We left on Saturday to head up to Whidbey Island. We weren't really sure how long it would take to get there - one person said 6 hours, another said two and a half!! I think it took about 4 and a half. We stopped for lunch, got the rest of the way there and headed straight to packet pickup. We were really suprised to see that only 323 people were running the marathon, it looked like about 2000 were doing the half!
We were really excited for this event. Trevor didn't get to finish the Portland Marathon due to the broken foot he suffered at mile 6, so this would be his first marathon since 2004. No pressure!!
The weather was shaping up to be perfect - cloudy and cool - just how we like it! We got our packets and headed to our lodging. We were staying at a private resident's house. Lodging is limited on the island and when it fills up, they match marathoners to residents and you stay at their house. Our friends Doug and Melissa were matched with local residents Jack and Carmen about 5 years ago. They became fast friends. Doug and Melissa invited us to stay with them at Jack and Carmen's house. We weren't sure how that would be compared to a hotel, but know that any friend of Doug and Melissa is a friend of ours.
The accomadations could not have been better. Carmen was out of the county, but Jack was the most amazing host. The nicest man, he made us feel completely at home. And what a home it is! It sits high on a hill, overlooking the cove. We saw a sunset that would make you cry, deer in the yard. Beautiful, peaceful, calm. Just what I needed.
Here's the view from our room....
Things have been crazy for us and I have been really feeling drained these last few weeks. I wasn't sure how this marathon was going to go, but I went through the motions as always. We ate our normal pre-run meal, went to bed early. I didn't sleep well at all, my mind just wouldn't stop. Usually I have pre-event anxiety, but it doesn't mess with my sleep.
We got up at 4:30 am, had a smoothie and some coffee and hit the road around 5:45. We parked at the finish line and were bused to the start line. It. was. cold. We were freezing while waiting for the start! Finally, it was time and off we went.
The only thing I knew about this event was that it was hilly. Really hilly. I figured "we love hills", so what's the big deal. The course was not closed, meaning many of the roads were open to traffic. We ran a lot of the miles on the shoulder of the road. If you run, you know this can be a real issue. Too many miles on the slope of the road can cause mechanical issues with your legs and hips. I have some recurrent injuries that tend to show up when we run on the shoulder. Mile 17 is usually when it will happen. During our long runs I always try to stay in the middle of the road or on the sidewalk where it is level. This wasn't always possible during this run.
The course was beautiful. I was having a great run - the first half was pretty fast for me. At mile 13, I was at 2 hours and 20 minutes. I figured I would be able to beat my 5 hour goal with room to spare. The first 13 miles were all hills. You would go up a hill, turn a corner and see that the hill just kept going. I felt strong.
At mile 14 we had a flat out and back. I started feeling a little weak. My pace slowed and I was having trouble really focusing. The pack had really thinned out. With so few runners, there weren't a bunch of spectators, not much distraction. That's okay, I just kept plugging along. We headed back through town, along the water and the shoulder of the road was really sloped. About mile 17, my leg started to let me know it wasn't happy with the situation. I stopped to stretch and knew the last 9 miles were going to be tough.
I was wearing my fuel belt around my waist and it was driving me NUTS!!! I had worn it during our 21 miler and it didn't bother me at all. I must have readjusted that thing 100 times during the first 17 miles. I'm not kidding. I cannot believe how much energy I wasted with that thing. In the past I have carried a bottle, but during the Portland marathon my back bothered me and I keep thinking about Ironman - will I really want to carry something?
At mile 19, we pass the finish line and start an out and back...uphill. At this point I had started to walk and once you start to walk, it is tough to get going again. I knew that. Looking at my watch, I had plenty of time. I really wanted to stay positive and just keep moving.
I was hoping to see Doug and Trevor on the out and back. Sure enough, I saw Trevor in the distance coming towards me...he was walking too. I felt the biggest smile come across my face. I crossed the street and gave him a big hug. He was battling. He said Doug was a bit behind him, battling as well. Misery loves company, right? I felt better knowing we were all in the same boat and it really was okay. We kept moving and soon enough, there was Doug. I gave him a big hug and we just kept on moving.
I started to play games with myself. They had cones on the street, I would run for 10 cones, walk for 10 cones. Finally, around mile 24, I decided to just walk the rest of the way. I knew I wasn't going to make it under 5 hours and that was fine with me. I figured I would finish shortly after 5 and that was pretty good.
I finally got to mile 26 and ran the last little bit across the finish line. 5 hours and 17 minutes. Done. Thank the Lord!!! Funny thing is this - my pace was 12:06 per mile pace, in Portland (I ran the entire way) was 12:00 per mile. I walked most of the last 5 miles. So it wasn't such a bad day after all.
I think I started off a little too fast, messed too much with my hydration belt, was adversely affected by the slope of the road. Most of all, I really just felt mentally and emotionally exhausted. We just lost one of our pets and are about to lose another to cancer. I have cried so much over the last two months. Around mile 23, I lost control of my emotions for a few minutes and just cried. For many reasons. I just didn't have it in me to be strong. Then I got over that and just focused on putting one foot in front of the other.
After we were finished, we went and had lunch - the best fish and chips ever. Our the window of the restaurant (we were right on the water) we saw a whale. Amazing. We went back to Jack's, cleaned up and made the long drive home. Sore legs, tired bodies, proud selves.
All you can do is prepare. On any given day, you do the best you can do that day. That's what we all did. We finished, we made some mistakes and learned from them. This is just the beginning of the season. I will admit, it scared me a bit about Ironman....but that's kind of the point...if you aren't scared about covering 140.6 miles, then why even do it?
We have a lot of work left to do. Another marathon at the beginning of June, half-Ironman at the end of June and full Ironman at the end of August. This one is over and done with. It really was a great event and I know we'll do it again. Plus, we made a new friend and we can't wait to see him again!! Thanks Jack for letting us stay with you, it made it all worthwhile!