|MAINE-Bay of Fundy Marathon
Richard and I were both looking forward to the Bay of Fundy marathon.
Me because it looked like a gorgeous course with a long 8 hour time
limit, and Richard because the surrounding area looked so interesting.
The Bay of Fundy has a huge tide change, and that causes all sorts of
fun nautical events like whirlpools and backwards waterfalls. It looked so
interesting that we planned a full week there, with the marathon in the
middle. We arrived Wednesday afternoon to sunshine and scenic
beauty. But we froze our butts off Wednesday night and it was bitter
cold Thursday morning. We toured around a bit on Thursday, but
hoped for a better Friday. Friday came and ditto. Storms, wind, gloom.
And nothing indoors to do in the tiny town of Lubec or surrounding
areas. So we hung out in the tent and waited for packet pick-up on
Saturday. Normally we don't do the pre-race meal because it's usually
pretty blah, but this one let me in free, and was featuring the Machias
Ukalele band, and there was nothing else to do but freeze in the tent, so
we went. It was excellent. Lubec is such a small town with nothing to do,
so the entire town showed up for the pasta dinner. We filled the school
gym, with a line out the door. The food was great. Pasta, spring-mix
salad, fruit salad, desserts, chocolates. Wow! And of course, Richard
liked the band a lot too.
Before the dinner, I thoroughly hated the entire area. The gloom, cold
and rain (not to mention tent camping in the gloom, cold, and rain) had
put me in a severely foul mood. However, the town was so happy and
cheerful, despite the gloom, that you just couldn't help but love them and
cheer up. At least for a while. It only sprinkled a bit that evening, and
when we woke up on race day morning, it was surprisingly balmy.
Great... balmy. I had packed for warm weather, then gotten prepared for cold weather, but now it's this weird wet/warm temp, that with the slightest
breeze becomes cold, and storm clouds threatened a downpour. How do you possibly dress right for that? The start of the run is at Quoddy Head
State Park, and the West Quoddy Light House. The turn-around is in Canada at the East Quoddy Light House. They made a lovely logo for the
marathon of the two light-houses, which I think looks like "Where's Waldo meets the Pope." But, that's how they look in real life too...
The start was close to the campground, but because the race director was a control-freak, he insisted that I had to ride the bus from the school
instead of get dropped off at the start. (No, the road wasn't closed until marathon start at 7, so it made no sense... Buses were running down the
road, what's wrong with a drop off? Whatever.) Anyway, this meant I had to get on a bus by 6:15 at the school, which was only about 6 miles from
the start, so then I had to stand around at the start line for a long time... in the cold/warm/wind/cool/misty/etc. weather. During that time I took layers
on and off, on and off, trying to decide what to put in the drop bag and what to run in. I finally decided to run in a thin thrift-store rain/wind jacket that
I could throw away, and the rest of my normal running clothes.
After a quick Marathon Maniac photo (which never showed up on social media...) I stood around some more, people watching. There seemed to be
a lot of novice runners for this marathon. One kid was saying how he had done the math and he figured he could walk a marathon in 5 and a half
hours. Sure kid. Whatever. We got a start count-down at 5 minute intervals, as if we were going to be late to the start line when we were all there
At quarter-till, the race director called us to line up at the start line, where we waited around some more. Finally, he announced that we would have
the Canadian national anthem, followed by the American national anthem, but that the American singer hadn't shown up, so he asked for a
volunteer. The Canadian anthem got me all emotional. Maybe because I hear the American national anthem before almost every marathon, it
doesn't impact me as much, but "Oh Canada" surprisingly got me choked up. Then a volunteer runner sang us through a great American national
anthem, they fired a cannon, and we were off.
My choice of attire worked out great, and the run was going pretty smoothly. I was surprised however, at how quickly the runners thinned out. With
all the "newbies" I had identified, I was sure there would be a bunch of folks my pace, but nope. I could still see runners, but they were quickly
getting farther ahead of me, and although I knew there were some behind me, they weren't in sight. What I could see however, were the people of
Lubec. Oh my. Seriously, this event is the biggest (only?) thing to happen in Lubec all year, and they were out in force. Every driveway had folks in
it cheering. Four and a half miles later, we turned onto the main drag towards Canada. Richard was waiting there for me. He was holding an open
can of beer, not at all discretely wrapped up in a Walmart sack. The two cops at the intersection directing traffic were fortunately not paying any
attention to him. I knew race days where hard on the guy, but a beer before 8AM?? Really? I handed him my thrift store jacket, and headed into
If you've ever entered Canada, you know that they are a bit serious at the border. You've got to take off your sunglasses, they ask you simple
questions in very stern voices and try to make you feel like you're under interrogation. We had entered twice already. Once on Thursday to see the
area, and once on Saturday to get the race bib (that is how you proved you had a passport and checked in with border patrol on both sides, by
picking up the race shirt in the US, the race bib in Canada.) Both times Canada gave us stern faces, interrogatory questions, etc. This morning
after running past every smiling citizen of Lubec Maine, and over the international bridge, there were the Canadian border patrol officers, all smiles.
"Welcome to Canada!"
What? Oh, Why thank you! "Oohh Can - Ah - Dah" choking up again, can't cry and run, oh boy another hill...
So, I really don't do good about reading the fine details on marathon websites. This one did warn of the hills. I run hills. Who cares. No problem.
Here is what the marathon website says:
While the course does not climb more than 200 feet / 60 metres above sea-level, it goes up and down rather a lot in between. In
consequence map generated elevation charts can be misleading. A course profile generated from a GPS watch is shown below.
Total course elevation gain is approximately 2,400 feet / 730 metres
Yeah, I saw that note and the corresponding course
elevation map just a few days before the marathon.
I had already driven the course, and it didn't look
anything like that elevation chart, so I had put it out
of my mind. Well, my ankles, knees and hips
quickly reminded me. Uphills are fine. I've got to
walk them usually, but they don't hurt me. Downhills
these steep will kill you. I can't go fast down them,
even at a slow jog the pounding on my body is
intense. By mile 8, I had new pains going on. I was
wearing my compression sleeves on my left leg and
it was holding up just fine. Now my right ankle, front
and back, was giving me trouble. Dang it!
I was already falling off pace when it started misting
around mile 10. Great. I didn't have my rain jacket
anymore, my hips hurt, my ankle was fighting me, and now it's misting. Pace got slower, and slower. The middle of the marathons always seem to
kick my butt the most, so I kept hope that I would get through it and get moving again, but it sure didn't seem likely. Pushing as hard as I could, I
could only squeeze out a 14 minute mile. Finally to the turn around at mile 16 at East Quoddy head, I passed that "I'm gonna walk it in 5:30" kid. Ha!
Well of course, being a young teenage boy, that was unacceptable to him, so he zoomed past me again, only to stop and walk up ahead. Everyone
in town knew him, and each aid station would cheer for him. Little did he know how much motivation he provided. No way was I going to let Mr.
Novice-runner-did-the-math-thinks-he-can-walk-it-in-5:30, beat me. I leap frogged him a few more times before I left him in the dust. Then I started to
feel bad. I could help him I suppose. I started ciphering my time. Yikes, we need 12:30s the rest of the way to pull out a 5:30 finish. Can we do it?
Should I encourage him? I looked over my shoulder at him and knew he didn't have it in him, but maybe I did? Finally, about mile 19, when I usually
get my 2nd wind, it kicked in. Thank goodness!! Of course, right about then the bugs kicked in too. I'm still suffering from the bites I got at Lake
Placid, so I was freaking out about the damn bugs. Here are two lovely pics one of the aid station volunteers got of me...
Coming up the hill swatting bugs,
and cresting the hill showing the
pain and bug-irritation all over my
face. Oops, I'm supposed to be
I definitely underestimated the hills
on this course!
As I got closer to the end, the 5:30 finish time potential would come and go. It would look easy for a bit, then I would hit a steep hill and think there
was no way, then it would come into play again. As I left Canada and started over the bridge, the wind hit me, and I damn near lost my hat. Hat and
sunglasses in hand so I would lose them, I came over the bridge I saw Richard waiting. He didn't see me. I waved at him and he started messing with
my phone to take my picture. And messing with it. And messing with it. It's a long bridge. He'll get it. Any time now. And messing with it... I thought
about stopping and waiting. I was up on the international bridge, I knew it would be a fun photo, I knew even more that he would be upset about
missing it. But, there I was hoping for a sub 5:30 because of some stupid kid I didn't know who thought he could walk a marathon in 5 and a half
hours, so rather than wait for my photo op, I proceeded on.
I was looking forward to a big welcome by the US border patrol. I had been looking forward to hearing "Welcome Back!" since mile 6. The first two
border patrol guys just looked at me, all official like. Bummer. Then I rounded the corner and one was waiting to welcome me. Thank goodness!!
But then the wind was right in my face, and pushing to run against it was crazy. I only had a tenth of mile to go at that point, but by the time I finished,
I was off of my 5:30 time by a longshot (5:31:56), and Richard was sullen because he had waited there for an hour to take my picture on the bridge.
But they had vegetarian ministrone soup at the finish, and Richard took my photo with a different lighthouse in the background, and it was all good.