North Olympic Discovery Marathon
At the beginning of this year I decided I wanted to run a marathon, this from a girl who was only running three miles a week. I followed your Mileage Buildup Schedule throughout the month of January and then moved on to the Marathon Training Schedule (Schedule II) in February. I'm happy to say I completed my first marathon on June 11, 2006 – The North Olympic Discovery. At week 14 of the training program I was cursing you for the 23 mile long run… On marathon day, I was thanking you! Here's my account of the marathon itself and my battle with the 26.2 "monster"…
Pre-marathon start - We arrived in Port Angeles (the finish line city) Friday night so I could get settled in and Bob (my hubby) and I could explore the Olympic Peninsula a bit. We brought our bikes with us and biked the final four miles of the marathon route so I could get a preview of what was to come. I would have biked further but Bob politely reminded me I was supposed to be "resting".
Saturday morning it was rainy and I was absolutely convinced it was going to run on Sunday. It did finally clear up. Bob and I biked a good 7.5 miles of the middle part of the marathon route that contained two of the three "big" hills so I could see what was in store for me. It might have been better if I didn't know! Saturday night we did the carbo-load routine and ate some delicious homemade lasagna dinner at one of the local lodges in town. Bob convinced me to go back to the room fairly early and rest up. I slept well the first part of the night but then woke up at 2:00 am and never really made it back to sleep.
Sunday morning we woke up to a thick patch of fog. My biggest fear was that I was going to get so far behind the front of the pack and being that the fog was so thick, I wasn't going to be able to see the arrows drawn on the ground to outline the marathon route and I'd get lost. Thankfully that didn't happen. I woke up incredibly panicked, calmed down during breakfast and my shower but then got all worked up again when I made it to the starting line waiting area when I saw how nervous everyone else was. By the time the starting gun went off at 9:00am the weather in Sequim (the starting line city) was sunny and beautiful. I almost lost it and started crying when the gun went off but fortunately was able to convince myself I needed to compose myself or else I would not be able to start running, never mind finish the marathon.
The marathon itself - The first mile or so was a gradual hill climb. I stuck with my plan of walking one minute at each mile marker and felt foolish at the beginning because no one else was walking that early in the race. I didn't feel so badly when I passed a lot of those same runners later on in the race.
The marathon route had us run a 4-mile loop around downtown Sequim and circle back by the starting line. Bob was waiting there with camera in hand and to see if I was still smiling after my first four miles. I was.
The next 7-8 miles were pretty much flat and flew by rather quickly for a back of the pack runner like me. We hit our first hill at mile 13. I had seen this hill the day before on our bike ride so I was relatively prepared. Everyone else walked up the hill rather then attempting to run up it so I decided I might as well follow their lead and walked it as well.
Miles 13-16 were relatively easy and very scenic. The route mainly took place on the North Olympic Discovery trail which meanders through lots of trees, a couple of farms, old trestle bridges, etc.
Miles 16-20 were very trying. The remaining two big hills were smooshed into this part of the route as well as a few miles of rolling hills. I'm not sure what the official distinction is between a rolling hill and a "real" hill but a few of those rolling hills must have been on the border line of being classified as a real hill. A big thanks to my mp3 player that pushed me from mile 17 to mile 20 where Bob was waiting to give me some well needed encouragement.
Miles 20-26.2. It was supposed to be downhill, flat and by the water for the last 6.2 miles of the run. Relatively speaking that description was accurate. By this point the weather in Port Angeles was very foggy and probably about 10-15 degrees cooler than Sequim. It was so foggy that although the route ran along the Strait of Juan de Fruca and we could hear the waves crashing against the rocks, we could barely see the water. The furthest I ran during training was 23 miles and I honestly think that helped A LOT. I had no problems though mile 23. Through mile 24 I was so caught up in the excitement in having never run that far in my life that I was on cloud nine. Then mile 25 hit and the route took us away from the water and through a yucky rocky parking lot area and I started wondering why I ever wanted to run a marathon. I started getting a little teary eyed at this point knowing I was only 1.2 miles from finishing my first marathon but was again lucky enough to be able to compose myself before the tears started falling. Once I saw the 26 mile marker and could hear the finish line I KNEW I was home free. I crossed the finish line with a huge smile on my face at 4 hours, 56 minutes, and 38 seconds. I was a little disappointed in that I had hoped to finish around 4 hours and 30 minutes, but not too disappointed that I wasn't thrilled to have crossed the finish line.
After the finish line - No muscle/leg soreness, no blisters worse than I had already experienced during training, no collapsing, etc. I did feel quite sick at first and wasn't really interested in the water and food offered to me. But a nice hot shower and a few trips to the bathroom and I was recovered.
The next morning I was feeling great and really wanted to show Bob one of the trestle bridges we ran over and get his perspective on the hill situation so we biked a good chunk of the route which contained the two big hills and the rolling hills for a total of 20 miles. Yes, he agreed that that part of the route was hilly and I don't think he agreed only because he loves me.
What's next? Another marathon, of course! I’ve gotta prove that it wasn't a fluke that I was able to run 26.2 miles at once. And for the competitive streak in me - I HAVE to achieve a better personal record.
Thanks Lori for sharing your article.
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