After a horrific crash and burn at Monster Mash, I just wanted a nap! The last thing I wanted to do was get into a car and drive another 2 hours to suffer through another freaking marathon, but everything was paid for so I had to keep on truckin.
Luckily we hit no traffic and we got to the expo in time to see Elaine at the pacer table! Elaine went straight from the Grand Slam (Western States 100, Vermont 100, Leadville 100, and Wastach 100) to pacing just about every marathon on the East Coast, and I was lucky enough to have her pacing the 4:40 group at AC. I wasn’t sure if I could keep up after what I had been through that morning, but I was going to try my best!
After the Expo we relaxed before meeting up with some maniacs for an awesome pre-race dinner. Loopster Jerry on his own double with Baltimore met up too! I ate too much but I was re-fueling/fueling. At least that was my logic. After dinner we had some time to kill while waiting for our friend, so we went out to find some trouble…which is surprisingly hard in AC.
I slept like a rock and woke up feeling ok, though I was a little concerned with some knee pain that popped up the night before. Knee pain? My knees never hurt.
Elaine was easy to find and she had a huge group of runners. We spend the first few miles catching up – it was awesome to hear about the Grand Slam in person, and have some company through the freaky (and HOT!) tunnel. But 3 miles in the left knee was really bothering me….so I let Elaine go while I pulled over to pop an Advil.
I lost the group but I kept them in my sights for a while. It sucked being alone but I was determined not to have a pity party. Ultra running came in handy here, I just kept telling myself to keep moving and things would get better.
Things finally started getting better around mile 6 just as we turned onto the board walk. I started catching up to and passing people. First Jess, my double companion and road trip buddy, then some maniacs from dinner. It felt great to be with friends again but then I lost them all at a water stop. One poor girl was dressed as a roulette wheel and was getting knocked around in the wind and Murray, who I’ve paced the Columbia Marathon with twice and ran with in about 5 other states, sprinted ahead.
Alone again 😦 but it wasnt long before I turned off the board walk and onto the street, where I had a great view of the leaders on their way back. I cheered and gave everyone a thumbs up, which tends to boost my spirits and help me speed up. There was no timing mat, but I hit the half at 2:23.
At this point I was pretty sure I wasnt going to catch up to Elaine and the 4:40 group, but I was feeling pretty good. The snaking out and back of the second half meant seeing lots of friends (Maniac Membership seriously pays for itself in discounts and in friends on the course), which kept me happy both on the way out and on the way back.
Barefoot Eddie took this around my mile 17…having a blast!
The mile 20 turn on the far end of the course seemed to take forever to reach, but I saw Elaine on her way back looking like the best pacer ever. She asked how I was feeling and I could honestly say “Fantastic – better than I felt at mile 3!”
Finally heading back to the boardwalk, I caught up to Murray and we ran together for a bit before I lost him again at a water stop. The wind had been coming in gusts all day and, although really strong, it was more of a side wind and was only a problem for short intervals. I got a bit knocked around in this section with the wind bouncing off buildings but I held up ok.
The final 3 miles on the board walk were both fun and torture. On one hand it was really pretty. It was a clear day and it’s always awesome running by the ocean. On the other, you could pretty much see the finish line (the Bally’s Casino) the entire time. Also, as we got closer to the finish, the more crowded the boardwalk became. The course wasnt closed here and since I was finishing later in the day there were people in the race course. I had to yell at people to move and please dont stop to take selfies as I’m trying to sprint it home.
For me it really was sprinting….last .38 of the race (I cant run a tangent to save my life) was at an 8:38 pace….not bad considering I’d ran over 52 miles that weekend. It even looked like I was sprinting in the finish pic!
Final time 4:44:09. Not only did I negative split the race, I negative split the double…and finished feeling loads better than the day before. This just goes to show you that the body is effing weird.
Even though I didn’t make my goals I’m really happy with how this double went compared to last time. Obviously the ultras have made a huge difference, as well as a higher volume of running in general. It makes me really excited to earn my Mittens at WI/Kzoo in May.