Sunday, September 16, 2007

MDI preview weekend

Beautiful seems inadequate to describe the Mount Desert Island marathon course. How about drop-dead gorgeous or breathtaking? It's the featured race of the month in this Oct's Runners World where they refer to the race as "The Big Sur of the East" which is high praise. But did they mention the hills? Oh yeah, there are hills and plenty of them but the scenery is definitely distracting too.
The plan called for a meeting of minds this weekend where the 3 Blind Moose and 1 Mountain Goat were going to take on the course in detail in preparation for the upcoming marathon in only 4 weeks. Jamie aka 'The Mountain Goat" has been very quick off the mark and has already put down his thoughts on our fun get together. While Marc and I were very comfortable in our dry hotel, with warm showers and tv with Red Sox coverage, this was the scene for Jamie and Andrew at the Blackwoods campground. Note the nice shiny tent in the background and the mini-tent for A up front. Now for a few gory details. After meeting up as scheduled on Saturday afternoon, we headed for the starting line which was conveniently located directly in front of our hotel. After a ready, set, go! we were off to the races, or at least the 1st 5.5 miles of the marathon course, and surprise, surprise there were some decent hills almost from the get go. It's a little scary way to start off a marathon and I'll have to remember to watch the effort over that 1st big climb on race day. It didn't seem to slow our group down too much today though as we cruised along at sub 8 minute pace. We had a good time, getting to know Jamie and mostly trying to keep up with the guy who comes by his goat status well deserved. That evening we had a great meal at the local pub with lots of pasta and beer as well as laughs and good times. We then hung out in the hotel room for a bit to plan the car shuttles and timing for the morning long run which was only hours away.

Morning and 530am wake up came before we knew it. After a car shuttle, coffee stop and water drops we were good to go by almost 7am and the story of this monster course continued exactly from where we left it only 14 hours before. It was still there though in all it's glory on this perfect morning. The weather was clear, cloudless and a bit cool (around 50F/10C) with us all in long sleeves to start. After some dancing around to get the group shots in sync we were off to the races once again. I have 2 more words for this course: relentless and distracting. The hills are just that, up/down, repeat but none of them are really that big. It's just that they keep coming and coming and there is little respite except for the distraction of the beauty of the ocean, forests and nature in general.
This is the course route and profile for the last 20.8 miles. Case closed ;-) Up/down repeat. The last few miles will be especially tough at the end of the marathon but your reward is a beautiful downhill finish (though a small incline near the end). We cruised the last mile at sub 7 today and from that you'd know we had a great run. Perfect weather, good friends, tough course but enough distractions to make it worthwhile!

I just had to stick in another pic from along the course route this morning from around mile 14 or so. Not bad, eh?It was a very good idea to do this test run and not go into the race cold. You can read and hear all about the course but there is nothing like experiencing it first hand. Right now, I can't wait for the race day to come so we can do this all over again. Great weekend and great run guys!

Have a fantastic week! I'm so stoked now!!

13 comments:

Jamie said...

Great weekend indeed! Thanks for a great time, Mike. Very memorable, and next month should be even more so. Best of luck this upcoming weekend and see you again on the island in four weeks!

Marc said...

Nice write-up Mike. Looking forward to joining up with the crew on race day!

Hey, thanks for the encouragement out there today!

Thomas said...

You ran the last mile in sub 7? Did you fall off a cliff or something?
Anyway, it looks and sounds like a drop-dead gorgeous course.

Michael Jay Dotson said...

That reads like a write up by the MDI Chamber of Commerce. I'm adding that one to my list of marathons I want to run before I die.

Quinto Sol said...

Nice, very nice indeed...

Phil said...

What a pretty course ... I'm officially jealous.

Bob Gentile said...

GOOOD TImes!!.... nice write up Mike....Thanks!

Bruce said...

Beautiful course, at least you'll have something to take your mind off the hills? Great idea heading out for a bit of pre race recognisance.

DawnB said...

wow what a georgous place. Have a great race!!

Thomas said...

Good Luck with the St. John marathon tomorrow, Mike!

Kate said...

What a great weekend and what a marvellous course! I am officially jealous (and feel my beautiful NZ pics have been put to shame). Hope the next four weeks go well and can't wait to catch up on your race!

Grellan said...

You ran the last mile in sub 7? Did you fall off a cliff or something?

Couldn't stop laughing.

Love2Run said...

Yes, a great weekend and I simply cannot wait for the real race in just 3 weeks now.

And, No Thomas, I didn't fall off a cliff. I was simply trying to keep up with I've Got a Sore Foot-Andrew on the last downhill mile that he keeps raving about. (He 'won' by about 100 yds too!)