Birch Bay Marathon Race Recap

Here it is finally, the race recap of the Birch Bay Marathon in Birch Bay, Washington on Februrary 21st.

I layed my gear out the night before; I had planned on wearing Nike running capris but in the  morning decided to go with shorts instead.   I’ve never raced in capris and didn’t want to mess with my mojo so I played it safe with the standard Tempo shorts.

I went to bed early around 8:30pm and got up at 5:30am.  The race didn’t start until 8am and was only about 25 minutes from our house so I had plenty of time to act like a fitness model:

I had my coffee, stretched, talked to my mom, took my time and then headed out to Birch Bay around 6:45am.

It was still kinda dark when we got there, but isn’t it gorgeous?

This was really a beautiful race, a lot of it was along the water.  At certain parts you could see White Rock, Canada, across the bay.

And I ate a Clif bar at 7am.  breakfast of champions.  or 2nd place champions.

This was a really small race (those orange cones were the starting line) so we had plenty of time to pick up my number and t shirt.  I went to the bathroom in the bushes a couple times even though there were restrooms just so I could feel like a wild Indian or something.

It was chilly at the start, probably around 35 degrees.  I wore a long sleeve Nike shirt under a t shirt that I would eventually take off at mile 4.

My family was able to come to the race, and this was one of the best parts of this race – having people you know cheer you on.  It’s incredible what a mental boost this is.  It made the race a lot more fun.  Because I was NOT having fun the last 5 miles.  But anyways, we haven’t even started yet..

The race start was just a guy yelling “GO!”  There wasn’t chip timing but with only about 140 people, you didn’t need it.

Because it was cold and I was running with a bunch of dudes, I started the first mile too fast, around 7:25.  I didn’t pace myself very well the first couple miles but then slowed down and settled in around 7:45 miles.

The course started in Birch Bay State Park and went for about 2.5 miles through Birch Bay and then did 2  10+/- mile loops, then 2.5 miles back to the start.

I hadn’t ran a double loop course before, and after doing it, I can safely say it’s not my favorite.  Mentally it’s hard because you have to gear yourself up to do the same thing all over again.  That’s what I was thinking the whole first loop, “Man I gotta go over all this one more time.”

This is one of my favorite pictures.  My little brother’s dog Nancy wanted in on the action too…

The Marathon Maniac guy and I ran together for about 18 miles; I was probably farting too much because he dropped off a little and finished a minute or so behind me.  But he was a great pacer, and I needed that.

Again, this course was beautiful.  I had not ran a naturally beautiful course like this before  (Vegas=not natural unless you count girls in leopard print), and it was very pretty.  Plus, we were blesssed with amazing weather; it was cold at the start but warmed up to low 50′s.

I crossed the half at 1:40 and started on the second loop.  I had my first GU gel at mile 10 and the next one at mile 14.5.

I don’t have a picture, but there was one HUGE hill that you ran up twice, at mile 5 and 15.  It was the biggest hill I’ve ever raced up.  The race coordinator actually suggested to everyone before the race that if you weren’t running a sub-3:30 to walk up the hill.

I ran it a full minute slower (8:45min/mile) than I was running the flats.  The course had some rolling, gentle hills along with the Big Kahuna and this definitely wore me out.  Vegas and Phoenix were as flat as a Vogue runway model so I was sucking air big time.

This is around mile 17 or 18.  This was the hardest part of the race for me mentally;  you ran through trees and weren’t near the water as much.  It was just a little boring and I was feeling pretty tired.  But I had a HammerGel at mile 19 and was still keeping a pretty good sub 8 pace.

There were very few water stations, and somewhere around mile 18 my mom gave me a cup of water which was awesome.  I felt like a celebrity getting free drinks at the club.

I chose not to run with my hydro belt obviously ; I just didn’t want to race with that clunky thing on my back.  And I knew it wouldn’t be that warm anyways.

The last 5 miles were the tougheset physically; I was just out of energy.  I took my last GU at mile 22.5.  I was trying hard to run all my miles around 7:45 or so, but the last 5 were inching over 8.  I just couldn’t keep my pace.  This was definitely different from my first 2 marathons.  I started more conservatively in those and really turned it up at the end and kicked hard.  Here, I had zero kick.  I wasn’t even sprinting  at the end I don’t think.  I was just done. spent. empty. DONE.

My official time was 3:23:40.  I was the 2nd woman to cross so I got a nifty little plaque for it.  My average pace was 7:46 min/mile.

This was a hard race; it was the hardest course I’ve ran and the hardest that I’ve personally ran.  It was tough.  But I did well, except for the last 5 where I fell off pace; otherwise I’m really proud of how hard I ran.

I was pretty shocked by the finishing time.  I had hoped to be around 3:35 so to be in the low 20′s was amazing.  I’m not sure because I’m still feeling the sore legs, but my mind’s now starting to question if I can run a sub 3:20 on a fast, flat course….  I don’t know; this took such a gargantuan effort that I almost feel like I’ll never be able to run that fast again. or even want to.

Next post I’ll show you some pictures of my family at the race.  I think I’ve said it, but it was AWESOME to have my family there and all treat me like I just beat Deena Kastor and Paula Radcliffe at Boston and not 2nd place at some tiny, obscure marathon.


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