My northernmost race
For reference, here is a course map:
Heading out from Bar Harbor was wonderful. Although this was a small race (just under 1000 runners) there was a great crowd of loud and enthusiastic spectators right at the start. But within the first half mile we were already out of town passing fields and starting the first climb of the race.
I knew the first major challenge of the race came right up front at the three mile marker, which was the second highest point on the course. Since it was so early I felt extremely fresh and I had to fight with myself to keep the speed in check. I knew the hills at the beginning wouldn’t seem hard, heck they were down right enjoyable, but that would fade pretty quickly with the oncoming miles.
The first three miles clocked in pretty much at a 9:00 pace on the dot. No where near the 8:24 I was training for, but it looked like everyone else was taking it easy too since there was very little passing going on.
Knowing that first major obstacle was behind me and given the easier hills I started to pick up the pace and got decent splits (for me) for miles four, five, and six. I played a little back and forth with a guy in a red t-shirt. I had to assume he was a rookie Marathoner. He was wearing a cotton shirt and I think he was wearing basketball shorts of some kind. He would also gun it to pass me and then slow down. Eventually I passed him completely and never saw him again.
Hands down miles six and seven were the most scenic on the course—and probably the flattest. Right after the mile six marker we turned off the highway to a small road that plunged into a thick forest. The road snaked through the trees, with only fleeting signs of civilization (a dirt road, a fence in the distance). Suddenly, between the golden leaves floating on the crisp, cool breeze the forest thinned away. Off the edge of the cliff you saw the jagged and geometric rocks descend down, down into the cobalt blue water laced with foam. Rock formations jutted out of the water just off the coast, in defiance of the waves beating down on them rolling in from the endless Atlantic.
Ok. I may have heavy handed that. I’ll just take the points on my poetic license and move on.
The next several miles I was in a comfortable groove. The hills kept on coming as the course hugged the coast and then plunged into the woods and back. I was starting to feel the strain and was very happy that I had decided to take it easier than I had trained. For the most part, whenever I turned the corner and saw yet another hill I repeated to myself “powerful beyond belief,” which is my abbreviated version of Marianne Williamson’s words. The hearty crowds (and flatish mile) at Northeast Harbor were great motivation at the close of the first half of the race.