Tuesday, March 31, 2009

26.2 miles of island bliss.........

This weekend was the 3rd anniversary of my second running life. I started running when I was at my friend Jims house and had no gym to go to. Sundays marathon was on Whidbey Island, where said friends mom lives…… I stayed at her house the night before the race. I’ve had some really scenic runs on that island two years ago.
Me and Jenni headed up to Whidbey Island Saturday morning and drove around instead of taking the ferry. We stopped off to admire Deception Pass from the bridge onto the island as I might not get a good look at it on race day.

Saturday we had dinner with Jims mom and enjoyed the peace and quiet of her home on the beach. It faces due West towards Ft. Flagler and Port Townsend/Straight of Juan De Fuca. That night I was awakened by the wind and rain hitting the windows. That was 2:30 AM. I slept maybe another hour and woke up to light wind and not a cloud in the sky!!!

We made our way up to Oak Harbor for the shuttle at 5:00 AM and I arrived at the Start line around 6:00 while Jenni stayed in Oak Harbor for my finish. She is so smart, she put down the seats in her Subaru and had a little place to sleep. More importantly, a place for Brad to ride comfortably after the race……

I’m going to go out on a limb and say my performance today was directly linked to the fact that ahead of time I decided I WASN’T going to run hard and just run it for someone who just learned she has cancer and is going through hell now. Plus I had an issue with my hip the weekend before. I’d be saving my Personal Best performance attempt at Eugene coming up on May 3rd. I was helped along by the fact that I forgot to turn my GPS watch on, and it never found a signal as we were in a park with giant trees around us. That was unknowingly in my favor as I wasn’t constantly updated with my current pace. I just used the watch portion and hit lap every mile to see how fast I was running each mile. I could see what I had RUN, but not my current pace. I could calculate in my head, my overall pace, but to increase my pace on the fly was harder. I could only do that after each mile and try to make it up on the next if I was falling behind. But when you can’t judge how fast you are running, especially up and down hills, you have to wait until after you’ve run that mile……
At mile 13 I was dead on 8:00 pace, but knew from my other marathons it might not hold up, especially since I had NO idea what the course really looked like in elevation. I felt good and kept telling myself to slow down if you want, nobody will care and you can PR in 5 weeks on a flatter course. At mile 14 we were on the military base, and they had a cute Shepard just like Jenni’s dog guarding an entrance to where runners shouldn’t be. I kinda went towards him just a tad off course to verbalize “hey buddy”. He wasn’t so happy to see me as he was very well trained to be in defense mode. The handler had to pull him back as he rose up and barked very loud. Ok, not the best idea…..
At mile 16 we entered the park where the race would end so we had this view of the finish line. So there was another 5 miles out and 5 miles back left to run.

At this point I was down to shedding my arm warmers, both pairs of gloves and my hat. All stuffed into my running vest pockets. It was getting annoying having that weight bounce around and it was actually pretty warm for 50 degrees, must have been the sun. I spotted Jenni at mile 16 and said, “Take this F’ing thing” as I threw it to the ground and then added "love ya"…… I was down to shorts with my cutoff tights over them and a thin long sleeve tech shirt I could roll up or down. I also held onto the thinner pair of gloves, my favorite Orange gloves. They came on and off as the wind kicked up.
Miles 18-22 seamed to go one forever, like WHERE is this turnaround??? 22-23 was the turnaround back up the hill, not happy, but I knew I’d get to finish with a kick coming home….. 23 was no fun and my legs (quads) were starting to burn, but I kept seeing that I only needed 9:00 pace to PR and 7:45-8:00 to get close to under 3:30:00, which was my goal for Eugene.

I’ve always used other people’s pain to deal with mine on race day. My dad dying, my nephew dying and now the struggle Paulette (Kayano on RW) is dealing with. Some of you may have felt the dizzy feeling on long runs. Well I get emotional I get pissed. I found myself swearing under my breath, “you won’t F’ing take another person away from people that care, you won’t crush our spirit, you can’t stop my legs from pushing on…”
When I started this race I really didn’t care how I did, but from mile 20 on, I knew I could do it if I could just hold on during the hardest part of the marathon. It was tribute time, Paulette will need to hold onto every ounce of strength she has. My test we easy, and if I didn’t pull threw it was no big deal. I also knew these little battles won somehow help people like Paulette knowing her friends are out there battling when she has to muster all her energy just to get up each day and put one foot in front of the other. That 30 seconds mattered all of a sudden. I think I ran a 7:23 that last mile. I hit my mark with little time to spare, 3:29:25.
What a great race. 3 years of running, 4 marathons and -20 minutes taken off my marathon time since my first one.

Dang, now what am going to do about Eugene?
Thanks to Paulette for being so strong. I myself was diagnosed with a possible brain tumor 3 years ago, right before I started my weight loss. The MRI showed nothing and they didn't have an answer for my smell issues. Just the THOUGHT of having to go through something like that scared the CRAP out of me. It ended up being a simple abscessed tooth. I can't imagine how I'd hold up if it was actually something I'd have to go through. Say what you will about people and their running performances, but their rising above adversity is way more impressive to me.


  1. awesome! this looks like a beautiful course too :)