Sunday, December 13, 2009
It was a huge accomplishment just to make it to the starting line after having spent the last 2 months banished to the pool to run, due to tendonitis in my knees. My husband was able to train better, but he had some IT Band issues, so we were both rejoicing just to show up.
We drove in the cold darkness of the early morning to the parking lot where we waited in line to board a bus. The bus had heat and a restroom, so we stayed on it until just before start time. While on the bus, I changed into the "throw away" warm up clothes and put socks on my hands for gloves. Attached my race number and shoe chip, checked my Garmin one last time to make sure it was functioning and we got off the bus into the cold. We waited in line for the porta potties and I thought for a moment I was going to miss the start, as the lines were so long. I am not yet brave enough to join the many that were squatting or standing in the bushes.
I kissed my husband as he went to find his pace group (he was trying for 3:30) and I got in place behind the 5 hour group, for no other reason than the fact that I didn't know where else to line up. I hadn't planned on being a part of any group after my tendonitis destroyed my training. The gun sounded, but we were still way back behind the start line. The crowd was so thick that we were literally just walking to the start line. When I finally got to the start line, I pushed start on my Garmin as we were off.
I had planned to follow a walk\run plan from Jeff Galloway's website www.jeffgalloway.com, but the first couple of miles were straight downhill at such a grade that it felt like controlled falling, instead of running, so I just went with it. At about mile 3 I took a short walk break (one minute) than back to running. I continued the run 5 minutes, walk 1 minute plan for most of the way from then on out. I noticed at mile 2 that I was actually running with the 4:30 pace group and got ahead of them for awhile, but they passed me on my first walk break.
As we weaved through a small neighborhood there where way too many hills! As I was trudging up one such hill a runner came up beside me and said, "So much for this being all downhill!" I was thinking the exact same thing. At that point I was not at all happy with anyone that had told me this would be all downhill. Finally after about the 6 mile mark we passed some spectators who said this was the last hill. I didn't really believe them, but as we rounded the corner and left the neighborhood they were right for awhile anyway.
Going down Oracle I was not happy with the wind, but was still feeling okay. When we past mile 13, I was thinking I would have done if I had signed up for the half. But getting to miles 14 and 15 I still felt pretty good and was happy knowing that this was the longest I had ever run in a race. I tried not to glance at my Garmin too much as it would discourage me if I knew I was going really slow. I had started out pretty good, even got up to 8:45 at one point, but not for long. Most times I glanced down I was at about 10 or there about. I remember when I got to mile 15 I was thinking, this is where I had to limp back on my last long training run. It was supposed to have been a 20 miler.
I passed the 20 mile marker and started wishing I had a camera to take a picture of the mile marker. I reasoned that no one would ever believe that I made it this far, myself included. The free spirit thoughts cut short abruptly at about mile 21, when I started to feel pain in my legs. My run was so slow I felt like I was barely moving and it seemed everyone was passing me. At mile 22 I realized that it wasn't just my legs, but every muscle in my entire body was in pain. It didn't help that my stomach chose this time to churn and cramp, making me have thoughts of the porta-potties that were along the way. I would walk for a bit (I quit timing the walk breaks at this point as they were too numerous), than try to run, but every time I started to run, so did my stomach. At about mile 23, a volunteer at the aide station asked me if I was okay, so I guess I must have looked awful.
Some would think, "only 3 more miles," but those 3 seemed like 100. I hobbled through mile 24, then at about mile 25 I think, there was one more big hill. I saw other runners stopping and walking up that hill with me. There was one very nice lady that came up beside me walking and encouraged me to run a few steps, than later I ran up beside her and she was walking so I encouraged her to run a few steps.
We continued this until the last half mile and we both ran (slowly) the rest of the way through the finish. As I rounded the corner and saw the finish line I was overwhelmed with many emotions. As I got my medal, the photographer asked me to hold it up and I was so weary and so much in pain that I realized I could barely lift my arms up.
I managed long enough for the photo than went and found my husband waiting for me. He finished in 4:21 and I finished in 5:19. Not record breakers, but we are both happy to have done it and are already planning the next one.
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