Monday, March 12, 2007
26. Miles, 5 Hours Flat!
I have to say I was getting fairly nervous in the coming days before the marathon, I was worried about not making the 5 1/2 hour time cut off, having my IT band flare up again, worried I'd get some random injury, worried about hitting "the wall", worried about blisters, or my toe nails coming off, or having to run in hail (as it was hailing earlier in the week up there), and well worried about anything random thing that might have come up that would have put a damper on my marathon that I had trained and focused on for 4 months.
I barely slept the night before, or even two nights before, which they say is actually more important, so I was a little worried about that. I woke up however at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday morning with no hesitation and immediately went into preparation mode, taking a hot shower in an attempt to raise my body temp then immediately putting on my running clothes followed by a few layers of sweats to keep in my body temp. I put body glide anywhere I thought I could potentially be chaffed, so basically anywhere fabric was touching me , put my blister sheild all over my feet, put my thick cushiony socks on and put on my trusty running shoes which I had come to love.
I grabbed my running belt that I had packed up the night before, grabbed my drinks I had mixed the night before and headed out the door with my breakfast in hand. I met Shari, my running buddy in the lobby and together we took the Team in Training bus 26 miles to Calistoga. It was kind of a strange ride knowing we'd be spending the next 4+ hours running back to Napa.
It was said to 44 degrees that morning, thankfully it didn't feel that cold and Shari and I were well prepared since we had had several mornings during training that were just as cold if not colder. We did however, stay on the bus until about 20 mins till start time which was great.
Napa was limited to only 2,300 participants which is rather small compared to the 35,000+ that ran in the LA marathon on the same day. This was nice because there wasn't too much of a crowd at the start line and we were actually able to start just seconds after the gun blow and there wasn't too much pushing or anything at the start.
I started off slow, never have been one to start off strong since I prefer to keep my energy till the end. People kept passing me, I tried to not let it bother me, telling myself not to worry that I'd probably be passing them all half way through.
The weather was great and very comfortable, we couldn't have asked for better weather. At around mile 3 my mom, Jim, and sister were there waiting for me and cheering me on, perfect timing for me to drop my gloves and ear wrap. It was great seeing them, but it was still early so I quickly dropped my stuff off and kept going not needing a break at that point.
I saw them a few more times along the route, which was great, especially considering there weren't too many spectators out there nor were there many areas for spectators to come and cheer us on.
What seemed like no time at all I was passing the half way point, it barely phased me as I was still feeling great and certainly didn't feel like I had just come half way. Hard to believe that just 3 months earlier I had run the LA half which was quite the effort and now this half seemed like nothing.
I had my special drink waiting for me at mile 13.9, I had been looking forward to it the whole time, merely for the sake of looking forward to something. I made an effort to drink it quickly and was finished before mile 16 where I again was greeted by my family. I dumped the drink container and jacket and continued on, feeling strong.
Two miles up I was greeted by my Uncle David and cousin Emily, it was great seeing them and I took a minute to say hello before continuing on. I was still feeling strong and feared stopping for too long since I didn't want my muscles to start stiffening.
I left them at mile 18, feeling great. By mile 19 I hit about the closest thing I would come to my "wall" and really it wasn't even a wall. My stomach had started to hurt a little at that point so I walked a bit to calm it down, it started feeling a little better and I was sure I could just run through it, but I just couldnt' seem to stay running every time I started up again. Didn't help that there was a minor hill all through mile 19 as well. I had to keep talking to myself and pointing out how far I had come and how lucky I was to not be in any real pain. My the end of Mile 19 I started running again and came across a fellow Team in Training member I had been running with previously but had lost once I stopped to use the restroom. I had been running alone since then so I was happy to come back across some company. I ran up beside him and asked how he was doing and he mentioned how mile 19 had been a little rough for him, was glad to see I wasn't the only one struggling there :)
We ran together again for a while, but eventually I carried on as he was having trouble with his IT band and I just wasn't in the mood for going that slow since I was feeling so much better. I ran off on my own for a bit and came upon some more Team in Training people, again I was happy for the company. Before I knew it we were at mile 22, I was enjoying the company and we were all having a great time and even stopped for a few photos along the way. Paul, the previous Team in Training guy caught up with us and posed for a few of the pictures. I was really enjoying the company, but by mile 23 I was feeling great, and feeling even better once I realized I was definitelly making the time cut off and was only 3.2 miles away from finishing what I had set out to do. 3.2 miles, that's just a 5k, I've done a ton of 5k runs, piece of cake!
I was fortunate to get my runners high right there at mile 23, I was estatic and filled with energy. I took the last of my shot blocks, finished my fuel and took off. My pace was strong, I felt great and finally there were more spectators along the way.
I did start getting a little anxious around mile 25 when it seemed like these last 3.2 miles were taking longer than they should have and I just couldn't see the finish line, nor could I hear the cheering. But then alas, more and more people were along the route, the cheering was getting louder, I knew I was getting closer. We began winding through a neighborhood, people were shouting that the finish line was just around the corner, but which corner?!? Then there it was mile 26 marker, only .2 miles left! One more corner turned and I saw the finish line; within seconds I was crossing the finish line, I had done it, I had run 26.2 miles! I felt fantastic still, I felt like I could have kept running, I didn't feel like I was about to pass out and there were no sharp shooting pains in my knees as I thought there would have been. I ran through that finish line in under 5 1/2 hours and ran across looking strong.
I was funneled through and handed my medal, it was over. I was directed back and to the right, but now what. Where was my family? I had heard them calling my name as I passed the finish line but the crowds were a blur. Was it really over, did I seriously just run 26.2 miles?
Then I heard my name and looked over to see my Uncle David, he congratulated me and then quickly called my family on his cell so they could come and find me as well. There were the typical pictures taken and much talk. I then walked over to the Team in Training tent and received my 26.2 mile pin. It was fun to start seeing people I had befriended along the route finishing as well and wearing their medals.
All in all I had a great run, I felt great, I didn't have any injuries, I refueled constantly throughout the race and always listened to my body. I never once got bored for I made tons of friends along the way. I may never see them again, but it was still great meeting them for the run and hearing everyones story as to why they had chosen to run 26.2 miles, or how many other marathons they had previously done and which ones were their favorites.
Well so now that's it's over, what's next? Well I'm already planning on my next marathon; I think at this point I'll probably do the San Diego Rock 'n Roll in June. So for now I will continue to run and maintain the point I've built up to.
I'm also planning on running the Nike Women's Marathon in San Franciso in Oct, however, this one is already sold out, so if anyone knows of someone who is wanting to sell their bib entry, do let me know!
Well I hope you've all enjoyed following me throughout my training and I hope you'll continue to check back periodically as I'll continue to update this for as long as I'm running.
Thanks to everyone who sent me well wishes throughout all this, honestly I think that was what kept me going throughout the run.
Pictures that were taken along the way can be found here, http://www.marathonfoto.com/index.cfm?RaceOID=32502007W1&LastName=DALTON&BibNumber=130&Mailing=3146
Will hopefully post some soon that were taken by my family.