The rest of the group headed down early on Friday. Trevor and I got out of town around 4 and headed for the coast. We stopped at Outback Steakhouse and had our traditional pre-event dinner. Then we hit the road for the additional two hour drive. We arrived around 8:30. Our pals had already picked up our packets. We went through them, got all our gear layed out for the morning and hit the sack.
We got up around 4:45 on Saturday morning and were able to enjoy our smoothies and some coffee. We stayed in an amazing condo right on the bay. It was perfect. The weather looked like it was going to be awesome - sun was showing itself for the first time in weeks. We got our gear together and headed out to catch the bus to the start line.
Our condo was literally right across the street from the finish line and the start line was about a mile away. We took the bus to the start and met up with the others in our group. We milled around and before you know it, the gun went off - I wasn't really even aware it was start time! But off we went....
The first 4 miles of the route was through town, a little loop that took us along the ocean. So beautiful. I looked at the waves and thought to myself "this is the life". We are so fortunate to be here, doing this.
We had all our friends with us - Trish, Doug, Jo, Trish and Greg - Greg was our official photographer, he was injured and didn't run the marathon, Angel, Pete, Liz, Amanda, Dawn and Trevor. Robin was there cheering us on too! Quite a group. It felt good knowing they were out there.
Around mile 3, I saw Greg from the first of many times out on the route. Since he wasn't running, he decided to be the on-course support for all of us. He had his backpack full of things we might need and his camera. He took hundreds of pictures of us, cheered us on and was the highlight of the day. I would see him up ahead (in his Max Muscle shirt) and I would start to smile because I knew some sweaty love was coming my way. Every time he saw me he would yell out to me and then tell me how proud he was. I don't know if he can ever really know what that meant. I hope someday I can return that favor and give him the kind of support and emotional boost he gave me. I love that guy.
We went down a gravel hill, along a boardwalk and then past the finish line. Now we were on the long out and back. I settled into a pretty good pace and was feeling good. I was trying to stay in the middle of the road because I had some previous issues with my IT band. I didn't want to run with the slope of the road. This was a pretty good plan until the fast runners started coming back towards us.
About the time we started to cross paths with the runners on the "back" portion of the out and back, a slight wind picked up. I was unable to keep a straight line in the road because the "backers" all seemed to want to run down the middle of the road. For a bit I was feeling disoriented and not right. I just kept trying to focus on one foot in front of the other. I knew that once I hit the turn around near mile 16 or 17, I would have the middle of the road back.
Shortly before the turnaround, I started to see my friends. First Trevor, who looked awesome. Then, Trish and Doug. Then Pete and Amanda. Then Trish and Jo. I made the turn around and headed back. Headed home - sounded good to me. I then saw Angel and Liz and finally Dawn. All accounted for.
I forged my path down the middle of the road. I wasn't feel so disoriented anymore, now I was just feeling beat. It was getting hot out there. We haven't seen the sun in a while, so to have 70 degrees in sun might as well have been desert!
As usual, my quads and IT bands were doing all the work. My glutes and my hamstrings were enjoying a nice ride along the bay. They never engage. I need to work on that! After my legs had enough, the tension moved into my shoulders and then into my abs. I was trying to be a tight ball of forward movement.
I came up on Jo and she was walking, then running, having a tough time controling her heartrate. We stayed together for the rest of the run. I stayed at my one speed. She would pass me, then walk and I would pass her. We played leap frog from about 9 miles and that didn't bother me one bit. She is one of the strongest women I know, so I gather strength from having her near me.
Around mile 20, I said to her "6 more to go - just out to Wintler and back". This is our short Sunday run and it helps me in the last few miles to think of it in terms of something I have done a thousand times.
Soon we came upon Pete. Pete was having a tough time, but he just kept moving. That is what I love about these people...they all just keep moving.
I finally got to the point where I could see the Newport bridge and I knew we were close to the finish. I knew the next sign we saw would be mile 25, then it was just a bit until 26 and then we were done. They threw in a bit of a surprise, mile 25 to 26 was uphill. The route was almost all flat until then. Nice. We toughed it out uphill, then it was a fast downhilll to the finish.
I crossed the line just a bit behind Jo and I was SO relieved to be done. 5 hours and 4 minutes. 3 minutes faster than my last marathon - my best time ever! The idea that I could do three marathons in 8 weeks and have every one be faster than the one before really blew my mind!This picture cracks me up - the look on my face says it all. That was right when I crossed the finish line. So glad to be done. Doesn't it look like it?
At the finish line I saw all my friends. It was fun to hear how everyone did. Some were happy, some were not, but we were all together and that made it okay.
Trevor, Doug and I are now official Marathon Maniacs. You become part of this group by doing 3 marathons in less than 90 days. Now we get the honor of paying to join the group and buying shirts that say "marathon maniac". Its a pretty cool thing, nothing I ever thought I would do and I owe that to Doug. He's the one that slipped in the Capitol City Marathon three weeks ago. Thanks Doug.
We ate, got massages and headed back to our rooms. Everyone was staying the night but Trevor and I needed to get home. We cleaned up and hit the road.
This was probably my favorite marathon so far. I loved seeing so many familiar faces. Like Trish says "smile when it feels good, smile when it hurts". Its easier to do that when you aren't alone. And really, with friends like these, we are never alone.
Good job everyone. I am proud of every single one of you and can't figure out how I got so lucky to know you all. Let's do it again soon!