This was the first marathon in a year for me. I focused on trail ultras in 2009. So I didn't know what kind of pace I could still run in that short of a distance and on roads. I rode in with Mary Hanna, who had done the half many times and decided to give the marathon a go. (Mary is both an accomplished and competitive half and full marathoner as well as an occasional ultrarunner).
I started out conservative as usual. The weather was perfect. Cool and no rain. It was fun to see so many familiar faces. One Maniac that I ran into at the start of the race was Gunhild Swanson. She remarked that I was having a good year. It had been a while since I had seen her and told her it was nice to see her again. She was running with a sign on her back in memory of her husband Jack Swanson, who had succumbed to cancer. The Seattle Marathon had been his last and 200th marathon. We all miss him.
At about the 3 mile mark, I was being passed by a bald guy wearing a pink tutu. I made a whistling sound. He raised his pink wand and made the walkers laugh. He was a few strides ahead of me when I decided to run up behind him and pick up his tutu from behind. He said, "Hey! I charge for that!" More laughs from the walkers.
I enjoyed seeing all my friends on the out and back on the I-90 bridge as well as the front runners. I always run this part too fast, getting caught up in the excitement of seeing everyone. Mary looked strong. I saw Gwen Scott, who paced me at CCC 100 and ended up taking first female masters with a 3:18. Mary came in at 3:19, first in her age group F45-49 and 3rd female masters.
I decided I needed to back off on the pace a little when we we hit Lake WA Blvd at about 8.5 miles. Eventually, Phil Kriss caught up with me along with other Raise the Bar runners at about 11.5 miles. We went back and forth until I couldn't keep up any longer and let them go. I needed to run my own race. At about mile 16, Robert Towne from Eastern, WA, another accomplished ultrarunner, caught up with me too. He said he thought I was going to take it easy. I was only pushing it a little. We finally hit some hills, which I was pleased about since that is my strong point and I could use different muscles. I would catch up to others on the up and get caught again on the down. But the hills kept on coming in the last 6 miles and there is one right before the 26 mile mark. That's when I decided to put on the jets and passed two gals in my age group, Robert, and Phil. They couldn't respond on the hill and I sprinted that last 200 yards. I could hear Gwen shout, "GO VAN!"
I was very happy with my finish time. The race hurt in a different way from my trail ultras. I did have a low lying back ache the entire run but it was manageable with adjustment in pace. My second half was less than a minute longer than my first, which is a pretty even effort since the second half is harder.
Afterwards, Mary and I joined Tony Phillippi and his gal for pizza at Zeek's. I hope to continue this tradition of the Seattle Marathon every year after Thanksgiving, regardless of the weather.