My marathon goal became a legal adult last Sunday when I hit #18 in my very own hometown.
North Olympic Discovery Marathon
Port Angeles, Washington
June 5, 2016
You guys, it was downright h-o-t HOT that day. Unseasonably crazy hot. At least for a native PNW’er who’s not used to such shenanigans from the sun. Here’s what it says it got up to on the day of the race:
But I’ll get to all of that later. Let’s go back and talk for a minute about how this race finishes up in the town I was born and raised in. That always makes the race itself pretty special, but it’s also so fun to run into people I grew up with who are out there being crazy with me.
The hub and 9yo were going to camp at a local beach while I got a good night’s sleep at my mother-in-law’s house. It was fun to hang out with them for awhile since the weather was, after all, so amazing.
Alright, let’s be honest here. I spent a little while with them at the beach and then promptly took a nap in the tent. Let’s move on.
For best results, it’s important to carb load before a race so that’s just what we did. For dinner, we hit a childhood favorite – Gordy’s Pizza & Pasta. When I was a kid, we’d go here often and I would always spend the evening drawing pictures on napkins. Glad to see the 9yo carrying on the tradition.
I got to the race shuttle in the morning and found a good friend of mine. She didn’t grow up with me – I actually met her online in a running group – but she’s just one of those cool people that becomes an insta-friend the moment you meet them. And obviously she loves hugs as much as I do.
When I got on the bus, I was SO EXCITED to run into one of my oldest friends who was a huge part of the best memories of my childhood. We sat together on the bus and caught up as if no time had passed. It was so great.
When we got to the race start, I kept running into people that I’d known for years, which was great fun. Naturally more selfies ensued.
Like last year, I ran this race as a proud member of Colton’s Army. You really should take a minute to read about this young hero – he has battled leukemia FIVE TIMES in his short life and is still winning. I grew up with his mom in Port Angeles and am so proud of her brave boy.
The full marathon started at 7:30am and my goal was to find the 4:10 pacer and hang on for dear life. At around mile 2, we ran through the campground area where the hub and 9yo were staying so it was fun to see them and the hilarious sign the 9yo made for me:
After that, I was able to hang on to the 4:10 pacer for about 4 whole miles. She kept asking me questions and I was like “I’m sorry but I really cannot do any talking at this pace”. Well, pretty soon I couldn’t do much running at that pace either.
It was already getting hot. I was proudly wearing my Colton’s Army shirt but it was 100% cotton which is seriously a rookie move but I was determined to represent for that amazing young man.
Needless to say, I started gaining about a pound a mile between the sweat and all of the water I was dumping down my back at the aid stations. Cotton is like a bitter, disgruntled spouse: it don’t let go of nothin’.
Anyway, I continued on with my cotton torture device and just tried not to think about it. All I really had to do was look down at the words on my shirt: COLTON’S ARMY and think about the fight that Colton has had to do so many times against his will.
I run marathons for me. No one makes me do it. The pain I endure is self-inflicted. That’s not true for everyone, and that truth is never lost on me.
You guys, it was getting so hot. My body was feeling strong but my energy was totally sapped. I wasn’t hungry at all so I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about taking in fuel. At about mile 10, I realized that the next 16.2 miles would be all about staying hydrated and not over-heating. That became my #1 focus.
At every aid station, if I was lucky enough to find ice, I would shove handfuls down my shirt into my sports bra to keep my core temperature under control. It felt about as insane as I’m sure it looked, but I didn’t care. I just could not find relief from the relentless sun and was willing to do anything.
My coach also has had me start testing out salt on longer runs and rides so I had a canister of BASE performance salt that I would take a lick of every few miles. I’ve never used salt before but I definitely didn’t have any cramping or GI distress so I think probably it was working.
Around mile 17, I came up on a young man – around 19-23 years old I would guess – who was really struggling bad. We looked at each other and just started a running stream of F-bombs directed at the sun and heat. He said that he was cramping up really bad so I offered him my salt. He put out his palm and took it gladly. I wished him well and was on my way.
And that got me thinking about how wacko distance runners can be: this dude didn’t know me from Adam and willingly took this salt from me that I had been licking on for the last 17 miles. I am as germaphobe as the best of ’em but when you’re sufferfesting through 26.2, you tend to throw caution to the wind.
At around mile 21, this course brings you towards the waterfront and you begin to have some sweet, sweet shade cover from the trees. It felt amazing but I was still feeling so sapped that I couldn’t really enjoy it for the relief that it was. I just wanted to get through this thing.
I got a little emotional around mile 25 because I could see the waterfront of my childhood and I also knew that my family plus a couple of good friends were waiting for me at the end. I did the best I could to kick in what I had left and pushed to a 4:36 finish – :26 full minutes off my initial goal.
And that’s how these things go, you guys. Just like life: you can go into it with a set goal, but you’d better not be too tied to the outcome because anything and everything can change on a dime.
So, I didn’t run the race I WANTED to run that day, but I did run the race I had in me.
And we live to run another race, no?Run on, friends!