I’ve been curious what I could accomplish as a runner, when not having to devote training time to swimming and biking. I carried over a pretty good running base from the 2009 triathlon season, so I thought I might do well with just a bit of focused run-training in the spring. I picked the half-marathon distance because it seems a good fit for me: it allows me to draw on the endurance built up in triathlons; but it’s not so long that I would be at a physical disadvantage against the slightly-built marathon specialists.
The Whidbey Island Marathon/Half-Marathon is quite popular. I’d heard good things about the race from folks at Columbia City Runners. Also, it’s a good excuse to spend a couple of days on scenic Whidbey Island. So I signed up and we booked a room at the adorable Blue Goose bed and breakfast in historic Coupeville (more on that in a separate post).
The race course is very scenic, leading through a wooded area and then along the shore, through Oak Harbor and some of the pastoral area to the south. It’s also quite hilly, as you can see. We had viewed the course by car the day before, and I was a little nervous how I’d handle all those hills.
The gun went off, and an order was quickly established: I ended up in 4th position behind a group of serious runners that quickly pulled away from me within the first mile.
I didn’t really care, because I was mainly trying to beat a 1:25 target and had no aspiration of placing anywhere at the front. I was watching my mile splits and trying to pace myself towards my goal time. 6:29 was the average time per mile I had to maintain. The first mile was fine at 6:18. Miles 2 and 3 were at about 5:30 – good, I was building up some buffer for the hills in the second half of the race. Surprisingly, my splits remained close to 6:00 through mile 4 and 5. I was feeling fine and 1:25 seemed very achievable. Miles 5-8 were tough, but not as hard as I’d feared.
At mile 8.5 the course turns around and heads back into town. This gives you an opportunity to gauge the gap between yourself and your competitors. I was still in 4th and not gaining on 3rd at all. 5th place was clearly putting in an effort to close the gap to me, which was about 30s at that point. It was time to put the hammer down. The last miles went by quickly – mostly downhill and I was going as fast as I could. Soon the finish line was in sight. I mustered what I could in the way of a home stretch sprint and passed the line in 4th place at 1:20:31. Mission accomplished!
bib number: 1706
location: Seattle, WA
overall place: 4 out of 1347
division place: 1 out of 51
gender place: 4 out of 433
gun time: 1:20:32