Monday, May 07, 2007

The Full Report

I'll start at the beginning - Saturday morning. Eric got up and met Steve and Rob for a run. I slept in. We were both prepacked and ready. He came home, grabbed a shower, and we hopped in the car. But wait! We didn't head for Vancouver, oh no. Remember - it was Saturday morning, right around 8:45. And what happens on a Saturday morning, about 8:45 in Puyallup? The Y Runners gather for coffee. We thought we'd stop by, grab a cup, say hi to the gang and leave. Well, we walked in and there was a huge crowd - I think Steve said later there were 29 people (that includes a couple spouses and a few children). There were two new runners there, so I slipped into my den mother role and filled them in on a few things, then we kept shifting around chatting. Eric finally forced me out the door and we hit the road to Vancouver. We enjoyed the drive up, chatting away about races and WS and feet (all the tips I'm learning from the new book). We had a wait at the border and then finally crossed into Canada.

Since we decided to do this at the last minute, we ended up in a pricier hotel than we normally go for. It was really, really nice, and I told Eric that I want to stay in the nice hotels from here on out (I wish!). As we were checking in, Eric asked about late checkout. We were told we'd have to ask in the morning, but it didn't look promising. We went up to our room - opened the door - and discovered that it hadn't been cleaned and made up yet. Back to the front desk. They instantly moved us to a new room, and then asked - what time we wanted that late check out set at. They gave us 3:00 - plenty of time to get back and shower after the race. Well worth a minor inconvenience.

We made our way to the expo, where we ran into one of the faculty from work - her daughter was running her first marathon. Then as we were leaving, we ran into Bob and Lenore Dolphin, then while chatting with them, Mel Preedy and his wife walked up. A few minutes later Patt, who runs with us occasionally, stopped to say hello. I found it amazing that we ran into so many people in that one hour window.

Eric suggested we take the lazy way out and get room service - another unheard of luxury. We watched Ghost Rider, prepped our stuff and went to bed. We had decided to walk to the start, so we were up at 5:00 and out the door just before 6:00. The night before, we decided since we were walking to and from, we didn't want to do gear check. Instead, we pulled out these 50-cent rain ponchos that we had and put them on for warmth. I felt kind of silly walking down the dry streets in them - right up till we started seeing runners arriving in garbage bags (which is what we did before I found the cheapo ponchos).

We spent some time inside BC Place, meeting up, quite accidentally, with other Maniacs. We met Marilou from our area, Dave from BC and a couple of others whose name I didn't get. The Main Maniacs came over and we got a group shot, then it was off to the races. In fact, we were so busy visiting that we lost track of time and they were already singing the Canadian anthem when we got outside. I gave Eric a quick kiss good-bye and a wish for luck, then he headed for the front of the pack. I joined in where I could, and amazingly, found Marilou. Then I looked up and realized I was behind the 4:30 pacer. I told her I needed to move back, and she said, nah, to stay right there, it was all a jumble anyway.

The gun sounded and...nothing happened. We were actually behind the finish line, and because of the chip mats, it was roped off. There was one area, two-people-wide that everyone was trying to move through. A volunteer quickly opened the other side and Marilou and I were through. It took about three minutes to finally start running and cross the mat. We ran together till my first walk break, where we said good-bye.

I guess I started a little fast - my first mile was 10:55. Miles two through six were in the mid-11 range, mile seven was a little blurp of 12:04, then two more in the 11s, a rest stop put me at 13 something, then I guess I was off pace because another 13 something went by, then an 11:17, then for the next six miles I was in the 12s, then another 11+, then three 12+, then three 13+ and my last mile was 12:00 exactly. I'm pretty pleased with those numbers.

I don't know how people remember mile by mile details. I don't. I remember generalities with a few specifics. We wound through town for a while and then into Stanley Park. We ran along the seawall for a long time, I looked out over the Burrard Inlet and English Bay, I saw ships and sailboats and a scull. The scenery was beautiful. We've visited there several times over the years - I recognized places we'd been when we were dating, when we were a young married couple, and more from the times we had been there with the boys.

Somewhere in the park, about mile 14, I think, I refilled my iced tea bottle at a water station. I drank a little of it, then at the next walk break I pulled out a little packet of lemonade to add to it. Now here's how it works: chocolate soy milk on the left, iced tea on the right. I twisted my pack to the front, opened the tea, looked at it and thought - wow, I didn't realize I'd already drank so much of it. I added the lemon, put the lid on, shook it up and twisted the pack back around. See where this is leading? Mmmmm....chocolate soy milk and lemonade powder - yummy! Funny thing, when you pull the pack around to the front, the right (tea) ends up on the left. The left (chocolate) ends up on the right. It really wasn't that bad and I continued to drink it anyway. Ever had one of those lemon sandwich cookies with chocolate filling? Kind of like that. Not that I loved it and will ever mix them on purpose!

One of the highlights of the run came about mile 18 - after leaving the park and approaching the Burrard Street Bridge. I recognized the spot where the boys and I waited to cheer for Eric back in 2003 - I found a special thrill in running past there myself, in the midst of my own marathon. In 2003, I didn't even dream that one day it would be me running by. I loved the bridge - big and broad and way high. We cut a giant loop on the other side - out to mile 20 and back, then back over the bridge and on to the home stretch.

As we came to the finish line, a man I had been leap-frogging throughout the last miles ran up behind me. He turned to me, threw his hands out and said "there it is, the dream - I can touch it" and ran on by. A big lump formed in my throat, and I fought tears as I crossed the line. I don't know quite why his words touched my heart, but they did. Was it because I was there supporting Eric before, and now running my own race? I don't know if that's it, because I supported him in Portland, Seattle and Yakima and I've run all those. Was it because I was alone? I think that it might have been that. Maybe because I ran that race alone for the first time, because I came in under the time limit that had me so worried, because I pushed and got another PR. Maybe I was simply exhausted by three in three weeks. I don't know.

As I walked into the chute, I was directed to put my foot up to get my chip cut off. I did. The young lady looked at me kindly, and said she needed the foot with the chip on it. I laughed along with her, and moved on. I got my medal, my blanket and started walking. It was a long, long walk to the entrance to BC Place. They took us up to these garage doors that were closing. We had to wait - the security guy kept peeking in the window, then finally pushed the buttons to raise the doors. We walked into the airlock. The doors shut behind us and we faced another set of closed doors. There were probably 20 of us there. We could see another security guy peeking in at us. Finally, after a few minutes, those doors opened. I don't know what that was about but it was kind of surreal.

Leaving the airlock took us into the food and shirt area. I picked up my shirt, but they didn't have the tech fabric ones we had paid extra for. The girl asked me what I meant by a tech shirt - then directed me to the troubleshooting area. I made a critical mistake here - I picked up a couple orange slices because it was the only thing that looked good. As I left the area, another security guard warned me that there was no re-entry. I got my shirt troubles straightened out, and went to wait for Eric. We didn't find each other for a while, so by the time we left there and walked back to the hotel, I was toast. I needed to eat and drink. And, I was also freezing - it rained the entire 5 hours and 25 minutes. A light rain, but I was dripping. I had put both new shirts on, but my shorts and feet, hair and hat were all still wet. After a hot shower, I waited in the car while Eric got us Starbucks - a soy chai had never tasted so good! I was restored.

We eventually made it down the highway, through another long border wait and to my hometown where we stopped for dinner. Finally, about 8:00 last night we made it home. Another marathon down, another PR achieved, another star reached, another road trip done.

I am amazed by my continued improvement. I honestly thought that my times would slide, growing longer with each marathon. I've been surprised and pleased by how good I feel, how fast my recovery is and by the shaving of minutes from race times. I've firmly told myself that this weekend's race will be an easy run - it's a very hilly course. I'm shooting for about a 5:45. I'm running with Rick and others, and I'm not sure what they have in mind, though I know Rick wants to go easy so he can push it next week at the Capitol City Marathon. (We are not running this one, though we will go to cheer Rick and Cat on). I want to relax a little on this run.

Did you know that achieving a PR adds pressure? I didn't know that till now. I want to put those times out of my mind and just run. No worries, who cares how long it takes? At the same time, I want to shave more time...5:15 might be with in reach...did you know that dreams can come true? I dreamed of running a marathon some day, and maybe even running a few more after that. I dreamed of running across the lines, the start and the finish. I dreamed of clinking medals hanging from my peg on the coat rack, of writing a race report. I used to tease Eric and Rob that I was going to write a mile by mile report of my latest 5K. I dreamed of long car rides where I could really talk marathons with Eric, where we could discuss the race, the scenery, the people, the pace, the pain. I dreamed of sharing a world that I only watched from the sidelines. Dreams really do come true.


olga said...

And dreams come true...don't loose them, shoot for 5:15, if not next, then another. You are getting better at it every time! Very nice, and no gloves incident:) Go, Michelle!

robtherunner said...

Great report, Michelle! I knew you had it in you and I know that you will continue to set PR's, but most of all enjoy and appreciate the marathon for what it is. A dream come true.

wendy said...

Isn't it funny how dreams come true for those who work hard to achieve them? Michelle, your hard work is proof that you can achieve your dreams. You have logged the miles, all the base work, and you didn't worry about the pace of your base miles, you just enjoyed them, well, most of them I think. =) It's no accident you can run marathons, multiple marathons, faster marathons! You conceived the dream in your mind first, and put the idea on paper in the form of mapping out a training plan. You're an amazing role model!

Oh, and thanks for making me choke up when I read about the finish - I got all teary eyed just reading about it, so I can't imagine if I was there! Thanks for another wonderful race report. I always look forward to reading them from you.

Congrats again on your 3 stars, and I hope you enjoy the run this weekend.

Jack said...

And dream come true...great report, great race, and your an inspiring runner, keep up the positive attitude, its totally inspiring.

RunnerGirl said...

Michelle - Way to go!!!!! I am SO happy for you! Again - thank you for the motivation... you are kicking butt and taking names out there!

*big hugs* *applause*

~Runnergirl (Jenniferlyn)

Wes said...

I have trouble remembering the mile by mile details as well. I think I did pretty good on this last one. Your report, as usual, is fabulous :-) Achieving your own dream is priceless, watching friends achieve theirs is a close second...

JustRun said...

Ah, Michelle, that is one of the best reports I've ever read! Congratulations, again!
Thanks for your words- I loved reading them!

Thomas said...

A few years ago I made the same mistake as Eric - we stayed in a nicer hotel than usual, for one night only supposedly. Niamh caught the bug, and it has cost me a lot of money ever since.

And you know, like you I've PRed at most races over the last 2 or 3 years. I don't think it's pressure - it's a fantastic motivator.

Donald said...

I see a sub-5 in your future. If you're setting PRs under these circumstances (racing every week), you can definitely take off a big chunk of time if you focus on one race. Excellent job!

maniac hippo said...

You rock, Michelle! and BTW getting faster during a long marathon streak is something that happened to me last spring. Gratifying, isn't it?

I'm taking a planned 11 week break from trails, hope I get to see you guys at CC, I'm so fond of all of you.

Addy said...

Wow...awesome job! It's so amazing that you were able to get faster after all the great racing you've been doing lately. A very inspiring and wonderful race report!

Congratulations :)

Jenny, Maniac #401 said...

Fantastic Michelle! I can't believe you are getting FASTER! Way to go!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations again Michelle. I like the trend that's developing with your running. Your self confidence is showing and it looks good on you.

Darrell said...

Dreams do come true and you deserve all the success you've worked so hard to achieve one way or another.

Congralations on another great race and a wonderful report.

Sarah said...

Yes! Keep on dreaming! : ) Another marathon in the bag and a PR too. Way to go. You've come so far but you're not done yet! : )

runliarun said...

Oh, but it's you who are poetic. That man talking about dreams in the place where you once dreamt and now were materializing the dream, is like a messenger, and the moment itself is mythic. I truly believe that is why you were moved - the encounter with yourself across time, in a place reuniting both sides of dreaming.

Joe said...

Awesome report, Michelle, mega-congratulations!!!

You do have a poetic tone to your race reports...don't sweat the mile by mile linear-ness that us engineers live by...I'm grateful for all the feelings and memories.

It is just awesome to see this streak, Michelle...I have to hustle to keep up with you!! Glad you enjoyed the posh hotel.

And...I'm so glad you kept your gloves in hand!!!

Great stuff...hope this weekend goes well and your toes hang in there!

Anne said...

I got chills reading this -- good chills. Especially when you passed the bridge and remembered cheering for Eric and now it was your turn. Woah.

I'm running out of ways of congratulating you on yet another PR. It does sound like the post-race logistics could have been better. And did you get the tech shirt or have to settle for the cotton?

Dori said...

Yawn. Another marathon, another PR.

Just kidding. Congratulations on another great race! You just keep getting better and better. Dream on!

E-Speed said...

what a wonderful recap and what a wonderful race for you! Your body must be adjusting to the distance rather than being broken down by it. I am so impressed with your quick recoveries and you continued improvement! Congrats!