Wow! What an amazing race! This scenic and downhill course is perfect for those looking to obtain a new marathon Personal Record(PR) or get a Boston Qualifier(BQ). The Tunnel Light Marathon starts in Snoqualmie, WA, at the Hyak trailhead, and ends in North Bend, WA. This race is actually part of a series: The Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon is in June, Tunnel Vision Marathon is in August and of course the Tunnel Light Marathon is in September. They all run the same course and they do sell out so it’s best to register early.
After a great race at the Vernonia Marathon, (I was already signed up for the Tunnel Light Marathon just in case I didn’t BQ there since I was so determined to get to Boston) I wasn’t sure how I was going to run this one, for fun or not? But then I did some research and found that this race might count as a BQ for both 2019 and 2020. So I decided to go for a PR and BQ.
We stayed at the Edgewick Inn, which was 1.5 miles from the finish and is really close to the school where we are shuttled to the start and finish. It was an ok hotel if you don’t mind not having a hot shower after the race. I guess everyone was taking showers around the same time lol.
The race was scheduled to start at 7 am. I woke up around 4:30 am to allow an hour to get ready/eat. I had my usual bagel with peanut butter and also a Health Warrior Vanilla Almond Chia Bar before we left the hotel. I think we left around 5:40 am. The Twin Falls Middle School was about 11 min away and the parking lot looked full already. I was a little worried since the last bus was supposed to leave at 6:10 am but we were lucky to find a parking spot close to the buses, in front of the school where there wasn’t a red curb. The bus ride seemed to go by fast, it was about 20 min long. I ended up taking my race fuel, UCAN, on the bus at around 6:30 am, a half an hour before the start of the race. When we got there, I headed to the porta potties. It was cold and wet, according to my Garmin it said 45 deg F, which was a great temp for running. The rain was light. There were a decent number of porta potties since I didn’t have to wait in line long. The Start line. This is a small race with about 760 entries. It looks like for this race there were 503 finishers according to the results.Here’s a pre race pic with Lenora, Sharon, and Shannon at the start. I was wearing an old race jacket thingy that they gave away at the finish line of CIM to use as a throw away to stay warm. I was feeling pretty good. My 15 weeks of marathon training had gone really well, so I was confident. I was a little cold and the rain wasn’t helping. But around 7 am, we were off and I warmed up quick.It didn’t take long to reach the 2.4 mile long tunnel. They advise you to wear a light. I saw many with head lamps. I brought my RunLites which worked great. In the tunnel, I was advised to stay in the middle due to the dips on the side. I had no issues in the tunnel. There were plenty of people lighting the way.For this race I decided to use a pace band from FindMyMarathon.com as a guide like I did in my last marathon. I like to start slow so I got a conservative start, even effort band. I was aiming for a time of 3:37.Mile 1 – 8:37 – I was a bit fast but felt good as usual at the start.
Mile 2 – 8:35 – I was going to run without music until I was out of the tunnel but who was I kidding, I needed my music haha. I think it was a little after mile 2 when I turned on my awesome AfterShokz Airs. Also, in the tunnel, surprisingly my GPS was actually not that off with the mile markers. I had read that GPS in the tunnel is usually inaccurate and to go by the mile markers.
Mile 3 – 8:30 – Bag check after the tunnel didn’t go as fast as I would’ve liked. I didn’t time it well. I should have taken off my RunLites before the tunnel ended and put them in the bag I had to carry. I had to stop and it took a little long so I lost some time there.Mile 4 – 8:06 – I remember saying to myself how amazing it was – the scenery was fantastic. The fresh air and mountains in the background with misty fog and clouds looked cool. Mile 5 – 8:07
Mile 6 – 8:09 Mile 7 – 8:10 – I was cruising along. My times were faster than the band but it felt right.Mile 8 – 8:10 – At mile 8, it was my first hydration stop to fill up my trusty Simple Hydration Bottle. I knew hydration was key so I didn’t mind stopping. The volunteer was nice and I used their pitcher of water.Mile 9 – 8:30 – The course is a packed gravel trail but since it rained there were many puddles. Look how big the puddles were above in that pic. I’m glad I wore my more cushioned shoes since there were a lot of rocks and pebbles too. This is not the course to wear minimal shoes.
Mile 10 – 8:12Mile 11 – 8:19 – Everyone was pretty much running on the sides since the middle part was rougher. But you can see the sides are where the water collected from the rain so it wasn’t an ideal situation.
Mile 12 – 8:04Mile 13 – 8:11 – At mile 13.4, I stopped to refill my bottle at the aid station.
Mile 14 – 8:05
Mile 15 – 8:09Mile 16 – 8:08 – Loved the bridges. The views were awesome.
Mile 17 – 8:13
Mile 18 – 8:05 – My splits were close to the band or a little off. Still feeling pretty good but my right quad felt a bit tight. Somewhere the mile markers became off and my watch was hitting the miles before the markers. I was a little discouraged since I knew I needed to run longer to the finish.
Mile 19 – 8:10 – I guess I was enjoying the scenery and music too much or something since I forgot to take my gel I made with UCAN at mile 18. I ended up taking it around 19.5 miles.
Mile 20 – 8:04Mile 21 – 8:14 – At mile 21.2, I made my last stop at the aid station to refill my bottle. But a little after, there was a sharp downhill turn where I rolled my left ankle a little. I ran it off and I was sooo glad it wasn’t anything serious. Thanks to whoever was behind me who asked if I was ok!
Mile 22 – 8:31 – This split was way off from the band since I stopped for the aid station and the ankle scare.
Mile 23 – 8:10
Mile 24 – 8:15 – I couldn’t pick up the speed to reach 7:53 on the band. My legs were getting tired but I was still trucking along.Mile 25 – 8:18
Mile 26 – 8:19 – I made up a little time since the band said 8:38.
Mile 26.34 – 8:28 – But for the last bit, even though I saw the finish it was hard for me to pick it up. So happy to finish with a PR and another BQ!! Official time was 3:37:13 and it was a 2 min 16 sec PR. I’m hoping this BQ counts for Boston 2020. If they follow the pattern from previous years, it should but you never know if they’ll change it. Pic with my sister at the finish 🙂 .
I thought this was an awesome race. The tunnel made it more interesting since I had never ran in something like that before. It was such a beautiful course even in the rain. The downhill was pretty gradual and everyone I knew that ran it PR’d which was awesome! I’m so grateful to be able to run and have fun experiences like this one. HUGE thanks to my hubby whose support has been the BEST! Also, another HUGE thanks to Coach Dawn who’s helped me achieve my goals! I still think it’s amazing how far I’ve come. Hard work does pay off. Congrats to Angie, Shannon, Mariah and Sharon who all got PRs and BQs!! Also, congrats to Lenora who got a PR!There was water, Gatorade, and chocolate milk at the finish.Also, there was a nice spread of food which included fruit, cake, chips, cookies and soup in the back. This was a well organized race and the volunteers were terrific.Here’s the cool medal.
After lunch, we had to get a jumping pic with our medals 😛 .
It was a great day! I would definitely recommend this race to anyone and would love to run it again.