Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Six (Not Quite) Hour Run

Yesterday, I once again found myself in the back seat of a big, white Expedition, traveling with my friends to a small, local race. This time Cat was the driver, Steve occupied the passenger seat and I was in the back between Eric and Rob. It's like a recurring dream - always Eric, Steve and I, the other runners rotating through the car. There have been so many runs lately, and most often in one of the white Expeditions. We started out in the dark, heading north to Snohomish. Lots of trash talk and serious talk and yawning and laughing throughout the drive.

We pulled up to the start/finish to see familiar faces hanging around. By now, one or the other of us know most of the local runners, though there are always a few new faces. The course was a 2.5 mile out and back on a paved trail (old railroad grade, very similar to our Orting Trail). We checked in, pulled our gear from the car and found a spot to stash it. I'm getting very spoiled by all the races where we can stash a cooler or a drop bag - it allows me to have Coke and pb&j and pretzels right where I want them. I also planned to start off in the new Brooks, but wanted the option to change, so had my gear bag near as well. It was cold - maybe 35ish, but sunny, so I was wearing my running skirt, my vest, arm warmers and gloves. No hat, though I kind of wished for my headband.

The official clock was someones digital clock and the start was low key - a shouted "go!" from the RD. I think about 20-25 people were there. Cat and I started easy, hoping to warm up soon. Our goal for the day was a marathon, maybe a little farther if we felt like it at the end, but at least a marathon. Cat had decided to join us at 2:00 on Friday - after a workout of hill repeats. She is a faster runner than I am, so I happily surprised when she said she wanted to run with me. I warned her that I intended to take my time with this and just make sure I had 26.2 by six hours. She didn't care, because her plan, before she decided to join us, was for 15 miles, so anything after that was a bonus.

We were chatting away when we realized we must have missed the turn around - our Garmins were showing about 2 3/4 miles. We went a little farther, just around a bend to see if we could see arrows. No go, so we turned around. We looked and looked but didn't see anything. Eventually another runner caught us and we asked her about the turn. It was right where we expected it to be - but we were both looking for chalk arrows on the ground and instead there were small signs on posts beside the trail. We decided it was no biggie - that would save us a bit at the end on the final mile out and back for the marathon.

The day was warming up, so we both shed clothing on the first time into the aid station. We took our time, eating and drinking, using the restrooms, before heading back out. It was fun seeing all the other runners on each out and back. Rob threw trash talk at us every time we went by, we met new runners and chatted a bit, we marveled at all the old houses and tidy farms across the road. Second time into the aid station we took a little longer - I needed to change my shoes. The new Brooks feel stiff to me and not very cushy, switching to my Asics felt wonderful. Back down the trail we went.

The next out and back included a couple women riding their horses along the trail. I'm happy to say that we caught up and passed walking horses. I would have really felt slow if we couldn't catch them! Kind of an uneventful leg, just more conversation and a bit more walking. I forgot to mention that we started with a 9/1 run/walk. At about 13 miles I switched the timer to a 5/1.

One more slow run out, turn around and come back. Somewhere in here I set the timer to 3/1. I had tired legs and knew we had time to make it all happen with lots of walking, so I took advantage of it.

Finally, we were ready for the last out and back. Eric was done by now - he went 26.2 and called it a day (he had eye surgery on Tuesday, so I was amazed he was even out there!) I talked him into driving Cat's truck out to the end of the trail and waiting for us with food and drink. I had carried my water bottle on the last leg and wanted to leave it behind now. We were a little faster than he expected, so he caught us just after the turn around, at the next road intersection. A few swigs of Coke and some pretzels went down great, but it was warm and I knew I needed more. Eric had his handheld with him so I filled it with Coke and we left. Fresh Coke in a water bottle led to a few messy moments, but I was still glad I had it.

We ran up to the finish line, and with our little mistake at the beginning, found we only had about .2 to finish - we whipped right around and ran out. We didn't even get out of sight when we were able to turn around and go back. We decided that 26.2 was enough and finished the day in 5:34:04. Eric, Steve and Rob were all done too. We stayed and visited with everyone and waited for those that were going the full six hours.

We managed to find our way to a Starbucks on the way home, I'm not really sure where - some small town between Snohomish and the highway. We had our drinks, then Eric ran over to a grocery store to get the "ceremonial post-race beer". He bought a 24 oz can of Bud and some glasses, and we all sat in a smokers gazebo outside Starbucks to share it. I'm not really a beer drinker, so I had one swallow and handed mine back to Eric. We made it home, cleaned up, then went right back out to meet Steve and Lorri and Cat and Larry for dinner at a local tavern. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day!

This race marked my 15th marathon since I started running marathons and beyond in October 2006. I have four 50Ks under my belt in the same time period and am excited to realize that Pac Rim will move me up to number 20 of marathons and beyond. Who'da thunk it?

26 comments:

Irene said...

15 marathons and 4 50ks in 4 years. Wow. I have a lot of catching up to do!

Jenny, Maniac #401 said...

Congrats! Even with Paul's CPR class, I don't think I 'd have made it to this one! Being sick all week has taken every ounce of energy out of me. 3 miles today was rough!
Jenny

Sarah said...

Wow...almost 20 marathons or ultras...that's awesome! Congrats on another one in the bag.

Annette said...

Wow! Another one? You guys seem to have a race every weekend! Sounds fun!

I got a little giggle thinking of the effects of sloshing around a Coke while you ran. :)

Joe said...

What a fun outing. Any blisters with your two-shoe strategy today??

Amazing to think Portland 2006 was your first marathon...and now soon to be 20. Awesome.

Off to do the "arrow"!!!

scott keeps running said...

Congratulations on #15!

JustRun said...

Woo hoo! Very cool. I always think that I'd love to come up there and run with all of you, but now I'm thinking it'd kill me. :)
Good job!

robtherunner said...

Congratulations on the marathon! I don't think I was really doing any trash talking though. I'm way too nice for that. Medium long run next weekend 15-18 followed by a 10-12 the following weekend before Pac-Rim and you'll be good to go. Nothing too stressful for the next few weeks. Got it?

Chasing Daylight* said...

Sounds amazing - - you are an inspiration!

shawn said...

Way to go on #15 Michelle! I'm so impressed with how much running you've been doing lately. BTW - I am convinced - based on 24 summits and on this past weekend, that walking is twice is hard on the feet as running so I don't know that walking can be "taken advantage of."

You guys always seem to have the best post-race fun. Starbucks and beer? I wonder what would happen if you mixed those with coke - I guess it would be really messy :)

Pac Rim is almost here - getting excited?

Sarah Elaine said...

I don't know how you drink Coke on the run, but clearly it works for you. That's an impressive race history there, missy!

Steve S said...

You've come a long way, Baby! You've overcome the heart and breathing problems, learned to deal with the aches of de-feet, and progressed on to a true maniac. Longview will be a true test but I am confident you will persevere succeed well beyond your worries.

Thomas said...

You seem to have a lot of those low-key races in your area. I think that's unique. Events like that are completely unknown around here. What a shame!

Anne said...

That's an amazing record, and in less than 2 years. No wonder so many marathoners live in the Pacific Northwest. So many opportunities like this one to just go out and run around for awhile.

olga said...

Michelle, I am excited about your PacRim day! You're doing well, very smart and consistent, and I bet you're going to have one of the best days out there!

angie's pink fuzzy said...

wow, way to go!!!

angie's pink fuzzy said...

wow, way to go!!!

Laura H said...

Really cool Michelle! It's amazing what the body can do when we let it. You are truly an inspiration! I'll be looking forward to hearing about Pac Rim!

Donald said...

Holy cow, that's a lot of marathons. Way to be consistent.

Smithposts said...

Amazing number of marathons and longer runs in under 2 years! Congrats! You are quite an inspiration to those of us recently embarking down the runner's path.

Sunshine said...

Glad Eric's eye surgery went so well.
"Run 6 hours or as long as you like".. what a fun concept. Congratulations!

Sunshine said...

Thanks.. Spring better be coming. Let us know when you see it.

Darrell said...

You have an amazing array of race options up there. congrats on another fun day.

Try@thlete said...

Congratulations on yet another marathon.

You could perhaps add up all your racing distances and mark a point in the world you could have run to.

Meghan said...

Bummer about the Brooks shoes being stiff and uncomfortable! I suppose if you didn't mention blistering, things were alright in that department.

Man alive, you guys do have races every weekend. I feel deprived!

Recover happy!
Meghan

Trevor said...

Whew! I'm finally here leaving you a note! Michelle, I have been meaning to thank you for sharing all of you and Eric's running escapades and also for all the friendly notes you have left for me. I've been meaning to do this for a while, but for one reason or another, just haven't managed to do it. It was a pleasure meeting you both at the Mega Fat-Ass. It appears as though we all had a successful day running in the slop and fortunately no shoes were sacrificed to the deep mud goblins (at least none that I'm aware of). Anyway, thanks again and I'll hopefully see you two at another pacific NW event!