Let me just say that the idea of running a marathon 5 weeks after my last, 3 weeks before my next, was scary to me. Not a little scary, but ALOT scary! I had a great run in the Portland Marathon back in October. Whidbey Island, on April 11th, was not so great. I was emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted that day and I really just felt like crap. I didn't want a repeat of THAT!!
We did a few things differently leading up to this event. We took Thursday, Friday and Saturday as rest days. Earlier in the week, my body was really feeling tired...my legs felt heavy. I thought a few days of rest would allow me to recover enough to run 26.2 miles!
I ate healthy all week leading up to the marathon. The day before Whidbey, I had a big ice cream cone and while it tasted AWESOME, my stomach didn't recover in time to get me through a marathon. I ended up feeling sluggish. I didn't have that problem this time - no pre-run ice cream cones!!
We got done with our Parade Run on Saturday, went home and got our stuff toghether. Then we jumped in the car and made the 90 minute drive to Olympia. Our crazy friend Doug, who does all these things with us and is also training for Ironman Canada, picked up our packets. We met him at the hotel and were shocked to see what the event tshirt was. It was actually this awesome jacket!!
I was disappointed when I tried mine on and it was too small. The site where I registered said that the shirts were unisex, so I ordered a small. The jackets were gender specific, so I needed a medium. We went back down to the expo and they let me exchange it for one that fit. YIPEE!!! This is the best marathon yet! And we haven't even started!
We then went and had dinner at Outback Steakhouse. My traditional pre-race dinner is a steak, sweet potato, salad and bread. Yum! We headed back to the hotel and were asleep by 8. Love that!!
We got up around 5 on Sunday morning, had a smoothie, got our stuff together and headed to the start line. All three of us were wearing our Max Muscle Vancouver Half Marathon shirts (we are dorks like that). As we were walking to the start line, a girl came up behind us and said she had done that half marathon too! She was like "oh, look, a team" and then she realized it was just three dorks wearing the same shirt! That was kind of cool to see her there!
There were a few hundred people running the marathon and it really wasn't very crowded. The weather was shaping up to be nice - temps in the 50s at start time, a little overcast. I wasn't nervous, until we went to line up at the start. Then I was really nervous!!!
Start time came and off we went! My plan for the day was "slow and steady". At Whidbey, I went out too fast. Today, I was going to go slow and I wanted to run the entire way. I would walk through water stations, but that was it. At Whidbey, I walked most of miles 20 through 26. Not fun.
The route was really beautiful. Rolling hills, rural roads. I tried to stay in the middle of the road to avoid any strain by running on the sloped shoulder. I kept my slow, easy pace. Heart rate under 155, right around 11 minute miles. I was running by a couple and at one point the man said to his wife "I don't know if you have noticed, but this girl next to us has the most consistent pace". I took that as a compliment!!
I was really feeling good. I saw sheeps and cows and horses. Love that! The sun had come out and it was hot. There was quite a bit of shade on the route and I really liked that. The hills actually felt good, mixed things up a bit.
Around mile 17, it was getting tough, as it usually does. I came upon a woman who was shuffling along. As I passed her I said "good job, just keep moving". She said to me "this is my 285 marathon. 6 months ago I had a masectomy because of breast cancer. This is my first race back and they let me start an hour early". I stopped running, turned around and hugged her. I told her she was a rock star and she said "I am just happy to be alive". I wished her a long life and she wished me the same. I ran a little faster the next two miles and when things got tough after that, I thought of her and just kept going.
This is the thing I love most about the marathon...everyone has a story. Some are more dramatic, but everyone has a story.
Mile 21 was pretty much all downhill. I knew there was a big uphill coming. I didn't realize it would be 2 miles long. Whew...22, 23, still going up!!?? Finally, things leveled off and eventually started going downhill. Mile 24 and 25 were on the shoulder and the road was really sloped. I HATE that. At one point I got up on the sidewalk, that didn't help, so I got back out in the road and figured I could manage a bit further.
I looked at my watch and figured I would finish around 5 hours and 5 minutes. My best time is 5 hours and 14 minutes. I just kept moving. Finally, I saw the mile 26 marker and I could have cried. It was a downhill finish. I could see the finish line and I saw Trevor and Doug there waiting for me. I sped up and let momenteum carry me across the finish line. I was so elated. 5 hours and 7 minutes!! Wahoo!! And I felt GOOD.
I live for the .2 miles at the end of the marathon. I've said it before - you cannot get that feeling any other way then by battling through the 26 miles that come before. That is why I do this repeatedly. That is why. It felt good to remember
I got some water, signed up for a massage, headed to Starbucks for a coffee and recapped the race with Trevor and Doug. Trevor finished in 4 hours, his goal and a new Personal Record for him. Doug has been battling some injuries and did a great job making it through the day. It was important for us all to remember that this was just a training run. We are working towards a much bigger goal on August 29th. Its crazy to think this marathon, which is the culmination of trianing for most people, was just a training run for us on the road to Ironman. Honestly, that felt the best of all....
And so the road continues....next up - Newport Marathon - June 5th. Can't wait.