the sugarloaf marathon in eustis, maine, was a late addition to my race calendar (i had planned on the healthy kidney 10k). when myriam suggested it a couple of weeks ago, count me in! i had just gotten closed out of the vemont city marathon so this would be my plan b. i ran sugarloaf back in 2003 and have fantastic memories of that race. especially so, since it was my very first boston qualifier. this time around i'd needed a sub-3:30 finish for a bq and, equally important, to redeem my disastrous performance at the boston marathon last month.
as the saying goes... the "best laid plans of mice and men often go awry" (or, in the vernacular, "sh*t happens"). my 3:40:21 wasn't even close (although it was 7 minutes faster than what i ran at boston). that's the sort version.
but, things didn't seem that bleak at the beginning. emmy, myriam and i drove up together on saturday - it made the 8 hour drive fly by. on friday morning the forecast said there was an 80% chance of showers. when we arrived in maine, the rain began - and continued non-stop in varying degrees until the following afternoon - when we hit the mass pike on the drive home. it would be a soggy, rain-soaked weekend. still, despite the rain, we did have a great time!
we went straight to the base lodge to pick up our race packets, before continuing up the road to our motel. the course is point to point, starting at the cathedral pines campground in eustis maine and runs down route 27 to finish in kingfield. it's a beautiful, scenic course - even under rainy grey skies. the motel was just 4 miles from the start. but, logistically, we drove back to the sugarloaf ski resort and took the shuttle bus to the start the next morning.
despite the weather, there was a record turnout for the race (and the separate 15k). most of the runners stayed inside the school buses and shuttles to stay somewhat dry before the gun went off. the rain wasn't too bad at the start, but it was incredibly humid - and the humidity wouldn't break during the race. i had planned to run in just a singlet, or tee shirt - but wound up wearing a light weight vest over a long sleeved tech shirt. it wasn't a smart choice.
my first mile was 7:44 - and during the first half of the race, i wondered if the mile markers were placed correctly because my splits were all over the map. miles 4 and 5 were 7:19 and 8:53, respectively - over relatively flat terrain. regardless of the markers, in retrospect, i went out too conservatively. my five mile split was 40:16 and ten miles 1:21:45. granted, there were some decent climbs between miles 6-10, but i should have run under 40 and 1:20, for those splits. i also had to slow a little every couple of miles to wipe my glasses dry (i carried a bandanna just for that chore).
by the half, with a 1:46:06, i realized the 3:30 was slipping away! that split was almost 4 minutes slower than my comparable boston split. but, where i crashed and burned in beantown, i didn't slow down as much for the second half of this race. i picked up the pace for the next few miles, but by mile 18 i was out of sub 8 minute miles. by that point the rain had picked up considerable - and so too did the traffic on route 27! at mile 23 i inched over the 9 minute mark for my miles - with a 9:24 mile 25 the slowest mile of the race.
i couldn't have been happier when i finally crossed the finish line (3:40:21, 8:25 pace) - because at that point all i wanted to do was get into some dry clothes and warm up. emmy finished just behind me, in 3:51 - and took 3rd in her age group! myriam finished in just over 4 hours, with a 4:08. in what was comedy of errors, we watched myriam finish - but she couldn't hear us cheering her on! we regrouped at the sugarloaf resort - each of us arrived there independent of the others! - before heading back home.
we stopped in portland, at the great lost bear, for lunch and rehydration. in our post-mortems of the race, we went over the weather, the hills, the humidity (a surprise negative factor), the blown bq opportunity (for myriam and me) - but none of it really detracted from what a great road trip it turned out to be!
here are my race photos.