Monday, May 18, 2009

Inaugarual Windemere Marathon

This was a great first-time race! Cool medal, love the shirt (and ladies, it fits!) and gorgeous course.

Margaret wanted to celebrate her 50th birthday (which is today - Happy Birthday Margaret!) with a marathon, and she picked the inaugural Windemere Marathon. We left Puyallup around 11:30 Friday to head for Spokane - about 5.5 hours away. We were fortunate to stay at the Davenport Hotel, just blocks from the downtown park where the race finished. We checked in, dumped our stuff and walked through the park to the Expo on the other side of the river. It was fun for me - Eric and I lived in Spokane for two years, way back in 1982. There have been some substantial changes to downtown, and even more to the Spokane Valley and Post Falls, since that time, but at the same time, much was unchanged.

The Expo was small, yet fun. Lots of friendly volunteers and vendors. Somebody had left the goody bags at home, but we were told they'd be there in 15 minutes, so we wandered around for a bit. We finally saw someone carrying the bags in - nifty reusable grocery bags with the race name and date on the side. We followed her over, and she pulled out the packets inside saying they were for the kids race, and then handed us the empty bags. No swag or info at all - but we didn't think it was a big deal. We made it almost all the way back to the hotel before realizing we didn't have times for catching the bus to the start in the morning, that was info that should have been in the missing packet. Back across the park to the expo - by this time, starting to feel like a long walk. Once there, we got varying bus times, but finally a volunteer found a packet with the printed schedule.

We left the hotel the next morning at 5:30, walking back to the Expo area to catch the bus. Our driver seemed a bit confused, but luckily, local runners were on the bus and directed him, first to the half-marathon start, then to the marathon start. Once there we waited for about an hour and a half for the race to begin - giving us time to visit with other Maniacs, and to find Lisa and Tim. The skies were clear and the sun was out, and it was already beginning to burn off the morning chill. The race started with a loop through the industrial park to thin the pack before we hit the trail. Then it was onto the Centennial Trail, running with the river on one side and I90 on the other. It wasn't long till we moved away from the freeway and into beautiful fields dotted with lupine and sunflowers. It was gorgeous! We wound through stands of ponderosa pine, we listened to the river tumbling past, we gazed at rock walls and we soaked in the sun. The course was varied - sometimes we'd come close to the freeway again, a couple of times we were off the trail and onto the roads, but mostly it was the wide, paved trail.

I did really well, with a steady pace and no problems till about mile 17. By that time it was feeling really hot, I was down to my Maniac singlet and I was, unfortunately, feeling the signals that tell me I'm beginning to get into trouble. Heat is always a problem for me, adding undue stress to my heart. My chest was getting tighter, my energy was flagging, the pain was creeping in under my shoulder blade. We shifted to the familiar old post-to-post, focusing on moving steadily forward. I fought the mental battle here - I get so frustrated when this happens. I hate feeling fragile and feeling like my running companions are worrying about me. I soon reached the point where even walking I was gasping for breath. We slowed even more, and shortened our running segments. I focused on breathing as deep as I could, eating and drinking. I won't lie, those last nine miles were a struggle. Even so, there were wonderful things to be seen - a red fox running across the trail and through the field, a groundhog sorta thing pawing through the grass on the Gonzaga campus, a wonderful young lady on a bike riding up and down the course, chatting with runners, encouraging, cheering and the ever-present river. As we entered town, the surroundings became a bit more tailored, pretty in the way of old parks. We crossed bridges and entered the big park downtown, weaving our way through families and couples, kids and dogs, all oblivious to the fact that there was a marathon finishing amongst them.

The finish line was on the other side of an old iron bridge - I crossed at 5:58 and change. I looked back to see Margaret standing on the other side of the line, watching the clock. She waited till it turned to 5:59 - the date of her birth - before crossing. What a fun way to celebrate her birthday! We sat in the shade for a while, cooling down, getting some food in, and chatting with others who finished near us. We began the walk back to the hotel, stopping at Starbucks for an iced mocha on the way. Back at the hotel, I checked in with Eric, and we cleaned up and rested before heading out to sample some local brews. After that we walked about a mile to a grocery store, and then another block to get the "best black bean burger in town" - as reported by the waitress back at the pub. She was right - it was great!

Sunday morning we took a short and easy jog through the park again, crisscrossing the bridges, stopping to gaze at the immense power of the river several times. We spent some time watching a colony of those groundhog type animals beside the river, picked out the riverfront condo that we would buy and once again, made that all important Starbucks stop on the way back to the hotel. Though my legs were willing to run, my chest still felt tight. It usually takes a day or two for that to pass. Hopefully, being back on the cooler west side of the mountains will help that along. Though it was a long drive to and from, it was a spectacular weekend, and a great new race. I'd do it again - hopefully on a cooler day though. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the sunburn. My shoulders are a lovely deep red, and the backs of my calves a similar, though lighter shade. I forgot to bring sunscreen - frankly, we've had such a wet spring, it didn't even cross my mind.

This marathon was a good reminder - I had made the statement that I wouldn't do the summer marathons this year. In recent days though, I found myself looking over the calendar, trying to see what might work. I guess I'm the kind of knucklehead that needs a harsh physical reminder on a yearly basis... Though I may struggle, or hit the wall for lack of fuel or rest, I haven't had the heart stuff in nearly a year, which coincidentally occurred during a race that was much warmer than predicted. It's a different feeling than a bonk - it's that, rolled up with an inability to breathe, with a tight chest and specific pain. And yes, for anyone who's new to my blog, I've been tested, I've been cleared, I know what to watch for and what to do. I am just thick-headed enough to need the nudge to remind me that I'm not invincible. However, I can learn - I'm resting in July and August and will look forward to fall races instead. I am signed up for Rock-n-Roll in June in Seattle - could be hot, could be cold, could be wet. It's unpredictable. I'll make the call for the race that week, when we have an idea of what the weather might be. In the meantime, I'll enjoy supporting friends, running my daily runs and maybe get some trail time in with Eric.

In summary, I had a great weekend, and even with struggling, a great race. Spokane is a beautiful and bustling city, with just about the friendliest people around. Add this one to your list!


Journey to a Centum said...

I don't like the medal and the shirt sucks!

(I have bling envy and this is my way to deal with it.)

Bret said...

Guess those are the comments you get when you leave your man at home and go run a marathon with the girls!

Good race. You are one tough woman to run with all that.

Forest Park 50k in Portland this weekend? Either of you coming down?

justrun said...

You had me at "the shirt fits!" :)

Way to go, Michelle!

King Arthur said...

You can take an early start at Lake Youngs and be done before it gets hot.

Jenny, Maniac #401 said...

Glad you had a great weekend and had Margaret there with you!

Joe said...

Great write up, Michelle.

Good for you to be so very, very aware of what was going on for your heart those last 9 miles. I think you are on to something with the heat. You may even want to think about a "temperature threshold" above which you just opt out or do the half instead or something. You have so many opportunies in fall, winter and spring, you won't miss out on running.

And you are not fragile!!

Glad you are doing well.

wendy said...

the marathon sounds wonderful, and how sweet for you to celebrate with such a good friend for her birthday!

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for snow in june. ;-)

Annette said...

Sorry you had to go through that again. But, I'm glad you're doing OK. A good reminder to take it easy in the heat!

Your friend waiting for the clock to hit 5:59 - that cracked me up! :) Love it!

Sunshine said...

Picture on the Spokane Marathon web site is lovely.
We have seen Spokane only in the middle of the night, peering through AMTRAK windows, on our way to Seattle or Portland.
Congratulations (We love shirts that fit.)

Dori said...

Happy 50th to Margaret! I started first grade in 1959; thanks for pointing out that it was 50 years ago :-(

Congratulations on your marathon. Sounds like your smart to avoid hot weather races. I'm glad you signed up for Seattle RnR, though, and I hope we have good weather.

robtherunner said...

Nice running with you this weekend. I was hoping to comment on a new post, but there aint one.