Last week, I successfully ran the North Olympic Discovery Marathon (NODM).
NODM starts in tiny Sequim, WA and ends in the just-a-bit-larger town of Port Angeles. We set out from SeaTac and drove for about 2.5 hours to Port Angeles, our stop for the night. The 3 or 4 block downtown area was nice, with plenty of local fare (food is always an important thing for a carbo-loading junkie).
We checked out several parts of the course, mainly the 20 mile area and the finish. We had been warned about the ravine (yes, ravine, not hill) at mile 20 and wanted to check it out. The area around Mile 20 seemed fine, so I figured, "how steep could the ravine be?" Boy, would I find out in the morning.
The finish line area was beautiful as it was right along the water in the Strait of San Juan de Fuca. In the distance you can see Vancouver Island. One problem though, the finish was going straight into a 40 mile an hour headwind. Hmmm, that might make finishing tough. After lunch, I asked the cashier what the weather would be like on race day. She told me it would either be windy or rainy. If the wind died down, it would rain. If it didn't rain, it would be windy. I couldn't decide which was worse, a 40 mile an hour headwind for the last 5 miles or rain for 26 miles.
The race started at an incredible 9am. Most of my long runs started at 5:30ish, so am usually enjoying a mocha by then. One of our worries was the race support. If the race only had 1600 entrants, our thinking went, would we be able to depend on the water stops that are so crucial in a marathon? There were shuttles to the start and a building to wait out the start of the race. People were very friendly overall; I met people from Seattle, Alaska and more than a few locals.
Once the race began, we chatted with quite a few people. I met my first 50 Stater (plus DC), a woman who had run 15 marathons in 12 weekends and more than one Canadian. Overall, things went great until we hit the first of 3 ravines. To say they were steep (both down and up) doesn't do them justice. Imagine running 17 miles and then encountering a 200 foot drop and rise in the space of 1/8th of a mile. OUCH! By the third ravine (at mile 20), my quads were fried (coincidentally, mile 20 is also the steepest of the three ravines) and I had to turn my iPod on extra loud.
The final six miles were incredible - two miles of dirt trails in a forest and then four miles along the Strait. The threat of wind/rain never materialized and I cruised to a solid finish. My IT band seemed no worse for the wear, although I had the appetite of a hiberating Grizzly that had recently awakened.
After an extended eat-everything-you-can-lay-your-hands-on session, we quickly showered, packed and drove back to SeaTac. A short 2 hour, completely overbooked flight on Alaska Airlines, and we were home.
1. Make sure your iPod has both London Calling and Clash on Broadway. Listening to London Calling is just a great, motivating experience. Clash on Broadway has some great early punk, which always gets your feet moving. Just by chance, Complete Control was cranking when I saw the finish line a mile away. Talk about an adrenaline rush.
2. Get a good massage after your long training runs (20+). Going from a really bad case of ITBS to finishing a marathon pain-free (ok, relatively pain free) is a great thing.