On June 26, 2010, I ran the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. It took 6 months of training, 345 running miles, one toe nail, a little blood, some tears and a huge amount of desire and determination to complete the race. I am not a fast runner, by any means, but I finish. The challenge for me is the thrill of the race. Endorphins kick in and you just GO!
This was my fourth
marathon. The other three marathons were as follows:
- North Olympic Discovery Marathon 2006 (Port Angeles, WA)
- Chicago Marathon 2006 (my favorite one by far)
- Eugene Marathon 2007 (Eugene, OR)
People thought I was nuts to go on vacation to run a marathon. Actually, most people just thought I was plain crazy. These comments were, of course, from my non-running friends and family. I would get asked “will some body be chasing you?!” or “how far is that marathon?!”. I would just laugh and educate these couch potatoes.
How did I come to decide to run the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon when I live in Colorado? Yes, there are much closer races to home, but this one was special. Back in October 2009, I went to the Denver Marathon & Half Marathon race expo to pick up my packet for the Half Marathon. The Denver Marathon was going to be joining the Rock ‘n’ Roll series in 2010, so they had a variety of booths set up for the various Rock ‘n’ Roll races. One booth was for Seattle and you could enter to win a free entry into a Rock ‘n’ Roll race of your choice. I moved to Colorado in 2007 from Seattle, so of course Seattle was my FIRST choice on the entry. I ran the race and time went by. About 2 months later, I received an email that I had won a free entry to the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon from the Denver Marathon! I FLEW out of my chair at work and ran up and down the halls jumping up and down with joy!
There was absolutely NO question that I would indeed sign up and run the full marathon!
Training started Christmas weekend. My plan was all laid out and ready to go. Living in Colorado, weather can be an issue in the winter. A Summer marathon, means training in all different types of weather. I had everything from ice, hail, rain, snow, overcast, sunny, hot and cold. The first 6 mile run of my training was on icy sidewalks. Yes, right after mile one…BOOM down I went. It seemed to not fail, that on the weekends, we would get a snow storm and I was forced to run my long run on a treadmill at Life Time Fitness. I did not want to risk any more falls. My longest treadmill run during this training was 15 miles. Luckily, I am a TV and sports junkie, so the row of TVs on the wall at Life Time Fitness made these mile go by quickly.
In March I joined running group with Road Runner Sports. I had not been in a running group since leaving Seattle in 2007. To gain a larger participation base, I helped the leader with ideas to get the group more exposure. I created a Google Groups page, this is how we all communication with one another for long runs, races, training plans etc. It is a GREAT group of people. We run every Saturday morning at 8am (and added a 6:30am group to beat the summer heat), and on Wednesdays at 6pm. This group really helped me get more out of my training.
Finally after all of the training, my trip to Seattle was here. I left Tuesday after work and stayed until the following Wednesday. This way I had time before and after the marathon to have fun and relax. It was great to go back and act like a tourist. I took in the Cubs vs Mariners game after I hit the race expo. Those are my dream World Series teams! The Cubs ended up winning in 13 innings!
The day before the marathon, I made sure to take it easy and drink lots of fluids. I was staying with my friend Matt, so we stayed in and got pizza for dinner and watched a movie. All of my race day items were laid out. I built a mini-Kristen to make sure I had everything. This is a ritual of mine and a lot of runners. You lay out your entire outfit for the race, this includes shirt, shorts, socks, shoes, race bib, timing chip, iPod, and any nutrition you plan to carry during the race. Also packed was clothing for after the race. This all goes into the “bag check” bag that you load on UPS trucks before the start of the race. At the end you find your bag waiting patiently for you. We made it an early night since we had to leave the house at 4:30am.
Race morning, I got up as soon as my alarm went off. Got dressed & made my pre-race oatmeal with protein powder. I put it in a paper cup so I could eat it on the way to the shuttle buses. This was a point to point race. So we all loaded shuttle buses at the finish of the race (near Qwest Field and Safeco Field) and were bused South to Tukwilla for the start. Matt was kind enough to get up early and drop me off at the buses.
We loaded the bus and were on our way… unfortunately, our driver had NEVER been to Seattle in his life AND was not given a map to the start! Yes, he got us lost! Luckily, another runner when up to the front of the bus and directed him to where we needed to go. This is why you get to races early, to plan for the unexpected. We clapped and thanked our driver when we arrived safely. It was an hour and a half until the race was to start. I walked around to scope everything out, then found a spot to sit and eat the rest of my breakfast. I brought another paper cup, a small carton of milk & Cheerios – YUMMY! After cereal I had a banana along with a bagel the race provided. In my scoping adventure, I had found a row of Port-a-Potties that did not have a line, so I took the opportunity to use it before the line began!
This race was also to start in waves. I was in wave number 27, so at 7am I entered my coral and waited for us to make our way to the start. While waiting, I made friends with a girl from Chicago, Monica, and we are now Facebook friends! It took 45 minutes for our wave to hit the start line! AND WE WERE OFF!!!
After training at the mile high altitude of Colorado, this Sea-Level running was AWESOME!!! I was NEVER out of breath in the entire race! WOW what a difference that made.
This was quite a hilly course, with many out and back spurs. Our first spur was once we hit the I-90 floating bridge. Here the half-marathon headed west and the full-marathon headed east across the bridge. So of course this was an uphill battle. Being out on the bridge also brought the wind. At least once we turned around on the bridge, it was downhill until we headed up to the tunnel. At the tunnel is where the half and full marathoners met up again. There was a band in the tunnel and MAN that was LOUD!!! Once out of the tunnel, we headed towards downtown Seattle and worked our way to the Columbia street on-ramp to the Viaduct. Here was another half and full split. The half went South and full went North. We were on the lower level of the Viaduct and headed through the Battery Street Tunnel. Here again we encountered a long gradual hill up and over the Aurora Bridge. At the turn around it was downhill back across the bridge and through the tunnel. This brought us to the top level of the Viaduct with great views of Puget Sound, the waterfront, Mount Rainier and the stadiums.
Mile 22 is where it all changed… Approaching the off-ramp from the Viaduct, that goes down to the stadiums where the finish was, I noticed we were not turning, but kept on going forward instead. WHAT?! I can hear the finish line and smell victory! No! we still had another hill to go down, up, down and up before we got to come back and take that exit. So yes, it was another spur of an out and back. At this point my feet were really starting to hurt and my big right toe was in agonizing pain. I swore I was running on bloody stumps for feet and kept looking down at my shoes half expecting them to be turning red… they didn’t. I had to start walking, and run just spurts. The pain was becoming too much. Made it to the top of the hill and turn around and thought, OK you are on the home stretch!
I finally made it to that off-ramp which was all downhill! Fans lined the remaining of the route. Got to the bottom of the ramp and waved my arms up and down for people to cheer more! I knew all I had left was a turn through a parking lot and then the finish line was right around the corner! Looking down at my watch, I saw it was at 5 hours and 58 minutes… I am NOT going to go over 6 hours! So I hauled ass, as fast as I possibly could, with my bloody stumps for feet to the finish line. It felt like I was running faster than the Road Runner. There it was! The Finish Line!!! As I crossed I raised my arms, screamed out a YES and jumped in the air!!! My watch read 6 hours and 15 seconds! Not my best finish, but I was happy!
They put my finisher medal around my neck, and I could not get the smile off my face! I had just finished my 4th marathon!!!
I worked my way through the finishing chute to the food. Got my water, banana, orange slices and bagel. Next stop would be the UPS trucks to get my bag. Now it was time to sit, eat, and get my shoes off. I was so afraid to see what my socks were going to look like. Ever so gingerly I took my shoes off, and my socks were still white. Slipped on my slides and put the shoes away. Rested for a bit while I ate and got a hold of my friend Matt on the phone to see where he wanted to meet. Several streets downtown were still closed, so we agreed I would just head towards Pike Place Market and we would eventually run into each other. OMG, getting back up from that chair and trying to walk was another story. I hobbled along for a while, then finally got my feet back under me. Had to go quite a few blocks through Pioneer Square. About 2 blocks from Pike Place Market, Matt came driving up and I hopped in.
Back to his house in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle we went. Still afraid to take off my socks, I got ready to take a shower. Peeled my socks off and not a single blister in sight! Guess the pain was just friction.
My big toe still hurt like heck, and I had blue nail polish on so I could not see what was happening. I figured it was bruised from all the up and down running, and just from running the marathon period. Got all cleaned up and we headed to a friend’s for a BBQ.
Of course it was a house full of non-runners, so they all made fun of me hobbling around after being in a seated position for any amount of time. That was the BEST BBQ I ever tasted. Ok, Ok, I guess I may of been a little hungry. I probably could of eaten a heal and thought it was delicious.
It took about 2-3 days to comfortably walk and go up or down stairs. Keeping active after the marathon really helped get the legs working again. All-in-all it was a TERRIFIC way to spend my vacation. Not only did I get to run a marathon, I got to see old friends and have a great time. Playing tourist was awesome! Pike Place Market, Mariners game, Storm WNBA game, Pride Parade, BBQs, old High School friends, IKEA and much much more. Thank-you Seattle for a everything!
Ended up having to go to the doctor after I got back to Colorado for my toe. It was still hurting like a son-of-a-gun the Friday after my race (almost a week). I got the nail polish off and saw the bruising. A lot of pressure had built up causing the pain. My doctor laid me down and drilled a hole in the nail to relieve the pressure. YOWCH!!! I think the entire doctors office heard me scream when she got through the nail. There was no numbing before hand, it was just drill and relieve! She put me on antibiotics bandaged me up and sent me on my way. I will probably lose the nail, but at least some of the pain was relieved. One month later, the nail is still intact, but still badly bruised. Only time will tell.
What’s next? I will be running several half marathons this summer leading up to the Denver Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in October. A special medal will be mailed to me after that race that says 39.3. If you complete two Rock ‘n’ Roll events in one year, you get a special medal with that mileage (26.2 for the marathon and 13.1 for the half marathon = 39.3). I can’t wait!