RECAP: Super Marathon 2021

Post-race sign selfie!

Yesterday, I crossed the finish line of the 2021 Run Super Series Super Marathon, my 19th full marathon. My official result was 4:01:59, not my fastest or slowest, but definitely the hottest I have run, which is an interesting observation, given it was my first in Washington state, not known for scorching temperatures, but I suppose I was just lucky 😉

Running this marathon was significant in a few ways – it was my first race back since the pandemic (I ran a half in March 2020 – probably the last weekend that any races went off in the U.S. in a “normal” capacity) and my first marathon back since London. When I initially registered for it, it was supposed to be last June, and I had gone all in on training – I had personalized coaching, was running targeted workouts, and had developed my VO2 max (via Garmin) the highest that I had ever seen – then of course, there was no race.

Since then, I’ve been staying active with running and Peloton, maintaining a fitness level, but unsure of where I was. I decided, for this marathon, I’d use it as a gauge of where I was. Of course, historic high temperatures somewhat thwarted my observation, but one day later, analyzing my splits, I am pretty pleased.

So, here’s a brief recap of how it all went down!

PRE RACE

The morning started early – 3 AM for a 3:45 AM pickup from my running girlfriends Lisa and Jess. They were both volunteering on the course, and generously offered to transport me to the start, which was wonderful! The drive up was quick (not much traffic at O’dark thirty!) and we arrived at the start staging area at around 5:15 – this race has only same-day packet pickup, and that went smoothly, as I picked up my bib and drop bag. Since the start area is a parking lot for various hiking trails, there are real restrooms, which I was able to pop into, then meander to the start area, where I briefly met up with some friends from the PNW Ladies Running Group I am in on Facebook.

PNW Ladies

RACE START

The start was a mass start, which was a little congested initially, but it cleared up in about 1/3 of a mile. The first 5 miles of the race are an out and back with very slight elevation change.

Splits –> 8:24, 8:05, 8:05, 8:05, 8:08.

Those miles felt easy and comfortable, and before I knew it, the course crossed the parking lot, and headed down to the trail that leads to the infamous tunnel.

Running through the tunnel was a trip, as always! It’s kind of dream-like, as it’s so dark, and of course, the running through was not without (minor) incident – my darn headlamp decided to stop working, so I had to tuck behind someone else with a bright light. Also! Here’s a giggle – I was thinking the tunnel was very foggy and sauna-like, but I figured it out around halfway that it was because I had simply forgotten to remove my sunglasses! All of a sudden, I could see clearly again. I guess that says a lot about how comfortable goodr sunglasses are 😉

Tunnel Miles –> 8:24, 8:14

After the tunnel, the trail began its gentle descent, and it was smooth sailing for a few miles. The temperature was getting warmer, but there was a decent amount of shade, so those miles clicked off without incident. I took my first fuel packet (Untapped Maple) at 8 miles.

Splits –> 7:56, 7:52, 7:55, 7:58

I was only casually noticing the beeps of my Garmin, as I realized I was already overrunning the course a bit, as my splits were popping up before the mile markers. I was also realizing the major difference between the sunny and shaded portions of the course.

HALFWAY POINT

Interesting fact: I think this is the first race (other than Tokyo, as I didn’t wear a watch then) that I didn’t note my half-marathon time. I still felt fine, but knew I was slowing down a bit.

Splits –> 8:58, 9:09, 8:23, 8:56

At mile 16, I took my second packet of fuel, and was starting to feel the strain of the heat. I sent a text to Eric and told him not to worry that I was slowing down. My legs still felt good, but a slight side stitch was developing on my right side. I ran the shaded parts, and walked all the areas with direct sunlight, as those areas really seemed to zap my energy. I distracted my annoyance at the sun by taking some pictures along the way.

Somewhat struggling splits –> 10:12, 9:37, 9:58, 11:25, 12:29, 11:43

At mile 23, I took my final fuel packet and I think the water and electrolytes were finally kicking back in, and I was able to pull it together and run more. Knowing that I had a little more than 5K to go (I was about .7 ahead of mile markers at that point), I ran as much as I could.

By this point, there were a few other runners who seemed to be in the same boat as me, taking brief walk breaks. I chatted up a few, and we encouraged each other! It was nice to feel that race connection again, it was definitely something I missed and appreciated.

Last few miles –> 9:27, 8:56, 9:02, 8:36 and last .9, 7:59

Finishing up the marathon!

Right before mile 26, I was happy to see Jess and Lisa, as they were course marshals for a significant race turn, and they snapped some pics and cheered!

THE FINISH LINE

As I approached the finish line, I had an *almost* harrowing experience as I slipped on loose gravel and almost fell! Thankfully, I was able to regain my footing, and made it safely to the finish line, completing 26.96 miles (I am such an overachiever, haha) right at 4:01:59.

POST RACE

After finishing the run and collecting my medal, I made it down the chute (and congratulated one of the runners I had seen during struggle bus time, hah!), picked up my drop bag, then collected some refreshments (water, coke, chips). I sat down at a shaded picnic table and chatted with a few other runners – we had some lively conversation, and it was great just relaxing.

After most of my sweat was dried, I changed into dry, clean clothes and headed back up toward the course, cheered in some runners, then made my way to Jess and Lisa until the course was cleared.

Post-race, I felt pretty good – no significant soreness, and after a stop at Starbucks (yay big reward drink!!) we were on the road back home.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Apart from the weather, which obviously was out of anyone’s control, I have no complaints about this race. The organization and communication were clear, the course was well-supported, and all staff and volunteers were very friendly and helpful. The natural beauty of the event was wonderful, and looking back at my splits, I feel confident about my fitness level, and I am excited about what’s next…

2 thoughts on “RECAP: Super Marathon 2021

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