Monday, January 16, 2012

Winter Triple!

Two weeks ago, I completed the Winter Triple Marathon.  3 marathons...3 days.  Here's my perspective on how I achieved 5 stars in the Marathon Maniacs.  My Marathon Maniac Profile Page

This is a 3 race report so go get your coffee and settle in.
(Photos courtesy of Bill Barmore, Michael Hsu, Takao Suzuki, and Steve Walters)

Here we go!  First Marathon
Yukon Do It! Marathon, 12/31/11
This race is close to my heart since I came up with the idea and we held the inaugural race last year.  I gave the race to Narrows Bridge Running Club but still feel like it's my baby.

Race morning was unusually frosty and presented runners with the "what do I wear?" quandary.  I oped for capris, tech short sleeve, vest and jacket I could toss to my family on course.  After dropping off some supplies at the finish line, my family drove to the high school and tried to stay warm as we waited for the start.  I wasn't listed in the entrants list but thankfully Jeff from Route 16 was there to vouch for me that I indeed should have a race bib.

After a bit of chilly socializing, it was race time!  We made our way down toward Beach Drive, slip-sliding along an icy hill.  Most runners veered to the edge of the road while some opted to take advantage of the ice and slide their way down to the bottom.  I caught up with Lori Moriarity to say hi before I lost sight of her.  She's capable of running a very fast marathon and neither of us knew what the day would hold.

We continued to run along Beach Drive, Puget Sound to our left with snowy Olympic Mountains painted in the sky.  Puget Sound Naval Shipyard was across the water and sea lions were cheering in the distance.  The Bremerton/Seattle ferry made its way across the Sound as we paraded down the street.  The road was open to traffic with orange cones placed intermittently to warn drivers of our presence.  This is the safest I've ever felt along Beach Drive.  My hope is that someday our town would recognize the high volume of people who use this road and provide a safer sidewalk/boardwalk on this 4 mile stretch.


Camels...yes, you read the correctly...watched as we ran by and created a nice distraction from the race.

Manchester State Park loop took us off the main road and down toward last year's start/finish area.  This section of the course is the only hill challenge but definitely made an impact on how I was feeling.  I have run this section of road innumerable times felt reassured knowing I had 4 miles of flat road ahead before the turnaround, with another 4 miles on the return before I would face the hills again.  Jonathon Phillips, a local standout runner, ran with me the last few miles before the half-way mark, coming off an injury and no running.

Turnaround time was about 1:48.  My family had finished their volunteering and occasionally do drive-by encouragements.  The camels seemed especially enthralled with all of the spectators as well as the aid station alongside their fence.  The frontrunners ran out of the park as I approached the entrance.  Steve Jensen, a local runner, would go on to pass the lead man, and take the win.  I saw Lori in the park, still looking strong.

With 4 miles to go, and all of it flat, I made each step purposeful, determined to keep up my cadence, even if my pace did slow.  I knew I was gaining my friend, Lori, in first place.  I hadn't realized there was another woman between her and I.  With 3 miles to go, I caught a glimpse of the second woman and felt certain she was running just slower than my pace.  At an aid station, I made my move as she slowed to get fluid.  I didn't know how she would respond but soon felt confident that she was content keeping her even pace and didn't attempt to catch me.

The last few miles flew by and other veteran triple challengers questioned my race strategy, knowing what was ahead of me in the next 2 days.  I had decided to just go by how I felt, not trying to break any PRs, but also treating it as a race.  I finished in 3:39:47, 2 minutes slower than Lori, and discovered I indeed was 2nd female and also won the female masters award.  That was nice for me as Lori is also a master and some races would have given her both awards.  Sorry Lori!

Yukon race schwag
After a short refueling, my body began it's typical shivering and I knew it was time to get home.  We dropped off Andy Fritz at his car. I know he wasn't pleased with his race.

After washing my running clothes and eating and resting, all while wearing compression socks, I set the alarm for Part 2 of my quest.  My New Year's Eve ended at 10:00 p.m.!

First Chance Marathon 1/1/12

Steve Walters threw this race together when he noted the 12/31 and 1/2 marathons on schedule.  The Maniac he is decided this was a Triple opportunity waiting to happen.  Lori and I met up at 7:15 and I drove us to the start, Woodland Park Zoo.  We had 30 minutes to compose ourselves before heading into the realm of crazy.  Well, crazy for non-maniacs.or ultra runners.

Getting instruction at First Chance Marathon
Lori was concerned about her hamstring and decided to make a goal to finish and not worry about the time. That was my plan as well.  The morning wasn't as cold as Yukon, thankfully.  The runners were sent on our way and I knew a bathroom break was essential.  Jessica Bienvenue directed me to the closest one along our path, within the first half mile.

We made our way down Stone, a long slight descent with various crosswalks and lights.  I was more than half-way down the road before it occurred to me that I would be running UP that twice.  At least it wasn't steep.  Elevation drop of 200 feet in just over a mile. I have never run in this area and was excited to finally see some familiar names such as Burke-Gilman, Ship Canal, and Shilshole.  I knew a bathroom break was inevitable but there were none on the course unless I chose to walk to the nearest market.  At the turnaround, I found a secluded tree.

I met Amanda along the way back toward the start line and we distracted ourselves from the run (she had also run a marathon the day before in Bellingham) with conversations about running and family.  Soon we found ourselves back at the start, refueled quickly and were on our way out to finish the second half.  2:10 half marathon.

Miranda and I out for our second half
Lori opted to walk the half marathon after a constant pain in her hamstring.  It was a smart decision to back off knowing her long-term goals are more important than completing a back-to-back marathon.

Miranda dropped off mid-way through the out section of the course and I just kept plodding along, just determined to finish.  Most of my miles were in the 9's with a few in the 8s.  With just 2+ miles to go, the sun felt like it was beating down on me.  I used this as an excuse to walk and transfer my bib from my long-sleeve shirt to my tank underneath.  I just needed to get up this last long incline followed by a shorter but steeper hill just before the finish.  After finally making my way through the last crosswalk, I made my way up without walking and finishined in 4:14:56, a negative split.
Burke-Gilman Trail

Steve Walters congratulated me and told me I was the women's winner and had the course record.  What?!?  I called him a liar more than once but he wouldn't take the plaque back from me so I guess it's true.  I felt fatigued but didn't hurt anywhere.  Happy New Year!

2nd Marathon Complete!  First Female Finisher

Hanging with Lori and Bill.  You know you like me, Bill.  

My biggest fear for the third marathon is not waking up in time.  I admit I am a grumbler when I don't get enough rest.  I love sleep!  It's a shame I can't get more accomplished while I'm unconscious.

Sunrise along the Sammamish River Trail
Jeff agreed to drive me to the race after I gave him scenarios of my calves cramping on the drive and me crashing our vehicle.  We were on our way before 6:00 a.m. and I had the luxury of resting against my pillow.  Our drive was almost uneventful, if you don't count the flying wheel and miscellaneous objects hurling through the air on the Interstate out of nowhere, and then getting a little lost.  Thankfully Jessica Bienvenue rescued us with good directions to the parking lot.

We arrived with a few minutes to spare and I had just enough time to use the bathroom while Jeff got my bib.  8:00 start and we headed out along the flat and nicely paved Sammamish River Trail. Past 2 miles and Jeff joined me for part of the run.  We ran out 4 miles before heading back to the vehicle.  I dropped my long sleeve and vest at the vehicle and continued on my way back to the turnaround.  The trail follows, obviously, the Sammamish River, a well-used path.  I remembered running along some of this trail for the Labor Day Half that started at the Redhook Brewery.  Since I don't live or run in this area often, these observations often catch me by surprise.

The half-marathoners started at 9:00, giving the full marathoners and 50kers the opportunity to cheer them on as they came toward us.  I saw many friends and felt my stride pick up.  Have I mentioned I felt great?  No?  Well, I did!  My legs were fatigued, but nothing was hurt or nagging.  My pace, when running, was fairly consistent.  The only issue on this 3rd marathon was that I  kept going off course at each passing of the restroom.

I ran with David Pearson, another triple marathoner, and we helped each other keep a decent pace until the turnaround.  He is deaf and I did my best to communicate without looking foolish.  Which I'm sure I did.  My daughter is studying American Sign Language and gave me the I-told-you-so look when I mentioned this.  Yes, dear, I should pay more attention.

Goosebumps at the half-marathon and I downed a nectarine and grabbed some crackers and refilled my bottle before heading back out.   If you remember that feeling the night before Christmas as a child, the anticipation and excitement that builds up...that is how I felt as I left the aid station.  I just needed to go out one more time and I was done!

There were a couple of slower miles after the half due to bathroom breaks, but from mile 19 to the finish, I hit every mile under 9 minutes.  David Pearson lost some of his momentum and couldn't quite keep up with me which was a shame because running with a person who has the same goal in mind does wonders for my energy levels.

I was soon at the corner to the little bridge that led to the finish.  I rounded the last corner and smiled (okay, I smiled for the last 4 miles as usual) at my accomplishment.  3:56:07 on my Garmin.
I did it!  My first triple!

Steve Walters made special medals for triple finishers and also a shirt (now one of my favorite running shirts).

So for three marathons, I finished 2nd overall female in the first race, 1st overall female in the second race and third overall female in the third race!  How cool is that!  2-1-3!

My recovery has been exceptional and I was able to get back up to 6+ miles within 2 days of the 3rd race.  It's back to base building, working on my nutrition and building core strength and balance in the winter months.
Really happy!
The amazing Jessica Bienvenue, after her
half-marathon triple finish
I'm okay!  And this is my third
marathon on three days!