Fred Lebow, New York City Marathon co-founder:
"The marathon is a charismatic event. It has everything. It has drama. It has competition. It has camaraderie. It has heroism. Every jogger can't dream of being an Olympic champion, but he can dream of finishing a marathon."
"Motivation remains key to the marathon: the motivation to begin; the motivation to continue; the motivation never to quit."
I can now say I have "run" a marathon. I completed the 2013 Seattle Marathon in 5:42:05. My goal time was to be in the 5 hour range so I'm thrilled.
The days leading up to the marathon I tried not to worry about things out of my control as I had in the past. Enjoy the taper. Weather, new race bib, my IT band, all kept creeping into my mind and I tried to push the thoughts back out of my head.
Mark and I drove into Seattle and checked into the Maxwell Hotel at noon on Saturday. I can't say enough nice things about this hotel. We love the convenient location, friendly staff, and the free parking. I'm not wild about the room décor but the room itself is very well appointed and has a view of the iconic Space Needle. You can't ask for much more than that.
After checking into our hotel we walked through the Seattle Center and onto the Monorail to travel to Westlake Center. The marathon expo was located inside the Westin Hotel. After receiving my race bib and checking the imbedded chip to make sure it registered on the computer, we proceeded to the back of the expo to retrieve my participant shirt. This year's color is orange. I'm not sure who chooses the colors for the Seattle Marathon but they are usually colors I don't wear. Well, highlighter green isn't a normal color for me either, and I'm wearing it this year, so who am I to point fingers. Anyway, I was thrilled, who I am kidding, I had tears in my eyes, to find out I now wear a medium. I've always worn a large or extra large. We perused the aisles and Mark and I both signed up for the Seattle Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon on June 21, 2014. This will be Mark's first half marathon! I'm so excited for him. I also signed up for next year's Seattle Marathon. The only other purchase we made was to buy a Tiger Tail foam massager we bought for my IT Band.
By the time we finished the expo both of us were starving so we took the monorail back to the Seattle Center. There was a Vietnamese restaurant a block from our hotel we wanted to try that advertised pho noodles. When we walked to the front door there was only one table open so we assumed it was a good sign. Turns out the food was fabulous. I ordered a spicy pho soup and Mark ordered a noodle dish which satisfied our tummies quite nicely. Somehow the afternoon flew by and before you knew it we were eating dinner at the restaurant in the hotel. I ordered a pasta dish light on the sauce. The rest of the night was spent in the room organizing my things for the morning run around Seattle. I also did some stretching and rolling on my IT band. It was
I agonized over where to place the race bib. It had a chip imbedded in it and you weren't supposed to cover it with a coat or wrinkling it. This is not a good idea for a race in Seattle. Particularly, one in late fall when inclement weather is almost a certainty. I originally placed it on my thigh but I was worried about it getting wrinkled if (when) I needed to use the porta-potty. I then took a big chance by moving it to my skirt. The temperature was already warm enough for a long sleeve shirt and it wasn't raining so I threw caution to the wind. Pun intended because strong winds were predicted along with the rain. The weathermen was right about the wind.
I awoke many times during the night and looked outside to see the wind blowing and rain coming down. At 5:45am we received a wake-up call so I got out of bed and started my day. I gazed out the window and the streets were dry and the wind was blowing the leaves in the trees furiously. I ate half of my bagel and turkey sandwich, drank my diet coke. Later in the day I regretted not eating all of my bagel sandwich because I was hungry after 5 miles.
I also Skyped Alyssa as I had extra time. We talked for 15 minutes before I told her I needed to finish getting ready. It was so nice to talk to her before the race. Alyssa and I walked/ran the 2012 Seattle Rock-n-Roll Marathon so she knew exactly what I was going through with pre-race nerves. Only Alyssa doesn't seem to get nervous. Just her mother does.
I finished getting ready and Mark took a picture of me. I was finally ready to embark on my adventure of running through the streets of Seattle. Mark gave me a kiss for luck and I was on my way. I left the hotel and walked over to the starting line with another runner I met in the elevator. That's the way it was all day. I would meet people to chat with for a few minutes throughout the entire day. Runners are truly friendly people.
The starting line was only 5 minutes away from the Maxwell Hotel so I was there with time to spare. I had just used the bathroom so no issues with that for a change. I tried to take a few pictures and someone did take this picture of me with my camera. I knew I would take few pictures on the actual race course so I wanted to make sure I took some at the beginning.
When the race started I found I was in the same place as I was when I am in the walking category of marathons. A leading member of the back of the packers! Oh well. I was in familiar territory and happy there. We headed down 5th Street and I followed my John Bingham/Galloway method of running intervals of 3 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking. I deviated from this only during the downhill portions of the race where I ran down the hills. Until the very end where it hurt my IT band too much. I also took some walk breaks towards the end of the race when I started to feel tired and sore.
Pretty soon we were headed uphill on the first of many inclines of the race. I stopped to take my one and only picture during the race. It was on 5th Avenue in front of the cool clothing store where the antique sewing machines are in the window display. The Christmas lights lit the way for the runners to run past the many stores and the 5th Avenue Theatre. At the top of the hill is Mark's Seattle Municipal Building on the left and the Columbia Tower on the right.
After the incline I started getting my first dose of endorphins. Running downhill is my favorite part of running hills. The sports medicine doctor gave me the all clear to run down the hills of the marathon and I was going to take full advantage of it. The wind was very strong and gusting so I had to take off my elf hat. I ran down the hill with a smile pasted on my face exclaiming to a few runners as I passed them, "We get to run down the hills." I'm sure they thought I was a deranged elf.
The first few miles went by rather quickly and before long I was entering the underpass to the floating bridge heading towards Bellevue. Memories from my 2010 Seattle Marathon and the 2012 Seattle Rock-n-Roll Marathon drifted into my head as I ran onto the bridge. In 2010 I was almost exclusively a walker and 2012 I tried walking/jogging. This was the first time I truly was "running" on the bridge. I found out something when I became a runner. Time spent out on the race course goes quicker when you run. Who knew?
After the floating bridge we exited onto Lake Washington Blvd and it was right about this time I had my first bout with IT band issues. This was right around mile 9. The silly IT band stopped me dead in my tracks where I had to rub and stretch. After this short break I started to do scissor steps every 3rd walk break or whenever the pain was too intense. It slowed my pace, but helped with the pain, so was worth it.
Somewhere along this time I was also starting to get very hungry. I've never been able to figure out my nutrition as much as I would like to while I'm running. I hope this next year it will get easier for me. Anyway, I ate a shot blok every mile for the first few miles and drank Gatorade and water at the water stops but I still felt I needed more. Mark met me for the first time at mile 11. I gave him a hug and a salty kiss and asked for gummy bears. He gave me a handful and I was off and running. The gummy bears helped a lot.
Seward Park is second favorite part of the marathon but during on this particular day it the grey sky and clouds made it appear dark and dreary. It didn't help that there were gusts of cold wind. The gusts were strong enough in Seward Park I felt my jogging was standing still in more than a few spots. On a positive note, the half marathon marker was in the park, so it was a cheery boost to my morale.
Mark met me again with gummy bears and GU energy packets at miles 14, 17, and 19. He was also holding up a sign he made that read, "Go Jeanne", he then drew a large heart. He is so sweet! Mark is a great support person. I love to get hugs, kisses, and encouragement from him during the race. I'm looking forward to running with him in the 2014 Seattle Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon.
I ran miles 16 through 20 enjoying the marathon sights but not as much as I did in 2010. I was in pain from my IT band and it was spoiling the fun. I kept trying to enjoy the moments and I did for the most part. When I jogged up hills, I was extremely proud of myself because I knew the training I had done in preparation for the marathon had worked.
Galer Street is one of the steepest hills on the course and I was in a lot of pain right at the bottom of the hill so I decided to walk the incline. When I was 3/4 of the way up the hill I threw caution to the wind, pushed back the pain and started jogging. I jogged the rest of the way and turned onto Madison, the second steepest hill and jogged all of it until the water stop. By this time, I was crying from the pain. I had a few people at the water stop asking if I was okay. I said I was and continued on my way.
The arboretum is my favorite part of the course. There is a long downhill descent through the picturesque trees and then you start a gradual uphill climb through paved paths. When I think of the Seattle Marathon, I always envision the arboretum part of the course. It's so restful and peaceful running through the beautiful foliage. I was so disappointed I was in so much pain I wasn't able to fully enjoy it. All of my downhill runs allowed me to make up significant time but I paid the price in knee pain.
Mile 23 water stop was just what I needed. I can't believe I'm saying this. They were offering the usual water/Gatorade but they also had pretzels and wait for it, muffins! The muffins were cut up into quarters and were the perfect size. I had a my liquids and ate a quarter muffin and felt re-energized. A block away I got another boost of energy when I saw Mark. It was so good to see him again. He hadn't been at the bottom of Galer Street where I was expecting him. More streets than usual were blocked off, due to increased security because of the Boston Marathon bombing earlier this year.
Now I knew I only had a few miles left to go and in 2010 I was able to go faster at the end. This year I slowed down. It just hurt too much. I took a lot more walk breaks. I kept telling myself to enjoy the marathon you trained months for. The last mile hurt the worst. There is a severe descent which I normally LOVE but this time it hurt even to walk it. I wanted to smile and I did smile but inside I was not smiling. I saw the Team in Training ladies disappear around a corner in front of me. I never caught up to them again. Oh well. I made it through. As soon as I was on a flat surface again and closer to the finish line the endorphins kicked in once again and I forgot the pain. I was so happy to be finishing. I ran a marathon!!!
I'm very happy with my finishing time and I know with more training time under my belt next year it will be even better. I hope to have a 5:00:00 chip time next November 30th. I'm going to do a lot more cross-training this year to hopefully get my body in optimal shape so I don't have any injuries.
I found during running I was paying less attention to the surrounding buildings and/or houses and more attention to the runners. When I walked I had more time to gaze at the areas I walked through. Maybe it was because it was more crowded. I'm not sure.
Interesting runners I met:
Team in Training Runners - I met a group of these runners the at mile 2. I then passed and they passed me throughout the morning. I told them thank you for running and fundraising because of Sarah. They are so supportive of their runners and everyone else. I believe they tag team their runners. There are people waiting in spots along the course that run with them to a certain point and then they run back for other runners. Not only that, it looks like a coach may run with them all or most of the way. Every time I ran by a certain runner, I think we were keeping the same pace, her coach would ask how I was doing too. What a great organization. I hope to fundraise and run for them sometime in the future. I last saw the team in training runner I kept pace with the entire marathon at mile 25.5. She was in front of me!
Rose Sporty Diva - I noticed Rose the first mile of the race because she was thanking every volunteer in her loud cheery voice. We introduced ourselves on the 520 floating bridge and then talked again during the race. Rose is a very inspirational person who lost 100 pounds a while ago and now owns her own fitness business.
Two Runners Holding the American Flag - There were two separate people running the full marathon holding a large American Flag. I didn't even like holding a ziplock bag with my gummy shot bloks in it for a 4 miles. I cannot fathom carrying a heavy pole with a large flag on it 26.2 miles. Kudos to both of them! By the way, they were in a pace group of 3 hours or so.
Firefighter/EMT in Full Firefighter Gear - I met him at mile 10. I have no idea how he could walk a marathon in that heavy gear. I did a firefighter course in the Navy and could barely move walking around, let alone walk 26.2 miles. We talked for a few minutes before I took off at my pace. He gave me a Junior Firefighter sticker to wear on my shirt. He was walking for Code 3 For A Cure, a fundraiser to fight cancer.
Gingerbread Man - One cool dude! There was someone dressed as a gingerbread man running the Seattle Marathon in the 3.5 hour pace group. When I saw him I silently sang in my head the fairytale rhyme, "Run, run, as fast as you can, you can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man."
Guy in Orange Shirt, Black Shorts, Vibram shoes - I spoke to this guy throughout the first 20 miles of the marathon. We had very short conversations while we played leap frog. I think I passed him for the last time right before the arboretum.