My pattern in recent years has been towards smaller events, low overhead, and low key. So back in March when The Oatmeal announced that he was going to put on the inaugural Beat the Blerch Marathon (along with the Half and 10k events), I wasn’t sure I wanted to brave the crowds to register.
early miles – photo by ross comer
It was Kris’ fault that I did. Five minutes before registration started she texted me saying “could you register me for the Blerch thing too?”. After twenty five minutes of refreshing non-responsive web pages, and retrying I thought I’d gotten both of us in. Turned out they bumped her, and then I was left with a registration that I felt sort of ‘meh’ about. Sunk cost. Damn.
When race week rolled around, I was one week off of a new PR. I was still soaking that one in – a new PR at age 49. Made me wonder what kind of self-imposed ceiling I’d been working under in the sixteen years I’d been doing marathons. Think about it. How often do we assume a perceived limitation is real?
So legs tired, and spirit still reveling in that new PR, I lined up with the costumed crew at the start on a foggy morning in Carnation. It had been a very tough week at work, which made it even more of a grind.
the start – photo by ross comer
Aside – I never ever thought we’d see people flying in from all over the country to run on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. But there we were. Matthew Inman sprinted to the front of the pack in his inflatable suit to send us off (he would run the half, as he did the day before). And off we went …
I kept a steady sub 8:40 pace for the first 9 or so miles. I was unaware of the slight uphill grade on the way out, so didn’t plan accordingly. The smart thing to do, especially given the fatigue I still felt from the week before would have been to go out verry easily. By the time I hit the halfway point, it was too late. I was clicking off consistent sub 9 splits, but didn’t feel good about being able to keep that up in the second half.
mustering a smile, but feeling the miles – photo by ross comer
By the time I came back through mile 15 and 17, I pretty well toasted. This stretch passes by a firing range in the distance – so the sound effects were an apt metaphor for how I felt – like I was being assassinated – albeit slowly.
At mile 22, I began walking more. My sub-four goal went out the window. But along the way, despite me feeling done, I appreciated the silly vibe the race had going. Not my best day running, but a fun event nonetheless. I came in just under 4:15, just under my time for my first marathon, sixteen years ago.
Having had some time to reflect on the race now, I’m not sure I would do this one again. It’s too big, and the hassle factor was a bit much for me. On the other hand, race day was fun – it was great seeing many first timers out there taking on the Blerch.