For some reason my whole life, my sister and I have had a strange obsession with the movie The Labyrinth our whole lives - Bowie is dreamy. Random, I know, but it fits in with my 2017 MDI Marathon experience because I added "Magic Dance" to my playlist for the race.
As I mentioned in my race preview, I wasn't feeling super confident in my training going into this race. It had even come to the point where I was telling myself, "if you don't finish, it's okay, you can rationalize it with the training..." Regardless, I got up on race morning and felt pretty good - a little tightness in my lower back that I had been dealing with for about a week, but everything else felt fresh at the start line.
This race has the best start line tradition. After the National Anthem is sung or played, they blare "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC, and the atmosphere at the line immediately becomes charged. It's something I've never felt before at another race. Halfway through the song, while everyone bounces and dances in place, a cannon sounds and the race is off.
Mount Desert Island is a really hilly island, so almost every part of this race is up or down.
Miles 1-5: I was right around 9 minutes for all of these miles. There's a killer hill that lasts from basically 3-5 miles. It's not steep, but it goes on for all two miles and can be a little bit soul sucking. One of my favorite things about this race is that it winds its way through tiny towns across the island, and there is support all over the place - some locals sit on their front porch and give you a nod or a little wave as you wander by while others are banging drums, strumming banjos, or bouncing up and down cheering their heads off. Having lived in Maine my whole life, I find that it is a really interesting snapshot of Mainers.
Miles 6-13.1: This section might be the "flattest" of the whole race, while definitely not being flat. I was still feeling really great at the halfway point, averaging between 9 and 9:30/miles in this section. I made it to the halfway point in 2:01:42 and was really surprised at how good I felt. I had a friend running who was doing the two person relay, but her partner got injured so when she was supposed to switch out with him at the halfway point, she kept going. Usually she's way ahead of me, but she was taking a break at the half when I came around the corner and jumped back into the race with me. I remember telling her that I might have been a little aggressive in the first half of the race, and that I was going to try to run for as long as I could before taking a walk break. She said she was going to run to the St. Jude aid station (mile 19) and drop there. She got a bit ahead of me, but I was proud that I could keep her in sight for the rest of my race.
Miles 13.2-20: About mile 15 I started to feel the first half of the race a little bit. I thought my pace might have been a little aggressive for the level of training that I had put in, but I maintained the 9-9:30/mile pace through this section. This part of the race is pretty lonely as you are running down Solmes Sound - fun fact, it's the only fjord on the East Coast - which is totally isolated except for the aid station at mile 16. However, an awesome surprise this year was a big fishing troller in the water blaring music and honking its horn with the crew waving and cheering. They were a huge pick me up. At this point my play list was really playing a big part in keeping me moving. I basically danced from mile 16 to the finish as a distraction. In retrospect, I'm pretty impressed with the playlist that I put together; it ran the gamut on genre and it was excellent. When I passed my parents at mile 18 "Magic Dance" from the Labyrinth came on my playlist and I briefly serenaded my mother as I ran by her.
Miles 20-26.2: Here's where my early pace caught up to me. I ran every. single. step. through mile 20. Considering I didn't do a single 20 mile run during my training for the race (things kept coming up each time I had one planned), I was pretty proud of this. Even after 20 miles, my walk breaks were short, and typically hill related. Basically, once you turn the corner at mile 20, the rest of the race goes uphill. I was still feeling pretty good at this point, despite taking some walk breaks.
This part is really spectator friendly so DH and my parents basically leap-frogged me in the car from about mile 18 to the finish - I saw them before this, but it's not super easy to get to most of the "spectator spots" on the course. We've got it pretty much down to a science at this point since this was my fifth time running the race. I see them at mile 12, 18, and then they stop as many times as they want until the end of the race. It was really nice to get a little boost from seeing them each time they would stop.
When you get to about mile 24.5 you've made it to the top of the last hill and are greeted by the best aid station in the whole race. First, they had cardboard cut outs of Star Wars characters set up along the prior mile, and their music is so loud you can hear them before you see them. At this point in the day it was drizzling, so they had been standing out there for a while getting wet, but they were so enthusiastic. One woman had candy corn in a bucket which she was covering with her jacket; every time she offered it to some one it felt like a shady street deal, which was making me giggle.
From the top of the hill aid station it's a glorious, but painful downhill to the finish.
I hit about 25.5 miles and all of a sudden I hear my name over a loudspeaker and a couple of short siren blasts. My dad is a retired police officer and he had friends at the race. My parents and DH saw two of my dad's cop-buddies at the finish line getting ready to leave and jokingly said if you see her blow the siren. And they did. It was a really funny moment as people looked around to see who the cop was cheering at.
It started raining a little harder as I got closer to the finish, but I was pushing it. I realized at about 25 miles that I was close to matching the time I ran at the Maine Coast Marathon earlier this spring (I was in much better shape for that race but the rain, cold temps, and gusty winds squashed my time goals), so I was pushing hard.
I ended up finishing in 4:13:52, three minutes slower than my spring race, but way ahead of where I thought I would be.
I never feel much like eating as soon as I'm done the race, but I wandered into the food tent and grabbed a bagel to snack on because we wouldn't be stopping for food for a little bit (MDI is VERY rural other than Bar Harbor). The worst part of the race is that parking is about a 1/2 mile from the finish line. The last thing you want to do after running a marathon is walk a 1/2 mile to sit down.
I'm just about a week and a half post-race and everything feels great. I recovered quickly from the race and was back to my normal routine (maybe a little slower) on Wednesday last week.
As far as the rest of the year goes, I've got a couple of turkey trots coming up in November and then Rehoboth in December. Can't wait! I'm running the half again this year. Not only is it a super fun trip with Loopsters, but we get to see DH's mom and stepdad while we are down there for our Hanukkah/Christmas celebrations. They live in Maryland, so it's an easy excuse to go down for the race.
Happy running everyone.