Last weekend, on Mother's Day, I ran the Maine Coast Marathon, my third go at 26.2. I've spent all week thinking about the race and how I could best put into words how I feel about it. It was my slowest marathon by far, but I dare say it was the most enjoyable one.
|Arms full of race swag|
Jen and I drove south to the expo on Saturday afternoon, checked in at our hotel, and made a quick run to Target so I could pick up a waterproof phone case. The weather forecast was to be sunny with temperatures rising into the 80s...I knew I wanted to have my phone with me but also needed to protect it from all the water that I knew I'd be dumping over my head. I didn't really have a time goal for this race due to a less than stellar training cycle over the brutal winter we had here in Maine. To go from running a majority of my training in temperatures below 30-40 degrees (even below zero) to BAM a sudden 50+ degree increase had me realizing that I had to take necessary precautions to ensure I reached that finish line. As it is, I struggle immensely in the heat even if I've been acclimated to it, so this day was going to be long, hot and uncomfortable, but I was certain that I would enjoy myself.
|Spandits! singlet and shorts, Mizuno Wave Rider18, Injinji socks, Headsweats hat, FlipBelt, Garmin Forerunner10, Nathan handheld, GU for fuel|
We met up with Gretchen and her husband, Jim, for dinner. The first place we wanted to go was swamped due to the race as well as prom weekend for the high schoolers. We settled on Jimmy the Greeks in Old Orchard Beach and enjoyed a yummy burger and beer.
|Extra carbs for race day.|
Sunday morning came quickly and Jim was nice enough to drive us to the start in Kennebunk instead of getting to the shuttle a hour earlier. First we got in line for the port-o-potty (priorities!), snapped a quick picture and listened to the most beautiful rendition of the National Anthem I think I have ever heard. I was feeling a little emotional as I was holding back tears, but tried to relax as we found our spot in the crowd.
|Jen, Gretchen and I|
(and three 2015-16 Spandits! Ambassadors!)
There was a bit of fog and the temperature felt pretty nice at the start, I wish it could have stayed like that. I focused running very easy in the beginning miles, but tried to keep an even pace as I knew I'd be slowing a lot once the temperature started rising. I got a cramp in my abdomen in the first mile that kind of ticked me off. I'd hydrated better than ever before and couldn't understand why I had a cramp. Luckily, it went away before reaching mile two.
By mile four my right ankle was starting to bother me from the slant in the road and I was feeling ache in my left glute that gave me issues off and on during training. This was going to be a long marathon if I'm already hurting. I really tried to stay positive and thankfully at some point both of those aches went away.
|I spy Gretchen's shoe.|
I stopped at every aid station to grab water (they were about every two miles through mile 19, then they were every mile) and took my first GU right before mile five. I chatted with a woman from Connecticut who had similar goals for the race, but she went ahead at the next aid station as I stopped to walk and drink.
|Around Mile 7|
As we ran through downtown Kennebunkport, the 4:15 pace group passed me. I was stunned because I was pretty sure I had lined up behind them at the start. This gave me a boost and the thought that it might turn out I'd get a good finish time. I wasn't getting my hopes up, though, I had a long way to go.
I kept a very steady pace until I reached mile ten. Then the heat came. It was as if someone switched on an oven, it came on so fast. This is where I took another GU and began my long, slow trudge to the finish. Mentally, I was doing great. I was surprised how positive I was feeling even knowing I had more than half of the race to go.
Pretty much for the rest of the way I'd walk any incline or when I got really hot and run/jog the flats and downhills. I was just about to reach mile 16 when Jen texted me that she had slowed down and maybe I could catch up. Unfortunately, the 4:45 pace group had just passed me and there was no way I'd be able to as she was about two miles ahead.
I was doing great with my fueling and staying hydrated. Buying that little Nathan handheld a couple of days before was the smartest move ever. It was nice and light, so it felt like I wasn't carrying anything. I would use it to sip from between aid stations and wash down the GU when it was time to fuel or squirt water over my neck and shoulders to cool myself down. It was easy to refill and I must have done so four or five times over the course. Another smart move was wearing my new Headsweats hat I won from Jen's blog. I was going back and forth over the new hat or a visor, but when someone was offering ice on the course I was able to stick some under my hat to cool me down.
|Hazy, hot, and humid around mile 19.|
The views were amazing and I wish I had snapped some more pictures. The only thing that bugged me were the black flies that decided it was warm enough to come out and were swarming my head. I reached a section where there was a marsh and I was hit with the most amazing cool breeze. I wanted to stay in this section, but needed to just keep moving forward.
I finally reached mile twenty and felt great. My legs were feeling tired and I was extremely hot, but very positive that I was going to reach the finish. There was no mental wall this time around.
At mile 22, I noticed my Garmin battery was very low. I wasn't sure that it would make it at the speed I was going (it did).
When I got to mile 24 I texted Jen that I'd be arriving in about 20 minutes and if she saw Ian and the boys. I had been sending mileage updates to Ian, but got no replies, so I was pretty sure he wasn't getting them. I just wanted to make sure that they were there at the finish. I got the news that he was in fact there and fought through the heat and ran pretty strong the final mile.
As I approached the finish line I could hear Jen screaming, "Go Carrie," like a madwoman from the beer tent that was way across the field. Ha ha! I crossed the line and there were Ian and my little guys waiting for me. I got my finisher's medal and water bottle and we went under the misting tent to cool off. I did go to get my free beer, but took two sips and just couldn't stomach it. Lucky me also had to go to work that night, so I figured I'd better take it easy.
Even though it took me way longer than I thought it would, I can honestly say at no time did I just wish the race was over. I reached a point in the final miles of my previous two marathons where I was overcome with dread and just wanted to be done. That didn't happen this time. Even though the latter miles were some of my slowest ever, the race seemed to fly by. I was focused and positive. As I was driving to work later that afternoon, the sun's rays were coming through the clouds and I just felt at peace. I felt thankful and blessed.
I could certainly see myself running this race again. It was very well organized and the volunteers at every aid station were so positive and helpful. The course sports some absolutely beautiful views of the Maine coastline and the course profile would give some pretty fast times if it weren't for the heat that we had on that one day. The finisher's jacket (you had to buy it for the half marathon/marathon distance) is awesome and I have worn it every single day, as is the rest of the swag that was available for purchase. They also offered free race photos and the quality is just fantastic as you can see in the photos above with the watermark in the corner. My one and only complaint (other than the heat that can't be helped) is the finisher's medal is a little dinky. The design is cool, but the size is rather small for a marathon medal and isn't in proportion to the ribbon. Overall, I would definitely recommend this race to anyone looking for a spring marathon in Maine.
5:21:59, 12:17 pace
64/71 in AG 35-39
Disclosure: I received a complementary entry into the Maine Coast Marathon complete with jacket, hat and beer mug in exchange for social media race promotion.