The World Through My Shoes is my look at living this incredible gift God has given us. As a busy wife, mother and daughter I relish the alone time I receive on my early morning runs. It is in the stillness of those predawn mornings where I often am inspired. Thank you for taking the time to read my words.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Seattle Rock N Roll Marathon

Seattle Rock N Roll Marathon became a marathon of learning. Most runners on the course would probably state this inaugural marathon is race of running, but for this single runner it was more than a marathon it was a run of learning.

Beth, Sharlene and I were three Nervous Nellys sitting in the backseat of the truck trying to talk ourselves out of pre-race jitters. We each came to this race with our own story and our own hopes. Beth was running her first marathon after taking a few years off from marathoning and Sharlene was running her third half marathon in three months celebrating her 33rd birthday. This was to be my 3rd marathon in 42 days qualifying me to become a Marathon Maniac. I learned a goal needs to be set to know how high to reach.

The Start Village was alive with people. The freeway leading up to the start was backed up for miles with cars making their way to the start. In a sight you do not see every day, runners were getting out of cars on the freeway and making the 2+ mile trek on foot to the start. As our hotel was close to the start we avoided most of the road congestion and we made it to the start with moments to spare. Beth, starting in corral 3, made it to the start as her corral was crossing the starting line. I made my way into Corral #9 and was crossing the starting line about 15 minutes later. Sharlene, who was definitely assigned the wrong corral, made her way to Corral 36 and began her journey approximately an hour after the official start. I learned what it is like to start a race with 25,000 runners.

Almost immediately we hit the first hill, and I made it up and over easily. Despite the nerves, I felt good and I felt strong. The Pacific Northwest is known for being a mountainous region and this course did not disappoint in proving why that is such a descriptive fact. The hills on the course were often long and with some being steep tested every mental stronghold I had. The course had 5,498 feet of elevation gain and 5,509 descending feet. This course was built to test endurance. I learned sometimes the only way to relieve leg cramps is to walk them off.

The sun shone brightly in the sky twinkling it’s summertime rays off of the waters of Lake Washington and the ocean waters of the Puget Sound. It was a cloudless sky giving little mercy from the sun. As I made my way down the course I lost count of how many runners I saw that had succumbed to the heat and were receiving medical aid. My heart broke for them. Runners were taken off the course by ambulance proving the heat was nothing to mess around with. I learned the balance of hydration can be a fine line.

Along the course the water was plentiful and CytoMax was the electrolyte replacement drink offered. At mile 2 I took my first swigs of CytoMax and quickly realized the mixture was wrong as the drink was incredibly strong and should have been diluted even further. This was my demise. Although I was quick to drink from my water bottle in hopes to dilute what I had drank, the damage was done. Nausea hit and hit me hard. I learned nausea is haunting as it followed me for the remainder of the race.

Around mile 11 I first spotted Mitch. With his white beanie hat and his brightly colored Marathon Maniac shirt he was easy for me to spot regardless of the sea of people. It was the first time we’d seen each other in person as most of our correspondence has been on-line. As the course had several loops of out and back in it, Mitch and I spotted each other several times along the course as had Beth and I. She had the eagle eye and was able to spot me every time our paths would cross. I learned a perfectly timed hello and word of encouragement from a familiar face delivers incredible amounts of motivation.

Mile 25 ½ was the crest of the last hill. From the course we could see down the final leg of the race which was all downhill. My quads grimaced at the thought of the downhill and I wondered if I would be able to run the entire distance through the finisher’s shoot. Leaving the Alaska Way Viaduct, the off ramp delivered us right outside of Qwest Field. The shoot was lined with people screaming and cheering for us as we finished. I turned the corner and heard my husband Dennis, Sharlene, Palmer, Beth and John screaming their shouts of encouragement. The tears I held back from mile 10 on found their way to the surface and spilled over. The strongest test of my will was near it’s end and I was still standing. I crossed the finish line completely spent. Although every square inch of my body was screaming at me, I finished. Mitch was waiting in the finisher’s shoot to give me my first Maniac hug. Despite it being my worst marathon time of 5:14:42, I learned I am stronger than I ever thought possible.

Earlier this year I turned 40, a milestone to be celebrated. While quite typical for women to celebrate this with vacations or jewelry or new cars, I knew I had to do something that spoke only of me and my character. After much contemplating and research, I began my quest to join the Marathon Maniacs. With the toughest course and the worst race time I’ve run, I gained the final criteria needed to become a member. As of Sunday, June 28, 2009 my birthday goal came true and I was welcomed as Marathon Maniac #1657. As I write this, the membership stands at 1,658 worldwide with only 623 members being women, and I am one of them. I learned with hard work and dedication, dreams do come true.

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