Racing afterall: stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid Seafair Marathon

It's Wednesday and I am tired. I would like to be tired because I raced WS100 this weekend, but it is not the case. I am trying to be over it and look towards the future, a future which hopefully contains the Vermont 100 in 17 days. Fingers crossed.

I decided instead to do the Seafair Marathon. Howard instructed me to run 35 miles, so I figured I would run the race and then run back from the race finish line to my car which all told would have been about 38 miles. Jonathan, Linda, Jess, Allen, Tonya and Owen were running it (all or in part) so I figured I would brave the anticipated blistering hot day for a nice little training run. I packed up my drop bag to check at the start with a hydration pack, several frozen water bottles and some food, so that I could cross the finish line and head off home back across I-90. After hearing of the cancellation of WS, I did a few hard days of training so my legs weren't as fresh as they might have been if I had just continued my full taper. And even if I had, it was a mystery to me how 100 mile trail training would translate in a road course.

It was interesting to say the least. I took off at between 6:30 and 6:40 pace and was clipping along nicely in the relative cool of the 7am sun. It started to heat up quickly. There were several really fast half and full marathoners, whom I watched disappear in the distance ahead of me. I had barely made it on to the 520 bridge when my brain started to get bitter. "This is not what I want to be doing." It said. "I should be basking in a post WS glow right now, eating food and taking a cat nap". I tried to shut it out, afterall it was only 26.2 miles and on the "easy" road. I told myself that I know marathons and that at least there won't be any real hills so I can just cruise along and be in the low 3 hr range. Boy was I wrong! Stupid Seafair marathon. We made it off the 520 bridge and that would be the last semblance of anything flat. In fact, I have ran course that claimed to be hilly and were less hilly than this. My brain was bitter, my legs were tired. I think somewhere in my body a timer had been set for this day and on the exact date of June 29, my body was preset for recovery mode. My body was ready to have just exhausted itself during WS and resting and rebuilding. But it wasn't, instead I was trying to extend my fitness to stay peaked for another few weeks.

I clipped along, not happily, but still hitting sub 7's. And then came the hill at mile 7. I looked at it and thought, "you've got to be kidding me, that is a hiking hill". The back of my knee was tight, soI slowed to a walk and power hiked like a good little ultrarunner. Had to use all the WS training somehow! The heat was getting intense. After making it up a few more hills, I was just not feeling good. I just wanted to be done. If I was running far, I wanted it to be without aim or focus, I just didn't want to be on anymore. I think there is a max to how long the body and mind want to and can stay at full speed. I had reached threshold. I decided that I would just keep on running as fast as I could until I decided to stop and quit. I ran along Bellevue Way and saw Linda, who was waiting to meet Jess. She was encouraging and happy, and all I could do was yell, "What the F**K am I doing? This is ridiculous". The course still split with the half marathoners happily moving towards the finish and I turning away towards the long haul ahead. I knew according to the profile that there was suppose to be a hill from 12-15, but after the stupid, stupid, stupid steep hills preceeding them, I no longer had faith that they would be just speed bumps. I hit the halfway point about 1:28/1:29, though I am not sure since I was hitting the lap at every mile, as to track my pace instead of overall time. After the course seperation, I suddenly felt very lonely. I couldn't see the nearest person in front of me, nor behind me. I knew Jonathan couldn't be too far behind, so I started goofing off in hopes that he might catch up. I had to, for I knew that if I didn't I probably would end up giving up anyways. Pretty shortly thereafter I saw him coming from a distance. I turned around and ran backwards and skipped along, so he could catch me. I was in a foul mood and definitely needed a pep talk. Saturday had been an emotional day for me and the residual was still in my mind and lungs (that is where I hold me stress). I was not a very nice person to run with I am sure for at least a mile. My knee hurt, my lungs were constricted and as Jonathan pointed out, it was probably all in my head. It was but of course I snapped, "no its my body too". See I showed him... He said he would stay with me and run the rest with me, which in theory was a good idea since he is going to pace me for Vermont should I get in. He probably saw the worst of me in those first few miles, probably far worse than he would ever see at an ultra. I took a puff from his inhaler and finally ate a Roctaine Gu at mile 16 and slowly started to feel a bit better. It was incredibly hot at this point and I poured water over my head which temporarily helped cool me down. I really appreciated the company and we gained some speed at hit a few 6:45ish miles.

But the joy and ease would quickly subside after another half dozen of unexpected hills. We both took S!Caps but were crampy. I had been given Glucose at a few of the aid stations instead of water and my stomach was sloshy and crampy. If I were a barfer, that would have been an ideal time to be able to because it probably would have helped. We stopped a few times for various cramps and pains. But kept on plodding along. We hit mile 22 and I swear the next 2.5 miles took a lifetime. We rounded the corner and saw ahead of us the long steep slow hill of Bellevue Way (I think). We slowed and ultramarathoner'd it up the hill. I hadn't seen any other women pass me and I kept turning around to see if anyone was coming. I didn't want to get chicked at this late point, despite having mentally throwing in the towel a long time ago. I was just trying to get a good training run with a t-shirt.

We made it to the top, after being passed by some tri-athlete (which kind of irk'd us both a bit). We decided to run with less than 2 miles to go. I was starting to feel my 2nd, or 14th wind and was moving again. Jonathan hamstring/leg were really bothering him and he told me to press on if I had it in me. How am I suppose to abandon someone who stuck with me the whole way? I refused for about a half mile and then we turned another corner onto another hill. It was ridiculous. I started power hiking and Jonathan just goes, "see there's that WS training coming in handy". He let me go and I stopped arguing. I hit the flat and got charged. I passed the tri-athlete, who said, "ahh ya got me!" (and Jonathan got him too). I ran my last mile in under 6:30 and crossed the line in3:10:28. I was exhausted, hot and still cranky. Jonathan came in soon behind me. I got my medal and went to have my timing chip removed when I realized it had fallen off and early in the race. They told me to go to the timing table and I sprinted over and told them the predicament. They added me to the results but it took a day to fix the results. In the end, I had come in 4th woman overall and 1st in my age group. The course was way more hilly than both SF and Seattle Marathons were and so I considered my time not bad all things considered.

The heat was extreme so I opted to take Linda's offer for a ride back to my car and wait out the heat to finish my miles. Jonathan and I waited on the lawn as other friends, SRC'rs and Marathon Maniacs made their way through to the finish. Jonathan chatted with the male Kenyan winners, as he lived in Kenya for many years and I joined in. They invited us to come down and train and live with them in Kenya, like Trish and Uli did. They promised that in one year they could make me into a sub 2:30 marathoner. Sweet, I am booking my ticket.

Course profile: Lies, Lies and more damn lies

In the afternoon, I picked up my new dog from her foster home and we spent the afternoon bonding and being lazy. I finally got motivated to run another 8 miles at about 10pm and enjoyed the cool evening. I am quite tired this week from both the race as well as the emotional rollercoaster of not racing WS. I am trying to keep my fitness up for Vermont, as well as balancing the need for a bit of rest that comes from training for 6 months for something. VT100 here I come, I hope!