to finish able to run another day. My only other marathon was Portland last year and I finished in around 3hr 51m. This course has more climbing than Portland so I thought a 4hr run would be wonderful. This course is also much more beautiful than the Portland course. Portland has the wonderful entertainment and energy, but if you're looking for a low-key, scenic run then do Spokane.
Leaving downtown around mile 2
Everyone's seen this guy, right? The guy on the left running in the road. You know, the one who just because he has a race bib thinks that the road is all his. Several cars nearly hit him on this section. Notice everyone else running on the nice running path...
Views of the Spokane River west of town.
Ominous aid station next to a cemetery...
The views were worth running on asphalt
Crossing the Spokane River
Aid stations in small races like this are usually pretty slim. This race was no different. Water and sport drink. I was carrying a bag of nuts with me (I don't do gels) just in case there was no food or snacks at the aid stations and I was glad I did. However, at around the mile 15 station they had some gummy bears and a box of maple bars. Yum. So I took a couple minute break to down a maple bar. It was nice and my stomach liked me. While running a marathon is the only time I don't feel guilty eating a doughnut. That's a lie, I never feel guilty. :)
80's themed aid station (I think)
In a recent Runner's World they listed the top 10 toughest hills on American road races. #4 is the Doomsday Hill at the famous Bloomsday 12k in Spokane. So what's a marathon in Spokane without Doomsday, right? Same daunting hill, but at the 22-mile mark instead of the 4-mile mark. Though, I will say that a "tough, daunting hill" is much more relative after running the White River 50 this summer. Doomsday seems like a foot massage compared with climbs in these mountain ultras. (But don't say that to anyone in Spokane.)
Words of encouragement on the approach to Doomsday Hill
At the bottom of Doomsday looking up
At the top of Doomsday looking
back down to the river
Maybe it was no coincidence that around mile 23 my legs decided they were finished for the day. I'm sure I looked like a running tin-man those last three miles. At this point I knew I had 4hrs in the bag and I hobbled the last couple miles before crossing the finish line in 3:49:12 - a two minute PR. Official results. I placed 47 out of 140 (including early starters.)