Yesterday I ran the Whidbey Island Marathon, which is my fourth completed marathon. The WIM was by far the toughest race I've ever done, although it is ranked one of the "Top 10 Places to Run a Marathon." The scenery is beautiful, but the course is hilly and difficult. I've tried to block most of the race out of my mind, but I'll try to recall some of the details as I write this post.
My friend Kiersten told me a while back that she was planning to run this race. Her brother and sister-in-law live on Whidbey Island so she has been there a lot. So I signed up back in December and did pretty well with training over the next several months (despite an ankle injury). Friday night, Kiersten, her boyfriend Finney, and her other sister-in-law Lisa and I all drove up to Whidbey. We drove through Seattle up to Mukilteo where we caught a ferry and rode about 15 mins to the island. We were able to stay with Kiersten's brother Seth and sister-in-law Laura for the weekend.
Saturday was a nice relaxing day on the island. We had breakfast, dropped by the local farmer's market, picked up our race packets, then drove the course so we had an idea of what to expect. Let me tell you, those hills don't seem so bad when you're comfortably sitting in a car, chatting and laughing with your friends, sipping coffee, tapping the accelerator and cruising at 50mph. It's another story when your out in the wind and rain having to lift your tired and heavy legs in order to take another step towards mile 17. After the nice Saturday drive, we headed back to the house for naps, reading, taking walks and relaxing. Seth and Laura prepared a delicious dinner of grilled chicken, rosemary potatoes, and asparagus (straight from their garden). After watching some inspirational running videos on youtube, we went to bed around 10:00 that night in order to be well rested for the big day.
We woke up before sunrise on race morning to get ready by eating bagels, bananas, and peanut butter, rubbing vaseline in chaffing-prone spots, and popping a few pills of imodium (ah, the odd habits of runners). Waiting in the cold at the starting line, trying to fight off nervous pee while contemplating what you are about to put yourself through is the worst. The countdown and shouting of the word "Go" finally allow you to run to your pounding hearts desire. As your heart rate increases even more, you have to remind yourself that you have 26 miles of this craziness to go, so you'd better keep calm and settle into a steady pace.
I have to tell you, after I ran the first three miles and still didn't feel like I was getting into any sort of groove, I started to worry. I knew at that point that this was going to be a hard race and I was going to have to really fight for it. It wasn't going to come easy. And easy it wasn't. This was by far the hardest race I've ever run. It was hilly (I mean hilly). It was cold, windy and rainy during parts of it. And my body was not at 100%. It was at more like 50%. Like I said, I've already blocked most of the details of the race out of my mind, but the main point is: I finished. I didn't jump in the back of the ambulance like I wanted to at mile 10; I kept going and I ran across that finish line at 4:21:54 (not my best time, but someday I'll reach my goal of a sub-4-hr marathon).
After the race, we all hopped/fell into the car, enjoyed a nice big burger and beer, and hobbled back to the house to take a shower and then hit the road back to Portland. The ride home was rough because we were so tired and sitting still in a car for 5 hours after such a long run was not good for our tightening muscles. Walking today has been quite brutal, but I'm glad to be (somewhat) mobile and able to get about without a wheelchair.
So there you have it: the Whidbey Island Marathon. Check it off the list.
Lisa on the deck of the ferry, headed to Whidbey Island
driving the route on Saturday - it really was beautiful (minus the hills)
our cheering/support squad planning their route for race day
the one picture I took during the race - I think I was hoping to capture something beautiful to remind me that there were some nice things around the race, including the scenery
race bid and medal - I worked hard for those suckers!
Paying for Pain
It's a bit odd to think that people pay money to put themselves through such an event. Sometimes I think we marathoners are a bit crazy. It's like we have to make up in physical ability what we lack in sensibility. Here are some fellow runners who also admit to such craziness...
"You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can't know what's coming."
- Frank Shorter, 1972 Olympic marathon gold medalist
"If you feel bad at 10 miles, you're in trouble. If you feel bad at 20 miles, you're normal. If you don't feel bad at 26 miles, you're abnormal."
- Rob de Castella, winner 1983 World Marathon Championships
"Marathoning is just another form of insanity."
- John J. Kelly, winner of the 1952 Boston Marathon
"That was awful. I want to die. Where's the water?"
- Mary Carter, after stumbling across the 2013 Widbey Island Marathon