After my disappointing performance at the Boston Marathon this April, I knew I wanted to get another chance to run Boston, and, hopefully, get a little revenge on that particular course! I don’t think I was home more than a few days before I started to look for a marathon in August or very early September so I could beat the 2018 registration cutoff (September 11 this year). After looking at a couple of options, I decided to register for the Humboldt Bay Marathon. With my target date in mind, I started training again at the end of April, and managed to put together a solid 18 week cycle. No injuries, no major scheduling snafus, just putting the work in.
When the marathon weekend finally came, my younger son Matthew and I packed up the car to drive up to Eureka. Having stayed there for the Avenue of the Giants Marathon in the spring of 2016, we knew what to expect. Unfortunately, the other members of my family couldn’t make the trip, so it was just the two of us.
This marathon is small. Even smaller than Avenue of the Giants. Only about 100 marathoners and 130 half marathoners. They also did something I’d never seen done before. The half marathoners started the race at the halfway point of the full marathon, so their start line was in a completely different location than ours. Strange.
Once the gun went off, I quickly settled into the pace I wanted to run. The course started out running through Eureka neighborhoods then headed out along some rural routes for a while. I was surprised by the rolling hills, including some significant downhills in the first half. As I neared the halfway point, where I knew I’d see Matthew again, I checked my Garmin and found that I was right on track. I came through the half just over 1:36 which put me right on pace. I got a nice high five from my boy and some cheers from the half marathoners who were beginning to line up.
The second half of the race got really rural for a while. We did a lot of running on rutted roads typically only used by farm machinery, so you really had to pay attention to your footing, especially from miles 15 through 20. The other oddity was finding myself running completely alone for a good 30 minutes. No one in front, no one behind me. I guess that can happen in such a small race.
When I went into the day, I had three goals in mind:
- No matter what, run better than 3:25:00 to qualify for Boston.
- If I’m having a good day, try to give myself some padding by running close to what I did at the Avenue of the Giants, about 3:18:00 to 3:20:00.
- If the stars align, try to run better than 3:15:00.
To run a 3:15:00, I’d need to hold an average pace of 7:26/mile. In the end, I managed to hold that pace all the way through mile 24, but those damn bridges at the very end got me. There are three bridges that bring the runners back to the mainland from the peninsula on the ocean side of the bay. Each one of them have both an uphill and a downhill, and oddly, it was the downhill that got me. My hamstrings, which were certainly sore by then, nearly locked up as I had to extend my legs going down the backside of those bridges. To prevent full lockup, I slowed down a bit. I’m glad I did because I was able to pull things back together to finish strong.
Officially, I ran a 3:17:45, which was a new PR for me, and significantly, I beat my Boston qualification standard by over 7 minutes. So I should be good to get into Boston again! Mission accomplished.