This morning, I finished the Bermuda Triangle Challenge by running the Bermuda Marathon. After all-out efforts in the Front Street Mile and the Bermuda 10K, I decided to take it easy in the marathon. For most people, that would mean doing some walking instead of running the whole way. For me, it was the opposite. I ran, but tried to stay within my comfort zone as much as I could.
The marathon started at 8:00, which was an hour earlier than yesterday’s 10K race. The shuttle from my resort left at 6:30, which is also an hour earlier. That meant I had to get up an hour earlier.
Today’s course started and finished in Hamilton, not far from the flag pole. That’s within two blocks of where the Front Street Mile started and finished.
The course was a 13.1 mile loop that we ran twice. After leaving Hamilton, we made our way to South Road, which we followed until we reached the east end of the island. Then we followed Harrington Sound to Flatts Village. Here, the course overlapped with the 10K route for about two miles. We continued west along North Shore Road until we reached the northwest corner of the island. Then we returned to Hamilton. Then we did it all a second time.
Today was the warmest day of the weekend. It was 70 degrees when the race started, and it was a bright sunny day. It warmed up to 73 by the time I finished.
About five minutes before the race, once most of the runners were lined up to start, we got an official greeting from the town crier.
I started at a pace that felt fairly relaxed. I went so far as to stay behind groups of slower runners instead of passing them. I didn’t have a time goal. I wanted to run a pace that I could sustain to the finish. I haven’t done much running lately, and I did an all-out 10K yesterday. I realized I can’t run as fast as I used to.
From the start, I noticed some soreness in the muscles around my hips. That was a consequence of race-walking yesterday’s 10K race at a 10:32 pace. Before long, the soreness in my hips went away.
As I reached the first mile marker, I had to resist the temptation to look at my watch. I didn’t want to know what pace I was running. The more I knew about my pace, the more tempted I would be to run too fast. I wanted to be oblivious of my pace until the halfway mark, and just run by feel.
Just past the mile marker, we started up a tiring hill. This course wasn’t as hilly as yesterday’s 10K, but it still had some hills. I was tempted to take a walking break, but forced myself to run to the top. At this point in the race, I wanted to establish a consistent rhythm.
By the middle of the second mile, I was already getting hot and sweaty. In addition to the heat and sun, we had to contend with the usual island humidity. It wasn’t that big a deal in the shorter races, but it was today.
Except for the start and finish in Hamilton, we were running on narrow two lane roads. We stayed in the left lane, which was closed to traffic. Aid stations were all on the left side.
In the fourth mile, I encountered another tiring hill. I had looked at the elevation profile, so I knew this was the steepest hill on the course. About halfway up the hill, I took a walking break. Then I saw this church and stepped off the road to take a picture.
Just before the five mile mark, we turned to follow a rocky shoreline. I had to cross the road to take pictures.
I saw a sign that read, “Devil’s Hole Hill.” There was a hill, but it wasn’t as ominous as the sign makes it sound.
Somewhere between six and seven miles, the road started to look familiar. This was the part of the course that overlapped the 10K course. After making a couple of turns to run through Flatts Village, I saw a “4” painted on the road. That was the four mile mark of the 10K course.
We were running along the north shore now and got more views of the coast. We also passed lots of colorful buildings. I love architecture of the British colonial islands. This church is a good example.
There was an early start for runners who needed extra time. I saw someone I knew and walked for a few minutes so we could talk. Then I had to force myself to run again. I was already beginning to feel fatigued.
With about a mile and a half left in the first lap, I encountered a downhill section that was steep enough to make my quads sore. That didn’t bode well for the second lap. At 12 miles, I encountered another hill that made me take a short walking break.
As I got back into Hamilton, I started looking for buildings I recognized. I saw the Hamilton Princess, where we picked up our race packets on Friday. I noticed for the first time that it was slightly uphill for the next few blocks. I would have to run that again near the end of the race.
As I got onto Front Street, I briefly felt a cool breeze. I desperately needed that, but I only felt the wind for a few seconds. Next, I was diverted onto a side street for a short out-and-back. Having to do that so close to the end of the loop seemed cruel. They must have needed that to make the distance right.
Up to this point, I had avoided looking at my watch. Then I got near a runner whose watch was continuously calling out the time. “Two hours, one minute, seven seconds.”
After turned back onto Front Street, I reached the “bird cage.” This was one of our turnaround points in the Front Street Mile on Friday. Here, the half marathoners stayed to the right to finish, and the marathoners kept left and went under the Start banner again to begin the second loop.
My time for the first half was 2:02:48. That was faster than I expected, but in a way it was disappointing. I felt way too tired for this point in the race. If my first half had been under two hours, I could say, “No wonder. I started way too fast.” Instead, I felt like I didn’t have a good excuse for feeling as tired as I did. The second half was going to be brutal.
No sooner did I start the second loop than the field really thinned out. For every marathoner, there were about 10 half marathoners. They were no longer with us. I was still on Front Street, but it seemed surprisingly quiet. Shops were closed, because it was Sunday. Most of the spectators were on the other side of the start/finish area. I could only see three runners ahead of me. As we started reaching more turns, I would only see one.
Just past 14 miles, I encountered a familiar hill. On my first lap, I resisted the temptation to walk. This time, I walked for about a minute.
In the next mile, I passed the runner who was in front of me. I wouldn’t see another runner for the next five miles. We were on a downhill section, and I started to feel better. Maybe the second lap wouldn’t be that tough after all.
Just before 15 miles, a race volunteer told me to keep left. He wasn’t just telling me to stay in the left lane. He wanted me all the way to the left side of the road. I quickly realized why as a car in the left lane passed me from behind. The whole road was now open to traffic.
We were on narrow two lane roads with no shoulders and very few sidewalks. Because we were on the left, cars in our lane passed us from behind. This was nerve-wracking to say the least, and I still had 11 miles to go.
I was sufficiently fatigued that I could easily have a lapse in concentration and wander too far into the road. I was reminded of that each time a car went by. Sometimes I heard them approaching. Other times, they surprised me. The drivers here are pretty good at looking for pedestrians and giving them room. Even still, it made me nervous and contributed to my mental fatigue. I once again felt like the rest of the race would be a struggle.
I started to notice some soreness in my left adductor. It didn’t feel like an injury, but I always worry when this muscle feels sore. I injured it two years ago and don’t want to go through that again. I suspect it’s because the muscles around my hips were so fatigued from yesterday’s race. Those muscles usually provide stability. Now other muscles, including my adductors, had to take up the slack. Maybe an all-out race-walking effort the day before this race wasn’t such a good idea.
As I clicked off the miles, I went back to ignoring my watch. I just wanted to finish at whatever pace I could manage. I didn’t think it would be helpful to know my individual mile times.
As I reached Harrington Sound, I once again felt a cool breeze. Again, it didn’t last long enough. We had strong winds the previous two days. Where was the wind today?
In Flatts Village, there’s a sharp left turn. I remembered there was a hill right after the turn. This hill isn’t actually that tiring. I was now on a section of road that I had run twice before, but that hill was the only thing that looked familiar. I was in survival mode. I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings.
Ironically, I saw something on my second lap that I didn’t notice on the first lap. I had to cross the road and stop to take a picture of the beautiful turquoise water in this bay. The picture doesn’t do it justice.
As I resumed running, I quickly regretted that stop. My legs suddenly felt much stiffer, and I realized I wasn’t going as fast.
I saw a sign that read, “Hamilton 6.4 km.” That didn’t seem right. I had about 6.4 miles to go. Maybe there was a more direct route then the one we were taking.
When I reached the 20 mile sign, I finally looked at my watch. My time was 3:10 and change. I was too fatigued to figure out how my pace in the second lap compared to my pace in the first loop. All I knew was that the previous seven miles took about 68 minutes. My pace was still better than 10 minutes per mile. I wondered if I could finish the last 6.2 in another 68 minutes. Yesterday, I walked 6.2 miles in 1:05:26. I was no longer confident that I could run faster than that. I was really struggling to keep moving, and the soreness in my left adductor was always there.
I eventually saw a runner up ahead. For miles, I felt like I was alone on the road. There were lots of volunteers and a surprising number of spectators for so few runners. Still, it was a relief to see another runner. I didn’t want to pass him, but then he started walking. When I passed him, I told him he was the first runner I had seen in five miles. He told me I’d be passing more soon. He was right. At this point lots of runners were walking.
I saw the sign that indicated we were entering Devonshire Parish. When I saw that sign yesterday, I knew I was in the parish where I would finish. Today, it was just a reminder that I still had a long way to go to get back to Hamilton.
At 23 miles, I looked at my watch again. I was still averaging 10 minutes per mile. That was a pleasant surprise. Mile 24 was also under 10 minutes. Then I reached a hill that made me take a walking break.
Now I saw a sign that read, “Hamilton 3.2 km.” This one seemed about right. I knew I was getting close to the downhill section that felt uncomfortable the first time. I was tempted to take a walking break going downhill, but then I would also have to walk the tiring uphill section that followed. Going downhill didn’t bother my quads this time. Maybe it’s because I was going slower.
The last mile was much hillier than I remembered. I had to take walking breaks on each hill. Finally, I saw the Hamilton Princess again. I knew it was a half mile from there to the finish. I struggled up the small incline to get to Front Street. I had to take another walking break.
When I reached the out-and-back, I was much more cognizant of the uphill grade going away from Front Street. It wasn’t steep, but I had nothing left. I regained my composure going downhill and ran to the finish. I finished in 4:12:38.
In addition to my finisher medal for the marathon, I got another medal for completing the Bermuda Triangle Challenge. Having done marathons on as many as five consecutive days, I didn’t think doing a mile, a 10K, and a marathon would be that tough. What made it challenging for me was doing the first two races as fast as I could. That definitely made today’s race tougher.
After the race, I was still noticing my left adductor. I think it was worse after the Hawaii Bird Conservation Marathon in December, but it felt fine within a few days. I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll have a similar experience this time. In the meantime, I’ll have to be real careful with it.
Distance: 26.2 miles
Average Pace: 9:38
Lifetime marathons/ultras: 348