If you’re reading this blog post looking for a reason to signup for the Tunnel Marathon series as a way to BQ or PR, I’ll stop you here. Because YES, the Tunnel Marathon is without a doubt a great way to snag that last minute BQ or PR in an absolutely gorgeous location at a pretty low key, low stress race. I knocked out a three minute PR and seven minute BQ at last August’s Tunnel Vision so signing up to run the same course again was a no brainer for me!
Deciding to go for the BQ
My Boston Marathon buildup had gone amazingly well until 5-weeks prior to the race when my labral tear injury flared up. I was pretty pleased with my 3:37 finish, but knew my fitness was there to run a stronger, faster race and get myself back to Boston. So a week or so after Boston, with my hip feeling much better, I decided to sign back up for the Tunnel Marathon and give my 2020 BQ a go!
But this is where my story gets a little more interesting…
A change of plans
Training and buildup was going okay – it’s hot in Florida and my runs were feeling a little icky to say the least, but I got my 20-miler in and despite some weird post-run cravings (diet coke…weird) felt ready to go! But I couldn’t ignore those weird cravings and my missed period so I decided to take a pregnancy test…and it was positive! This would put me at 7 weeks pregnant the day of the race.
The thought of dropping the race never really crossed my mind, although I did scour the web for other stories of women running during their first trimester! I backed the intensity down and let myself take a solid 2-3 week taper. Come race week, I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen — I hadn’t completely given up on the idea of re-qualifying for Boston, but I also knew that my body was already working in overdrive and taking care of myself came first!
After a fun first day of exploring the Snoqualmie area, I headed to the bus and lined up for the start with my friend Laurie, who I’d traveled to Seattle with. It definitely felt good to share my “secret” with someone. I was also pretty excited to run into fellow Houston Marathon Ambassador, Paul, at the start who had a killer race! One of my favorite things about this race is how low key the start is. After running Boston and CIM this year, it was really nice to have a super chill (pun intended…it was 33 degrees at the start) race start. There’s also plenty of port-a-potties (or Honey Buckets as they’re called out West) and the bag drop couldn’t be easier. Plus, you actually get two bag drops for this race – one at the start and one after the tunnel.
Ah, the namesake of this race! You hit the tunnel pretty quickly, around half a mile and enter complete darkness. Unlike last year, I decided to manual lap my watch so I could keep a better gauge on my pace since the tunnel does create some GPS inconsistency. I started fairly conservatively, at just under 9 minute miles and felt good, but knew as soon as I left the tunnel that hitting sub 8s was completely out of the question.
While hitting my “goal marathon pace” to BQ wasn’t in the cards, I knew that was probably going to be the case so I decided to take in the experience of the race in a way that I hadn’t the year before when I was heads down working toward my PR. As I settled into a comfortable pace (8:20-30 through 17), I enjoyed the gentle downhill and absolutely gorgeous scenery! Last year, doing the August version of the race, the scenery had been distorted by wildfire smoke so having clear blue skies on race day was amazing.
There are areas of the course that look like they’re pulled straight out of the movie Twilight. Seriously gorgeous! And this year, I took it allllll in.
All the bathroom stops
I became very well acquainted with a common symptom of pregnancy during this race. The need to pee was REAL. I think I ended up going about 5 times throughout the race and needed to implement 1-2 miles of walking when there wasn’t a bathroom available. I probably could have run a 3:45 or so without all the potty stops, but ended up crossing the finish line right around 4 hours.
So, my second slowest marathon. Do I regret it? Absolutely not! Running this race with a fresh perspective and the ability to be flexible with my goals was truly priceless. Running a marathon in itself is an accomplishment, but running for two is something I’ll never forget!
If you’ve made it this far, congrats! And if you’re still contemplating whether or not to sign up for a Tunnel Marathon – just bite the bullet and sign up! You won’t regret it — the fast course, amazing weather, and beautiful scenery are completely worth it.
So, what’s next with my running? I’m still at it and have slowed down but plan on running as long as it’s comfortable. Baby boy and I are signed up for Chicago (full) and the Toronto Half in October and if all goes well, we’ll line up and enjoy a new experience!
Happy Running, y’all!