A Race to Remember

(c) Alysha Curry

It was so cold!! It was snowing... in almost April!!!

This past Saturday I had the best run of my life (so far)! I ran in the Yakima River Canyon Marathon , where I blew my PR (Personal Record) out of the water, and had a great time doing it!

The weather didn’t look too good that morning, as we drove down Manashtash Ridge into the Kittatas Valley and pulled into the parking lot at the Ellensburg Days Inn a mix of snow and rain was falling.  My wonderful girlfriend Alysha and my mom accompanied me on the walk to the starting line about .25 miles south of the parking lot, where we waited in the sn-ain for the start.  I took off the sweats I was wearing to stay warm, prepped my iPod and Garmin, posed for some silly pictures, and jumped up and down for warmth.  Soon the announcer was telling us to get behind the starting line, the National anthem was sung and the race was on! 

The “First Half” – Miles 1-20

Click for interactive version

We started out heading north with 5 or 6 motorcycle cops leading the way past our well wishers.  As we  weaved back and forth onto side roads through flat farmland for the first 4 miles, the pack began to spread out.  By the time we passed the small crowd of onlookers at Thrall Road I could tell I was in the top 10% because there weren’t more than 20 people ahead of me… how exciting!

As we climbed the first hill of the course at the mouth of the canyon mile 5 it began to actually snow, not hard but noticeably (you can see it in the picture to the left), but it soon tapered off.  I had breezed through the 1 aid station before the Canyon, grabbing a cup of Powerade and continuing on my way without so much as slowing down from my current 7 minute per mile pace, but as the next station came up I ran into a hitch… my bladder.  I’d done too good of a job hydrating earlier in the  morning, so I popped into the port-a-potty and did what had to be done.

After at least a minute I was back on the road… but every minute mattered if I wanted to qualify for Boston. My watch soon beeped and mile 6 had taken 8:09, I probably should have just kept gliding along, but the long mile scared me and I ran the next two at 6’39” which may have eaten energy I would need later.

After that, I went back to taking it relatively easy and I just enjoyed the ride for most of the next 12 miles.   A few highlights from this segment:Pacman Cliff

  • Crossing the 13.1 mark and seeing myself under 1:32… I was on pace to qualify!
  • This course has amazingviews , and today was no exception.  One of my favorite sights was the oddly graffiti-ed “Pacman Cliff”
  • I saw at least 2 Bald Eagles and one (I believe) Golden Eagle, nature is freaking awesome!
  • Every walker I passed (including race director Bob Dolphin who was participating in his 500th marathon that day!) provided words of encouragement that added more fire to my belly.

The “Second Half” – Mile 20 on

21.89 mi: elevation 1251'
23.07 mi: elevation 1520'

For the first part of the “second half” I was doing fine, still on pace to qualify for Boston. I was feeling good as I passed the Roza Recreation area, but I knew what was coming… the hill (cue scary music).

At about mile 22 I faced a crazy hard mile, climbing 250 feet in just over a mile, a nasty 4% grade, and I just didn’t have the fuel left to pull it off at my previous pace and I slowed down drastically, wound up hitting the 23 mile marker with a 9’25” mile, and getting passed by folks I’d passed along the way who hadn’t burnt up all their fuel.  I was disappointed in myself  when I reached the top, knowing there I wouldn’t make Boston at this point, but I knew I was still on my way to a PR (my 1st Marathonwas a 3:32’00 run) . I couldn’t get back up to my prior pace but I ran those last 3 miles as best I could.  I wound up pacing myself with a guy who I’d been leapfrogging for much of the course, but my calf was bothering me a little coming into the final turn and I let him pull ahead.

Turning the last bend, the 26 mile mark was right there and the finish less than 400 yards away! There was a boost of energy as I could hear the cheering crowd, including my family waiting to cheer me on! Alysha, my mom, my dad, my sister Celisa (who was planning on running this race with me as her first marathon, but got sidelined by injury a few weeks ago) and my nieces Ruby and Elsie cheered me as I crossed the finish line at 3:10’36”, more than 21 minutes faster than my prior PR! I was 17th overall and 2nd in my age bracket (25-29). Little did I know that the guy I’d let pull ahead of me just before the 26 mile mark was in my age bracket (29 year old Favian Valencia of Mercer Island) and beat me out by 10 seconds, I wish I’d known!

What’s next?

Well I had a couple days of rest (I walked but nothing strenuous) and now I’m beginning to de-taper.  I was so close to qualifying even with the kick the hill gave me (BQ time this year for my age is 3:05, I would’ve made it if this was 2011) that I may try to do a marathon before September to qualify for 2013, but I’ve got a busy summer ahead (see my other blog for updates about that).  I know for sure I’ll be running the Portland Marathon again this year, but I don’t really start the training plan for that until June so I’ll either train for a shorter race like Beat The Bridge or just focus on base building for the next 2 months.   I love running and what it is doing for my mind, my body and my spirit and just want to get back on the road as soon as possible!


11 responses to “A Race to Remember

  1. Congrats on the race finish! I really enjoy the smaller races like Yakima Valley. That hill is a bitch. At least it’s most downhill after. I didn’t run it this year.

    Good luck with the next one!

  2. You will totally nail the BQ on your next go! I got my BQ at Portland in 2010, hammering on the downhills (which I realized is very risky) to steal some time.

    Great race!

  3. What an awesome recount of an even more awesome run. Am so proud of how hard you work to accomplish the goals you set for yourself. It truly humbles and inspires me. Good job on the race!!!

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