Seattle Marathon Race Report

Someone asked me this morning if I had fun on the marathon. I replied, "I wouldn't exactly call running 26.2 miles 'fun' but I am proud that I did it."

That about sums up my second marathon. On May Day of this year I ran my first marathon; the Vancouver Marathon. Vancouver was awesome. I'm sure I've forgotten the pain and angst of running the 26.2, much like one forgets the pangs of childbirth (or so I'm told). I just remembered that I ran, saw a lot of really beautiful sights, met a lot of friendly people, and enjoyed about 90% of the race.

Seattle was both better and worse than Vancouver for me. It was worse because the pain started very early on. I never enjoy the first few miles. I'm a long distance runner at heart, I guess, because it usually takes me two or even three miles to feel my groove. I found my groove around mile three and even exclaimed, "Wow! We've done three already? Sweet!" when I passed the mile marker. Unfortunately around mile five the pain began. My ankle had been bothering me for weeks, enough so that I actually saw a doctor. (Which led my aerobics teacher to exclaim, "Well how uncharacteristically sensible of you!") It started in a tad at mile five and just so that my right leg wouldn't be left out, my right quad tightened up like a drum. Bummer to start pain so early!

But the good thing is, the pain never really got any worse. My ankle never did hurt that bad, just enough to remind me it was there. My quad tightened and loosened, but again never did get too bad. So the good thing is, I really didn't have any points on the race where I wanted to lob off a limb or bail over a bridge or anything.

Roy wasn't planning on running. During one of our long runs he fell on his back and bruised the heck out of his tailbone. Against doctors orders, he ran the half marathon. I don't know whether to be proud of him or smack him upside the head for being a fool! I understand, though. It's so hard to train for six months and end up standing on the sidelines taking pictures. See, I knew I could turn him into a runner! My evyl plan worked!

I had toyed with doing the half myself. After all, I have another marathon scheduled on January 8. The sensibility of running two marathons within five weeks of each other seems, at best, tenuous. But when it looked like Roy wouldn't run, I thought "Oh, what the heck. I'll go for the whole thing!"

I had been running all season with Beth. We met in Seattlefit, a training program for the Seattle Marathon. She talks almost as much as I do, and runs at my pace. A match made in heaven! We'd done all of our long runs together, swapped stories about our families, husbands, and in-laws. I know that she has a serious case of puppy longing on the brain. She knows that my big fear in life is gaining weight.

So Roy and I met Beth for the expo on Saturday. We went into the Westin and got our numbers, then went to get the goodie bag. The shirt this year is awesome; sort of a maroon red. Very nice. Last year was puke green and the year before, strained carrot orange. Much improved color choice this year! We tested the new power bars, partook of the freebies, and drooled over future marathons in wild and exotic places like Arizona and Fargo!

Roy and I had rented a hotel room for the night in downtown Seattle. We took our carbo-load dinner at Spaghetti Factory, serenaded by a crying baby the entire time. (Why do parents take tired children into restaurants with two hour waits then stand near diners while the child wails? Why? Please answer this for me?) We waddled out of there, went back to the hotel, assembled our race gear and readied our breakfast, then sank into the "Sleep System" at the Crowne Plaza. (It looked like a plain old bed and pillows to me, but what do I know?) I slept surprisingly well after a week of insomnia.

We got up and saw wet streets out our tenth story window. Dang! It looked like we might be running in the rain! We'd planned to take the Monorail to the race site, but the night before the two monorails had hit each other when one driver (who I'm sure is now filing for unemployment even as I type) failed to yield to the other driver in the turn. Oops! We piled our junk into the car, checked our race gear 10 more times, then headed down to the Seattle Center. Parking was surprisingly easy to find. What wasn't easy was paying for parking. How difficult is it to punch in a number and put money into a feeder? Apparently quite because it eluded many a runner. Finally I came out to see why it was taking Roy 20 minutes to pay for parking and pointed to the envelopes and the slot and said "Is there a reason you can't just put the money in there and write the number on the envelope like it says?"

So much for high tech.

I dropped Roy off for the half marathon start and cheered him on with a kiss and a big hug. I was worried about him since the streets were slick and he's not exactly the most stable guy on his feet in the best of times. Off he went with 4000 other halfers, and off I went to find my group.

I met up with the Seattlefit group at the Asa Mercer Opera house. We laughed and talked and took turns using the bathroom (when ya gotta, ya gotta...and before a race, ya gotta). Beth and I hooked up and made our way to the starting line with about ten minutes to go. We seeded ourselves well back so that we wouldn't be trampled by faster runners, or fools going out too fast. Someone sang the National Anthem. The sun came out, the air horn blew, and we were off! It took two minutes to cross the starting line, but we were off!

The first few miles went pretty well. I was finding my groove. Beth kept reminding me NOT to go too fast. We passed people gawking on the side of the road and I had to laugh when I heard a lady say into her cell phone, "Oh my GOD there are a LOT of crazy people running by me!" Apparently she was unaware that a marathon was taking place. We ran down Fifth Avenue, under the monorails and oohed and ahhed over the the sight of the two cars smooshed up next to each other. We waved at the passersby on their way to church, and thanked the course support. Many people cheered us on and I called out more than once, "Thank you! Can you meet us again at mile 24 and say the same thing?"

Miles 2-3 took us through the tunnel. Lots of yelling and whooping and echos of crazy people still excited about this endeavor. We passed people and were passed. We smiled and waved and high fived.

Miles 4-8 took us up onto the Mercer Island Floating Bridge that spans Lake Washington. It is a beautiful lake...a HUGE beautiful lake! We lucked out in having the sun on our shoulders the entire span, with very little wind. When the wind whips up on the lake, the bridge can be treacherous. It's the same bridge we take in the Danskin Triathlon and the wind was whipping my first year, so I was extremely thankful NOT to have to deal with that wind with temps in the 40s! As we turned and headed back down the bridge we saw some dark, scary looking clouds in the West. Beth pointed them out and I said "Nope! They won't hit us! La la la! Come join me in denial! It's a lovely place! La la la!"

I was right, they never did hit us...but they did hit Roy! After the race he said it was great, except when it rained. Well the rain didn't touch us! I'm so glad. Running 26 miles in the rain is not exactly my idea of a good time.

As soon as we got off the bridge we hit our fourth water stop. As usual, I was pretty sure I didn't REALLY have to go to the bathroom when the race started. Well I was wrong. I passed up three portapotties, not wanting to slow us down. Finally it appeared that like it or not, I was going to hit a line. So at mile 8 I stopped in a short porta pottie line. I don't know what people were doing in there, but I think we lost about 15 minutes! I did chat with a very nice elderly gentleman who was running his first marathon! He was so excited. He told me that next weekend (as in seven days from that very moment) he was going to run in the Las Vegas marathon. I tried to keep the "Dood, you are so insane!" look out of my eyes because two marathons in seven days is crazy for a young, virile person who has run a number of marathons. But two in seven days when you're just trying your first one? Yeah, insanity thy name is Porta-Pottie dude. He was sweet, though. He had picked up tickets to Celine Dion and booked two nights at the Luxor (hope they have a hot tub and masseuse). He hadn't told his wife yet because he knew she'd go ballistic when she heard he was planning on running another marathon, so he thought Celine would soften the blow.

Good luck Porta-Pottie Dude! May swift feet, lots of Ben Gay and an understanding, Celine-loving wife be in your immediate future!

Miles 9-17 were equally as sunny. We ran around the west side of Lake Washington to the South, through Seward Park (home of the Furry 5k in June!), along the waterfront and looped back around. Our blessings for that part of the trail was two giant grey herons taking up out of the reeds. Wow, those are amazing birds!

Beth's blessing for this part of the trail was her husband, Bill. Her face just lit up when she saw him at mile 11. You have no idea how much it means to someone to see a familiar face when you're out there. We stopped for a kiss break (her kissing, me just grinning) and then went on. Hit another kiss break at mile 16 or so. One of our fellow Seattlefitters teased her as she ran by and I said "I don't know. She just keeps doing this...stopping and kissing strange men on the route. I just pretend I don't know her."

Mile 18 was a rough one for Beth. I knew it was difficult when I said "Wow! Look! 18 miles! Only 8 to go!" and she growled, "Yeah, that's not helping any more." I tried to support her through 18, asking how she was doing (and one time getting a response from a rather tired looking gentleman who thought I was talking to him). She rallied around mile 19 and we were on our way feeling good again. At that point we decided to take it two miles at a time. There were two miles between each water station, so we never had more than two to go before we could take a walk break.

Mile 20 came and we played an alphabet movie game. Thank the good lord for the letter Q! There is a GNARLY hill that leads to a less gnarly, but very LONG hill that leads to Interlaken Park. The entire gnarly time all I could think was "Movie that starts with Q. Q. What starts with Q. Queen? Queenie? Quality? The Mighty Quin! No, STARTS with Q. Quicksand? Was that a movie? I could say it was and pretend it was one she had never heard of. No, that would be wrong. Think of Q words. Quagmire. Quack. Is there a Quack movie? No. Quay? Priscilla Queen of the Desert! No no, that starts with P. Damn, too bad I didn't have P. That was an awesome movie. Admiral Zog dressed as a woman. Roy always hated that. Was it Zog? Anyhow, that Superman guy...oh, I have S too, remember Superman. Damn my butt hurts. Okay Q. Q. Quiffle, no that's Quaffle and that's from Quiddich from Harry Potter, which starts with an H."

That little internal monologue saw me all the way up that hill!

I never did come up with a Q movie, but she came up with "Quigley Down Under."

Miles 21 and 22 took us up to and through Interlaken Park which runs right through the Arboretum. It's a slow ascent that feels like it goes on forever, but wow is it beautiful (and cold). There are ferns, moss, trees (and cold), birds singing (cold birds), mushrooms, all sorts of flora and fauna (and cold). It was a nice run, although I think it would be even nicer if my butt wasn't on fire from that damn hill. At mile 23 we heard this racous music playing and I said "It's about time! This course needs WAY more music!" We rounded the corner and there was Katherine, one of our Seattlefit coaches jumping up and down screaming at us, taking pictures, offering candy and dancing to the music. I wanted to kiss her full on the mouth, but that would have been unseemly. Thank the Lord for Katherine because right up ahead I had been seeing that Wall. You know the one. The Wall. Not Pink Floyd's Wall either. THE Wall. Blessedly Katherine, some rockin' tunes, and a miniature Milky Way pushed the wall back about a mile.

Unfortunately it was waiting for me at mile 24. Damn Damn Damn. I was SO hoping I'd missed The Wall. There it was, though. It wasn't pain. It was just exhaustion. I was tired. I was sort of floating tired and wonky and bleh and ugh all rolled into one package. "Can I quit now?" No, of course I can't quit! I started to think about my list of people I was dedicating my run to; my family, my friends (Jennifer, Angie, Larissa, Andrea, Wendie, Misty, Rhonda, Pam, Liesa, other Lisa, and many others), Katherine Switzer (first woman to legally run Boston), FloJo, Roberta Gibb (first woman to run Boston, illegally). They wouldn't want me to quit! I couldn't let them down!

Suddenly there it was. My favorite number...I yelled out "TWENTY FIVE! My favorite number! Only a mile. I can do a mile."

Beth says, "If you like that one, wait 'til you see 26!" I could do this! That last mile is hard, it's long, but blessedly it is the last mile. We were back in the city. There were more spectators on the street. I wore my goofy grin (even when I didn't feel like grinning). There was music. There were noisemakers. We could see the Space Needle and it was getting CLOSER! Just one more mile! One more hill! Then it was Krispy Kreme and Clam Chowder and toilets that flush, thanks be to God!

At this point we were both more stumbling than running, but we were doing it. I said to Beth, "Despite how I feel right now, I am so glad I did this. I wasn't sure I could, but I'm glad I did."

We ran down Republican, we ran towards Mercer, I looked at the Mercer hill and thought, "It is what it is and you can't finish until you crest that hill, so go for it!" Then there it if I thought 25 was a beautiful sight, I just hadn't seen 26! I yelled out "My NEW favorite number! Praise the LORD for 26!!!" My eyes welled up...damn, I'm crying. We turned into the finish chute, me muttering "No crying. No crying. No crying. You can't breathe when you cry."

I saw my new favorite word, "Finish" and to the right heard a voice, "Yay Tory! Yay! Go Tory!" There was my assistant principal, her husband, and my husband cheering me on! I smilled, tears came again! We ran across the finish line and Beth and I embraced, both breathing our thank yous through tears of happiness. Someone put a medal around my neck and I thanked her and told her she was my new best friend. Someone else took off my timing chip and I thanked him. Someone else put a foil blanket over my shoulders. Roy and Linda ran over to hug me and take pictures. I felt like a million (sort of painful) bucks! I did it! I now had two marathons under my belt.

My official time was 5 hours and 5 minutes (damn that porta-potty line). The bummer was, the next porta potties HAD NO LINE! We would have made a sub five hour marathon if not for my cursed tiny bladder...but oh well!

Good points:

* No rain!
* Warmer than last year
* Plenty of water stations
* Running with Beth
* Beauty of the Pacific Northwest
* Herons
* Running across the bridge over Lake Washington
* The letter Q
* The number 25
* The number 26
* The word "Finish"
* Course support
* Crazy people in goofy shirts
* Every single person who stood on the sidelines and clapped and said "You look awesome! You look strong!" I know you were lying like a cheap rug from Walmart, but I love you all for saying it.
* Linda and her husband who came out JUST to see me finish. How cool is that?
* Roy who ran, even though he shouldn't have, and took pictures, and hugged me and saved me a banana and who loves me and supports me in all of my crazy endeavors.

Sucky points:

* Sore ankles (which, believe it or not, does NOT hurt at all today)
* Sore quads
* Not enough porta-potties
* Hills
* Recovery area had too many kids shoving in taking food...people, if your kid hasn't just run 13.1 or 26.2, buy him a Happy Meal, dammit!
* Some of the food was gone by the time I came in and there were still a LOT of runners behind me
* Not enough fun stuff on the course. We NEED distractions! Vancouver had bands, deejays, cheer squads, etc. Seattle just does not have enough people along the course. God bless those who ARE there. I won't do the full in Seattle again, mainly because there simply is not enough going on along the course to keep me from noticing the fact that I'm running for a really really really long time!

So my next crazy stunt? I'm going to run another marathon on January 8. Yes, I am insane. Why do you ask? Walt Disney World Marathon HERE I COME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!