Monday, May 12, 2008

2nd Tacoma City - Full Report

Really, the marathon started on Friday afternoon. This is our new hometown marathon, 2nd annual. Rob is the volunteer director, and Maniacs and Y Run Club runners fill his ranks. Eric and I had the afternoon shift at the expo, taking in late registrations. It is a fun way to start the weekend, hanging out with friends and runners, chatting with out-of-towners, answering questions, strolling the expo and soaking up the atmosphere of race day.

Since we were planning to head south to see Web, I opted for the early start. Eric and I got to town right around 5:30 am. There were already lots of people around and I had fun hanging out with the other early starters. It wasn't long till Paul started the countdown and the air horn blew. We were off.

Early start.

Rick jumped in at one of the intersections to get his morning run in before his volunteer stint. I was worried about getting lost at the beginning of the race - which turned out not to be a worry. The course was very well marked, and there were volunteers out for the early start. We played a little leapfrog with other early starters, including Ray and Jane. The run winds through some of Tacoma's not-so-nice areas, through a wonderful local park, past old and stately houses, past the famous Stadium High School and finally begins the drop to the waterfront. This was where Rick turned back to town and I began to run alone.

I was feeling good and strong. We rolled along the water and out to Ruston Way, which is lined with restaurants and parks for two miles. This was to be the last flat section of the course for a long, long time. I continued to leapfrog Ray and Jane, plus met a local runner (I invited him to join the Run Club). The front runner passed me just on the other side of the tunnel (remember, I was an early starter) about ten miles into the run. After the tunnel, there is a long climb up to the park.

Point Defiance is all hills, but again, I felt strong and kept moving. Annie, the lead woman and eventual first place woman, passed me a little ways into the park. She had time to call out a "hello" on her way by though. Actually, all the runners who were passing were saying "hi" or "good job" on their way by. Many of the pace groups passed me in the park too - it was strange...a herd of runners would come thundering up, always led by a Maniac with a sign, they'd surround me, then leave in a rush. Usually, I knew several of them and there would be lots of greetings too. I found Steve course marshaling as I came off the trail and got the first hug of the day. I had already seen other course marshals and water stop volunteers I knew - this turned out to be the theme of the day, finding someone familiar at almost every turn.

At one point I remember thinking that Point Defiance is the greenest place on Earth. The day was cloudy, sending murky green light through the trees. Everywhere around me were giant trees, covered with moss, arching over the road. There is no clear space under the trees - instead, there is brush, again, dense and oh-so-green. I love running through that park.

As I was leaving the park, I could hear another pace group coming behind me, then someone ran by and said "your man is just behind me!" I thought it was funny, to have Eric called my man. Sure enough, I could hear his voice and seconds later he swooped me up in a hug, told me he adored me, and planted a kiss on my ear, then he was off. We were just coming around the corner on a short up hill and I felt my first pangs of tired legs, so I slowed to a walk. I only walked a few steps, then picked it up again. This was mile 15.

Often, in a marathon, I find myself fighting my way to 13, then kind of coasting through the middle, then fighting from 20 on. This time, I found myself at 15 miles, kind of mildly surprised that I was there already, and no aches or pains. Ray caught up to me somewhere around 17 or 18 miles and I ran with him a bit. I was feeling tired, but pretty good still. I left him behind at a water stop again, and found myself running strong. About mile 20 I started feeling my energy drain. I began looking forward to seeing Sonya at the stadium, looking forward to her cheerful voice and a chance to gather some energy from seeing her. As I came into her station, I heard her calling out to me, and then I heard Patch, and when I got there discovered Mark as well. I told them I was tired, and I don't even remember what they said back, but I went on feeling more cheerful from the encounter.

A while later I ran up beside a guy who was walking. He was from New York and he said he was cramping bad. He said he desperately needed a salt tablet. I had just taken one, and I had one left that I knew I wouldn't use, because we only had two miles to go, so I gave it to him. He was so shocked! It made me happy, because it felt like paying it forward - taking the good mojo of the guy who ran with me on the track at Peterson Ridge and passing it along. I kept running, leaving the NY runner walking. In the next mile, he caught up and passed me by, telling me that the s-cap had made all the difference.

I saw Rich on his bike in that last couple miles, then Linda came flying past me, and then I saw Eric in the distance, and I knew I was home free. He ran in beside me, and I could hear my name being shouted, and then announced, and then, there was Rick waiting to put my medal around my neck.

Photo by Emily

I was done. I feel great about this race. It was a PR for the course, by a good 27 minutes, (or probably 20, if you discount that half mile wrong turn last year). I did it running solo. I crossed that finish line knowing I had nothing left, not another ounce to give.

Photo by Emily.

We didn't hang around long after. I had time to sit with some of the Y Runners while Eric went and got the car. We didn't go to the Expo and awards ceremony, so I was surprised to get a message from Barb telling me I had won the raffle and an age group award. She thought third, but it was really fifth. I am thrilled with that - my first award

If you've read this far, then you are amazing! I'll finish by saying that our visit with Web was short. 798 miles round trip, for a four hour visit, but worth every minute of it. Our young man is following the path less travelled. Sometimes that is a difficult thing for parents to accept, but our visit confirmed our faith in who he is, in the choices he makes and our love for him. All in all, this was a weekend well spent.

Web and I on the steps of his cabin.

Web in his garden.

The creek on the farm.

The valley on the farm.

Web playing a song for us.


E-Speed said...

glad you had a good race and a nice mothers day with your son!

Irene said...

It looks like a lovely event! I'll have to keep in in mind!

Nice job, Michelle!

Happy Mother's Day!

Anonymous said...

Hi! This is Susan--I introduced myself to you after the race. Again, I really enjoy reading your blog. You are quite an inspiration! Keep it up! And glad you had such a wonderful mother's day with your son.
Best wishes.

Laura H said...

Congrats again Michelle!! And I love the photos of Web and the farm - it looks like such a serene place. What a great guy for daring to follow his own path! I love it!! BTW -Web looks a lot like Eric - but with hair! ;) Glad you got to see him for Mother's Day!

Thomas said...

Sounds like you had a good time at the marathon, and Point Defiance sounds like an amazing place to run.

Web's place is simply amazing! Most people would shun a life like that, but I can really see the attraction.

Jenny, Maniac #401 said...

What a wonderful weekend. I am glad the marathon run a and drive went well. Web looks happy to see you and show off his world. What a special time it was for all of you.

justrun said...

Congratulations on the race and the award! :)
Glad your boy is doing well... I'm sure there's no better feeling than that.

Juls said...

I seriously am amazed. I don't know how you do it, and do it, and do it again. Congrats!

Jon said...

Nice move paying it forward! I'm sure that NYC runner will remember that for sure. :-)

Web plays the accordian?! Cool!

If you do decide to run NB2V, I'll see ya there. Hopefully the snow will be all gone by then. *crosses fingers*

angie's pink fuzzy said...

happy mothers day; sounds like a fun run!

Anonymous said...

Nice PR! Woo-hoo! :) "Your Man" is quite romantic, even mid-race, isn't he? ;) What a guy!

Glad you got to spend some time with your son.

peter said...

You had a busy day! Nice race, and I loved the story about the mojo passed on. It always goes around and will be there again when you need it. (I have given my water out in the terribly hot Virginia summer, and been given it by others when I really needed it.) Interesting shots of Web's farm. That looked like a trip well worth taking.

Mama said...

I'm so glad that your trip was good. Seeing the world through the eyes of our children is what I tried to do and I know you did too. Amazing to see the world through the adult child's eyes. He looks so happy where he is and I'm sure it meant as much to him that you visited as it did to you.


Sunshine said...

Congratulations to you both for "YOUR" new marathon!!
And for running well.

Seems to me sometimes being the parent of grown up children can be a road less traveled. Blessings and peace be with you all.

A good weekend.

robtherunner said...

Well done on the race. I am sorry I missed you at the finish. I love the photos of Web and his place. Rest and recover!

Sarah said...

Congrats on such a big improvement from last year! I hope to run this one someday. Web's home looks so serene. Glad you had a nice visit!

wendy said...

What a wonderful weekend for you, my friend! I'm so happy for you!

Bret said...

Nice race Michelle! Great to see you and "Your Man"(ha!) at Sisters. PR's are always fun. The salt tab story is so Ultra runner. Before, when I used to just run marathons everyone seemed so competitive in the races. Once I did an Ultra it was like "Wow, you will stop and talk with me? Ask me if I need anything?". I find I am so much more helpful to others now in any kind of race. It is more how to enjoy the experience than how dang fast I can go.

Makita said...

What a wonderful way to spend Mother's Day. I bet that PR was earned because you were so eager to see Web. Great pictures - peaceful place - I wish I lived there! :D


Anne said...

Congratulations, Michelle. It's hard to do it alone, but you did it. And in 20-27 minutes faster than last year. Whoo-hoo. I also applaud your acceptance of Web's chosen path. Yes, it can be hard if a child goes in a different direction, but a good parent lets them lead, not follow, when they reach adulthood.

(And it looks like he has quite a great setup.)

Joe said...

Great report, Michelle...yes I was still reading!

You planned and executed this race wonderfully...congratulations. This is experience paying off.

Neat pix of Webb!! Glad you connected well...that long drive was worth it, I can tell.

Sunshine said...

Enjoyed coming back to look at your pictures again.
Wishing you a good weekend.

Meghan said...

I don't know what is more exciting, your race report or learning a little about your son, Web. Thanks for sharing both, Michelle!


olga said...

Michelle, you had become such a knowledgeable and committed marathoner, congratulation on a race run so well! Web's pictures are great, and happy belated Mother's day to you.

scott keeps running said...

huge congrats on the smashingly awesome course pr!

rob must put on a super easy race. ;)

webb looks warm.

lizzie lee said...

Michelle, you are not only an ultra-marathoner by foot but also by car.... Congrats in your Tacoma PR and in your visit to Web.. Where does he live?

Darrell said...

Super report. That sure was quite the improvement over last year.

Web's life sounds pretty nice to me considering the hectic and artificial pace most of us have succumbed to. Good for him.

Steve Stenzel said...

Nice race and PR!!!! And great photos!!

Dori said...

Congratulations on a great race! Great race report, too. I'm glad you had a nice visit with Web. Now that I met Eric, I see a definite resemblance in Web.

I'm in San Diego for RNR Marathon, and the car in the lane next to me had Washington plates and a Puyallup license frame! I wanted to jump out and ask if she knew you, but the light changed. She turned right and we turned left. Do you know any runners here? I tried to memorize the license number, but forgot it now.