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, November 11, 2012

First Call Marathon

"...and that is the course of the race.  We'll start in 5 minutes," is all we heard as we made it to the start area of the marathon.

With so many friendly faces milling about we had no problem asking someone the route of the course.  Those around us assured us it truly is an out and back, twice.  Knowing none of us would win the thing, we rested in the fact we knew we could just follow the crowd.

Our fingers were frozen and we tried to melt the cubes of ice we had for toes.  The temperature read 28*; I was grateful for the hand warmers in my gloves.  As the race director counted down and yelled "GO", about 50 of us began running.  My Garmin still hasn't located, thankfully Karen's has.

We made our way out of the Blythe Park and onto a paved trail.  The trees protected us from the slight wind that blew.  We ran over a footbridge crossing over the river we'd be running along.  The water lazily flowed underneath us.  My Garmin finally locates and I start my watch a mile into the marathon.

Melissa pulled ahead and we knew she was ready to race this marathon.  Fresh off the New-York-Marathon-That-Wasn't, she listened to our encouragement to join us and shake the experience.  She was strong and ready to have a great race.

Kathy, Karen, Kellan and I (hmmm, I just realized mine is the only name that doesn't start with a "K") fall into an easy pace.  We are running this as our last long training run before California International Marathon in a couple weeks.  Our conversation is easy and the pace light.
The Sammamish River Trail weaves alongside the river for miles.  Despite at times running along side the freeway, one could not see the road and rarely heard it.  The beauty of fall exploded on the trees.  The coming of winter had not yet robbed the trees of it's leaves, or the green from the grass; providing often breathtaking views.  Several times we stopped our conversation to say, "Look."  

Recognizing the gait of a runner up ahead, I point out to Kathy and Karen that Bob Dolphin is up ahead.  A remarkable man, who at the age of 80 celebrated running his 500th marathon.  I had heard rumors that he hadn't been running since his milestone in March and I was delighted to see him up ahead.  When passing him, I tell Bob how wonderful it is to see him out there.  He is such an incredible inspiration, I felt tears well up in my eyes as he smiled his big smile. 

We reached the turn around and began our way back to complete the first loop.  The fog kept the sun hidden and the temperature chilly.  We were grateful for our coats.  After running 8 miles at an easy pace, we pick up the pace to our marathon pace and plan on holding it for the next 12 miles.

My hamstring does well until 4 miles into our marathon paced miles.  It spasms intensely at one of the small rolling hills, I feel my leg give way and I stop myself from dropping.  I confess to Kathy and Karen I need to make a decision - do I drop out at the half marathon or continue on at a slower pace.  They counsel, I listen.  My stubbornness wins.  We begin the second loop.  They are gracious and slow down to an easy pace once again.

This is the battle of the marathon.  One little deviation from plan and the race becomes mental.  The mental part of the game is the hardest part of the game.   Your training helps you push forward, putting your emotions aside.  We press on.  I decide I will see how my hamstring is at 18 miles and if it is too inflamed, I will turn around.

Mile 17 I hear a familiar voice.  My friend Tom cruises up behind us telling us he's been trying to catch up to us since starting the second loop.  I share two miles with Tom, before I listen to my hamstring and slow to a walk.  Karen and Kathy pull forward with Tom. 

A 19 mile training run, instead of the 22 I planned, is the best I will get.  Instead of run/walking the last 4 miles of the marathon, I will run/walk the last 7.  Destroying my hamstring on a training run, even though it was a marathon, would not be the smartest decision I could make.  California is three weeks away.

With Tom, Karen and Kathy a short distance ahead, I see Kathy has stopped and waited for me.  We run / walk the rest of the distance together.  My hamstring is ok with this, which gives me hope.  It gets harder and harder to stop and start, our muscles tightening each time.  We just want to be done.

Leaving the trail, we turn once again into Blythe Park.  We cross the finish line, thank the volunteer who hands us our medal.  The hot chicken noodle soup we talked about for the last 4 miles awaited us.  Soup has never tasted so good.

Melissa has run a very strong race; Kathy, Karen, Kellan and I all satisfied with our training runs.  We eat, we share, we shiver.  Deciding some Starbucks is in order, we head back to the car and the heated seats.  My
15th marathon is in the books and I look ahead to my next.  But now, I am enjoying the company of my friends and enjoying the accomplishment of the day.  And the wonderfully delicious latte in my hand.