When running the Georgia Marathon a couple of years ago, I ran into two old friends from middle school, Sam and Kristin. One lives in Georgia and the other Maine, and they would meet in different cities across the country to run together. After a few Facebook conversations and texts, I inserted myself into the group for this year’s Maine Marathon. It seemed like the ideal choice for the state as it’s held in the city where Sam lives and takes place during late September, when we would hopefully get to experience the picturesque fall foliage that I always equate with Maine. It is also one of the flatter races in this hilly state.
I flew into Boston and then drove the two hours to Portland, Maine. The drive is lovely, but sadly, due to a warm September, there weren’t as many fall colors as I had hoped. (A first- world problem, I know.) Portland’s downtown is really cool. It boarders the water and is filled with some great shops and restaurants. Unfortunately, I chose my hotel based on proximity to the start line, so I missed out on staying in this cute little area for the weekend.
The marathon is a smaller midsize race with 775 finishers. It was very well- organized with lots of free parking, tons of restroom options, and an easily- navigable start line. (And after getting up early for three point to point courses, I was SO happy to sleep in a bit for this one!) The race is essentially an out and back that runs through Portland and neighboring Faulmouth. Even with the lack of fall foliage, it’s a pretty course that winds through small towns and New England countryside. The race starts and finishes alongside Back Cove, which was also quite scenic. As an added bonus, we had near- perfect weather.
As expected, this course was hilly, though definitely doable. Due to its out and back nature, I knew what the second half of the course was going to feel like. i.e. The fast downhills were going to be a bitch when coming back, and vice versa.
The best part of this race was running into a member of the 50sub4 marathon club, Bryan, at mile three. We started talking, and both of us were shooting for similar finish times, so we ended up running the majority of the race together. Bryan is a flight path engineer, so he was AMAZING at cutting the tangents throughout all of the turns. He was also a great motivator. My plan had been to slow up a little on the hills during the second half of the race, but he convinced me to just ‘fall into them’ and keep going. (More than anything, he guilted me into not walking up them!) We both came in under 3:30, and I was the second girl in my age group. To me, this is the best part of joining national running clubs: meeting cool people during races and hearing a bit of their story. I had numerous conversations with other equally lovely people along the way, as the participants of this marathon were super- nice even by running standards.
The rest of my trip was just as enjoyable: I hung around the finish area with Sam, her boyfriend, and Kristin’s family so that we could cheer her through the finish. I tried my first lobster roll, which I am sure was wonderful; but alas, I have discovered that I do not care for lobster rolls. And we all capped off the night with some exceptional ice cream (it made up for the lobster roll disappointment.) This was a really great Maine experience, and I feel ready to return to the state to tackle some of the hillier, more scenic courses.
Race Highlights: All of the nice people that I met along the way. Bonus points to this marathon for having pizza at the finish line.
The Downside: Nothing really comes to mind. I really liked this race… I suppose it could have been less hilly?
Sub 4:00 State #32, BQ State #31, Sub 3:30 State #13
Finish Time: 3:29:33
Overall Place Within My Gender: 14/ 324 (2nd in my age group)
Total Training Miles: 6,894.5
Shoe Total: 21