Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Part One of Three....

Ok guys and gals – there are three long posts here, after reading post three you’ll understand where I got all of the time to write!

Here is a preview:
ONEYakima Canyon River Marathon – Complete!
– Tacoma City Marathon (a new PR) – Complete!
THREE – Diagnosed with Cancer and conquered Cancer – Complete!

One – Yakima City River Marathon
Taking a half day from work on Friday, I checked the pass report and raced to the mountain pass. It was April 3rd and I had to rush to beat the pass closing for avalanche control (yes in April I had to worry about snow on the pass). I beat the road closing and ran into a huge traffic jam – I was in the middle of the mountain pass, three lanes of traffic wide and we were rolling… I could run faster (I was really frustrated). Anyway, I made it over in time to pick up my race packet and get settled for my FIRST ever Marathon Maniac Reunion Meeting. It was amazing being in a room with 40-60 other runners that have the same running addiction. A lot of the Puyallup Y-Club runners were there and we took up a full row in the room. The lovely race director Lenore Dolphin called out each of our names and handed us a YCRM mug and we were able to say our names, MM status,etc. Eric made sure that we all made mention that we were from “Puy-allup,” we had a lot of fun. I remembered why I love this group of runners so much, we are all one big happy family! I even won a Marathon Maniac car flag for being the ‘newest’ maniac at the reunion.

A group of us headed to the Olive Garden for dinner. I prepared myself and looked up meals online that would still fit into my weight watchers plan. After dinner I stopped at a local grocery and got a few more supplies and cold water (oh yeah and my new tradition – a slice of cheesecake). I made it back to the hotel, organized my stuff and settled down for a quick nights sleep. The morning rolled around really fast – I made a microwave breakfast sandwich and headed to Starbuck for a quick Skinny, Cinnamon Dolce Latte. We had to catch the shuttle buses in Selah at 6:00 am, so I had plenty of time to wake up. With two hours to the start I was getting a little nervous, which is weird, this would be my fifth marathon – I was pro at this. I think my nerves were from having time before the start. At the small (30 people) runs, you get out of your car and go – although the time allows you to really get ready and make sure you are prepared. The race directors have a box of ‘drop’ clothes at the expo, so I picked up a sweatshirt from the box so I had an extra layer at the start.

The start was chilly, maybe mid to high 30’s. Clear skies and a promise of a great run. I started off with Michelle and I planned on finishing the day with her (she had just finished her first 100k, two weeks before – she is my hero). We settled into a great pace of 4 minutes run with a 1 minute walk break. Heading into the canyon we started up the first little incline, this canyon run is mostly downhill, but it has some major hills at about half way and then again about mile 22. Last year, this was my first marathon and I struggled through the canyon, I really worked hard this past year to make sure that I could have a wonderful second chance at the canyon. It worked, I lost about 30 pounds and I worked on my pace by running with others that were just slightly faster than my usual pace. I also made a conscious effort to rest for a couple of weeks before the run. The mileage, training and weight loss were in the bag – I needed the rest to make sure that I would perform at my best. Michelle and I chatted along the way, and at one point we heard a lot of birds chirping, we looked up to the canyon rock wall and noticed all of their nests right there within the rock face. These are the things that I really enjoy when I run; the conversation, the observations, amazing nature, connecting in so many ways.

We finally were able to make a pit stop at about mile 13, we didn’t want to have to wait in a line – guess we should have told the lady who was in there when we pulled up…. At this point I was feeling good, I had shed my coat and was running in capris, a tech shirt with my marathon maniac singlet on top. My pack was full of snacks; rice crispy treats, shot blocks, jelly beans, GU, but I forgot my cinnamon bagel and pretzels. The bagel and pretzels usually help ‘fill’ my stomach during a run and they seem to help soak up all of the sugar so I don’t get queasy, I did alright anyway. My feet were holding up well, last year I changed my socks at mile 13 and the insides of my heels were huge blisters, I’ve learned a lot in the past year. Body glide and lots of it on my feet helped me out, that and some memory foam insoles from Route 16 Running and Walking – Miguel has been my lifesaver.

Michelle and I made it up the huge mile long hill at the half-way point – we would pick a spot on the guardrail and run to it, then walk and run to another point. We made it and kept moving. I was feeling strong and felt like I had more in my tank, but I was really enjoying my time running with Michelle. We just talked away the day and I really helped mentally to have someone to run with in the canyon. Last year I felt really lonely in the canyon – but I needed that time alone to reflect and make some serious changes.

At the top of the last major hill there was a sign that said 3.7 miles left. Michelle looked at her watch and told me that I had about 30 minutes to get to the finish…. So I took off. Literally, I took off and started doing sub-ten minute miles – this was big for me, my usual pace is 12+ minute miles and at mile 23 in a marathon I picked up my pace and I couldn’t have been happier! I wish I could capture that feeling and breath in right now. Ok, so you’re asking, why such a big deal to get to the finish – Well, last year I finished the marathon in 6 hours and 39 minutes and I was on pace to finish in 5 hours and 38 minutes – a full hour and a minute faster. I really pushed myself to the finish and smiled as I crossed the finish line – 5 hours 45 minutes. I almost made it! And in my mind I did make it, this run was not about the number, but about feeling like I could do anything and I got that feeling. I ran with a friend for over 5 hours and I was able to pick up my pace at the end of a marathon! I had an amazing run and the feelings of finishing all rushed to me as I grabbed a bottle of water and sat down with the rest of the Y-club runners. I did it, I conquered the canyon again – this time I won!