despite the gloomy weather on the drive up to portland, punctuated by one of the loudest thunderstorms i've ever heard that night, race morning was dry and cool. i ran my fastest marathon in almost 3 years, a 3:25:03! that's the rundangerously headline for the maine marathon this weekend :D and, as a bonus, that finish netted me a boston qualifying time!! so, with a freshly minted bq in hand, i'll register for the 2010 edition later this week.
back to the maine marathon: emmy and i drove up on saturday, a five hour drive that witnessed increasingly wetter and wetter conditions as we approached portland. once we pulled into the expo parking lot on the university of southern maine, the rain had tapered off to a misty drizzle. even as we walked into the gym, emmy was still undecided on whether she'd run the marathon or the half! she opted for a marathon bid (and would drop down to the half, if need be).
at the expo we met up with some good friends, chris and bea. and then emmy met up with some old friends from "new england runner" magazine. i had originally planned to stop at the great lost bear for a beer (a place i've visited often during trips to portland) after the expo, but switched to the novare res bier cafe because they had an interesting oktoberfest underway. the upshot of that visit was a new hydration strategy: one litre maas steins of beer :D
afterwards, emmy dropped me off at my motel and went to stay with some friends in brunswick. my quiet pre-race night was broken up by the incredibly loud thunderstorm that swept into town around 10. the explosions of thunder boomed so loud that the motel shook! the second, way more pleasant interruption, was the cable premiere of "anvil! the story of anvil" documentary on vh1. despite staying up late, i was no worse for wear the next morning.
heading over to the start, i knew that emmy wasn't feeling well because she had on 3 layers of clothes. it's unusual for me to wear just a tech shirt when those around me are bundled up trying to stay warm before a race! i'm normally the one with all the extra layers. before the start we met up with a couple of more good friends, bekkie and joe - who had just run the new hampshire marathon the day before (fellow marathon maniacs, needless to add - haha)!
my target for the race was the low 3:20's - which i was pretty confident of hitting. my two previous training runs (fall frolic 30k and nyc marathon training run 18 miler) were a pair of solid efforts that predicted a marathon finish between 3:19 and 3:23. even if i fell off my target pace (7:40-45) i just needed to finish under 3:30 to get a boston qualifier. while i wanted to run a fast race, i needed the bq even more :D
except for the first five miles, which i ran a bit faster than planned because i chased half marathoners (until they turned around at 6 miles), the first 20 miles were uneventful. i did see dozens of soldiers (a brigade?) marching in formation - with race bibs attached to their field packs - in mile eleven! i saw chris and bea during mile 16 - taking pictures no less! and there were 100s of cheering spectators along the course!
here are the splits for those 20 miles (in five mile increments):
37:46:10 - 7:28 pace
1:16:22 - 7:38 pace
1:55:15 - 7:41 pace
2:34:26 - 7:43 pace
the last 10k was an entirely different experience. just after mile 20, i saw john at the last relay exchange. at that point i had felt the first twinge on a calf cramp in my left leg. the momentary foreboding blossomed into an ugly series of cramps for the final five miles. despite 2 expresso luv gus and plenty of gaterade, i couldn't shake off the cramping (first in the left leg, then both). my last 3 miles were all slower than 8 minutes.
aside from the inexplicable cramping problem, the biggest surprise was in mile 26 where i found emmy cheering me on from the back cove bike path! she had dropped down to the half marathon, finished, and was now cheering on the runners! even with the marked slowdown over the last 10k (from a 7:43 pace through 20 miles to a 7:50 pace for the race), i finished in 3:25:03. i was incredibly pleased with the outcome!
i need to figure out what brought on the cramping (which has happened, sporadically, in some prior races). aside from that vexing problem, i had a great race - no "wall" to speak of, and plenty of energy left to push the final 10k.
next up: the nyc marathon!
here are my race photos.