Monday, October 02, 2006

Marathon Report (in more ways than one...it's long!)

I'll start with dinner Saturday night. Eleven of us from the Run Club and Sarah, Olga, Joe and psbowe (aka Bella) met up in Tualitin at Pastini's. Jenny found the place, Rob organized the gathering. The food was delicious and the company was great. The only downside is that we were so squeezed in (with families I think there was about 18 or 19 of us) that we couldn't leave our seats to visit. Much to my regret, I didn't get to talk to Sarah or Bella much, but on the plus side had good conversations with Joe and Olga. After dinner we picked up some groceries and headed back to Jenny's parent's house. There were nine of us staying there. We spent the rest of the evening wandering in and out of each other's rooms, packing race bags and modeling new clothes. There was much discussion, advice and laughter. Finally, we all went to bed.

The alarm was set for 4:15, but I was up a few minutes early. I actually slept really well. I got in and out of the bathroom before anyone else was up and then had time to sit down with a cup of tea and an energy bar. We had amazingly smooth transitions through the two bathrooms with nine of us, and were out to the cars by 5:15. There was no traffic on the roads and we were finding our way to a parking spot about 15 minutes later. There were already plenty of runners in the area, so we settled down on the corner to wait for Rob to arrive. In the meantime, we found Sarah, found Brenda from the running group, and a few others we knew as well. Rob arrived and we got pictures. Eric discovered that there was an around the block line for bag checks, so he and a few others trooped back to the cars (only about three blocks) to stash our gear. Eric and I hugged and kissed good-bye, Sonya and I got hugs from all the faster runners, and we stepped into the crowd.

We were chatting with the people around us when the crowd started moving forward - everyone was wondering if this was the start - we didn't hear a gun or an airhorn, or even the national anthem. We kept walking forward and finally could see the runners moving out down the street and realized it was actually underway. I clicked my watch on, but it was another two minutes before we crossed the start mat. We were off!

I don't know how other runners can recall mile by mile what was happening during their race. I know we were running, enjoying every moment. I can't really even describe where those beginning miles took us. We were talking, wondering if it would ever thin out around us (it never really did), feeling good and comfortable. I discovered that we missed a walk break - we couldn't hear the beeper with the bands and the crowds. We've been training with a 9/1 run/walk if our runs are 10 miles or less, and a 7/1 if they are over 10. After missing the walk, I started calculating when the beeper would go off and keeping an eye on my watch. It was hard for me to watch the time - with a rolling timer, I am used to going entire runs without ever looking at it.

We had fun on the out and back - we saw every runner we knew, except for Bella and Joe. Everyone hooted and hollered at us, and Eric ran over to give me a hug and a kiss. It was so much fun! Then we made the turn and saw that there were still tons of people behind us. The out and back is in a long, boring industrial stretch - the saving grace was seeing everyone and then watching all the strangers on the way back. George and Wendy, from our running group, were waiting for us around mile nine with fresh water, cowbells and cheers. It was great talking to them for a minute, getting our pictures taken and moving back out.

Somewhere after mile nine, maybe even around the half mark, Sonya's cold caught up with her. When she got up on Thursday, she could barely talk, and by Saturday it was worse. She was determined to run though. The first sign of trouble was a cramp in her shin. After that she was plagued with cramps in her calves and the right shin over and over. She took more ecaps and drank more. She was all stuffed up and struggling. I came to the realization that my time goals were not nearly as important to me as my friend was. We started this journey together, and we were going to finish it together, and that was all that mattered. Though she hadn't said it, I could see that thoughts of stopping were whirling around in her head. I told her that we were going to do this together and that time didn't matter. We decided to go with the "pick an object, run to it, pick an object walk to it" plan. It got us up the big hill to the St. John' s Bridge. I think Sonya's fuel and ecaps kicked in for a while there and she started feeling a little better. We had a good steady run over the gorgeous bridge, then we walked up a small hill at mile 20. I got a lump in my throat there, when I finally realized it was really going to happen - we were going to finish.

The next few miles brought highs and lows for us as Sonya struggled with more cramps and feeling nauseous and sick. But then there'd be a surge and she'd feel better for a while - I'd suggest we'd run to the third tree and she'd push us to the fourth. We saw George and Wendy again between 20 and 21, where they had more fresh water for our bottles. I got a half a bar there, ate it and stuffed one in my pack for later. We started back out, this time using the "light pole to light pole" plan. It kept us moving forward and offered a distraction. It seemed like it was hours between mile markers - a mile has never been so long! I was feeling good, but was worried about Sonya.

Then, up ahead I spotted Eric moving toward us - and Rob right beside him. I told Sonya I could see them and she got a little emotional. It was towards the end of 23, and perfect timing. They were funny, inspirational, sweet and silly. They distracted us, they kept the chatter going, they took over the light pole plan (till I decided they weren't doing it up to my specs and took it back over). Then, all of a sudden, they veered off - Eric called out that this was it - and I saw a sign that said only finishers beyond this point. I was shocked - we were there! (I'm getting teary just writing this!). I asked Eric if the arch straight ahead was it and he told me no, we had to turn the corner. What I was seeing was the walker's finish. We had to turn the corner, where we heard a rush of cheering - and our cowbells. There they were: Jenny, Patch, Lesa, Wendy, Lisa, Monica and a bunch of others all cheering us in. I heard Sonya's name over the speaker, but not mine. We crossed, we finished, we hugged and we cried. Unbelievable.

We got our chips cut off, and the medal. Then, a space blanket (I coveted that blanket...I guess from always seeing Eric in one, it seemed like something a marathoner would do). I wandered in a daze. Water, a banana. Now my tummy was the one protesting. I followed Sonya around, and finally noticed that some people had cool finishers shirts. We found our way to that table and got the shirt. We were just talking about a picture when Jenny came rushing up and gathered us in to a group hug - which got me tearing up again. We got a picture of the three of us, and finally headed over to the reunion area. We were meeting up under the Y - for the Y Run Club. More hugs, pictures, everyone talking at once. Jenny got a 4:29 for her first marathon! Eric and Rob stuck together, had a cup of beer mid-race, and still finished in 3:32 and 3:31. Lesa and Lisa both PR'd. Monica had a good race, and so did Patch.

It took a long time for us to get back to the cars. We were kind of spread out all over the sidewalk, changing, stretching, talking. I had mentioned to Sonya somewhere out there on the course that I thought maybe I was getting a couple of blisters. I noticed it off and on, but not too much. I pulled off my sock, and oh my. I had a huge blood blister on my incipient bunion, but it was my bare toenail-free second toe that was bad - the entire end of the toe was a blister - where the toenail should be, all the way around to the bottom, plus the tip. One big blister. Yikes - but it didn't hurt - it was completely numb. I don't know if that's good or bad.

We finally packed up, said good-bye to Rob, Lisa and Wendy and headed back to the house. Jenny's Mom had baked us rhubarb crisp. We showered and ate and talked even more. One car load left for home, our car (Jenny, Eric and I) headed out to eat, with Monica following. We shopped a little, had an early dinner, and finally started home. First there was a detour that sent us off course for a while and then at mile 60, traffic came to a dead stop. There was a rollover accident at mile 65. Two hours later, we finally were on our way again. It was hard sitting - Eric started cramping, my toe was swelling and throbbing. Fortunately, we had plenty to talk about...


Thomas asked about my next marathon. He might have been joking - I'm not really sure. It doesn't matter though, because my next marathon will probably be November 5th. I have to check into a couple of things, talk to my buddy Rick and talk to Jenny again, but I think we're going to run a local free race that weekend. Then I'm thinking about running the Seattle Marathon on Thanksgiving weekend... I think I'm hooked.

This next part is my Academy Awards Thank-yous. To all my blogging friends, and to all my running friends: Thank you so much for all your good wishes, advice and positive words during this marathon journey. I am so grateful that I am healthy enough to do this, and that I have such wonderful friends to support me and share my life. Our friends in the Y Run Club have stood by me through illness and health and have supported me both mentally and physically every step of the way. You've read about all the friends that share my runs, but you haven't heard about all the others that are faster, that I don't run with, but who have sat at coffee with me for hours, listening to me dream and plot and plan. I can't name them all, because I'd leave someone out - but they are the best!

Eric, Rob, Sonya, Jenny, Darcy, Wendy and Brenda: A special and heartfelt thank-you for every step you took with me and most of all, all the love. You guys are the best and I love you all. And my non-running, horse-happy friend Wynette gets a special thanks for listening to me ramble on about running, for asking me questions and giving me support too.

That's my long-winded first marathon report. I hope it's the first of many. I'll post the pictures later this week - but in the meantime, thanks again, and wish me happy toes!

24 comments:

Running by.... said...

AWESOME!!!! Congratulations!!!!

I loved your long-winded post! I can feel your excitment and your sense of accomplishment.

You are a marathoner!!!!

Can't wait to see the pics!

robtherunner said...

We love you too and I was happy to be there to experience it alongside you and Sonya the last few miles. You looked strong out there and you made the right decision to stick together. It will be an experience that will be with you forever. Congratulations!

Sarah said...

Great report! There's nothing better than finishing with a friend. I can tell you're hooked for sure. Here's to many more memorable marathons in your future!

Darrell said...

A marathon is a long way and it deserves a long report! Congratulations! I loved every word as you obviously loved every minute of your race. There's nothing quite like that sense of accomplishment. Talking about your next one already, you are definitely hooked. I'm not looking forward to the foot picture though.

olga said...

I hope I was wispering in your ears:)
Awesome, Michelle and Sonya! In no time will you be a Maniac!

craig said...

Michelle, it's late here (a comple of hours later than the time on the comment I think) and I haven't been to bed yet. But I had to read your report before turning in. So I won't say much except that I'm thrilled for you and for the dream you realized. Congratulations.

Jenny said...

CONGRATULATIONS!! Fantastic report - I felt like I could have cried when you and Sonya crossed the finish line!

Thomas said...

Great report, not long-winded at all. The descriptions are very vivid, and I remember nearly bursting into tears myself as I was nearing the finishing line of my first marathon.

Those blisters sound bad. Really bad. Let someone take care of them.

I was indeed joking when I asked about your next marathon, but I did certainly expect that you had caught the bug - you sounded like you had a blast all the way through your training and your race.

Wes said...

B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L!! So, you are going to go from doing one marathon to three in one year? You go, girl! That's a great and inspiring race report. I'm jumping up and down with joy for you and Sonya. Well done!!

JustRun said...

CONGRATULATIONS! You're awesome!
And already talking about your next one, wow!

PuddyRat said...

I KNEW you could do it! I KNEW IT, I KNEW IT, I KNEW IT!

I had Nextel text messaging me to let me know your split times, so I kept track of you all day and thought about you whle I did my long run for the day (the whole hour of it.

Again, CONGRATULATIONS, Michelle. You done GOOD, girlfriend. Which marathon (giggling, here) are you doing next?

Ironayla said...

It is great to see you achieve a goal that you have desired to accomplish for so long!

I also see that the endurance bug has bitten you, and that you may well be on your way to becoming a maniac :)

I would in turn want to thank you for letting me share in the long runs with Sonya and you. It got me out of bed and moving again, which was something I needed very much! Having some to share the experience with is half the fun! Now, I just need to work with my coach to get my runs fitting with more of your runs so I can keep with you and Sonya :)

D said...

Great report!

runliarun said...

You already plan to run two more marathons next month? You are indeed hooked. Ah, the life of a marathoner... :)

Michele said...

Congrats you marathoner!!
Awesome report.

Jessica Deline said...

Congratulations on your marathon! Sounds very memorable!!

Dori said...

Great report, Michelle! I got teary reading about it. I'm so glad it was a positive experience for you.

Joe said...

A great write-up, Michelle. You are a true friend and, having met you, I'm not the least bit surprised by it. Your "bit by bit" approach was exactly what you both needed! And you can write your very own long marathon report...how cool is that??!!

Way to go...enjoy that cool medal of your own and the cool Finisher's shirt...wear it proudly to the next HS Cross Country meet!!

Joe said...

A great write-up, Michelle. You are a true friend and, having met you, I'm not the least bit surprised by it. Your "bit by bit" approach was exactly what you both needed! And you can write your very own long marathon report...how cool is that??!!

Way to go...enjoy that cool medal of your own and the cool Finisher's shirt...wear it proudly to the next HS Cross Country meet!!

Jenny said...

Thank YOU Michelle for All of your encouraging words along the trail and road for all the long runs. Sometime, I'll write a race report too. I'm teary eyed just recalling the race, I've dreamt about it each night..those endorphines still working :). I smile each time I move and my muscles hurt, I earned the pain, we earned the pain, and the joy of the marathon, the joy far outweighs the pain. Can't wait to do it again!

Annette said...

I'm so happy for you! Way to go! I think it's great that you focused on helping your friend, even though it may have slowed you down. We all need someone like that sometimes.

I can't believe you were at Pastini's in Tualatin - you were so close by to where I live! :)

Well, great report. I'm glad you made it and are already focusing on the next one.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

WOO HOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WADDLER26.2 said...

Great job and I loved the report!

Jack said...

Great race, great report. You sure that was your first, you made it sound so easy ;-) Great job marathoner!!