I was able to sneak into the Mountain Marathon and Hillbilly Half in Olympia, Wa. on March 14th. I had been planning to do a 26ish mile long run so the only trade off was having to wake up really early and pinning a number to my shorts.
I signed up on Monday. By Tuesday, my knee hurt, my shin hurt and my son got a wicked sore throat. "I'm not tapering! I'm not even racing!" I yelled at the imaginary studio audience of the sit-com which is my life. This is exactly why I don't taper: mystery pains and everyone around you gets sick. I kept plugging away at my weekly schedule of work and running and then it dawned on me... I had never run a trail marathon before. Half, 25k, 50k, 50Mile, 100k, 68Mile, 100Mile, 100Mile n'change (UTMB). I ran my first road 10k last fall. PRed. Now I would get to PR a trail marathon.
Dawn dawned early and I was staring at a tiny pile of items to take to the race. Uh, race kit. Water bottle with half a sandwich in the pocket. 4 electrolyte caps and 4 dates. There has got to be more I needed but I couldn't think of anything else. I threw some random things in the car to make it feel more like a race. Gallon of water, bag of potato chips, Patagonia puffy coat. Then I drove to Olympia.
At the race start I saw Max Ferguson and Korey Konga. I knew they were both gunning for the win. I figured one of them would get it, or both. The thought of the three of us skipping across the line together like Dorothy, Tin Man and Lion seemed a bit far fetched.
The race started off cold but soon warmed up to be a brilliant spring day in the Capitol Forrest. The trail was nice and not nearly the muck fest it has a reputation for being. I felt good and then better then good again, then great, then OK, then fine, then good, then saw Max and Korey coming back as it is an out and back course. They had 12 minutes on me and I was in third. I hit the turn around and headed back and felt good, then gooder, then gooderer. By the time I got to the last six miles I was flying and became the bane of the half marathoners as I whizzed by them barely skimming the tops of the puddles. The really shallow puddles that is. The deep ones I had to kind of, sploosh through the middle. Quick plug for Drymax socks.. Those things Rock! Happy Feet doing the Happy Dance without Blisters!
The difference between a 50k and a Marathon is this: 6 miles. I had twelve miles of energy left and had to spend it all in six miles of downhill running. I pounded it. The last two miles were on dirt road and I could finally feel some "whacha doin' bro?" coming from my body on the final two short uphill stingers. I finished in 3rd place about 12 minutes behind the Lion Konga. Dorothy Ferguson took the win. I did set a new Course Record for Masters by about fourteen minutes.
The other thing about shorter races is the stuff! In a 50miler you get bupkis. In a marathon, or half you get shwagged up! I came home with a sweet poster, a beer mug and a free pair of La Sportiva shoes.
Thanks to 7 Hills Running Shop for sponsoring the race and getting team members in at the last minute. Thanks to Guerilla Running for putting on a fun event.