Let me first say that I couldn't have done this without the support of Travis, my little Goober, my amazing running buddies, my family & friends, and of course all of my wicked awesome blog readers who gave me encouraging words every single day. You all ROCK. I can't thank you all enough. You MADE this MARATHON for me. Really. You all did.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves...let's start from the early buttcrack of dawn...
After not getting much sleep because of Goober's eating schedule at night (ugh), I was frantically running around at 4:30am getting stuff ready (again) before Kerrie was to pick me up at 5am. Of course as soon as Kerrie pulled up in her rockin' minivan I realized I was still in my PJ's. WHA?! Good grief. Off to a bad start. I stumbled into my race outfit:
Custom tank I made on Spreadshirt.com, Pink RunningSkirts.com skirt, Black RunLove Compression socks, Pink Pearl iZUMi Streak II shoes:
Loaded up my gear check bag with another pair of compression socks, my ugly yet comfy tan Crocs, BodyGlide, Clif Shot BLOKS, Mel's double pocket iFitness belt, my iPhone, my Ryders sunglasses, and of course Gus (can't run a race without my trusty Garmin!). I think I was ready? I think? Made my way out to Kerrie and we were off to pick up Kasey & meet up with Mel, Amy, Jess & Christine. Amy was such an asset because she drove us to the start line even though she couldn't run the race...and she took pictures and cheered along the course. THANK YOU AMY!!
Our carpool was filled with nervous energy...I LOVED IT! Race day is such a rush. Mel scored some Brooks VIP Potty Passes so that we could use the "fancy porta potties" at the start line. Heck yes! Brooks Running TP! Crazy stuff. Wish I could've got a picture of it. The bathroom attendants were wearing these nifty "tux" t-shirts and handing out throwaway gloves and gum/mints. It felt good to be a VIP! Thank you Brooks!
Pictures galore before the start:
|Jess and Mel model their totally bitchin' throwaway outfits|
|Half of Kerrie, Amy, Mel & I wait in the VIP potty line. POTTY LIKE A ROCKSTAR!|
|Carpool buddies! Christine, me, Jess, Mel, Kasey and Kerrie|
We are supposed to meet at 6:30 at Corral 6 for a blog pic...but unfortunately the corrals changed positions and where Corral 6 was last year was Corral 25. Crap! Kerrie and I shuffle towards the correct corral (say that 10x fast!) and miss the photo op. Luckily a nice racer took a quick photo of us all again before the announcer started the race. OHMYGOSH! We're really doing this! Kerrie and I quickly head back towards Corral 16, but we're going against the runner current and for a moment we panic a bit. Oh wait, it's a wave start, so it's not that bad. We get settled and Kerrie has me hold her banana as she gets her tunes in position.
"You're really going to eat this?" I ask her. "Yeah."
Okeedokee. We chat with a Marathon Maniac in front of us as well as a long-haired dude that probably ran like Forrest Gump. I spotted my friend Leah (my 20 miler buddy! Her 1st mary too!) and waved/smiled at her from a distance. After looking around me for my friend Cassie (another first time marathoner!), I couldn't find her, but continued to look for her throughout the race's out-and-backs.
|Back: I should know your name!, Jess, Kasey, Mel, Track Coach, Diana, moi|
Front: Amanda, Kerrie, Alma and Jill
As Kerrie and I stomp on that starting mat we switch on AJ II and Gus (but at different times, which messes up our run/walk timing). Like Kerrie says, we are like the "Woohoo" Girls and woohoo at all the bands and mile markers. We both are feeling great and I make sure that we're not going out too fast (aka faster than a 9:30 pace). A couple times we have to slow down a bit, but for the most part we felt fantastic. There were even a couple people walking and checking their Garmins at the same time as us, so we knew we weren't the only ones doing the Jeff Galloway Run/Walk/Run method. Instead of the run 5 minutes, walk 1 minute ratio, we planned on running 5 and walking 30 seconds. This ultimately worked out really well for the first half!
Miles 1 - 5
We were in a groove. At every water stop I'd take a sip of water (not the Cytomax, as I didn't train with it), and we were thanking all the volunteers that were handing out that refreshing H2O. We passed the spot where Kerrie was last year, amidst a hill, and trucked up that thing like it was cake. Don't think that we were thinking about cake though. In fact, I was thinking about Michael Jackson and that cool neighborhood dude/spectator that had a boombox playing "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough" last year during the half. Bummer he wasn't playing it again this year--but that song was on my iPhone playlist for sure!
The run/walk combo is working, and I'm keeping track of it like a hawk. Kerrie would help too, but she was too excited and that was totally fine by me. I didn't mind being the timekeeper. ;)
Miles 5 - 9
How freaking GORGEOUS was this day? It was perfect running weather: 50s and overcast with some sun breaks. This part of the course is by far my favorite as it parallels Lake Washington, which was calm, serene and begging to be jumped in to! Oh man! There were some boats cheering and honking for runners, and we waved and woohoo'd. Happy to be running on such a beautiful day. I spot Amy in her bright pink jacket and wave. "AMY!!" I yell and Kerrie hollers at her too. We wave like lunatics and Amy snaps some fun pics (again, thanks Amy!).
|Kerrie waves at Amy!|
At this point we come across the memorial/American Flag portion where fallen soldiers' families stand on the side of the road with large American flags. I was tearing up as Kerrie and I both clapped for them the entire stretch of road. We both were a little emotional as it was a beautiful tribute, and it put the whole "running 26.2 miles" into perspective. I told her that if I saw a soldier on the side I would go and shake his/her hand...but this year I didn't see anyone in uniform at this part of the course (last year I thanked a couple soldiers for their service). Little did I know that we would be given water by a huge bunch of soldiers on the Viaduct later on!
Chelsea was to be around mile 7 and we were getting ready to see our buddy: we moved to the left of the road and scanned the sidelines. Kerrie spots her and we both get an extra boost of energy, waving, throwing
gang rock-on signs and grinning. I really can't tell you how great it is to see someone you know on the side of the road during a race like this. It's really an uplifting and amazing experience. Even if the people aren't there to cheer you on in particular, it's still cool to see a familiar face--I saw my neighbors at two different points of the race and hollered at them the second time I saw them. Very cool.
Unfortunately Chelsea didn't hand us mimosas or a beer (bummer, dude), but she did toss Kerrie the extra pod of nuun water she was storing for her. It was a quick exchange, rather jumbled, but successful nonetheless. See ya in a couple hours, Chelsea!
|Kerrie: smiling = win. Me: eyes closed = picture fail|
Miles 9 - 11.5
We approach the I-90 bridge and break off from the half marathoners which feels crazy because last year I went left...this year I went right. Some people have mentioned they don't like this part of the full course, but honestly, I loved it. The entire time I was checking out the runners going the opposite direction to see if I recognized anyone (still looking for my friend Cassie), and the breeze, view and hum of the cars on either side were soothing. We saw Track Coach and then Cynthia and cheered in excitement for them both. YAY!! At one point a woman came up from behind us and asked us what pace we were going for. We told her we weren't shooting for a specific goal time, but doing a run/walk/run thing. She said she asked because it looked like we "knew what we were doing." Hmmm, I would take that as a compliment. Thank you, fellow marathon runner stranger lady!
As we headed back towards Seattle on the bridge I noticed two things: 1) my stomach was starting to grumble and 2) the BodyGlide on my thighs was disappearing. Double crap. I kept telling myself in my head that I've ran WAY farther than this before and I shouldn't be tired yet, but something was just "off." This, I believe, was my mental downfall. However, Kerrie lets out a "Wow" as she sees the 4:15 group just starting on the bridge in the other direction...I know exactly what she means! Hard to believe we were ahead of this pacer for a bit, and it sure felt good for the moment.
The I-90 tunnel sucks. Garmins get confused and shout beeps at us, the lighting feels weird, it's super muggy/hot, and the sounds are magnified. Yeah, whose brilliant idea was it to have some crazy techno crap (not good techno) DJ'd in the middle of a freaking tunnel? No bueno. I tell Kerrie I need to walk for a bit because I feel dizzy and faint, which she is feeling too. It's probably just the atmosphere. After a brief walk we gather our bearings and swiftly get out of that sweaty tunnel. Our Garmins beep in relief as we reach daylight.
I tell Kerrie that I need to find the next Medical Tent for some BodyGlide or whatever the heck they have for chafing. My thighs are on fire and I'm trying my hardest to not think of them.
Miles 11.5 - 14
There's some good people/runner watching happening and we spot a woman wearing booty shorts that are showing a leeeeetle too much of the booty, not enough of the shorts. Kerrie's energy is steady and her mood is uber happy as she says she's going to beat her half marathon time. Woohoo! My eyes scan the larger crowds on the side of the road for a glimpse of any familiar face. Perhaps my family was going to surprise me??? Wishful thinking, but it helped. I spot the red Med Tent and Kerrie beelines for the portapotties nearby. My brain can't seem to form a sentence and I blurt out "BodyGlide? Vaseline?" in a mild panic. The volunteer looks at me for brief second like I'm speaking Alien then the lightbulb comes on. "Oh here!" he says and hands me a tongue depressor stick with a pile of goo on the end. Yummeh. I eagerly take that Vaseline and quickly apply it to my burning thighs, knowing that it's not going to help, but oh well. Kerrie and I start off again.
Miles 14 - 20
The Viaduct. This is where it gets a little crummy. My energy level is dwindling as the chafing thighs seem to be zapping my positive morale a bit. I ask Kerrie if we could start the minute walk breaks instead of the 30 seconds and she agrees (thanks Kerrie!!!). Let me flat out say that the terrain on the Viaduct is a runner's nightmare: uneven, worn out spots of the road expose large cobblestone-like rocks that KILL feet/ankles/knees. My feet joined in on the pain train and started to rebel against the Viaduct surface. A water stop is run by a large group of soldiers on the Viaduct and I try my best to ignore the pain as I think to myself that soldiers are running in full gear, in the heat and desert and I'm just whining about chafing thighs and foot neuromas while running a marathon. These soldiers are really sweet and offer up a bunch of positive reinforcement and of course, some delish H2O. Thank you.
I realized after we went through the Battery Street tunnel--which is hot, muggy and even creepier than the I-90 tunnel--that we were on Aurora's version of "Hell Yes Hill." This MO FO of a hill is over 2 miles long, and it's the same hill that the St. Patrick's Day Dash is on every year. It's a toughie, but the downhill is sweet. Normally hills don't bother me that much and I can power through, but my stomach was growling and I was feeling weaker with each step. Thank goodness I brought a mini Clif Bar to eat in case of emergency (the Shot Bloks weren't cutting it alone). I opened the package and attempted to eat this, apparently stale, energy bar. Oh boy, I was going to choke on it. I told Kerrie I needed to eat it at a water stop, and at the next station I dunked it in the water and powered it down. JUST what I needed, really.
At the end of the Aurora bridge turnaround I called Travis and told him where I was. He already knew because I got the runner tracking text message feature for him, my sister Bria and Liz. He was on his way and it was great to hear his voice. Kerrie got a call from Mr. T and briefly spoke to T Jr. in the background...I could tell it gave her more pep in her step and a renewed energy. :) At this point we were running with Ashley (aka Redonk Runner), and it was cool to meet new people on the course! At almost every Medical Tent I was stopping for more Vaseline. Ugh.
Unfortunately Kerrie and I totally forgot to look for the signs that Chelsea had made and posted on an overpass of Aurora. How awesomesauce is this???
Kerrie's sign said "Kerrie Victory Lap!" I'm so bummed we missed our cool handmade signs (thanks, Chelsea!!!). The funny thing though, was that my friend Cassie actually saw the sign while she was running, took a picture of it and posted it to Facebook. Cool! (Thanks Cassie!)
Miles 20 - 24
I hear "ZOE!" called in my direction and it's CASSIE! FINALLY! She's going the other direction up the Aurora hill and so we hug over the median. "I've been looking for you all morning!" I say. "I was late, so I'm behind" She tells me. We give each other good lucks and keep going. So glad she spotted me!
We head back into the Battery Street tunnel and then back on the Viaduct. Ugh. Stupid Viaduct road. I spot a couple Med bikers and ask if they have any Vaseline. One of them hands me this little packet of neosporin-looking ointment and I eagerly take it. Surprisingly, it feels a little better than the Vaseline! Score! The only problem with all this "goo" is that once I apply it, it's all over my hands. So, I wipe it off on my arms. I'm sure I'm a running bug magnet, as I feel gooey and sticky now. Great combo. Also, might I just say that the Med Tents might as well supply some KY lube? Seriously! It probably would've worked better than Vaseline! I'll have to recommend that... (haha!)
The pretty view of the Sound is not keeping my mind off the miles as well as it should've and I started battling some mind demons. My inner monologue started spouting off "You CAN DO THIS!" and "There are soldiers in Iraq running in full camo and gear in the blasting heat! You're a pansy, Zoe!" Anything to get me to keep running through the pain in my feet and thighs. At one point I told Kerrie to go ahead and leave me if she wanted, as I really felt that she was being held back by my slow ass. I started to tear up and cry a little, as a part of me was disappointed in myself. I knew that there were only 2.2 miles left, but I was just DONE. Just wanted to be DONE with it all. The finish line was looming, but it felt like those last couple miles were taking for-freaking-ever to complete. Kerrie refused to leave me, which I am forever grateful for.
"We're doing this together."
|Right before my little meltdown|
Since I had stopped on the course bent over, a medic on a bike came up to me and asked Kerrie if I was ok. She said "She's fine, just stretching." I responded with, "Got any spare feet in that bag of yours?" jokingly. The Medic looked a little puzzled and I said "Didn't think so, so I'm ok. Thanks."
Miles 25 - 26.63 (Yup, you read that last number correctly)
As Kerrie and I finally turned around to go back up the Viaduct hill towards the finish line I get a phone call. My iPhone is in my iFitness belt and I answer the call with my iHeadphones (heh). "Hello?"
"Zoe! How'd your run go?" It's my friend Andy.
"I'm still running it! I've got a little over a mile left."
"What?!?! Why the hell did you answer the phone???"
"Ha ha! I didn't know it was you, I just answered."
"You're crazy. Well, keep running!"
He hung up. Strangely enough this random call helped. I got a little bit of energy and Kerrie and I decided to RUN the last mile without any more walk breaks. The END was near! Kerrie's telling me "We're almost there!" and it makes me mentally giggle. She hates that phrase, but she's used it a bunch these last few miles. Love it. We run, I reset my playlist, we feel like we're cruising. We start looking for that Mile 26 mile marker as we descend the last hill towards the stadium. Where the EFF is that 26 marker??? Gus and AJ II both beep at 26, but there's not a single sign in sight. Weird. Then there it is, and there is Mr. T and an excited looking T Jr! SO CLOSE!
I watch as Kerrie bends down and gives her adorable son a huge hug. I slow down. I'm not finishing this without my buddy. She comes back to me and then I hear my name. It's Travis!!! I see him and smile and continue on. Kerrie says "Is that the finish line?!" and I say Yes. Oh sweet finish line! My lungs start closing in on me and I feel a minor asthma attack, but I make my legs turn over quickly. There's a glimpse of HOT pink and it's Mel with Chelsea, Amanda, Jill, and Jess on the sideline screaming our names and taking pictures. I wave excitedly and Kerrie and I pick up the pace even more. We grab hands, we put 1 finger in the air, and we cross those mats with big smiles.
We did it.
I break down crying, take a puff from my inhaler and see Travis over the fence in the chute. I give him the biggest over-the-fence hug and I don't want to let go. I'm still having trouble breathing, but he's telling me I did amazing and that he's so proud of me. My heart is still racing. Holy crap, I just ran
26.2 26.63 miles!
And the post-race recap is next....
Mileage - 26.63
Time - 4:42:51
Overall - 2050 out of 3529
Division Place - 202 out of 379 (F25-29)
Sex Place - 785 out of 1645
Pace - 10:48