Sunday, August 25, 2013

Pool plunge and marathons

We awoke to a beautifully sunny Saturday morning.  We snuck in a  little school work, a little house work, and then headed outside to play.  The kids are becoming pros on their borrowed bikes, setting up challenges for themselves where they ride around the court yard out front, down the bricks along the side, and go around the horsey tire swing, through the play set bars, up around the other side of the house into the outdoor dining area, and back.  They can do this for hours.

Caden resting on the tire swing.

We bought Caden a new bike from the gently used shop Friday, as mentioned, which Corey was able to masterfully get up and running in short order. The bike is a bit big for Caden, but he was able to ride around the yard.  Just the stopping was an issue. Details, details.

All of this riding made the kids sooooo hot, they begged to swim in the pool, and actually convinced their daddy to open the pool!  Their mom thought them all crazy, but they had a ball. Our friends are in shock - viewing this to the equivalent of polar bear plunge :)

We also spent some time organizing our growing shell collection.  So many stunning designs made by nature.  We set aside our favorites in a couple of jars, and set aside another bowl of the shells with the little necklace holes, and those for coloring.

Our soft yet-to-be-identified shells that the kids have carved and our big coral pieces from M. River
A fairly easy-going kind-of day, without heading anywhere and no guests to entertain (which as many of you know can make me a little twitchy), but it was really nice.  I had a chance to get my feet up and pack up my bag to head into Perth for a night stay before the marathon this morning.

I have been training now for some 4 months, the last 1.5 with Rom and Rachel, so I was devastated to get the 3pm text from Rom (the one I pace most closely with) that she was too sick to run and was dropping out.  She had worked so hard, and I know it was a very tough decision, but given that she spent 4 of the last 6 days in bed, I think the right one.  On the selfish side, a little voice in my head was saying - 4+ hours of mind-numbing solitary running that will likely have a low crowd attendance and just a thousand or so runners...  my little voice was right.

At 5:15 Saturday evening I headed out to Perth with Rachel to check into the hotel she was kind enough to organize right at the convention center, which was kind-of the start.

Once in our room, we luxuriated in the quiet and the spoke giddily of our impending full nights sleep without interruption from our littles.  We reviewed the course map, discussed our fueling strategy, and were in bed by 8:15p with alarms set for 4:30a.  I awoke at 4:20, and began the prep - bathroom, lube up with anti-chaffing, drink water, bathroom, eat cheerios with a banana, bathroom, drink some coffee, bathroom, you get the idea.  We needed only head down the elevator and walk out the main entrance to be in the marathon chaos.  We checked our post-run bags so we would have a "jumper" to put on for the bus ride back from the race finish, used the port-a-pottys, and commenced to the stretching area.  

In the holding/stretching area we did moderate stretches while checking out the other runners.  Our assessment was 75% male, 3 running skirts (I ended up not wearing mine), 1 running skirt with compression socks, which look like knee-highs, which of course makes one look like Brittany Spears in a music video, a lot of runners for Team Chevron, and one runner wearing a full pink bunny suit.  I said a silent prayer that the guy in the bunny suit did not match my pace, and we were off to the races...or rather almost.  We then walked nearly a mile, in the darkness through the empty streets of Perth to the start.  Very bizarre to have such a long trek to the start.  And of course it started to rain at this point?!?  

Rachel and I were enthusiastic, confirming to one another all of the things we did right with our training runs, eating, etc., to attempt to convince both body and mind that this was not madness.  And then we were off.

Our running pace goal was 9-minutes per mile by my system, and 11-km by Rachels, which has made for many, many, discussions as we attempt to work out our actual mile v. km pace and distances that our respective running watches calculate.  So 9 min/miles would = a finish in 4-hours, which to tell you the truth, was just a mere guide for me, secondary to FINISHING - and finishing with a smile on my face.  Our pace for the first 11 miles vacillated between 8:07 and 8:20.  While it felt effortless, the voices in my head started to shame me with, 'What are you doing?  You will have nothing left in the tank?  You can't hang with Rachl'  They were right.

About 1:45 into the run, I dropped back from Rachel.  I felt a 'niggle' as my running mates would say, in my left quad.  On I ran, still maintaining a sub 9, up, up, up into Kings Park.  And then down, and then up, and then down, and then up.  I kept thinking about the protests of runners in the Paris marathon who complained of the "devastating hills" where we ran along the Seine and the road dipped down under the streets the led to bridges across the tunnels a few times.  Pansies.  Me included :)  

Kings Park seemed to go on forever.  F-O-R-E-V-E-R!  Despite the stunning views looking down on the Swan River and the city of Perth, I wanted out.  We actually had done a run here to see what these hills felt like for our training, but the training did not have an 11-mile "warm-up".  It hurt!  I mean little voices in my head saying to me 'WTF?!?  You can't do this!'  You have 2 more hours to go hurt.  Telling me I should quit.  My heart felt fast.  I walked and stretched a bit, and plodded on, unsure if these pains in my quads were a precursor to cramping that would cause my legs to buckle at any moment.  

The games I play with myself to get through are setting little milestones for myself to achieve.  Not carrying water bottles for my first marathon yet, I was counting the drink stations - 10 in all.  Each one I would drink at, and I would walk through every other one, slowly ticking them off.  I was eating gel chewies every 30 minutes - three, then two, with the celebratory caffeine ones planned at the 3-hour mark for an added jolt.  Corey and the kids were going to try and spectate in Subiacco, mile 21, at around the 3-hour mark, and I was carrying Corey's iPhone, which he so sweetly and painstakingly spent hours loading music onto for me.  I so love that guy!

So Kings Park, wanting to quit, but powering on.  I broke out my head phones as I walked for 3-minutes up a hill.  I had to see my support team in Subi.  This required a 7:30am start for Corey and kids, a bus, a train (luckily no plane) and all this when there was a slight drizzle on and off throughout the day.  The thought of seeing them made tears sting my eyes, which I kept countering with the fact that in all likelihood they wouldn't be there.  But joy of all joys, they were there!  And they had little signs!  It was the highlight of the run!  Here are some of the pics Corey snapped. 
The support crew warming up.  Must keep them fed!

The sign holders.

Gia enjoying the rain on her cheeks.  I hope she always makes time for this.

One happy kid.

Now where is that mommy???

Wait, is that a white hat I see off in the distance?
It was, and I was elated to see them!  It brought tears to my eyes.

And a big smile to my face and heart.

Sweaty kisses for everyone.

And off I went.  Putting on a brave front.  Only 1 more hour...

I had to include this photo Corey snapped of a spectator.  No idea.  But I do plan to check his collar in the morning for fuchsia lipstick.
So by all accounts, after seeing the kids, I could conceivably make a 4-hour marathon.  My quads were still screaming, so I decided to pop some more gels, out of sequence mind you, to see if I had any potential for recovery.  We continued to head up and down and up and down, and I decided to walk every up.  Or rather, my quads decided.  I played leap frog with other runners, looking as spent as I felt.  My running watch provides the distance, so I would attempt to console the other runners looking as panged as I felt with news of - Only 2.7 more miles!  And I am sure they were thinking, 'Thanks a lot. What the hell does that translate to?'

One agonizing step in front of the other and 1 mile to go. I adjusted my goal to 4:10, which would still be a personal best.  But then that little voice started chiming in, 'you could just walk the last mile and finish by 4:30'...  thankfully she was interrupted by the Barenaked Ladies singing If I Had a Million Dollars. I entered memory lane of karaoke with Corey to this song on so many occasions, and the fact that once this song ended, I would be able to see the finish line.  On I went.

I passed the finish line at 4:08 by City to Surf time, and 4:07 by my watch (which also said I ran 26.36 instead of 26.2 - bastards!).  Either way, so thrilled to have finished the most difficult run I have ever done with a best time.  My running mate Rachel crossed at 3:45, qualifying for Boston her very first marathon!  I have invited her to run a nice flat one in the U.S. so that she can qualify for the Olympics! :)

We crossed through the finish line, had a medal weighing a good pound placed around our necks (to be sure we were sufficiently differentiated from the decreasing weighted medals for the other distances ran that day), and wouldn't you know it, had to walk down a steep hill to get to the recovery tent.  Punishing!  I was able to fight off the nausea, meet up with Rachel, and make it the buses for a 30-minute ride back to Perth, alternating sitting and standing with Rachel due to no room while attempting to keep the post-run queasiness at bay.  Can you imagine the smell?  Whew!

We made it to our room at 11:30 for a quick shower and a cup of tea before 12pm checkout, feeling like a whole day had passed.  Only 4 more continents to go.  And while thinking this yesterday seemed incredulous, after a good nights sleep (kind of) I say bring it on.
Me and Rachel sporting out bling.  We have pink sworn to never take it off.

We made plans to have an early dinner with our friends the Potters that evening.  We decided to walk into Freo so the kids could ride their bikes in, and I could keep the lactic acid from pooling in my muscles.  Feeling 90% now.  So why am I awake?  Gia came into the bedroom at 12:30 crying because she thought we forgot her birthday.  She was having a nightmare of sorts.  We are on night 4 of trying to get her to sleep in her own bed.  I carried her back to bed, whispering plans of a birthday filled with a lot of "sprinkles" (her one demand), balloons, and friends, and sang her happy birthday while she drifted off to sleep.

Not long after, Caden came in because his mosquito bites hurt.  Put some lotion on him and got him back to bed.

And then the thud - Gia fell out of her bed.  Luckily she is on the trundle.  Put her back in, re-tucked.  However it is still just Corey and me in this queen-sized bed, so I am winning.  There is a bit of wind making a wonderful sound in the chimney to our room, and the rain is gently tapping on our tin roof.  So what better to do than to write paragraphs about my run in my blog dedicated to my children?!? :)
Love to all! -W

1 comment:

Jay Lewis said...

Wendy - congrats on a great race! Your comment re 26.2 vs 26.36 reminded me of this lesson re running the tangents:

Maybe use that for the rest of the continents!

Jay Lewis