Like the first snow, the sound of the ocean & seagulls, a baby laughing, a lazy afternoon nap – these are all what I imagine Cloud 9 feels/sounds like. You know what else feels like Cloud 9? A FORTY NINE minute PR at your second Marathon that you mostly kept secret in case you failed (in my own mind) again!
About 6 weeks ago there was a Groupon for the Seattle Marathon – only $115. I mostly jokingly said to my boss and the partner on one of our projects, “Hey, I’ll wear our company logo if you wanna pay for me.” They said sure, very quickly, so I didn’t think much of it. The night the Groupon was set to expire I sent them a quick text, you know – giving them the benefit of the doubt, assuming THEY were joking. Within 5 minutes they both said yep – they were in. (I ironed on our company logo to the back of my shirt – most visible place I figured!)
It took me a few days to tell my guy. And almost a week to tell my BRF – the week of the marathon she says, you are totally ready for 13.1. Oops, had I really failed to say I was doing the full? All in all, I kept this race mostly to myself and the few people who did know, were sworn to secrecy (no hints on Facebook, no online tracking announcements, and no expectations of me checking or responding to texts). I had a pretty good idea of what went wrong for me in Portland and I needed to know if I was right.
So, on Nov 29th and with only a 9.5mi long run in since RWF in October, I ate my chia seed pancakes (2 with Chocolate Coconut PB & banana as a sandwich) and my husband dropped me off at Seattle Center in the 34° fog.
My absolute number ONE goal, was to finish faster than Portland (6:22). If that only meant by 1 minute, so be it.
My number TWO goal, was to finish in under 6 hrs.
My totally out of the park goal, was my Portland (fully trained and ready) goal of under 5:30.
EVERYTHING was different this time.
I was nervous. I was alone. I was not sure I was prepared. BUT, I’d done it once so I knew I could, even if it sucked again. I’d looked at the Pace Bands for a 5:30 finish and saved a copy to my phone, knowing that if I could keep to around those times (avg 12:35.2/mm) for a majority of the race, I would hit number 1 & maybe even 2. There were some challenging hills toward the end to ‘look forward to’.
I had my gels in my vest: Hammer Espresso, Honey Stinger Fruit Smoothie (gel & chews) and Chocolate, and Gu Lemonade. I also had 3 bite sized Lara Bars in case I needed a change of texture (I didn’t).
I took sips of water from my vest as I ran through water stops. When I took my gels (miles 7, 12, 17, 21), I grabbed a cup of water and drank the whole thing as I walked through the stop and until I’d finished my gels.
The only time I ran with anyone was from about 3-7, a nice guy who’s name I didn’t get, and that was because he didn’t want to pass anyone so we chatted (but ran a touch faster than I’d planned). I the bridge we saw my girlfriend Angela. You will likely hear about her often – she was just diagnosed with breast cancer a couple days earlier and wasn’t sure she had the emotional strength to run. It so SO AMAZING seeing her out there!!! Mid-bridge hug (she was ahead of me, so on her way back across) and a few tears. She is a total BADASS!!! Anyway, my runner buddy stopped at the porta potty on Mercer Island – I said goodbye and was back to running solo and happy. Seriously happy, joyful, smiling to myself even.
After we were back across Lake Washington (still so foggy you couldn’t see the opposite side, let alone Mt Rainier), we headed South to Seward Park. When I first started running I worked close to the lake and would drive this route most days and wanted so badly to run it. My problem was, I couldn’t figure out the logistics of parking my car and then running to a good spot then turning around and running all.the.way back. You know, 3 or maybe even 4 whole miles! I was ecstatic as I ran not only from North of where I would have parked, but all the way WAY beyond where I would have turned around and then all the way back. And then I kept right on going.
Mile 10ish a guy handing out salt capsules. I’d forgotten to pick some up so he was my desert fountain of sorts (in retrospect, I think he was with the medical volunteers, but even if he was a stranger I saw the bottle – I knew I was safe). In Seward Park I stopped and ate a gel and stretched, checked in with my friends & guy briefly, then smiled for the camera guy before having two runners point out a bald eagle in the trees above us.
The night before, I was reading an article in Runner’s World about Ultra Runners a smoking pot. I don’t smoke (yes kids, I have and yes, I inhaled), but I can enjoy the smell at times and as I passed the guys getting completely baked at about mile 17.25…I seriously considered asking them to pop up from the parking lot and blowing it my way!
Around Mile 19 my knee was hurting, my foot was hurting (ok, so IT had been hurting since about mile 1, what is it with that stupid thing?), but I just wasn’t giving up. The hills were starting, gradually, so I knew I’d be walking a bit and told myself that was it. Other than the hills, I came to run.
Bring on the Arboretum and Interlaken Park. Beautiful, twisty turny hilly former horse & buggy paths. Did I mention hilly? And twisty? Good thing about the beautiful.
At Mile 25, I couldn’t help but laugh when I got a message from “Mama Canning” from the Sub 30 Club (one of the few people who knew), saying “suck it the f… up – you are killing me here.” You have to understand – this woman didn’t just run the RWF Half, she ran up and down the biggest hill there over and over so she could ‘run the hill’ to get other Subbers up it. She is a hill BEAST. Every damned time I got to the hills, I would think of her. Needless to say, my next mile was at a screaming 11:39 pace (so, it might have finally been downhill, too, but who cares)!
There’s always one final hill to climb when you run any Seattle race that ends by the Space Needle – Mercer Street. I hate that f…ing hill. What I hadn’t realized though is that it was just up that hill and the into Memorial Stadium! Usually, you turn and still have another gradual hill through the chute. Not this time – into the stadium and the best finish EVER because they announced my name as I was coming in to the finish!!! MY NAME!!! And they said it right (this the the French pronunciation, I say it with an American ‘accent’, but you get the gist)! I was so happy, about that AND knowing what my Garmin was going to show me, that I just about collapsed into the poor National Guard guy who was handing me my medal. This time though, I knew to take my time. There was no one waiting on me, the race was over, there’s no time limit in the chute. I asked the photographer if she would take my picture (with my phone) – and she thought it was hysterical that I wanted to be lying down on the field. Flat Honoré – Marathoner. 5:33:54.
I wouldn’t have even considered this if it wasn’t for Lynn (aka Lynnstigator) and Angela. I never would have even gotten to a half if it wasn’t for Trish, my friend for 40 years, who would say things like “next time WE run…” (but no, I will NOT ‘tri’ with you).
- Mile 12 and the bald eagle were for Isabel.
- Miles 4-8ish through the thick fog over I-90’s floating bridge were for Christine (who also gets HUGE thanks for the relaxing Epsom bath salts I soaked in afterward)
- Miles 13-15 were some of the happiest, smiley miles so they were for Kim
- Miles 23-25 were those hills so clearly they were for Mama Canning
- And then there was the mile with the high school cheerleaders at the water stop – that was definitely for Peter
- Early miles for Bryan & Desiree when I was feeling good and strong
- Many times thoughts of Coaches Susan and Dave would go through my mind, and I’d hear their tips, advice, wisdom and they kept me on track
- I am so happy we have grab bars in our bathroom
- And I hate admitting that I also love our Craftmatic adjustable bed (at least after races, the rest of the time…meh)
I had a lot of “people” with me. I recently became a FitFam (formerly Gametiime) Ambassador (dedicated to #BeYourBest2016), Badass Angela, Peter (who suffered a brain injury in a freak wrestling match a year ago – but is fighting hard to fully recover), and friends who inspire me and believe in me.
I read a blog called Pink Elephant on Parade and had commented on a post of hers about the Philly Marathon. I mentioned I was doing another one because my boss was paying. Her response cracked me up, “Which leads to the question: Best boss ever or evil satanic overlord?” Definitely the best boss ever!
(And ooooops – forgot to hit “Publish”!)