Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I Ran In The Footsteps Of Legends

Marathon Plan - Regressive Countdown - THE WEEK
04/26/10 - 05/02/10 - Week Total: 26.2

On December while planning my 2010 running goals, I decided to have another suitcase in another hall. Training with a different plan, in a different season, in a different state. The only two marathons I’d done at the time were in Seattle, in the fall, with a 16-week Furman plan.

Portland was a convenient one, but happens to be also in the fall. Eugene looked more attractive just by the fact that I have family there that I have wanted to visit for years. It was scheduled in May with a great catch for 2010: finishing at Hayward Field. Without thinking I registered in a spring marathon, in a different state, with a different plan (after one month I ended with Furman … that’s me!!!).

The training season went well, though I got overtrained by week ten, six weeks before the marathon. I did something totally out of Furman plan, and paid the consequences. Fortunately, I recovered pretty good backing off for two weeks, not running but the long runs on the weekend.

I did a lot of “motivational” training, renting once a week a running movie or documentary that kept me on the hook and with a high level of mojo. Spirit of the Marathon (Chicago marathon); Ultramarathon man (Dean Karnazes); Prefontaine; Saint Ralph; Marathon Challenge; Running on the Sun (Badwater 135 miles); Run For Your Life (NY Marathon Story); The Long Run (Comrades Marathon) were among the great movies that continued inspiring me week after week. (All HIGHLY recommended).

Then I got injured three weeks prior the marathon by a stupid action of yours truly, but was lucky enough to recover during the 3 weeks. This recovery consisted on not running at all, forcing me to an extreme tapering. The only serious run I had in three weeks was a 9-miler to test if the knee pain was present and if I was able to make it to the marathon. I passed the test.

On Friday before the marathon my son, his wife and me hit the road to Eugene. I had many fears, as I didn’t know how I would perform after three weeks sitting on the bench.

My cousins Gladys & Alvaro and their two daughters Mariale and Camila were waiting for us in Elmira (1/2 hr from Eugene) with an enthusiasm and love that was worth the trip. We arrived at 10 pm and talked till 1 am. As my husband told me before departing from Seattle: “If you can’t run because the knee, you still will have a wonderful weekend with your family”. And that was true.

Eugene as any American college town is full of energy. You could feel it, and with the race the following day the vibes were all over town. My plans were simple for Saturday: Go to the expo for packet pick-up, see and touch Hayward Field, and visit Pre’s Memorial at the place of his accident. My cousin also took us to Nike where a lot of Pre’s memorabilia is displayed. His log with details of his runs, a letter that he received from the Amateur Athletic Union, documents, and his first Nike shoe. Also a waffle-maker similar to the one Bill Bowerman used to make shoes for his athletes.

We went back home, ready for a carboload dinner. Menu? My adorable husband’s lasagna and pecan pie.

After dinner I organized all my gear and went to bed. I needed to leave at 5:30 am as the race was at 7. I slept pretty good, and woke up at 5 am. My son took me to Eugene, and stayed with me until we started the race. It was wonderful having him with me as he has a great sense of humor, jokes all the time which helped me to calm prerace jitters. When the gun went off Diego looked at me with his gorgeous smile, and with that, he told me everything. This reminded me how blessed I am. I crossed the mat after 3 minutes and went on that exhilarating marathon path so much sought to challenge ourselves, a path full of anxiety, sometimes fear, but a path I decided was going to be fun.

I don’t have recollection of the marathon mile by mile, not sure if is because I don’t know the city, or because I couldn’t believe I was running the marathon after almost calling it off due to the injury. The first miles were wonderful. Thousands of people running for different reasons but with the same goal, to cross the finish line, sooner, later, but to cross it.

I didn’t have a particular running strategy as I was not sure how my body would react after the extreme tapering. At mile 3 I started feeling my legs, and thought it was not good, but I felt better at mile 4, and concerns were gone. 10 K mark registered 1:08:03. At mile 7 I felt with power to do intervals of a mile and that was my strategy for the rest of the race. At mile 9 we were passing by Hayward Field, and the bananas were welcome, though I thought it was dangerous as the center of the street was covered with banana peels. After mile 10 the half and the full split, and some of the fun was gone. Running a race with a lot of people is something I really like, and as in most of the races that offer the full and the half, 75% went to the left, when the other 25%, the marathoners, went to the right.

We ran around the Willamette river, and at mile 13.1 my time was 2:25:08. To make 5 hrs I would have to push it really hard. We entered in an area that was not very pretty to run, but it lasted less than a couple of miles, I believe it was Springfield. Then back to residential area, and at mile 16 I did a pit stop (first time ever I do that in a race) but I was getting a little bit tired, and thought this might count as a recovery “stationary” jog after the interval. At mile 17 my knee started to bother, not pain, but just a bother, stopped and icy-hot in big quantities, and then, I saw Todd for first time, the 5:00 hr pacer. I knew at that moment my chances for five hours were gone as he was running steady and I was not going to be able to keep that pace. I was slowing down, but I was enjoying the race a lot. We entered in a park, and we stayed in park and recreational areas running along the Willamette river until mile 25.5. This was simply beautiful. In every corner there were people cheering for us and people playing all sort of music. The aid stations and volunteers were top notch. Amazing.

I passed the 30K at 3:40:20 and told myself: Wow, what about a 12K in 1h 20min? My best 12K today is 1:13 fresh. Ok, keep on trying… (later I learned the 30K mark was misplaced)...I ran through parks, and trails, and by the river, and everything was wonderful. People were tailgating in the park just to watch us running. Hot dogs, hamburgers, nice smell, but no thank you.

20 miles, the race is reduced to a 10K race, then to a 4-miler, the miles were flying by me, slow but flying, and the finish line was getting closer and closer. By mile 23 there was a samba band, and I started to dance moving my shoulders and one of the players came towards me to run just a little stretch with me.

There was a girl that was running close to me since mile 20, and after passing mile 24 she saw me looking at my watch and asked me the time, I told her "4:44 and we will have to fly if we want to make it in 5 hours", and then she asked me: Will they stop the race after 5 hours? And with that question I realize, AGAIN, how dumb I can be. I told her, no sweetheart, of course not. And she goes: I just want to finish, this is my first marathon... And if she wanted to finish I just wanted to disappear with my stupid comment. I told her she was going to finish great. From there, I said to me: Lizzie, finish your race forget about the stupid 5 hours, and keep an eye because your adorable son Diego must be waiting for you before entering in the track.

And there he was, at mile 26, ready to run with me the last 0.2 miles inside Hayward Field. I broke into tears, he put his arm by my waist, and said come on. As soon as I step on the track I couldn’t breathe, like the little kids that cry in a way that you think they will stop breathing. I ran with him till the finish line, we sprinted at 8 min/mile, he held me tight after crossing the finish line and then on my knees I kissed the ground. I
Ran In The Footsteps Of The Legends.

Time 5:06:14 a PR by 11 minutes. Time means nothing. My son Diego taking me to Eugene (5-hour road trip), getting up at 5 am just for his desire of being with me and providing me such support on race day, running the last stretch with me, and offering his arms to my weak and tired body are beyond blessings.

Thank you My Diego. (A lady after him crossing the finish line with me told him: Hey, you ran the marathon in jeans!!!)


Anonymous said...

So happy for you. You didn't miss your goal by much. And a PR is great no matter what. Congratulations.

Diana Anthony said...

I am so so so so proud of you! You are such an inspiration to me. Thank you :)

MarathonChris said...

WOW - you had me in tears at the end of that race. You did SO well, and having a PR after all your struggles leading up to the race - well, that shows what a rock star you really are.

And how great is it that your son got to run you across the finish line!!!!

And an 11 min PR is NOTHING to sneeze at.

I am so impressed and proud of your accomplishment. Congratulations on a race (and all that leads up to it) well run!!!

How about 26.2 for Donna in 2011? :-)

Petraruns said...

That is a FABULOUS race report. You had a GREAT race clearly - that 5 hour race is well within your grasp. But to race like you did after taking 3 weeks off - I'm impressed but not amazed - you had it all in you. I think you're wonderful sweet Lizzie Lee - well done!

ShirleyPerly said...

Congratulations, Lizzie!!!

I am SO HAPPY the race went well for you with all the drama and distress you had in the last few weeks leading up to the race. You played things smart during your taper, ran smart during your race and it paid off with an 11-minute PR -- FABULOUS!!!!!!

I'm sure you'll meet your 5-hour goal soon. But one thing I like about being a 50-stater is that every race does not have to be a PR or even fast in order to be enjoyed. There is much satisfaction in just checking the state off your list and running some place new and often completely different. In order to adapt to the heat (probably 50% of the marathons I've run were hotter than expected), people who don't live/train in hot climates will usually do one of 2 things:

1) Heat training - Wear more clothes than usual when running, run indoors in warm gyms, spend time in saunas. The first two is what I heard a Portland, OR, training group does to get their runners ready for Honolulu Marathon in Dec.

2) Adjust their expectations - Bring fluids, run slower, forget about race time goals. This is probably what most people do.

Hope you are recovering well!

Anonymous said...

I do like ur article~!!!..................................................

JeffM said...

Great report Lizzie! That's what running is all about. Next time I hope we meet up.

Susan said...

Awesome report, LL! I am very, very proud of you. I hope that one day my Isaac will be as supportive as your Diego!

I have a friend from Oregon and I was just telling her last week that I WILL get to Hayward Field one day.

Marathon Maritza said...

Congratulations on gutting out a great race! And congratulations on the PR, although I agree about the support meaning more!

Is that your son running with you through the end in the pictures? Ay, pero me ponen sentimental esas fotos. Eres amada, mi amiga, que dichosa ♥

Irish Blue said...

Lizzie, that is an awesome PR. OMG - so proud of you. Your son finishing with you...that brought me to tears too. What a great experience.