Monday, October 11, 2010

Bragging Rights aka Portland Marathon 2010 RR

As the week wore on, the weather forecast continued to call for rain. It started with a 40% chance, then 60%, then 80%. By Saturday, the forecast was for 100% chance of rain changing to showers in the afternoon. At this point, I allowed all expectations for a specific time go. Training had not gone as well as I would have liked. The weather was not condusive to great running. It was time to relax and just enjoy running a marathon with other super crazy people.

Sunday morning dawned--kind of. It was dark and wet at 5 am. I stood outside before making the final clothing choice. It was warm and wet. I went with a singlet, but chose light weight capri tights. Wearing tights was the best decision I made all day! By 6, we were headed downtown. Jeff dropped me off near the start area and I headed to coral C. I had my throw away sweatshirt, gloves and rain poncho. I visited with a runner from New Jersy and a couple from Vancouver BC to pass the time. Everyone seemed to have a sense of humor about the diluge until the wind picked up. Unfortunately, I had already removed my sweatshirt. Brrr! and then we were off!

It was dark and the rain continued to fall. I crossed the start line and fell into a slow, easy rhythm quickly. The gray skies kept me moving slowly as I tried to avoid puddles and keep my feet dry as long as possible. I love the first bit of a marathon. The sounds and sights. The cheers of runners and spectators alike. The surge of adrenaline. The sound was different this year. There was a constant squeak and slip of ponchos and garbage bags. It felt strange to feel plastic around me as I ran. My plan was to toss it when I warmed up. I did about mile 3, but I saw many finish still wearing theirs.

With the change of course, there were many more corners in the first 3 miles. I ran horrible tangents. That and to cut corners would mean hitting more puddles. I checked my pace and was going slower than I felt. About mile 7, I saw the 4:15 pace group. They were talking and laughing. I wanted some of that encouragement and asked if I could join them. I talked with Yolanda and Jen. Both were from the Portland area. It was nice to have conversation. I was feeling good. I would have like to be moving faster, but I was having fun. Everyone was comparing how wet they were and time was flying by. There was no way to avoid puddles anymore. Shoes squished and sloshed with every step. I hung in with them until about mile 15. I had to stop. My GI was not too bad, but it was talking back at me. I could see the bright red lizard ahead when I came out, but never quite caught them.

A bit later, I saw a beautiful red Jeep to the side of the road. Last year, I was alone on this section. Spectators are not encouraged to be in this area for safety. It was long and hard. I told Jeff that this would be a wonderful place to see him. And there he was! I gave him a kiss, told him I felt great and kept going. Seeing him broke up that long straight stretch. Before I knew it, I was climbing the hill to the St John's bridge. Looking up river from the top, all I could see were dark clouds all the way to the finish. My clothing was plastered to me and it wasn't going to change any time soon!

The next best moment of the race was somewhere about mile 20. I was starting to struggle. I had a side stitch that would come and go. I was cold. And then, I heard my name in a voice I recognized. Liz! I gave her a hug and she asked if she could run with me. Like I would say no! I got a little emotional. That with the cold air started a mild asthma attack. Liz stayed with me then continued running along side. (I thought we would see Jeff, but he was unable to get there after mile 15 and the finish.) Her encouragement was so helpful. She just ran and told me I was sounding really relaxed. I cannot even express how much I appreciated her kind words and easy run. Someone I barely know was concerned about me and wanted me to succeed!

I was back on my own at the start of the downhill section. Even though it was tough, I still was passing people for a while. On the way back up at the Broadway bridge, I met a couple walking. They were cold and cramping, but laughing. They were going to walk the rest of the way, but they were going to finish. We laughed together about the absurdity of rain and wet feet.

After crossing the bridge, the finish line was getting close. But the wind picked up. At least I thought it was "wind." My wet clothing caused even the slightest breeze feel like a gale force wind. I would stop to walk for a minute and feel my lower body start to cramp. I told myself to just keep moving. I knew if I stopped, it would be so hard to start moving again. I ran more than I walked. That is always a good thing at the end of the marathon! One by one, I passed a people. I was focused. The 26 mile marker was in sight. I heard my name off to the side. Jeff was right there. I passed the 26th mile and saw more of my family. Just up the street and around one more corner to the finish line. I heard my name called as I crossed the line!

Volunteers surrounded the finishers with space blankets and medals were given. I had to ask the volunteer to put it around my neck and tie the corners of the blaket. I shuffled through the line, picking up food that I would not be able to eat. The biggest disappointment was the lack of chocolate milk. I had been looking forward to chocolate milk since mile 23. I accepted a lavender rose and smiled. I had completed a marathon in less than ideal circumstances. I can wear my finisher's shirt with pride.

I headed out to meet my family and wait for my nephew to finish. It was the first time I had watched others to finish. It was amazing! One man was running along side a woman. He pulled off to the side and she continued on toward the finish. He called out, "You can do it!" She had tears in her eyes. Another woman passed. She was running and in pain. But she finished. Then we saw my nephew. David sprained his ankle not long before the race and he struggled. But he was going to finish! Anyone who completes a marathon deserves bragging rights. But anyone who completes a marathon in pouring rain deserves some very special bragging rights!

Mile 15: Big smile when I saw Jeff!

Streams of runners in the rain

Almost to mile 26!

Wet!  Wet!  Wet!

Cori, Josiah and Jeff spent hours in the rain!

David coming to mile 26!

One of the results of running 26.2 miles in wet shoes


NattyBumpo said...

I am in awe of you. You are amazing to me. I can't even comprehend what it would take to do what you did Sunday.

jgf said...

Pure stubborness and a lot of insanity!

ERG said...

You show some totally amazing commitment, Juanita.

I am so glad Liz ran with you! That's awesome. :) The tights were definitely a good idea that day.

So proud of you.

Mosaic Momma said...

So proud of you, Juanita. I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes because I could see the entire thing in my mind's eye. So proud of you for pushing through in less than ideal conditions and enjoying the process even though you had to let go your hopes for a pr.

You're amazing!

elaine said...

Thanks for that report! If only you had known, you could have practiced by running in place in the shower or something, that is a crazy rainy race.

Slake said...

Very cool that Liz was able to run with you. Great race report too! Sounds like you did a great job of keeping your spirits up despite super tough conditions. Congratulations!

Keeley said...

How wonderful that your honey was there right where you needed him! =) That's so sweet.

My gosh you were passing people at the end. Go YOU! Congratulations on a fabulous marathon! =)

I love the pictures - you look so good. I love the tape on your shoulder too.