Friday, October 22, 2010

Four Stars * * * * Part Two

Poulsbo Marathon     October 17, 2010     Race Start:  7:30 am

Sleep?  Who needs sleep?  That was my hope as I pulled myself off the bed at 4:45 a.m. Sunday morning before my alarm rang.  I tried to sleep, I really did, even pulling off the impressive act of turning out my lights by 8:37 p.m. the night before.

Yesterday I finished the Point Defiance 50k without injury and, after post-race food and a soak in the frigid waters of Puget Sound, drove straight to my daughter's soccer game.  Being a mom doesn't get put on hold because I decided to run a few miles.  Oh yeah, I'm also the assistant coach to her team so, you know, I should be there.

I wrapped myself in a blanket and sat with the soccer team, thankful that the sun was shining.  Actually I felt good considering my morning adventures.  Post-soccer game, I stopped for bake-at-home pizza for dinner.  No, this was not my healthiest nutrition weekend.  The rest of the day I took it easy and my legs overall were not complaining too much. Those stings were a nuisance, though, and after the achiness wore off, the itchiness began.  I scrambled to find Benadryl cream.

Lying in bed, I would just get comfortable and my legs would need to move.  Stretch out, bend, lie on side, lie on back, lie on other side, stretch - ooh! Cramp!  Bend, sit up...this is ridiculous!  I woke up at least every hour needing to change positions as my legs just didn't want to be still.  I had just the thing for them in the morning!

I went through the morning race rituals:
  • check the weather outside
  • drink coffee
  • force myself to eat something
  • make final decision on race clothing
  • garmin, watch, water, gu, ibuprofin, Ipod (only because it was such a small race and could get lonely)
  • jump up and down to test the legs...calves seemed a little twitchy
Ready or not, I needed to get moving.  Yesterday's hectic start kept me motivated to leave by 5:55 a.m.

Packet pickup was located at North Kitsap High School in Poulsbo, a five minute walk to the start.   Thankfully I arrived at 6:45 a.m., which allowed me plenty of time to get my bag, use the indoor bathroom and still have time to sit in my vehicle to warm up a little and locate my Garmin satellite.

I chose my Maniac Yellow tank and had pinned the Portland Marathon and Point Defiance 50k bibs on my back.   The morning was cool so I started off wearing my long sleeve MM shirt and later tied it around my waist.

The starting line was filled with anxious runners and I saw some other maniacs and familiar faces in the crowd.  One porta-potty in sight and I was so happy to not have a repeat of the Portland Marathon.

The first mile was a pleasant downhill though my legs were tight and my quads told me to slow down.  Once again the competitive spirit needed to take a back seat today as I let runners pass me.  Up ahead, a small crowd of runners circled a man on the side of the road as he stood.  He either had fallen or had a seizure or both...I still don't know.  He seemed okay as I passed and I knew with at least six runners with him, there was no point in me trying to help.

Lemolo Shore Drive greeted us with beautiful views of the water with seals and/or sea lions sunbathing on a deck off shore.  This was an easy flat section of the course and my legs didn't feel as if they'd run 31 miles the day before. 

Poulsbo Place in the Winter

Poulsbo Place on Parade

Historic Front Street
  We made our way to Front Street, a shopping district representing "Little Norway".  Soon we ran by a neighborhood of colorful houses called Poulsbo Place.

Fish Park Boardwalk
American Legion Park
We descened a hill down to Fish Park which was located behind an auto dealership.  This was a fun out and back section of trail and boardwalk.  We exited Fish Park on stairs and ran back up the hill to Front Street and turned into American Legion Park along the waterfront. 

Benjamin Chan, fellow Marathon Maniac, was just in front of me and I was able to catch up with him and we ran together until about mile 12.  He had also run Portland and Point Defiance 50k.  A proud new dad, he has found it difficult to get longer training runs in, mostly because he doesn't want to be away from his baby girl.  A fifth Maniac Star * * * * *  should be his by this Sunday. 

The 12th mile was fun for me as I encouraged a half-marathoner toward her first finish.   I continued on and found the road suddenly empty of people. 

The second half of the marathon challenged me not only with the distance but hills and solo running.   As I ran on Suquamish Way, incredible water views kept me occupied as I neared the next aid station.   It was such a relief to see REAL PEOPLE associated with the race.  The last aid station seemed like a hour ago.  I continued on and was faced with a steep hill exiting Suquamish and made my way up and up and up Columbia Street somewhere between miles 20 and 23.

The last aid station was about 3 miles from the finish and as I was leaving, I had to ask, "Am I the LAST runner?" because I had not seen anyone in miles and I could not remember if Benjamin was in front or behind me.  They smiled and told me that there were a lot of people behind me and I accepted it even though they could have been just trying to encourage me. 

I passed one runner, finally, about mile 24.  With two miles to go, my legs suddenly felt light and I'm pretty sure I smiled the entire way to the finish.  As I rounded a corner with less than half a mile to go, I gave a whoop to the enthusiastic volunteer as she cheered me on my way to the track. 

This feeling of accomplishing something that seemed so difficult is hard to describe.  As I entered the track and was sprinting for all I'm worth, my entire being seemed lit up from the inside.  The clock read 4:20 as I ran through the Finish Line, a time that normally would not find me smiling.   This day, however, it felt as if God's hand was lifting me up and sprinkling glittery happy dust all around me. 

The race director, Michelle Woodward, asked if I wanted my award now and I honestly was confused.  She informed me that I was the third woman and I asked, "Third in my age group?" and she said, "No, third woman overall."  Huh?  My response:  "With a 4:20???  Are you sure?"

She gave me a goodie bag as a prize and I wanted to know what the overall winner's time was so I read the board and saw that I was the fourth woman.  I let Michelle know that there must have been a mistake and returned the prize.

As I was eating a bagel, Michelle approached me and said that the other "woman" was really a man and I was INDEED third overall and first in my age group. 

Four Stars!
 I wasn't last.  I finished all my races, ran injury-free and found joy in the run.  What more could I have asked?  How about   FOUR STARS!

Poulsbo Marathon Garmin Details

Got safety pins?

Poulsbo Marathon goodies
Kitsap Sun Photo Gallery