Saturday, May 15, 2010

Marathon Mania, Done

The second phase of my Marathon Mania quest was to run a second marathon within 2 weeks of the first. I finished it today.

My whole schedule was based on marathon availability, but this was a great choice for #2. The race organization runs 4 races simultaneously: 5K, 10K, half marathon, and marathon. Plus there were some walkers. We shared the first half of our course with the half marathon runners. I gotta tell ya, it was hard to keep on going when they peeled off to finish.

I was a bit concerned about the temperature because it was projected to be as warm as 80° today. That's pretty hot for a Washington west-sider what with our recent highs in the 60s. I just planned to hydrate well during the run.

My motel was about a 12 minute walk from the race finish line. The start line was 13 miles away in the hills to the east of Boise. Since we were bussed to the start from the finish area I picked a motel that would allow me to walk to the start and walk back at the end. And it was a great choice! Nice room, small kitchen, walking distance to food.

I woke up at about 4:45 and it was pitch black outside. Funny how your placement in a time zone affects daylight. Boise is on Mountain time, but must be WAY west in the time zone. By 5:15 it was starting to get light out and by the time I headed over to my bus it was full daylight. Yesterday I picked up my race packet at the finish line area so I knew the route and the time it would take.

The toilets at the finish had no line so I took advantage of that. You just never know how long you're going to have to wait at the start area.

On the bus ride out I had a great conversation with a young man, 'PJ', who was running the half marathon, his second in less than 2 months and his second ever. He's hooked on endorphins!

Driving in to the start area it was clear that we were going to have a chilly start. All the trees were shaking in the wind. The bus dropped us off right at the base of a big earthen dam on the Boise River. Quite a start location. And it was COLD as we stepped off the bus. I felt sorry for PJ as he was wearing only his race togs. I was wearing a lot more clothing to keep my old bones warm. People were huddled in groups in the lee of any shelter: vehicles, buildings, trees. I got right in with them.

Far too soon I had to leave my shelter to go stand in the wind in the toilet line. Thinking I'd be clever I picked a line most downwind hoping to have wind shelter from the other bodies. Fat chance. The wind just whipped through. And my line hardly moved. Somebody must have been hiding out in the can or something. I finally got my chance and was back out into the wind far too soon.

Back to my original shelter and it had cleared out some. At first I was standing with the crowd outside this shed but when I returned room had opened up inside. In I went. The wind died away and it was warm and toasty inside. We even got to sing 'Happy Birthday' to Laurie who was celebrating her birthday by running the half marathon.

I kept checking my watch, not wanting to go out into the wind too soon. But the time drew near. So I stripped out of my warmups, packed everything up, handed my stuff over to the transport crew, and got into the runners pack. Folks were still picking up their race packets so we ended up starting off about 7 minutes late.

The first mile or so was on a road then we were on to a bike/running path that followed the river. Most of our run was on path from this point. There was a section of 1 or 2 miles in the first half where we were on streets and about a 1/2 mile at our turnaround. Otherwise it was all path.

At the 1/2 marathon end point most of the runners peeled off to the finish and I was left in the lonely crowd heading out on the marathon. Our route was spectacular as we wound along the river and past some pretty snazzy houses.

The miles started to drag as the pain in my legs started to build up and the soreness in my hip increased. Funny how one does mental math: figure out the miles left to the turnaround, can I bear twice as much soreness? At the turnaround we popped off the trail and made a little loop through a residential area. By this time I was taking a gel every couple of aid stations trying to stave off exhaustion.

At about mile 20 I had a fun duel with some young buck. As I gradually came up on him he picked up his pace slightly as I moved out to pass. Of course I took the challenge and picked it up just a little more. Within 2 minutes he was back, sliding past me. "Well," I thought to myself, "two can play at this game." So with 5 miles to go I took it up another notch and just held it. I could hear his footsteps behind me, slowly fading out of earshot. Then we came to a bridge with a slight rise to the crossing. I kept up the same pace and he was toast: no more footsteps.

Then I began to notice the mile markers on the path. Every tenth of a mile there was a marker counting down and the countdown was pretty close to the mileage to finish. Oh, cruel world! Every tenth of a mile. Interspersed with chalked mile markers for our race.

With 3 miles to go I was feeling strong but very sore. Mile 26 was just before we turned off the path into Anne Morrison Park to the finish. There was a very large crowd to welcome us home. I really warmed up to the cheering and encouragement and finished strong.

The heat had really sneaked up on me at the end. I sat down in the shade and it was very clear that I'd been working very hard as my body cooled down. Then on to potatoes (after all, this is the Great Potato Marathon!). I limped over to check the marathon results and the posted results weren't up to my finish time yet. So, back to the shade with a chocolate milk to sip, occasionally glancing over at the board to see if another page of results was up.

When I saw the big crowd gathered I figured they were up so off I went, hobbling over. I scanned down the list for my time and there I was: age group first! Oh man, what a finish to a great journey. Two marathons, two weeks, two wins. Both on gorgeous courses.

Marathon maniacs, I hope you will take me.

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