Sunday, April 06, 2008

Yakima River Canyon Marathon, Take Two

The Quick Read: Five hours, 39 minutes, 24 seconds by the Garmin. That's eight minutes slower than last year, but last year I hadn't run a 50 miler three weeks before, so that seems reasonable. Sydnee finished her first marathon beside me. Energy level was good, got four blisters and a sunburn, and the weather was glorious.

The Slightly Longer Read: Eric and I left town about a half hour later than planned Friday, leading to us driving straight to the restaurant to meet other Y Run Club runners for dinner. We totaled 10 Y Run Club members running this race this year, plus tons of Marathon Maniacs. It's a relatively small marathon with something like 400 finishers and it seems as though we know at least 100 of the runners. And those we don't know, Eric makes sure to meet by the end of the weekend!

After we finished up with dinner, we drove to the Selah Civic Center to catch a bit of the guest speaker - the Marine Corp Marathon RD. We also picked up our packets and even better, that special little card that guarantees entry to the MCM this year. We caught up with lots of people and then headed to our hotel.

We were back at the Civic Center at 5:30 the next morning, to catch the 6:00 bus to Ellensburg. Once the bus got to Ellensburg, we got to hang out in a nice warm meeting room till race time. It was about 28 degrees and sunny at the start. The marathon winds through about three miles of farm land on the outskirts of Ellensburg before entering the canyon. The road through the canyon is closed to all except race volunteers and locals for the race, making it a wonderful run. We had to walk about a third of a mile from the hotel to the start, then we huddled together to battle the cold. The temperature was forecast to hit 60 by the end of the race, so I wore my skirt and layers. I had my marathon maniac singlet stashed in my pack on the off chance I'd get that warm.

Eric and Steve told us good-bye, then moved up toward the front of the line. Sydnee, Michelle, Jane and I hung towards the back. It was Sydnee's first marathon, but she didn't seem nervous at all. Our plan was to run the whole thing together using a 5/1 run/walk. I was a little nervous for Sydnee, because her longest run had only been 13 miles. On the other hand, I figured she was young and Steve assured me she was tough.

Patch and Sonya were roving volunteers. They drove from station to station helping out. The good part about this was that we could leave clothing with them, and they kept our extra drinks and fuel for us. They were wonderful personal support - completely spoiling us.

The first half eased on by. The canyon is beautiful, the weather was perfect. I slowly peeled the layers, down to a long sleeve, and ran in that for miles. One of the amazing things about this marathon is the absolute quiet. There is no traffic, and the river is down below, so it isn't heard at all. Just the footfalls and chatter of runners. I may have driven my running buddies nuts with my chatter. They weren't talking and I was fueled up on rice krispie treats and cola - a sugar and caffeine rush that makes me into a chatterbox. (Well, okay. Maybe I'm a chatterbox anyway, but this combo produces a stream of consciousness type of chatter, plus, I was cracking myself up. I'm sure it was irritating!) Speaking of rice krispie treats - at the 50 miler, Jenny had a pan in the trailer. We'd tear off a hunk each time we went in, and I decided it was the perfect running food. So Friday morning, I made a batch. I rolled a bunch up into little balls and put it in my pack. I had that and my two flasks of cola, plus a pb&j and pretzels. I had enough food to survive overnight if I needed to!

Somewhere around mile 14-15 Michelle and Jane pulled ahead. By this time, I was over my inane chatter phase, and Sydnee was ready to talk. We had a great conversation while a couple of miles slipped by. There are sections of the road where the camber is steep, and we'd move from side to side as we ran, searching for the flattest spot. I began to feel blisters forming from the distinctive sideways slide that the camber produced. It wasn't too bothersome though. Michelle rejoined us for a while, but dropped off after a bit. She had hit the wall pretty hard, and needed to walk awhile. After a while, Sydnee said she thought she was bonking too, so we dropped our pace a little. Steve was right, she really is tough. She never complained, she kept moving forward, never asked for extra breaks. I changed into my singlet during one of the walk breaks, as the day was getting warmer.

We came to mile 22, and the start of the mile-long hill. I suggested we plan to use the reflector posts on the side of the road as our guides - running to one, walking to the next and repeating. I said that would get us up the hill in good time, but not wear us down. It worked great. One of the fun things about this race is the universal friendliness of other runners, especially towards the back of the pack. We chatted with several runners as we went up the hill. The best part is that we were passing people as we climbed.


Running with Steve.

We started looking for Eric and Steve once we crested the hill. They had said they'd be back out to meet us, but wouldn't come down that hill because they didn't want to climb it twice. They weren't at the top, but it wasn't too long before we saw a familiar figure moving toward us - Grandpa! Bob, Steve's Dad, had walked out to meet us. He got some pictures, then jogged along with us for a half mile before telling us to go on. A little while later we spotted Eric and Steve at the top of a small hill. They were surprised to see us so soon, and began running back with us. It gave Sydnee a visible lift to see her Dad. It wasn't too long till we could see the final curve at mile 26, the around the corner and the finish line in the distance. How awesome!


Walk break!



I rested a bit, then Sonya and I walked out to the 26 mile marker to wait for Jessica. I had hoped to go back a couple of miles and run her in, but there were too many blisters to do it. We sat on the guard rail and waited till we saw her coming, then I jogged the final .2 with her. She finished her first marathon!


Jessica at mile 26

We went back to the hotel to clean up, then met Bob, Steve and Sydnee for the post-race awards ceremony and dinner. Sydnee got a first-time marathoners certificate, and three of us won door prizes - a bottle of wine from a local winery with a special Yakima River Canyon Marathon label. We spent the night in Yakima, then made our way home this morning.

I finished with four good blisters and a sunburn, though no blisters as bad as last year. I'm sure they all came from the sideways slide of the camber. I'm a little sore in the hips, but that's it. I did get the pep back in my step, and I'm ready to tackle the next two races - 18K at the Peterson Ridge Rumble next weekend, and Big Sur two weeks after that. I am one lucky runner!


The giant Marine at the start of the finish chute - pumping us up for MCM (and I'm holding a tumbleweed).

26 comments:

robtherunner said...

Congratulations! Looks and sounds like you all had a lot of fun. On to the next race...

Joe said...

Man, does that look like a beautiful, cool race...I'm wondering how I can fanagle a trip to the NW next year about this time............

And you say it comes with an entry to MCM???????

Hmmmmmmm

Sunshine said...

How fun to run with a new marathoner!
Loved the pictures... Had a lovely afternoon ride in Yakama Canyon with my son years ago. Made it especially interesting to read your account.
Thanks for your comment.. You always have something interesting to say.
Good luck in the next race.

Wes said...

What a beautiful race!! You are definitely giving Dee Dee and I some ideas about destination races when the boyz get older! Well done!!!

Jenny, Maniac #401 said...

Sounds like you two had a great time! Glad the weather was nice- hop ethe drive over the pass was good too!
Jenny

Laura H said...

Great report - that marathon is on my list for next year! Glad you got the pep back in your step - I love this method of beating a cold!

Sarah Elaine said...

I hope I have someone like you supporting me when I run a marathon!

Rice Krispie squares as the perfect running food, eh? Dunno why I never thought of it before! I'll be making a batch soon, me thinks.

BTW, I've tagged you. :-)

Sarah said...

Rice Krispie treats do sound like they would be the perfect running food! Congrats on another marathon! I'll see you next week at the Rumble (Marc is running).

Donald said...

Nice job Michelle! The camber is good practice for Big Sur - you'll find it here during miles 21-24. They don't mention that in the brochure.

Steve S said...

At first I thought the marine in the picture was Eric. Thanks for pacing Sydnee to her first and great marathon.

olga said...

Loved the pictures! Congratulations on getting another one under your belt, a good one to boot.

Megan Hall said...

Congratulations to you all, especially Jessica and Sydnee. Sydnee finishing after a longest training run of 13 miles was just what I needed this morning!

Meghan said...

Oh you guys are all so cute in the pictures! How adorable!

Meghan

Makita said...

Way to go, Michelle! Congrats to Jessica & Sydnee for finishing their first!

I hope to pop over to the Rumble course next weekend but DH wouldn't let me register in fear I'll stumble.

:D

Irene said...

Just wonderful! I'm so in awe that you did a marathon just weeks after an ultra! As always, I loved the photos.

Sydnee said...

Yep, I'm tough. And I know better than to complain. If I'd have complained, you might not let me run with you again. I'm thinking there will be more marathons in my future. I've officially been bitten by the running bug.

Thanks so much for running with me. It made the 5 hours and 39 minutes go by way faster than I expected!

wendy said...

way to go, Michelle! That's some serious motivation for MCM! I mean, if the course marshalls all look like that, I might even run another marathon! ;-)

Addy said...

great job!

Sounds (and looks) like it was a great day for running and that you all had a wonderful time out there :) Congrats to your friend for her first marathon!

angie's pink fuzzy said...

what fun!

Thomas said...

You're running so many marathons, or even longer races, they start blurring into one!

Once again, for the umptieth time, well done!

Trevor said...

Great job Michelle! I'm really impressed how you and Eric and the rest of the herd can pack in so many events in such a small amount of time! Pretty much every weekend, huh? That's great! So many adventures out there... How can you do them all? See you this weekend at the Rumble!

Smithposts said...

What a beautiful place to run! Your distance running is always impressive, congrats on finishing the latest.

Mother of Martineau Tribe said...

I love reading your posts. Have to run with you. I know I would have a blast!
BTW - that tumbleweed is bigger than you!

Rebecca said...

Sorry I missed you! Congrats on running another marathon. Do they ever get humdrum for you?

I'm already thinking of my next one...

Anonymous said...

Your babble was good entertainment . . I even thought, when you said how quiet it was, that "if Michelle wasn't babbling so much, I could almost hear the river"!! I don't think you drove us nuts - we already were or we wouldn't have been out there with you!!

Jane

Sunshine Girl said...

Always wanted to do Yakima - but I haven't run on a road in 3.5 years!! Hmmm......

As always, it looks like you two shared yet another great weekend getaway - we need more races in my corner of the world!

Leslie