Sunday, May 13, 2007

Tacoma City Marathon

Jenny and I working the expo, then Rob and I.




Short report:
Whew! I did it! Four marathons in four weeks. If I ever, ever decide to do such a thing again, please remind me to pick a flat race for the fourth one. Today's marathon was one tough and hilly course. My final time was 5:52:35 by my Garmin. No PR this week - I was glad just to finish under six hours. Maniac Tony and the local Fleet Feet put on a good race - and the volunteers were absolutely great! Our very own Rob was Volunteer Coordinator and did a stellar job. There were probably little glitches and I know there were lots of last minute hassles and worries, but you know what? For a first marathon, they did a great job. I love the medal - but even more than the marathon medal, I loved the medal for the half - it was basically the marathon medal, but cut in half with a jagged edge - like those broken heart necklaces you see. Very cool. My report on the expo is my previous post, this paragraph is the short version of the race, and if you are so inclined, you can read on for the long version.

Long report:
All week long today was predicted to be sunny and warm. Last night the clouds and wind rolled in. I woke up at 3:30 to the sound of heavy rain. By the time I got up at 4:00 am, the rain had stopped - and lucky for us, it stayed dry for the rest of the morning. The wind was still blowing, the skies were gray and it was about 46 degrees, but it was dry. Michelle arrived on our doorstep at 4:50 and we piled in the car. We met Rick at a Starbucks on the way to Tacoma where he, Eric and Michelle loaded up on coffee. We had signed up for the early start - 6 am. There were probably about 12 of us for the early start, but other runners were already there, so we had a nice cheering section. We had a lot of fun goofing around - we were shoving and elbowing trying to toe the line, and finding ourselves pretty darn funny. Arthur and his wife, Jennifer, were also part of the early start - it was her first marathon and Arthur was running with her. They had some kind of chip system that didn't use a start mat, so we asked the timer to beep for us when we ran across the line and he did a fine imitation for us.

We started out smoothly, chatting with the others, cracking silly jokes and generally having fun. We wound our way through Tacoma and into Wright Park. Michelle, Rick, Melissa, Jane and I were running together. We looked at the old houses and buildings and joked with all the early volunteers and police officers as we went by. Somewhere after the park, we missed a turn. In the end, my Garmin registered 26.7 miles - it is pretty consistently .2 miles over the official distance, so apparently our wrong turn added about a quarter mile. We ran past Stadium High and the famous Stadium Bowl and turned the corner to the water stop where we heard Sonya cheering for us - she was volunteering. We told her we had taken a wrong turn and I'm not sure if she was the messenger, but by the time the regular start runners caught up with us, everybody knew. And, so did all our friends volunteering on the course, and it is one of the first things Rob asked me about. The runners telegraph in our neck of the woods is pretty efficient!

We made our way down to the waterfront, where Melissa stopped to get her knee taped. She hurt it last week at Eugene and it was giving her problems today. I think she stopped three times for taping during the race and towards the end I'd hear little "ouches" whispering out of her. We pretty much kept moving when anyone stopped - the rest of us would walk, or jog a little till they caught up. By the waterfront I was already feeling last week's run, or maybe the cumulative three weeks runs, in my legs. They were tired and achy. The lead runner from the regular start caught up to us somewhere in here, I think Rick said about mile seven.

To go from the waterfront to the park requires a run through a slightly curved tunnel and up a long hill. As we approached the tunnel we could see the silhouette of a man standing smack in the middle - he was taking pictures and asked us to split evenly as we went by him for a "cool picture". It took a little jostling and shifting, but we finally managed to do the math and split as he asked. Rick is determined to be the volunteer in the tunnel next year - with a miners light and a train whistle. It would be pretty funny. As we came out of the tunnel we hit the first of the hills - hills that would stay with us for the next eight-ish miles. My calves started knotting up on the first short, steep hill. I dropped to a walk and pushed forward. We entered the Pt. Defiance Park and turned on to the path which allowed us to avoid one hill, but we still had the big ones ahead. We ran up the big one, the one known as "the monster" without a break. Rick remarked that it was just like one of our regular Sunday runs through the park - and it was - except my legs aren't so tired on those runs. One nice feature of the park was a swing through one of the viewpoints - with a stunning view of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and the new bridge being built beside it (it's almost complete). As we ran through the park, runners from the regular start were catching up and passing - we saw almost all the 3-something pace groups go by, and lots and lots of friends. Eric passed came through somewhere in here, slapping a high-five as he went by.

We left the park and entered the locally famous "dip" - down, down, down, then up, up, up. We crossed Vassault, which is the mile long hill that finishes the big local 12K, Sound to Narrows, and turned up a street a couple blocks over. It was uphill too, but a much kinder and gentler grade. Somewhere along this street both Amy and Jenny went by. Michelle had left us at mile 12, and Jane around mile 14. It was Rick, Melissa and me from here to the finish. I made a mistake here - we'd been walking up a hill, we got to the top and my beeper went off, signalling a walk break. I said since we'd just walk we'd run through it. Big mistake, and one I know better than to make. My heart doesn't get it's recovery time when I do this. It wasn't long before my chest tightened and I found it hard to breath. We had to take an early walk break and I told Rick that no matter what I said, not to let me do that again. I did recover, but struggled with fatigue after that. By the time we finished the last hill, my quads and hip-flexors were toast. My left leg would kind of buckle and catch several times from then to the end of the race.

Rick was patient and ready to walk whenever I wanted. He told me it was my race and he was doing whatever I did. Melissa knee was giving her problems, so she was ready to walk when I needed to as well. There was a long stretch of brand-new (just opened this past week) paved trail that ran alongside Highway 16. It's meant to be a bike commuter trail - I would call it very urban. It was noisy, but nice. At one point there was a long back-up onto the freeway due to the marathon crossing right in front of the exit ramp. There were many wonderful police officers out there today, managing traffic and giving us encouragement - everyone of them was cheerful and friendly. We saw George several times through here - he led the 10K on his bike, then road along the marathon course to see all of us. We always knew when he was coming - he'd give a blast on his whistle, then throw some trash talk our way. It was fun to have him come by. The other George passed us somewhere on this trail (I think that's where it was).

Finally, we hit the last two miles - a very steep downhill that was hard for all of us with our sore quads, and then on to a tree-lined street - at this point Linda's husband Rich road up on his bike, offering another chance for distraction. It wasn't too long before Margaret and Linda blew by us. We had some good conversation with a Maniac, and a guy running his first marathon, and another guy who took the early start. We came in through an older, kind of run-down section of town and I looked ahead to see Eric chatting with a motorcycle cop while he waited for us. He joined our little group and we ran on. A few minutes later, we entered the University of Washington Tacoma campus and could see the finish. This was a beautiful section, all restored brick buildings, nice pavers, and cheering crowds. We ran into the chute and Rick and I linked arms as we crossed the mats. A friend of ours was the announcer - he called our names and said he was proud of me.

Besides running across that mat with Rick, the highlight of the finish was that Rob put my medal over my head and gave me a hug (and asked my about our wrong turn!). I got a hug from Lenore Dolphin (which all Maniacs get - but it was my first), and our running buddy Cat was there handing out medals and gave me a hug too. We went down to the food tents, where everyone we knew was hanging out, to chat and compare notes.

We had to walk by Starbucks to get to the car, so Rob and Sonya walked down with us - in the end, we had coffee with Linda and Rich, Sonya, Patch, Melissa, and Lesa. We only stayed a bit, we were all ready to head for home.

My feet looked bad again, but once again, they all turned out to be small blisters - nothing too horrible. I can already tell that I'm going to feel pretty good tomorrow - even though I hurt during the races, my recovery has been getting quicker and quicker. The area Jenny taped for me held up well and isn't too sore at all - score one for Kinesio taping.

It was a good day and a hard run. I'd like to try it again when I'm a little fresher. I learned that running four in a row is doable, but hard on the third and fourth. Will I do it again? I'm not sure I will - unless too many cool races appeal to me. I think two in a row, maybe even three, is better than four. I'm looking forward to having next weekend off, though I do intend to go and watch Rick and Cat run at the Capital City Marathon. I've even toyed with the idea of running the five mile race there, but haven't decided.

Signing off from gray Puyallup, where the inaugural marathon is over, the runners are sated, and the four-week-streak is complete.

29 comments:

Jenny, Maniac #401 said...

WELL DONE! Great photos. I took some of you guys finishing too. A cute one of Melissa with her girls. I am very tired and my legs hurt. I, too, think I like less hilly marathons. Let's keep 5 mile drive for 5 miles runs or the Sound to Narrows not mile 11-15ish of a marathon! :) It was tough, and I just ran comfortably not trying to push anything. I was surprised at the time too. I do really feel it. I can walk better than after Portland, but my muscles hurt more! If that made any sense. See ya later. Miss 4 Star!
Jenny

wendy said...

Yes, Yes - congratulations on the four stars!

You guys were so focused at the end, just plowing thru to the finish line! It was so exciting to see you guys all finish with each other!

Too bad about the wrong turn, adding a little extra, but you're an ultra kind of girl. ;-)

Rest up this week! Good job again,

wendy said...

Oh, and good job posting photos and the long report already. =)

Wes said...

Yay! Way to go, Michelle! Four marathons in four weeks is maniacal! Why do I keep saying that?? Because it is :-) Have a nice rest. I think it was cool that you guys both volunteered then went off early!

YaYa said...

Wow, 4 marathon in 4 weeks. That is a lot. I bet you are tired. Are you going to do any more?

Journey to a Centum said...

Great job today Michelle! You looked much stronger today than you did at Vancouver and it was a much tougher course! Happy Mothers Day!

robtherunner said...

I was glad I was there when you came in and got to put medals on you, Melissa, Rick, Linda, and Margaret. It was the highlight of my very long day. Thanks for all the help and Happy Mothers Day!

Nicole said...

You are simply amazing. BTW Chicago is flat if you need a flat race in the future.

Sarah Elaine said...

4 marathons in 4 weeks. Wow. You are my (s)he-ro!

Love the photos, too. And I'm glad to hear that you came out of it all with only minor blisters. Way to go!

Darrell said...

What a great way to finish your 4th in 4. And you've posted the report before the shoes even cooled down. You ARE amazing.

Run Momma Run said...

What a maniac!!! Congrats on an amazing finish to 4 marathons in 4 weeks!

olga said...

Well, there is new Sheriff in town:) Yay! Loved the finishing photo!

Jack said...

You sure are one amazing marathon girl, congratulations!

Try@thlete said...

Maniac * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Scott said...

!!!!

JustRun said...

You're awesome! I still can't believe how many races you've done so far this year, muchless in the last four weeks. Nice running! :)

That looks like a good race, too. And I know people in Tacoma, so maybe next year...

Meghan said...

Congratulations and Wow! I'm tired for you! Do you have some time to recover now from you big month?

Awesome job!
Meghan
www.running-blogs.com/meghan

Jessica Deline said...

Good job. That's very impressive!! I'm hoping to get my 4 stars by running two back to back marathons (in 2 days). Finding two that are close enough together geographically has been tough.

4 marathons in 4 weeks is a great accomplishment!!

Randy said...

You are truly a maniac Michelle, way to go. What an awesome finish to four weeks. That is something that I'm not sure my body would ever allow me to even consider.

You did great on the write up too and the photos. So quick.

Keep us posted on how you are recovering, I for one am interested in how you bounce back...but it doesn't sound like it will be much of a problem for you.

runliarun said...

OMG, Michelle, four marathons in four weeks! I still remember when you did your first, it seems just a little while back, and you ran so far since. You are unstoppable.

Randy said...

Michelle, something tells me that we must be close to the same age, how do you get your body to do this week after week? I know you have been running for a number of years...but still.
You are an inspiration to us others that are no longer middle of the pack runners.

Joe said...

I'm in awe, Michelle!! Great race, great sequence.

Yes, think carefully before doing 4 in 4 again...just so you can keep going well in the long run. I'm glad you sensed the heart issues mid-race and adjusted accordingly. Good for you.

Put your feet up and enjoy!!

Addy said...

amazing job! Congratulations on the 4 stars. It's amazing that you can recover so well after all these races!

Randy said...

Michelle, thanks for the tips on your recovery.....
Yes we are close in age...I'm 52, just turned in April....the HM I did at the end of the month was sort of a birthday present to myself.
About your blisters...how attached are you to your shoes? Have you tried other brands to see how your feet would perform? With your experience I'm sure you have...just a thought. I'm so glad that I don't get blisters with my shoes...knock on wood.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

YAY!!! Way to go, Michelle!!!

Sarah said...

Can we call you Iridium Michelle now?
: ) Congrats!

Dusty said...

Congrats on the race! The medal sounds cool.

Dori said...

You're awesome, Michelle! Great race report, but you're way too chipper at 6 in the morning. :-)

How cool that your friend Rob placed the medal around your neck.

Anne said...

Well, Michelle, you certainly earned your Maniac title. Four marathons in four weeks is just plain crazy. First-time races always have their glitches and I'm sure next year there will be a course marshal or some kind of course marking to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Take care of those tender feet -- they've been through a lot. And congratulations again on such an amazing feat.