John’s first marathon. We discussed strategy in the days, weeks and months before the event. We had a brief review the night before. I decided to take the early start because my last marathon took 7 hours. John went with the regular start, confident that he could finish in 4 hours.
About a quarter of a mile into my run a woman heading toward the start cheered us on, “You’re almost done!”
I met a lot of interesting people that morning. A couple who had embarked on a weight loss adventure together. The wife, who lost 50ish pounds, looked like she had never seen an extra pound on her body. Her husband, had lost about 170 pounds with the help of gastric bypass surgery. He has taken advantage of his weight loss to get into athletics. He is running marathons, and training for an iron man. He is still a large fellow, probably over 200lbs and 6 feet and an inch or two. They were a very lovely couple. It is great that they have been able to support and motivate each other through this.
After them I ran with a woman who had her last breast cancer operation in March. She started running again in April after a year off. She finished in about 5.5 hours!
I lost her in Point Defiance Park and ran most of the marathon alone after that. I was trying a new strategy. I have been running very slowly (walking pace at times) to avoid pain, but the pain catches me at mile 16 inspite of that. So this time I opted to run a bit faster (still walking pace to some).
The section of the course through Point Defiance is beautiful, we ran along 5 mile drive (approx 5 miles in length), and hilly. I felt fine on the hills, I felt fine on everything! I danced up a hill coming into the mile 13 aid station, they were blasting the blues brothers and were all dressed in suits. I love an aid station with spirit!
Somewhere along 5 mile drive I was passed by the first runners. That was an exciting sight. And first place woman was third over all at that point and she was looking strong. Very inspiring.
The hills were a bit too steep to be called “rolling”, perhaps “rolling mountains”. I really enjoyed the hills though, they were just the right height and frequency to keep things interesting. sure enough mile 16 rolled around and sure enough my knee had things to say. I slowed a bit to quiet it down. I spent the rest of the run, going as fast as my knee would allow.
After doing the math a few ways I realized that John should catch up with me when I had been running for 5 hours. As I got closer and closer to the end I started checking over my shoulder more frequently to see if he was going to catch me. It never happened.
A two (ish) mile downhill lead to the finish. I heard someone yelling, “white coat right behind you!” so I sprinted with everything I had to keep it behind me through the finish…and it was close. But I won. I finished in 5:17...bout an hour forty faster than my last marathon!
John’s mother and sister were at the finish line. They were so excited. But John wasn’t there yet.
We waited, and the wind was strong and cold. My space blanket did little to keep me warm. His sister was making some sort of threats because my lips were turning blue. I was too hypothermic to understand what she was telling me. I pressed my lips together to hide them from her and tied myself up in the space blanket.
John finished just under 5 hours! He was thrilled to be done running. As it turns out all our great planning went out the window. He started to fast and died around mile ten…that’s a long way to drag yourself to the finish line. We dined with the Maniacs after the run but it would take more than a burger and beer to restore him. Not every first marathon is a good experience, but by the next day his mood had improved and he was willing to consider doing another marathon…eventually.