Monday, May 29, 2017

Maine Coast Marathon Recap - Wet, Windy, and Half a Mile Long

This marathon served a lot of milestones for me. It was the first marathon I ran in a nor'easter. It was the second marathon I ran past property owned by the Bush Family (Houston and Kennebunkport). It was the first time I ran a marathon with a gaping course error. And, it was my 39th marathon in my 25th different state which means I am halfway to my goal of a marathon in every state. Plus, it was my final marathon in my 30s. I turn 40 in July and my next marathon would be my 40th.

The weekend began with Laura, Miles, and me flying from BWI to Logan. We rented a car and then drove about an hour to Matt's house in Groveland. I hadn't visited his home before, so it was good to see him. He had lunch ready for us, a pack n play and a bumbo to borrow for Miles, and he bought baby food too. We spent about an hour before we finished the drive to Kennebunk, Maine. I was surprised that it was such a quick drive.

The Ames Family in downtown Kennebunkport

We stayed at the Elizabeth Rose right by the Kennebunk High School which served as the start line. The innkeepers were very friendly. We had the entire B&B to ourselves. We settled in before heading into town to walk around. Kennebunkport is a cute town. We went to several stores and took a drive to the Bush Family compound. The weather was perfect for running - too bad it wasn't race day. For dinner, I grabbed takeout from Federal Jack's which sits atop the Shipyard Brewing Company.

The Bush Family Compound in the background.

Saturday morning, we had a large breakfast provided at the inn. We went to walk around the town. Laura picked out a hooded sweatshirt that I bought for her as a gift for her first Mother's Day. We got pizza in the center of Kennebunk and went back to the inn to rest. The innkeepers, Betsy and Paul, are both from Massachusetts originally. We learned their family history of how they came to be in Maine, their four kids and numerous grand-kids, and that they have been married over 50 years. Betsy's first husband died in a canoe accident when she was months pregnant with their third child and Paul raised them as his. I played with Miles in the main room while Laura rested - that's when Betsy told me their story. As I was waiting for my folks, another runner, Mike, and his pregnant wife arrived. This was his first marathon and he was hoping for 2:55-3:00 (he ran 2:54). I gave him some advice as a seasoned marathon runner.

Waiting for me outside packet pick-up at University of New England, Biddeford
Before my parents joined us, we took a quick trip to the finish line which was also where the expo was held. I was worried they might cancel the race, but I was the only one thinking that. I guess since Mississippi Blues Marathon was canceled while I was on my way there and stuck in Chicago, I have become a tad sensitive to a race cancellation. The expo was a quick in-and-out; nothing like Boston or NYC. Back at the inn, I waited for my folks to arrive. Once they made it to the inn, they settled in before we took a drive. We had time to go for a drive to the Bush Compound and then to dinner at Ports of Italy in the center of Kennebunkport. Dinner was nice and there was plenty for me to eat. After, we walked to get ice cream where there were several runners with the same idea. We beat the rush then ate on the patio.

When we got to the room to go down for the night, Miles had trouble going to bed and staying asleep. He doesn't sleep well in new locations, apparently. In the morning, I got up early, prepared in the bathroom so I wouldn't wake Laura and Miles, and went to the kitchen to eat breakfast. Dad and Paul were down there, and after eating, Dad took me to the start line. The rain was light at first, but I knew it was going to pick up. Luckily, I had VIP access so Dad could park near the high school and he came inside to wait with me. I ran into a fellow running buddy, Andrew, who I met at the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville. I have met a number of runners and kept in touch.

Dad watched and filmed the start of the race and then got in his car and went to the finish line where I had secured VIP parking close to the finish. As for my race, with the wind and heavy rain, I made a lot of good decisions that day. First, I wore an Under Armor shirt under my club's singlet, which kept me warm. I also wore arm sleeves my coach sent, gloves, and a hat. I wore regular long sleeve cotton shirt (I think a Cherry Blossom Ten Miler shirt I got as a volunteer) for the first few miles before ditching it. I also ran with a pack of runners targeting my finish time. And, I quickly tossed out my sub 3 goal and aimed for 3:05. I did a good job of staying with the pack. There was a lot of chatter early on as we did two loops near the beach, including mile 11 by the Bush Compound. The race went wrong for many people right at mile 12. A paid volunteer directed many of us down a dead end road that wasn't part of the course. Here is the race's official video of me running. It added half a mile, and a lot of people were really upset going by the comments on the race's Facebook page. The race posted this apology:

"We want to sincerely apologize for an error that was made on the marathon race course today. During the race, we learned of runners being taken off course by a volunteer. At approximately mile 12, runners were turned off course down a dead end road where they then turned around and ran back onto the course. Unfortunately this added about 0.5 miles to the course. We believe about half of the field of the field of runners ran a total of 26.7 miles. The error was corrected as soon as we discovered the problem. The course is still considered a Boston Qualifier even with the added mileage, and those who ran a qualifying time are still valid results. If you missed your qualifying time because the course was long we sincerely apologize. We're extremely sorry for those trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon that did not. As fellow runners, we know that nothing will be able to make up for a lost chance like that."

I even thought that the directions to go down were not right. My watch almost had me at mile 12 and she was standing in front of the mile 12 marker. But, when I asked her if she was sure, she said it with such confidence and everyone else was going there. In retrospect, I could have ignored her and trusted my gut, but if I was wrong then I would have been cutting the course, disobeying a race official, and putting myself in jeopardy of being disqualified. When I got to the end, I could see no cone, so I didn't go all the way to the end. One of the guys I was running with slipped and fell hard as he turned. Fortunately, he was only pacing a friend and not running it all out (he ran 19 miles as part of a Ragnar relay the previous day), and he is a 2:40 marathoner. Plus, he has a 5 month old and we talked about parenting as runners.

Pacing with Jeff

I was running with Jeff who was hoping to qualify for Boston. He is also from DC and lives on H Street but didn't know any of the names I dropped of fellow H Street runners. He was worried that the turn wasn't part of the course, and I convinced him (maybe I was trying to convince myself) that since the course was altered this year due to construction on the UNE campus, that they would make it up to us later and the signs were wrong. Around the halfway point, I felt good and left Jeff to try to catch the Ragnar relay guy and the friend he was pacing. I felt pretty good and was able to reel in runners ahead of me one at a time. I worried that at some point I would bonk, but my pace stayed consistent. When I went to grab my third Gu ahead of the 15th mile, I fumbled my fourth Gu and lost it on the ground. I thought there would be Gu handed out, but it wasn't so I relied on Gatorade.

Running with Jeff

Even as we went up hills and into wind, I was able to hold a very respectable pace. At the 20 mile mark, I had caught Ragnar and we were again running side-by-side. My left thigh started hurting, but I was able to run through the pain. At some point, I dropped him, but his friend was closing in on me. With 5K or so to go, his friend was trying to draft off me. Along the coast, the wind was the worst as it slowed my pace considerably. I was determined not to let him draft off me. Earlier in the race we can take turns and work together, but with the finish line in sight I get competitive and we're all on our own. I remember hitting 26.2 on my watch and being upset that the finish line wasn't in sight. So I ran the extra half mile, finished on a slippery and narrow chute, and saw my dad. He was filming this shaky video. I was pissed because that race could have been a 3:05 or 3:06 if accurate - maybe even a 3:04. I got into the car with my dad and started to change. I was shivering from the rain and from stopping.


7:00/6:51/7:14/7:03/7:24/7:45/7:39/ 7:05 (final .7).
I am pretty sure I ran a negative split. I felt strong at the end. The wall of wind at the end is evident looking at my times as I go from 7:03 to 7:24 to 7:45 and 7:39 before bringing it all together for a 7:05 pace in the 27th mile.

My statistics and placement

I was pleased with myself as that was a terrific effort and I knew it. But, I was upset that I lost out on a better time. Even though I was likely in for Boston 2018 (3:08 should be enough to get me in only needing a 3:15), I want to improve my place in the corral. Having been in the fourth corral in 2017, I want to see how close to the front I can get. I will simply have to wait for the next marathon and opportunity to improve my bib number.

Cousins play with Penny at the Mother's Day / Dad's 65th birthday party

After the race, my parents left and went to my brother's for the Mother's Day celebration / my dad's 65th birthday party. We went to Federal Jack's for lunch and a beer and to celebrate. We then drove to join my family at my brother's and my mom was pleased that all her children and grandchildren were together. A good way to finish the weekend! Monday morning, we got up very early to catch our flight back to DC.

Postscript: I started running with Miles in the Bob's Ironman stroller. He mostly sleeps on the run.

After the race, I took Miles on the MBT for our first run together in the Bob's Ironman stroller

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