6'0 tall, former athlete, mother of 3, struggling to keep up on the RUN of daily life.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon 6-27-09

This time last year I had a 5 month old baby, 50 extra pounds and considered running a 5K at 10 minute mile pace without stopping to be a HUGE accomplishment. A little over a year later and here I am running my first Marathon....

Race morning started at 4:13 AM, the night before I barely slept, I basically laid in bed with my eyes closed and hoped that my brain would turn off... It didn't. I was NERVOUS, way more nervous than is healthy I think. So I got up, braided my hair, ate my usual and we were out the door. My SMART husband did a zoom in on Mapquest and found an alternate route to the advised Race drop which was a busy traffic road .5 from the start. The website for the race said no spectator parking but muscle man did not like that idea. So on a whim we took his route and AWESOME. We found parking and about 200 yards from the starting area and walked hand in hand to the pre-race frenzy and quickly got in line for the blue wonders, YUM!! My nerves that made me feel like I would expel my breakfast were starting to fade. Knowing I was at the race and on time was GREAT!! We wandered around, peaked or heads behind a few TV cameras and snapped some pre-race photos..

Posing in my un-attractive toss-away sweats.
And the throw-away top from my heavier days.. I LOVED that Dave and I could be together, I NEEDED him so much that morning.
I was so nervous that I wanted to go in my Corral #5 early and talk to the pacer. But I also felt like I needed to pee. We checked out the lines and they were CRAZY so I passed. BIG BIG HUGE MISTAKE... More on that later. I didn't even take the time for a fun Corral photo, I really was a nervous wreck.. Once in my Corral I found the pacer, Marion a tall slender blond with a beautiful smile and legs for days. Come to find out later that she played basketball at a D2 college in North Dakota, fun to have things in common (I played for Gonzaga). I also met Sherrie from Portland, she had a Marathon body, 98 pounds soaking wet and tiny. She had her name written on her arm and was an experienced runner. She had qualifies for Boston for her age group (41) but wanted to try for the lower mark. Then there was Katie, wearing pink, an infectious smile and positive vibe, she had 2 kids about the age of my little ones. This group of women were amazing and I am REALLY glad that I started the race with them.

At the starting Corral there was also an OLDER fellow with poofy Bob Ross (painter guy) curly grey hair and THICK old school glasses. He was on his 101st Marathon and had been running since 1984....ummmm I was 5.. Amazing feat, but the guy was a little, well a lot creepy..

The one thing I forgot on race morning was the battery for my good camera, brought the camera but battery was plugged in charging.. UGH!! Dave did the best he could with the little camera and the huge crowd. I was glad to be near the front, that helped with my anxiety with crowds.
I was near the green 3:40 sign. I had high hopes...


The start of the race was thick with people, I tried not to elbow people in the face but at my height it is bound to happen in close quarters...LOL.. Marion lead us and held that green sign the entire time. I chatted with Sherrie, Marion and a little former UW soccer player named Joclyn, I think? We all bonded on the run. That group made the first nearly half of the run amazing. We were on or ahead of pace and at one point Marion said "Let's slow down a little." I did not expect that. We ran along Lake Washington, it was amazing with the sun sparkling off the lake and a crisp breeze. There was no rain, in fact the weather was perfect in the morning hours. We swapped positions weaving around people. Since the Marathoners and Half-Marathoners (including my friends Shelby, Jill, Tanna and Cela) started out together the pack stayed thick for MILES. As we turned the corner and sprinted up an incline toward I-90 my body felt weird. Like my energy got zapped. And I had the most horrible need to urinate. There were no toilets in site, in fact there were almost NONE the entire 26.2 miles...hmmmm??? I tried to stay with the WONDERFUL group...but I faded at mile 11.5. I loved the feeling of running with a pack all with the same goal and being on the I-90 floating bridge closed for me to run. The first 11.5 miles were awesome and I will try to hold that feeling...from then on it was GRIM.

THIS SECTION IS MARKED TMI (Too much information):
If you have a queasy stomach or just don't care to know the reality of the Marathon feel free to fast forward. I had always heard of people wetting themselves during a race. After my experience at my half marathon where I had to pee the last 3 miles, I could understand it is horrible holding it in. My bladder is not good for races.

Weak Mommy bladder + being hydrated + long potty lines+ impatience= YUCK!!

I saw my pace group fade into the distance about 200 yards away, I wanted to catch up but I hurt. We got into the tunnel after 1-90, it was dimly lit and I decided to pee, just a little. In hindsight, first I should have gone a second time before I started the race and second I should have just dropped my pants and squatted. Instead the urine started to flow and flow...everything I drank for the past 3 days came out. My spandex, legs and socks were soaked. At that point I was HUMILIATED and totally lost it mentally. This was the worst case scenario, I am sure I was not alone in the accident department, but REALLY??? WHY?? Training for 16+++ weeks in the snow, rain, heat, with stomach aches, time away from my family and friends and my race was ruined because I WET MY PANTS. CURSES!!! UGH!!!

So I kept running, wet. I knew that I would see Dave around mile 14. So that was what I thought about, seeing my support, a familiar face. The Half Marathoners would go left to finish and I would stay straight. I was breathing hard because I was so out of it. I finally spotted my husband and stopped. I said "I can't do this! I am done!" He said "Do you need to just finish the half?" No way!! Yes I had a ton of miles ahead of me, but I am NOT A QUITTER. My pace for the half way mark was GREAT 8:26 miles, then it went downhill (or uphill for runners, LOL). Charity was on the right and smiled, but I could see from her face that she had never seen me looking so haggard so early. Marion, my pacer had finished her part of the race and was standing near the side, she saw me stop and came to check on me (AMAZING) and I told her about the urine accident, I think it was TMI for her and she just said "You can do it!"

I have not plugged in my Garmin to see the truth of my pace, I really can't take the blow to my EGO. Lets just say I never saw an 8 at the beginning of any mile after that. I was getting slower and slower with each step. My soggy feet were starting to blister and HURT. I tried to run up the hills, I tried to run down the hills, I TRIED!! I underestimated the power of the Marathon and overestimated myself. I finally saw a toilet at mile 16 and stopped so I could sit...and I had to go again. I really do not think that my bladder can handle LONG races.

Mile 17 started a HUGE climb up.. And to the right were the SPEEDY folks running down. Oh how I wanted to swap places. Instead I walked and jogged as best I could. Yes I WALKED a lot...something I had never done on any of my training runs.. It wasn't my body, my legs were OK it was my energy level and my mind. I had NOTHING left in the tank. It was a bad run day, lucky for me it fell on race day (sarcasm). So mile 17, 18, 19 all hill. My race tank proved to be a great way to keep me going, with people saying "Go Fast Mel!" But Fast was not something I could do.

The water stations I had sprinted by and drank on the go earlier, I now slowed to a crawl and GULPED down. I decided that I would do what I could to survive and make it across the finish line. What I didn't know was that Dave, Charity and my other friends were not getting the progress texts, that company TOTALLY failed!!! So they had no idea where I was or if I was still running, that was scary for Dave since he knew I was STRUGGLING.

Mile 20...yes the infamous mile 20. Well since I died at mile 14 and before, this was just a continuation of the agony. But what I will say is that 6 miles++ never felt so long. That last hour was FOREVER. My pace group passed on the opposite side and I yelled "Go Sherrie" I just looked up her time and there was nothing?? I wonder if she forgot to put on her chip? BUMMER!! I am sure she made it she looked strong and was with the new pacer.

I was ALONE, surrounded by people but ALONE. I really think that in the future I will run with someone, even if I have to slow down and help that person. Trying to hit the pie in the sky time proved to be more stressful than it was worth. I thought if I could get my stride going, second wind, that I could still hit the sub 4 hours...but as I saw paces of 10's, 11's and gasp 12's on my Garmin I knew that was not possible.

I asked myself "Why am I doing this?" About 33,333 times on the race. And those last miles, that was all I could think about. Running on the Alaskan Way Viaduct is miserable, well for me. The pavement is uneven and sloped, you can see the faster runners passing you on the left toward the finish and it is HOT!! I was wishing that the weather report earlier in the week had held true, a drop of rain would have been AMAZING.. Instead it was 75+ with nary a breeze. I stopped at every water and Cytomax station, I was ZAPPED, TIRED and DONE. My stomach was aching and I wanted to lie in the fetal position. I tried to do everything not to think about the pain, nothing helped...

Eventually the pain passed and I was approaching the turn back up the viaduct...they played "Another one bites the dust." That was even more irritating than the LOUD blaring bands along the course....Sorry I am not a fan of loud music, why I chose to to do the Rock 'n' Roll I will never know?? We needed inspirational music, not something to remind us that we were literally "biting the dust." I got passed by ladies in tiaras, HUMBLING!! There was a story in the Seattle times today about the ladies, they are sisters who have run 3 marathons the past 3 months and always with Tiaras.

Mile marker 25....10:27 pace (I have never run in the 10's in any of my training). Legs spent, blisters on fire, head light, no focus...a woman passed me and said "You only have 10 minutes left to run....keep running." So I did. I found what little was left and I picked up my legs, one after the other.. Thankfully the last half mile was partially down hill. As I turned the final corner Qwest Field was on my right. The Finish Line was about 150 yards away..

There is was the Line I had been running for ALL DAY. Older men were passing me on the left and right. I wanted to badly to stride it out and sprint, but at that moment my time did not matter. Instead I used my last bit of strength to raise my arms and wave to the crowd. The decals paid off as I heard the announcer say "There is an excited young lady. Run Fast Mel!" Or something like that. I had a crowd cheering me on, my name over the loud speaker and the FINISH line just steps away. I wanted to cry with joy, but I did not have the energy. With a smile I put my size 10's on the mat and I was done. It was an amazing and surreal feeling. Something I can never re-live. Official chip time 4:11:51. I was DONE RUNNING!!!

Followed closely by near collapse (not really I just put my hand on my knees). I freaked out the medical staff, she saw me as a 6'0 tree about to fall. I stood up and in delirium ached to find Dave and my friends. I grabbed a water and headed out, to what?? to my MEDAL, the most beautiful medal with a green ribbon. I put it on and felt like a CHAMPION!! Funny how a little thing makes the accomplishment more REAL.

I heard Mel and saw the pride on Charity and Dave's faces. The race was so big they could not take a Finish Line photo but they did see me cross, after watching a zillion other people. Having them there was PERFECT, but poor Kiera headed to the Family Reunion section to wait for me in "F" and did not have her phone. So they told me to "Take my time" and make my way to that area. I posed with a smile for a post race photo. I talked to a few people and all said "That race was HARD." I weaved past water booths, bagels, bananas, and kept grabbing things not sure what I was hungry or thirsty for. Chips, yes please!! I got Cheetos and Lays, YUMM!! I needed salt.

Weaving around, my head was foggy. I made my way to the metallic blankets (I have ALWAYS wanted one of those) and out toward the letters. A big F and there was my little Kiera. She helped me lay down the blanket and my loot. STINKY hugs, I reeked that is the only word for it. Kiera thinks Marathoners are crazy, I AGREE I had to be crazy to do what I had just done. My left calf seized up and the pain was like a knife being stabbed in my leg. I had bad cramps when I was pregnant but never this painful. Kiera tried to help by rubbing on the muscle, but it continued. Dave arrived and grabbed my legs with his firm hand like he did when I was pregnant. It helped nearly immediately, THANK GOD!! I was starving and FREEZING. How could I be cold in nearly 80' weather?? Dave got out my pink jacket while I took off my YUCKY socks. Just then my right calf balled up, OUCH!!! Dave to the rescue. I put on my pink Recovery Socks and have not taken them off for fear of the pain. We relaxed, I ate, re-hydrated and eventually it was time to go back to my boys. Sore, defeated, but I am a MARATHONER!!

I LOVE my Bling Bling Medal
Dave thought it would be good to get the city in the background
My Dad watched online and took a photo of the screen
I was sooo happy to be done..
Signing off...after a LONG RUN and a LONGER Race Report. To say I am not dissappointed would be a lie. I keep re-thinking what I could have done differently to have a better outcome. Then I remind myself that I DID IT, something that most people will never do. I ran 26.5 (yes) miles and I crossed the Finish Line.


Mel-2nd Chances said...

Congrats again Mel. If marathons were easy, everyone would do one, but the fact that you stuck with it despite the bladder issues, and knowing that you wouldn't reach your goal speaks to your strength. Anything can happen on race day, and with all the preparation, you just never know until that day if it's your day. I have no doubt that once you heal up and recover, you'll be back. Take what you've learned from this race, and let it help you grow and prepare for the next one. Enjoy your victory and recovery :)

Unknown said...

the bottom line is that 26.2 miles is a LONG WAY TO RUN. And you fought it out and did it.

You rock. :-)

Velma said...

You did it, and I think your time in pretty good. Take some time off and relax and then make a plan for the next one. The most frustrating part of marathoning is that you train for 4 months for ONE DAY. You just never know what that day will bring.

Tall Girl Running said...

I'll echo what the others have said, Mel. The cold, hard truth about running marathons is that no matter how much time you spend training and preparing, you have to be willing to put yourself at the mercy of what Race Day brings. Whether it's due to something within your control or not, there just will always be that risk that something (or a lot of things) will go wrong. I think the true victory of finishing a marathon isn't how fast you did it, but how you faced and conquered those unforseen challenges. You did just that, Mel. It may not have been how you expected or hoped it would be, but you did it and you're a marathoner all the same. Welcome to the club!

As an aside, I'm very jealous of your pink recovery socks. Marco offered via email to send me a pair in return for my review but for whatever reason he didn't follow through. I guess I have to run into him at a race expo... hmph!

Enjoy your well-deserved recovery!

Kelly said...

Congrats on the marathon finish times a million!!!!
I think running a marathon is such a huge accomplishment in itself that you should be so proud of yourself!

Kelsey said...

Great job Mel! You should be proud of your accomplishment. In fact, finishing a bad run is much more impressive then finishing a good run. I saw you when you were at mile 25.5 - I hope it's not weird that I cheered for you. I recognized you shirt :) anyway, great job. It was a rough course (if I am ever a race director, I will never make the last mile uphill!). I know a lot of people that were disappointed in there times, including me. Yesterday was not the day to PR. You should be really proud of yourself!

Marathonman101108 said...

You're AMAZING!! Despite everything you went through, you still managed a fantastic first marathon time. I'm proud of you, just like everyone else. I give you another day or two before you start researching another marathon to enter! Great job toughing it out. By the way, you beat both of my marathon finishing times :-)

Relentless Forward Commotion said...

wow Mel! You had such a discouraging day, but you DID IT!! You are a MARATHONER! You have done what so many people only dream of, and look how far you've come! Despite all that happened 4:11 is still a great time. I adore the fact that your dad took pictures of you on the T.V! that's great!! Thank you for sharing your race day story!

Oz Runner said...

great race report, and congrats on joining the 1/10th of 1 percent of people who can call themselves marathoners...way to go!

Ashley said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!! You did it!!! And your time is still pretty freakin awesome - you ROCK!!!!

Felice Devine said...

Just catching up after the weekend. I thought about you! Congratulations, marathoner! You did a GREAT job! YAY!!!

Aron said...

its soooo crazy the things that can happen come race day. you can have the perfect training cycle, everything goes according to plan and some random thing happens come race day and boom there it goes. you are definitely not alone. BUT you pushed through and made it to the finish and that is the most important thing!!

you are an amazing woman, wife and mother and you really give a lot of us hope and inspiration. knowing that you did that so soon after having a baby really is so awesome to me. i am always in awe of moms like you who can train and run because i am so afraid the day i decide to have babies it will all go away. thanks for that :)

thank you for sharing your story and being so honest about it all! congrats again girl!!

oh and i hate rock n roll races too, i am not a fan of the loud 30 sec music. AND i think i have seen those crown girls at many races :)

Stacey said...

You did GREAT! Crazy day, but you did it! You are a marathoner. Congratulations! BTW, your "slow time" is still better than my fast time! (4:15 is my PR) You did awesome! Enjoy your R&R this week!

Sarah Jane said...

Wow! What a story!! Mel, you oughtta be so proud of yourself! A marathon wouldn't be a marathon without a few bumps in the road. You truly ROCK.

J said...

Congrats on running the marathon! Be proud of yourself...not everyone runs a marathon!

Lynette said...

Mel, your friends and family think you're amazing. What you went through while completing your first marathon, only cements it. I love you and am so proud of you. I was crying reading this post. You totally earned that medal, and I hope you're wearing it and your necklace proudly!!!

RunToTheFinish said...

wow you certainly had a tough first experience, but you pushed through it and that's what a true runner does. I'm glad that in the end you were able to feel the huge pride that comes with that great accomplishment

Marlene said...

I knew you had "just" run your first marathon, but I didn't realize it was only a month ago! Clearly I was no paying attention. So glad to have read this report. It was a great one and it made me relive some of my first marathon memories - the good AND the bad.

Belated congrats, marathoner!

Redhead Running said...

Girl that was a great recap and thanks for sharing the TMI! LOL!

Kevin said...

Way to hang in there... Each of my marathons have finished the same as yours have, with numbers reading 10;xx or 11:xx or even 12:xx. Gutsy run and great race report.

Unknown said...

my goodness, since I just started reading your blog, I had to read your first marathon race report. My first will be Seattle Rock N Roll in exactly 38 days!!! :) Your race report made me laugh and cry!! Of all the nightmares I've had about the race, peeing my pants was not one of them (TMI,,,crapping, yes....peeing, no) Well, now peeing is one of my nightmares after reading that!! :) Glad to get a first hand report on the course. Gosh, it sounds like its going to be a difficult one. Just got to get across that finish line! Congrats on all your races!

Jess @ Blonde Ponytail said...

I had to read this after you mentioned it during our run. You are so mentally tough and I am proud of you for finishing and going on to greatness!!

So happy to know you MEl!

Randi S said...

Mel, I just cried almost the whole post. I haven't ran a full yet but you did it! I know you've done several since this but wow. This was a hard fought battle!

Michelle said...

This is amazing Mel! In the time since I started reading your blog I have never read this race report. Your honesty and courage are inspiring. If I ever get up the nerve to run a full I'm sure I'll be back to read this again!