Yes. I just completed another marathon. 2013 Seattle Marathon was my FIFTH marathon since I started to run a little over 2 years ago. What a journey and I am patting myself in the back as I’m writing this post for such an accomplishment. No, I didn’t break my personal record or even have spectacular time, but this race, in particular, very special to me.
I spent a whole month of October trying to battle my health challenge and undergo some aggressive 6 rounds of “therapy”. Needless to stay, it was quite a month and it was a major set back in my fitness. For those who knows me, this should not come as a surprise but the whole thing just lit a fire under me. I consulted with my coaches and they came up with a quick plan to get me ready. I already have the base training and endurance since I just did Portland Marathon in early October so I just need to keep it up. Easy peasy, I said.
November arrived and I totally flunked the training. Even on the “easy” plan that my coaches put together for me, I fell short. I didn’t have enough energy to even follow it. I totally underestimate the impact on the “therapy” to my strength and endurance but I kept on. I did the best I could, with sweat, (no blood) and tears. I was worry and nervous leading up to the race day and kept wondering if I had it in me this time to finish it.
The alarm went off at 5:30am. Groaned. I hate this early morning race day routine. The husband woke up before me, made sure my pre-run breakfast ready (he is awesome). It took me another half hour before I actually rolled out the bed and got myself ready. I supposed to be at the team meeting at 7:30am and I knew there was no way I could be there on time, so I left message on our team FB page to let the coaches know that I wasn’t going to be there. We took the monorail to Seattle Center (yes, I didn’t want to walk 3/4 miles from Westin Seattle to Seattle Center) and I was by the Seattle Center House shortly before 8am. I decided to use their bathroom (real bathroom!) instead of the porta potties by the start line and head out about 8:10am to the corral. It was not as cold (about 45 degrees) but it was pretty windy. I ditched my running jacket and gave it to my husband, but kept the light shell.
8:17am — I crossed the start line.
First few miles went by really quick. I took off my light jacket about mile 1 and put it on my waist. We ran on 5th avenue towards the freeway and I was feeling great. I maintained my 2:30-1 ratio and being really consistent about it. Leigh Anne, a fellow teammate, who volunteer her time to be Team in Training sweeper (which means — she will run with the last TNT runner– ME–until the next hand off to another sweeper) kept me company. We didn’t talk much as I never much of a talker when I run but she was there with me. About mile 4.5 — I started to run at I-90 bridge. I was a bit worry about the wind, but thankfully, it wasn’t bad at all. In fact, the weather in overall was awesome. Overcast and 55 degrees. We did out and back on the bridge and turn around at Mercer Island. I was still feeling great
Mile 9 — I started to feel fatigued. Uh-oh, I said. I had a long way to go for being fatigued this early. This reminded me of Nike Half SF as I was feeling somewhat the same. I really underestimate the impact of 6 rounds of “therapy” did to my strength and endurance! I started to breath heavy, since every step required more energy for me to take but I kept on going. I caught up with the one of our teammate who walked the marathon (they had an hour head start), so Leigh Anne stayed back with her. I kept going, and ran with a fellow runner who told me he was an TNT alumni (and I can’t remember his name!!). He kept me company until we entered Seward Park and he had to take a quick stop at porta potties. I kept going and out of nowhere, Jeff Barber and Kelly Brennan (another TNT alumni — Kelly was my winter season coach) showed up and they started to run with me. I was so happy to see them and actually teared up a bit.. not sure why. I am a cry-baby, after all.
Mile 11 to 15 flew by because both Jeff and Kelly kept me distracted. The wind started to pick up and wowza, it hit me hard sideways!! I maintained my ratio but I know my pace dropped a bit. Coach Lisa joined us at mile 15 so I had THREE awesome people literally run around me. We said good bye to Jeff and Kelly at mile 17 and I kept on going.
Mile 18 – I looked at my watch and it said 4:02. I did a quick calculation in my head and told myself, okay, I had 2 hours to get 8 miles! That’s doable and I will break my PR!
Mile 19 – Coach Glen joined us and I was so happy to see him. I had asked him to ehm… pull me to finish.. so to speak .. haha. We ran together, took some pictures and at mile 20, we said good bye to Coach Lisa as she need to run back to our other teammate who was behind me.
Mile 20 – I was still feeling decent. No longer great, but it wasn’t as bad. I was still maintaining the run-walk ratio until about mile 21.5 when we hit BIG hill. When I said.. big hill… I really meant… BIG HILL. It’s 120 feet elevation (based on my GPS) from mile 21.5 to mile 22. That’s the first time I decided to just walk. So we walked the hill and I can feel that my head spinning and I get dizzier by the minute (sorry I didn’t tell you, coach Glen). I felt cold, like REALLY cold. I kept on walking until the top of the hill and started to run again on the downhill, and walked again on the hill. My pace started to drop tremendously even on the run part
Mile 22 – Coach Rod joined us and I continue to run/walk again as the street started to level up a bit. Both of my coaches kept me entertained and distracted! It was awesome.
Mile 23 – We entered the Arboretum and it was ehm.. a lot of hills. That stretch is not foreign to me because that’s one of the coaches favorite for practice. My right calves started to cramp badly that I had to stop and stretch (and hug a tree!). I continued to walk and saw the mission mile about half way into the Arboretum. Mission mile is a stretch of mile (or less in this case) on the course that filled with pictures of many that lost their life to blood cancers. I started to cry when I saw Tyler Bledsoe photo in there, then Siona, a daughter of my fellow teammate, and Heather, a sister of my coach. It was yet another reminder on why I run. I run for them, because they can no longer run. Jeff Peterson, our campaign manager, was around the mission mile and he ran with us for a while
Mile 24 – Coach David joined us. I knew we were close and my spirit was up. I started to jog/walk again (see I said jog instead of run) and felt okay. Then from a distance, I saw someone familiar. IT WAS MY HUSBAND, JOHN. There he was, standing on the side of the street around mile 24.5. I sprinted (yes, I said SPRINTED) to him and leaped into his arm. I was SO HAPPY to see him!!!! He brought me banana, which I devoured within a second and he joined us.
Mile 25 – Coach Glen and Coach David said good bye and I continued with Coach Rod and ran into Coach Ginny. I continued to walked until I saw my friend, Kat, with her sparkle skirt and Santa hat. I ran and hugged her, took the pretzel (which was awesome) and continue on.
Mile 26 – The stadium is around the corner and I started to run. Coach Ginny and Coach Rod stayed back when I entered the stadium and I continued to run, lifted my hands, big cheesy smile and cross the finish line! I did it! My FIFTH marathons!!
No, I didn’t break my personal record but by golly, I think I just set a record for running marathon a month post-”therapy”!! This by far, the toughest race I ever done and with perseverance, determination, stubbornness and a lot of support from coaches, TNT volunteers and alumni, I managed to move my body with my own two-feet for 26.2 miles. I hugged my husband after the finish line, cried on his shoulder as well as on Coach Rod and Coach Ginny’s shoulder.
I did it.
Friends, if you are reading this far, and you are questioning yourself about your ability to complete a long distance event (half marathon/marathon), know that if I can do it, please believe that you can do it too. You can’t complete half marathon or marathon if you never cross the start line.
Dream big, reach for the sky and you will surprise yourself on how far you can go.
Until the next race.