Sunday, October 12, 2008

Whistlestop Marathon, Ashland Wisconsin

6:00 am and the alarm bell tolled. My throat was a bit scratchy, but I was amazingly feeling "almost okay." The morning temps were 46-48 degrees as we departed from the "bus-depot"----gotta love those school buses! :0) I sat with a TINY lady who had hopes of running a qualifying time for Boston----tsha! In MY dreams......

The temps warmed to about low 50's by gun time at 9:00. I actually had carried my cellphone with me in my "gotta-keep-me-going-with-sugar" pouch, so I was texting Julie at the start and TRIED to send a pic of the 900 runners in front of me as we set off from the start line. The announcer was saying there were record registrants this year, with about 900 marathoners and 1500 half-marathoners. There were also a good couple hundred 10K'ers and 5K'ers. I knew of three half-marathoners (Keri, Pam and Judge Harrington) and my sister ran the 5K.

I found it hard to dress for the day! I ended up running in my tights, a short sleeve blue shirt (which you will see in the later pics) with a long-sleeve FINISHER shirt from the marathon 2 years ago. Oh yes....I also had on gloves (which were removed by mile 3) and my good-luck charm "rabbit hat." SADLY-----I finally broke down at mile 16 and took it off :0(

The first 10 miles went very, VERY easy, coasting right around 10:30-10:45's. I needed to take a 2 minute "pit-stop" at mile 5-----*sigh*-----ya gotta go when ya gotta go.

Then...right around mile 11, things started getting bad, and then ugly, and then pretty near uglier! I was bonking ALREADY!!!! My legs were losing strength fast, and I felt my pace slow with every step. Jen and Cassie met up with me at mile 12, and sadly, all I had to say was "Jen, this is going to be a mental race from this point on." I gave Cassie a hug, and as I took off, emotions were already starting to take over---my eyes were welling, and I actually started to hyperventilate --- so I HAD to do some mental talk to calm myself down. I KNEW I was going to finish, but I think the emotion of frustration was creeping into my mind because I was already seeing my 4:45 goal start to slip away as my miles were dropping to 11:15's.

At mile 14, Jen and Cass were there again, with CHOCOLATE in hand. Again, I gave Cass a hug, and set off on my way hearing "You can do it Amy---hang in there!" The aid stations are a bit hazy in my head, but I know I didn't eat the candybar right away---I waited until I got closer to an aid station so I could get some water to wash it down, as well as some powerade. I wasn't really in the mood for chocolate, but I KNEW the importance of getting some sugar to my legs, so I gulped the water to wash it down and sipped the powerade.

Mile 16 brought the smiling faces AGAIN! Cassie created her own "noise-maker" by banging rocks together as I came up. I still was struggling, my pace having backed off to 11:30's (sigh). My sister took all of these wonderful photos, by the way. I chose NOT to crop this one because it gives a BEAUTIFUL shot of what the entire race looked like. It's on a snowmobile trail that spans three counties; nicely groomed and packed, and surrounded by trees, trees, trees. The trees were at PEEK color time, very few of them on the ground. Last year, almost ALL the leaves were already gone because of such a cold, windy September.

Suddenly, around mile 17, AMAZINGLY my legs were coming back to life and my energy was picking up. I was able to pick my pace up without much effort, and I was once again running at about a 10:30 pace (NOT counting my walking stops at the aid stations). At mile 18, my sister was able to get a shot of a female who had passed me some time back, but slowly I was able to gain on her. In fact, over the next few miles, I started passing people, one at a time. It WAS nice being able to do that after struggling for most of 11 through 17. Typically, at THIS point is when people are starting to 'bonk,' so felt good!

Mile 20 was the last stop my sister was planning to meet me at. Cassie asked if she could walk with me for a bit as I drank my powerade and water, and she sent me off onto my last 6 miles with a smile, a hug, and a "good luck mom! Run fast!" I did ask Jen to try to find another spot at around mile 23 just as one final "good luck," but I knew it was hard to follow any roads after this point. And sure enough, no happy faces at mile 22 or 23, so I kept the mental talk going, knowing they'd be there at the end cheering me across the finish. There was an aid station at 21.5 where I grabbed a cookie and the usual water and powerade. And--MAN---the next 1.5 miles until the next aid station was TOO LONG of a distance! And SADLY, there were no cookies at the station, so I settled only on the powerade. (note: next year, I WILL train with Cliffshots and have some readily available for the marathon). And, for how long it took for the 23 mile aid station, that's how fast the next one came up----seriously.....half mile later at 23.5! I'm not one to complain, but those stations really could have been spread more evenly! Anyone, I grabbed a cookie, HOPING it would bring some life back to my quickly fading legs........

then, as I turn one of the last bends before exiting the trail and entering the town, there's Cass and Jen! I wasn't expecting them AT ALL! They were walking down the trail towards me with the intentions of running along side me for a short distance. However I needed a short break (even though Jen was doing her best to get me going....)

So, one final good luck, with about 1.5 miles to go. Checking my watch, my 4:45 goal was already long gone, but I had a small window of opportunity to tie, if not beat last year's time of 4:59. However, ....UGH! As soon as we were out of the shelter of the tree lines, the easterly wind that was forecasted was finally very apparent. A full headwind of about 5-10 miles an hour was upon us, and after 24 miles of running, it took all of my mental toughness to keep my legs going. I probably walked about 3 times in this last 1.5 mile stretch, and as I was turning into the last turn, I saw my watch tick 5:00-----*sigh*! Oh well.......

found Cass and Jen in the crowd immediately and motioned for Cass to run in with me as she has done the past two years. And finally, 5 hours, 3 minutes and 18 seconds after the gun went off, I was done. (FYI 5:02:15 is my actually chip time since I always start so far back in the pack). I felt fine----glad to be done, but not completely exhausted. After how I felt from miles 11 to 17, I am satisfied with my finish and HECK---I burned 2600 calories! Not bad!!! .....and....well....there's always next year :0)

Then....about 15 minutes later, after cooling down, resting, drinking some water, and attempting to stand up *wink*, I suddenly feel a "weird pain" on my left foot. Sure shootin----my 4th toenail was black-n-blue and "loose." That baby will be off in no time *sigh*. I blame my shoes completely---they should have been replaced months ago, but just never got around to it until 2 weeks ago. 2 weeks has not been enough time to break in my new pair of shoes to feel comfortable running 26 miles, so I relied on my old ones. *shaking head*....yet another lesson learned.

We didn't spend much time around the post-party-tent. We looked over the results of the other races: Jen finished her 5K in 34 minutes; Keri and Pam finished their half-marathons under 2 hours!!!! YEAH!!!! (1:57 if I remember correctly). They made their goal :0)

After arriving back to the Farm and after a good, hot shower, I snuggled up on the couch for a nice hour long nap. Today----I am feeling okay----definitely a bit stiff and sore, but I can move. Heck---maybe I'll even head out for a short run!!! *wink* (hmmmm......maybe not with this toe)


Julie said...

I am cheering for you here in Alabama!! I have been wondering how things went. Sorry about the toenail. :-(
I am amazed that you did so well after being sick. It just shows how well you have trained that your body hung in there with you. You are setting such a good example for your daughter and she is obviously proud of you.

scraphappy said...

So glad you finished. It sounds like a tough day all around. Amazing that you were able to come back at all after running out of steam so early on. Such a shame about the lost toenail. It takes such a long time for them to come back. Still, at least it isn't the big one -- those are gone forever! Is it too early to start thinking about next year?