Monday, October 25, 2010

Columbia Gorge Marathon Race Report

It has been a long season - starting back in April with the Whidbey Island Marathon, through the summer and Ironman. After Ironman at the end of August, I thought it would be good to have something to train for, another goal, that way we didn't get all lazy and fat!

This was a tough one. I learned the following things yesterday during this marathon:

1. I don't mind running in the rain as much as I mind running in the wind.
2. You learn more about yourself on the hard days than you do on the easy days.
3. I need to work on strengthening my legs so I can STOP having IT band issues.
4. I love the leaves changing in the Fall.
5. Anything that sucks is better when you do it with friends.
6. I don't drink enough Hot Chocolate.

The weather report had been calling for wind and rain. I wasn't happy about it. Trevor ran his first marathon in wind and rain. It was miserable. He swore if he ever woke up to that kind of weather on race day, he'd stay in bed. Maybe we should have gone with that instinct?!

We got up around 5. The race didn't start until 9. This gave us plenty of time to get things together and make the 90 mile trip to Hood River. On the way there, we saw a car that had gone off the road. We pulled over and Trevor helped her. She had just spun out and was fine. Trevor got her out of her predicament and back on the road. Good deed for the day - done!

We got to the race with plenty of time. It was drizzling, but not pouring rain. It was really hard to know what to wear. The sun came out for a bit and that made it even more difficult. I finally decided to wear my short sleeved shirt, arm sleeves, visor, capri compression pants and shorts. I figured that was right in the middle of not enough and too much.

It was not raining when we started. We saw our teammate Doug, his wife Melissa (who was doing the half marathon), Koby, Wendy and few other familiar faces. The gun sounded and off we went.

I had been really excited for this run. Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the changing colors. I just love it. It makes me happy.

The first few miles were a climb. We got onto a beautiful trail that went through some amazing trees. Around mile 3, the rain started. Within a few minutes, it was POURING. I laughed and it started to POUR even harder. I can't remember how long it rained, but I remember that the wind started once we hit the peak of the trail. The view of the Gorge was amazing. I tried to focus on that as much as I know, so lucky to be able to do this...blah blah blah. I had two Hammer Gels and my pill pouch with Endurance Caps in the pocket of my shorts. My shorts were so wet that they started to fall down because the weight of the gels was too much. So I carried my gels until I needed them at the 3 and 4 hour mark.

We went downhill and headed into Mosier, a little town of 430 people. It was there that I had one of the best moments of the day. I saw my friend Angel, who came all the way from Portland to run a bit with me! She ran about 3 miles with me. I just love her. She is one of the only people I can run with. We run the same pace, always good conversation...she doesn't get on my nerves. So I was glad to fall into step with her for a while. Plus, she carried my gels for me!

My IT band was nagging a bit and I was hoping it was all in my mind and would work itself out and go away. Angel left me around mile 10 (she didn't really LEAVE me, she was just done running with me.) I was so happy to have had her with me.

We were on an uphill section that went on for another 2 miles or so. At the top, it leveled out and the wind starting whipping. My IT band started really bothering me and I knew this was trouble.

In April, during the Whidbey Island Marathon, my IT band started bothering me around mile 17 and I was able to make it to mile 19 before I had to start walking. Once I start walking, I don't start running again. I know that and I know I have to run until I cannot run anymore.

My concern was how early the pain was starting. Walking 13 miles was not something I wanted to do. I did it an Ironman and it took forever. I was not about to do that in the strong wind and driving rain.

We turned onto a long gravel road and things got ugly. It was all I could do to keep moving, I was trying SO hard not to walk. I shuffled along until the end of the gravel road where we made a turn to start a long downhill. This really bothered my leg and I decided to walk.

I remember seeing the mile 15 marker. I wanted to quit. I thought about quitting. I thought that this marathon didn't matter, it wasn't what we've been training for all year. I didn't want the guys to have to wait for me at the finish for hours. I didn't want to hobble for 11 more miles. I could just find someone to drive me in. I envisioned being at the finish line to see Doug and Trevor.

Trevor and I have had lots of conversations about quitting. We were actually just talking about it on the ride over to the marathon. We talked about how it may seem like the right thing, but you'll regret it forever. At this point I was thinking about that conversation and trying to convince myself that I would never regret it! I also remember Doug saying "we finish what we start". I said out loud "you are a f-ing Ironman for God's sake. Just keep going".

And so I kept going. I was walking very fast. Because the weather was so bad, I just wanted to get done as fast as I could. I ran some, until it hurt too bad to keep running and then I would walk. The rain would start and stop. The wind was blowing like crazy. Every once in a while, I would start to cry - from pain or frustration or loneliness...or a combination of those things.

This was a tough day for me, the toughest I have had in a while. I went all summer doing marathons and each one was better than the last. I was feeling confident and this one knocked me down.

I kept reminding myself that you learn more from the hard days. I was working to keep a positive attitude. I didn't want to get bogged down in negativity, but it really sucked. I wasn't having fun. Then, I came around a corner and looked into a little valley and there, amongst the evergreens was the most amazing yellow leafed tree. I looked it and smiled. "Thank you". I wouldn't be seeing that if I wasn't doing this.

I continued my walk/run and the walk became longer than the run. One thing I learned during Ironman was to focus on each mile, not to get caught up in how much was left. This was a good strategy for me on this day. I got to the point where there were 2 miles left and I was out of the hills, back onto a flat portion. I ran and it felt good. I came into town, turned and hit a steep downhill....that hurt. I walked down the hill, then came around a corner - all flat from here. I had one mile left. I started running and figured I could run the rest of the way. Flat, even road, with no slope - my leg liked that.

I ran over a little bridge and made the turn to circle the parking lot. I heard Trevor yell my name. I saw him and said many curse words. He said "I know. I finished in 4:50". I was on track for a 5:30 or a little less.

I made the final turn to the finisher's chute. I saw Doug, cheering me on, and of course, Trevor. I again said many curse words and crossed the finish line with a smile. No matter how badly it sucked, my two best guys were waiting for me at the end and that makes it all okay. 5:28...not my worst time, but certainly not my best.

I was SO glad to be done. It was a tough day for all of us. The guys had already changed into their dry clothes. We went into the tent to get some food. The spread of food was the best I have ever seen. They had a huge, heated tent. Inside that tent, they had soup and bread, plus a whole buffet of taco stuff. SO YUMMY!!!

We ate and then I started to get really cold, so we left. I changed into dry clothes, then we hit Starbucks for the best hot chocolate I have ever had.

This is a great event. I would have enjoyed it more if the weather was better and my leg didn't hurt. That made me sad. I wasn't sure what was next for this season. About mile 13 I realized that this needed to be the end of our season. Time to shift gears to the OFF season. There will still be running, just not such long distances. There will be more cross training and focus on strength training, especially for my legs. Next year I don't want to deal with this IT band pain at all.

The wheels are already turning for what next season will bring...

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