Monday, April 27, 2009
I registered for the Big Sur Marathon relay months ago with some of my running friends. At the time I wanted to run the third leg of the race because it's the most challenging and the most scenic. As the race approached and I continued to push my distances further and further I began to think about runnining the first leg instead so that I could continue and experience the entire course. Bart Yasso is quoted as saying "If we were told that we could run only one marathon in our lifetime, Big Sur would have to be it." I had already run 23 miles twice this year and I was not battling any injuries. How could I resist? I'm supposed to run my first "official" marathon in San Francisco in July with my BFF. So my plan was to treat this as a 26 mile training run like Jeff Galloway includes in his training plans. I met Galloway at the expo Saturday and told him about my plan and asked for advice. He recommended I run 2 minutes and walk 1 minute. In training I did a 4/1 averaging 11:15/mi for my first 23 miler. I compromised and set my timers for 3:00run/0:45walk intervals hoping to average around 11:15/mi which would put me at a 4:54 finish time. Before the race I was questioning whether or not I deserve a medal for this one. When I was picking up the relay packet I asked Ben the race official in charge of the relay if my timing chip would pose a problem when it crossed the finish line since it was only supposed to cross the start line. He said I should take it off sometime after crossing the start but before crossing the finish. He also said to look for him at the finish and he would give me a marathon medal in addition to my relay medal because I would have earned it. I didn't think I'd see him at the finish but I appreciated the offer.
I went to bed after midnight, slept horribly, and woke up at 3:15 to catch the 4:15 bus to the start line. The bus ride was from near the finish to the start line. A school bus driving along the coast on a hilly, windy road goes slow. We're talking 25 miles an hour. Just to drive the course took the bus over an hour. While I was glad to get a feel for the course, it was intimidating thinking I was about to run all the way back on my own two feet. The race started at 6:45. I had my camera with me and was recording a video diary. I've still got some editing to do, but I recorded at about 8 points on the course including the start, finish, highest, and lowest points. I cried again while I was watching it last night. At the halfway point I was feeling incredible and I had no negative thoughts that I had to repeat that 13.1 over again. I had just climbed the biggest hill on the course and I was surprised how easy that 2 mile climb turned out to be. Seeing the downhill ahead of me with the Bixby Bridge in the distance I felt on top of the world. I pulled out my camera to try to explain it, but all I could say was "I feel good, really good." I was overcome to the point of tears at that point and later that night I learned that it was right about the same time that our pastor's wife at church had said a prayer for me because when she saw my son walk into the Sunday school room at 9:10 she remembered I was running the marathon. I KNOW God was running with me! My HM split was 2:23, a little ahead of goal so I tried to slow down because I knew the last 5 miles would be the hardest. At mile 20 I started to feel my IT band flaring up and mentally that was not good for me. I was concerned about the possiblity of being out for weeks and not able to do the SF marathon in July, but I didn't want to walk all the way to the finish. I adjusted my gait to land on the inside of my foot to take the pressure off the knee where the IT band was rubbing and that kept it from getting worse. Mile 22 was the hardest, but it didn't last long. I was worried about my knee and noticing that my feet and hips were hurting, but I was still ahead of goal so I just slowed down a little and kept going. By the time I reached mile 23 I felt great. It was the furthest I had ever run EVER and I was recording the moment with my camera and the guy next to me says "me too" and I hollered a "woot woot". Only a 5K from there, piece of cake! I knew my knee would be fine at that point so I just kept landing on the inside of my foot, trying to find the flat part of the road (the camber was horrible). I turned on the camera again when I saw the finish line and kept it recording until I ran across shouting for joy! I had more energy approaching the finish at this race than I did at my 30K trail race. I give credit to the run/walk. I walked straight over to Ben and said "I did it" and he replied "The whole thing?" and I nodded my head and turned off my camera. I love that I have that moment on tape. The camera just happened to be pointed up at my face and I wasn't even thinking about it. He wasn't one of the people handing out medals, but he had a marathon medal for me in his pocket which I gladly accepted. I never did take off my timing chip and I actually managed to beat my relay team to the finish line, which is another story in itself. So instead of recording the timing chip of the 5th leg runner who crossed after me, they gave our relay team the result from my chip which was 4:54:12, an 11:14/mi. average, exactly what I set out to do!
I feel better than expected today. The top of my left foot is a little sore where my shoe was tied because I was turning my foot in so much trying to take the pressure off the outside of my knee. My hip flexors are pretty fatigued, but I'm not feeling much lactic acid soreness, just a little bit in my quads. Again, I credit the run/walk and the fact that I ran so much (maybe half?) of the race in the dirt on the shoulder. I knew the dirt would slow me down, but I also knew the recovery would be much quicker than if I had run on asphalt the whole time.
I did it!! I can now call myself a marathoner. I've received so much inspiration from so many people here on Spark, but there are a select few that ran a marathon before me, with challenges along the way, that have inspired me and helped me believe that I too can run a marathon. Those people are Jeff, Gerri, Denise and Gail. Thanks guys! I don't know if I would've done it had it not been for you going before me.