Sunday, September 15, 2013

Hey! I ran a Marathon!

People die at the end of these sometimes, you know? So it's kind of a big deal. ;)

So....let me tell you how it went.

Bright and early Brandon drove me to the bus pick up, dropping me off around 4:30. I caught the third bus leaving at that point (they'd been going up since 4:00 but most of the marathon runners were showing up in the latter part of the 4:00-5:00 pickup window) and we started the drive to the canyon and up. What felt like a long drive got us to the half marathon start and then on we went. As we pulled up to the corner of a switchback where we could see the three mile mark for the marathon, up ahead we could see a larger private bus that, in the act of turning the sharp corner up the next switchback, was blocking the road. Third bus in line, we stayed there for a few minutes and then all the buses pulled over to the side and the driver jumped out to see if he could help.

Turns out that the bus in the process of turning the corner was actually high centered with the front wheels and back tail of the bus on the ground and the rear wheels completely off the ground spinning. Tons of able bodied men (runners and bus drivers) hopped out and tried to stuff rocks under the rear tires and then push the bus, but in the half hour that we waited there, nothing budged the bus. The radio in the bus we were on was on and so we were able to enjoy the plethora of ideas from all of the drivers. Some of them wanted to take us back to the half marathon start (five miles back down the road) and some were suggesting that we just walk the three miles up to the start. Three miles up the steepest part of the entire route. Ummm...no thanks. And no to the half marathon start, as there were a lot of people who wanted to qualify for Boston through this race. We finally heard that the three buses that had made it up earlier, before the high centered bus had gotten stuck, were going to come back and turn around and the next corner switchback and shuttle us up from there. So the couple of buses near the front of the blocked line (there were between eight and ten buses waiting to go up, filled with runners) started emptying and we walked up the road to the switchback to meet the other buses. This worked well, but before too much longer they were somehow able to move that stuck bus and the buses began flowing again. So, where the race was supposed to start at 6:40, it only got pushed back about twenty minutes.

The top of the mountain was pretty chilly, but I'd gone up wearing pants and a jacket, in addition to my warm tea which I was slowly drinking. So until I finally took the pants and jacket off (leaving me with a long sleeve shirt, t-shirt, running capris, gloves, and a headband) and stuffed everything into the drop bag, I was feeling pretty good. By that time there was enough light and we were close enough to the start time that I didn't have to wait in the cold long.

There were a large number of port-a-potties ("Honey Buckets") at the top, but even so, as I waited near the start line, chatting with two ladies, one of them decided she needed to use the bathroom and didn't want to go back up to where the port-a-potties were. The problem with this was that to our left was a steep ledge down and to our right was a steep ledge up. No discreet bushes to squat behind. After a minute of indecision she asked if I'd hold up one of the flimsy emergency cold blankets that everyone had to shield her while she went....right there on the side of the road. However, she admitted to stage front and nothing came of it. She then joked (seriously) that if I happened to see anything trickling down her leg later as we ran, not to worry about it. Now, this was interesting to me, as only a few weeks earlier one of my roommates had asked me whether I just "used the bathroom" while I ran (like on the go, no stopping) or whether I would stop. This completely took me by surprise because, except for professional athletes where the time really really matters, I'd just assumed everyone stopped when they needed to use the bathroom. Because, excuse me, but ew, gross. This was my first run in with someone who was totally in that space but not a professional athlete. I would very much never like to be in a situation where that's the best option available to me. 

Misty trees in the mountains!

Anyway! 7:00 rolled around and the race finally started (twenty minutes late). Down we went to the most gorgeous run I've ever run. Beautiful misty mountains covered in pine trees. Breathtaking, really. And with the downhill and the cool temperature, the first several miles were easy. Here's the time layout for everything up until mile 24, as my phone died about then (approximations for the last three miles):

1: 7:30
2: 7:58
3: 8:01
4: 7:54
5: 8:01
6: 8:15
7: 8:59
8: 9:09
9: 8:40
10: 9:47
11: 9:33
12: 9:07
13: 9:06
14: 10:06
15: 10:25
16: 10:25
17: 9:59
18: 11:01
19: 11:42
20: 13:19
21: 15:27
22: 15:11
23: 14:42
24: Approximately 22:00
25: Approx. 22:00
26.2: Approx: 22:00

Mile 15!


It took my about five hours to do the whole thing. The first half was actually the fastest half marathon time I've ever had, coming in around 1:52, but the second half made up for that, taking about three hours. The first 17 were great, all of that being in the canyon, but where I'd been starting to hurt (particularly in my right hip and calves), once I hit the more flat parts of the course, I didn't even have gravity on my side any more. Around mile 20 I texted Brandon, finally coming to the conclusion that I wasn't having fun anymore. But on I plodded. At this point I was intermittently stopping to stretch, walking, and running. Around 23 miles I ran into Brandon, as he waited for me and then walked a half mile with me before heading back to his car. From there on out I walked a large percentage of what was left as my right hip just ached. It hurt when I simply walked, but was particularly aggravated when I ran. Thus the dreadfully slow times of those last few miles. 

Mile 23! Brandon came to cheer me on!

When I'd met up with Brandon I'd given him my long sleeve shirt, gloves, and headband and about a mile later a lady, cheering on the side of the road, asked me where my bib was. It was at that point I realized it was still on my long sleeve shirt that I'd given to Brandon. I thought to call him, to ask him to have it for me and the start of the finish, but my phone was dead and, due to the fact that I've never had to call him on anything other than a cell, I couldn't remember all of his number, so I could even borrow a phone to call. But whatever, I knew that my time wasn't a huge deal and that I could get it either from him before I crossed the finish line or I could go back over the finish line with it later.

Finally, finally, about an hour later (Brandon had been worried that I would beat him to the finish line due to traffic - yeah right!) I reached the finish line and ran right up to Brandon to see if he had my shirt. He didn't as it was in the car, so he ran back to the car as I waited in the runners area past the finish line. 

Done!
Done! I've rarely been so entirely pleased to be finished with something in my life. Physically exhausted and mentally drained. And in pain. Not terrible debilitating pain, but achy achy pain everywhere and deeper pain in those problem areas. 

Excited to be done. 
A massage and a hot bath later and I was still in a fair amount of pain, but off to a reception and then a Totinos pizza and a boba (tapioca pearls) smoothie as a dinner of champions. Delicious.

More than 24 hours later and I still ache quite a bit! I've had another hot bath and have walked around a fair amount and everything is still pretty stiff. Stairs are the worst. Going both up and down. But going down is by the hardest thing to do. Downhill anything reminds me of all the parts of my body that are less than pleased with me.

But hey! I did it! I ran a Marathon!

Given this experience, my take away is that I probably don't ever want to do it again. Not only because the last six miles of this were miserable (physically -  in all other ways I was still quite cheerful), but I really didn't enjoy the training process. Too many mandatory long runs that never seem to end.

However, I'm solidified in my love for half marathons, which remain both a wonderful distance to run and a wonderful distance to train for. Definitely want to do more of those!

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