I flew into Seattle on Thursday night and was stunned to see that it was still light outside when the plane landed at 9:20 pm. By the time my brother got me back to his house at 10:40 pm it was finally dark outside but it was messing with my head because I was still on CST and it was 12:40 am. for me. I enjoyed sleeping with the windows open. It was a real treat. Not so much when the birdies started chirping and singing at 4:30 am and it was light out. I cracked out my book to read myself back to sleep for a few more hours. I finally got up around 7 am or 9 am my time. I felt so lazy!
My brother and I headed into Seattle early to hit packet pick-up at the Qwest Center. Since this was his first marathon, it was also his first marathon expo. It was like taking a kid into a endurance candy store. His eyes went as wide as salad plates and his jaw hung open. We hit the bathrooms first (we were good and hydrated!) and then picked up our bibs. I had no trouble getting moved up from corral #18 up to #6 with my brother. WIN! I was then able to get an X-Small race shirt. Double WIN!!! We made our way to the American Cancer Society booth where I checked in. They were SUPER excited to see me and loaded me down with t-shirts, bibs to pin to my singlet for my Honored patients and people I was running in memory of. I was able to pick up a new pair of Newtons at their booth and they loaded me down with a bunch of freebies as well. COOL!
After getting our stuff organized, a little nap, and a trip to the grocery it was time to get diner started and think about a getting some shut eye. I was ready for bed at 7:30 pm! I slept like a rock. I did wake up around 3:30 am which is 5:30 am my time and usually sleeping in for me so I did a little reading and started getting ready and headed down for breakfast. We hit the road at 5 am and as you can see in the picture, it is already light out. Crazy!
My sister-in-law, Diane, drove us up to where the start was. The traffic was nuts! we debated about getting out and walking like lots of other people were doing. Diane did some awesome tactical maneuvers and got us over a mile and a half down the road passing tons of cars before letting us out. Eric and I started running the last half mile to the staging area. We had 15 minutes to the start! All I can say it that it was more like a mile than a half mile of swerving in and out of people to get to corral #39. We quickly (frantically) stuffed Eric's gear bag in mine and we handed it over to the UPS dudes and RAN way above our race pace up to corral #6. Sorry for not removing our hats and running through the National Anthem but we were only at corral #20! We made it to corral #6 just in time to hear the gun go off and we scaled over the barrier and I ditched my long sleeve toss-away shirt as we started moving to the start line. WIN! Sorry, no photos of this, we were out of breath.
As we got up to the start line, Eric hit the Garmin and I hit my Polar. The plan was to run a 9:15 pace for as much of the race as we could. However, our first objective was to find port-o-cans! We had not had pit stops since before we left the house at 5 am and it was now after 7 am and we were ready to bust. We found the first bank of port-o-cans about 3/4 ths of a mile into the race and of course we had to wait. We were pleasantly surprised that there was plenty of toilet paper in the port-o-cans. Second WIN of the day! We got back on the course and back on our pace and it seemed pedestrian after our sprint up to corral #6.
The miles were clicking by and we were feeling great and chatting away. At mile 2 we saw some dude running in a polar bear costume. Nuts! Even though it was 54 degrees at the start I was in a singlet tank and sweating. Around mile 4 we hit our first big hill going through a residential area. Owie, not too bad but still it was more hill than I would get in H-town. Between mile 4 and 6 the hills were non-stop and some of the downhills were just silly steep. I knew my legs were getting a thrashing. Eric was being a champ and hanging with me and running up to all of the band stages to cheer them on for being out there for us. My heart rate was now higher from all the hills and we had stopped all the chatting.
By mile 6 we ran down a nasty hill that I thought that I might trip and fall down and then we were able to run along beautiful Lake Washington. We ran by residents cheering in their driveways and cheer leading groups. At mile 7 the Navy was running the aid station and playing on the band stage in their uniforms. The female singer was awesome! Just after mile 9 we ran up a steep hill and onto a floating bridge over Lake Washington. It was downhill onto the bridge, across it, uphill off the bridge to the turn-around, back down onto the bridge, across, and back uphill off the bridge and into a tunnel. We were now past 12 miles. This was our first chance to see the pace groups. We were ahead of the 4:00 group! How did we manage that???We saw the dude in the Polar Bear costume again. Just before mile 13 I had to hit the port-o-cans again. At least I was hydrated! TP in the cans! WIN #3 for the morning!!! After the wait for the cans and a chance to refill my Fuel Belt bottles, we were on our way again...downhill.
As we started making our way into downtown Seattle, the I-90 highway ramps ramped up and we were going uphill again. Ugh! What goes up must come down and we started heading down to street level. The half and full marathon runners had split back at the bridge where the half runner went straight into the tunnel. There were cones to manage us and sometimes concrete barriers. There were a lot more people on the half side. That made me feel pretty good. As we hit the streets of Seattle, the crowds were great. Around mile 14 we made a left and headed towards the waterfront....which was downhill. Again, it was a crazy downhill and I had to take it at a gallop rather than a run to avoid careening out of control. As soon as we hit the bottom it was back up a steep ramp to the lower level of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. OUCH!!! At least when we got to the top it was flat for a looooooong time. We were close to a 4:00 hour race pace! The next people ahead of us were at least 300 meters up and there were only one or two people behind us. It was peaceful running by the waterfront and the aquarium. It did not last for long because as soon as we hit mile 15 it was uphill where we saw the early super fast runners making their way back in and onto the upper level of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Then it was downhill and into the Battery St. tunnel. We got a glimpse of the Space Needle before we ran into the darkness of the tunnel. The road surface was really slanted and not fun to run on.
As we emerged from the tunnel we saw more people than we had seen for a while. I guess everyone was starting to slow down. I knew why. We were going uphill again. Mile 16 to 17 was uphill and NOT fun. Just past the 17 mile marker I told Eric that I had to pull over to the side and stretch out my hamstrings and calves. He joined me to take a 30-45 second break to stretch. It HURT to get going again and I made a mental note to only stop in case of an emergency. At the top of the hill we had about 200 meters of flat before we started a huge downhill to the Aurora Ave. Bridge. Ow, Oww, Owww!!! I could feel my calve muscles twitching to cramp and I pushed on. Across the bridge it was back uphill to a turn around point. Strangely, the uphills were easier to handle than the downhills. Once around the turn around and just before mile 19 I had to pull over to the side to stretch some more and down a few S-caps to get some more salt in me. I knew I was dehydrated and off my salt even though I was taking in water. I got behind because the temps were so pleasant. I checked my heart rate and I was still good.
It was a long slog uphill up to mile 20 and then it was a mile long downhill where I thought the wheels were going to come off. Ok, so we may not make 4:00 hours. I'm good with that.
My calves were cramping bad and other muscles in my legs were not happy either. Stretch! Start running again....HOLY F---ING S--T THAT HURTS!!!! At least I was not part of the runners on the other side of the road at mile 16. Back into the tunnel we went. At the end of the tunnel Eric and I groaned as we started back uphill. Eric was no longer running up to the band stages. I decided that I needed to start taking in as much Cytomax as I could to get fluids and electrolytes. I hit every aid station from mile 21 to the end and walked only to down the liquids and then I got running again. We had 2 miles on the top level on the Alaskan Way Viaduct and past the point where the runners on the way back were heading in to the finish at Safeco Field when we were met with a very cruel joke. We had to run downhill to street level!!! People were walking up the hill on the other side. We saw the 4:00 hour pace group on the way back in. When did they pass us??? It must have been at the port-o-can stop at mile 13. Once we hit the bottom of the hill, we still had to run another half mile or more to the turn around just past mile 24. It was another mile and a half back up that last F---ING HILL and to the ramp DOWNHILL to street level again. ARRRRGH!!!! MAKE IT STOP!!!
On the way up that last hill I checked over my shoulder to look for Eric and he was hobbling and flagging me to pull to the side. His legs were cramping up bad and we took some seconds to stretch. Oooo, we may not make 4:15. Come on, we have to get moving! We hit the U-turn and started down the ramp to street level. It did not matter how bad it hurt now, we had a half a mile to go. There was no more stopping!
The last straight away to the Finish Line saw my calves all knotted and cramped up but I was not slowing down. Eric was hanging tough and complaining of leg cramps as well. 4:16:34 and a big 14 minute PR!!! Eric had an AWESOME first marathon time!!! Once we crossed that finish line I could stop and every muscle in my legs started to ball up. Keep Moving! Keep Moving!!!
I downed the first bottle of water I got my hands on and we heard Diane and Evan, my nephew, calling through the fence to us. They saw us charge to the finish line and said they would meet us at the end of the athlete exit. Eric was downing a banana and I was desperately looking for a foil blanket because I was starting to get chilly. We got our medals, our finish photos and more food when Eric said his stomach was not feeling good. I kept him moving and we found him some ice for his knees. I started doing dynamic stretching and found a foil blanket. We headed to the American Cancer Society tent to check in and to get our gear bag. I got into some dry clothes and found some chips to eat. Eric was still not feeling good and I forced an S-cap on him and told him the salt would fix his stomach right up. by the time we walked back to the car he said his stomach was feeling much better.
We both snoozed in the car on the way home. We were looking forward to ice baths and naps. After a little recovery it was time to get my stuff packed so I could head back to the airport to take a red-eye home so I could be able to be a Bud's big swim meet the next morning. Over diner, Eric said he was really pleased with his first marathon experience and he would do another in the future. Whoo Hoo!!! Another marathon convert!!!
Elizabeth Garcia #18307Houston, TXAge: 39 Gender: F
I had a great time running with my brother and I look forward to doing it again in the future.
Oh, and I have to tell you, I signed up for Ironman Texas. It is right in my backyard. I'm saving a lot of money on travel, lodging, and bike shipping. That's my justification. Sick and twisted I know, but hey, I guess I am ready to get back in the mix.
More on this craziness later,