Monday, May 2, 2011

Tacoma City Marathon 2011

My husband signed up for the Tacoma City Marathon.  Not wanting to be left out, I signed up for it too.  I like running marathons.  It's 26.2 miles of  fun and challenge at the same time.  The most challenging part for me is trying to get in the long runs with two small people to take care of at home.  There's only a few days where I can escape for two or three hours at a time to run 12-18 miles, but I do my best and just try to have fun with it.  I know that the chances of me winning a marathon any time soon are very slim, so I may as well enjoy what I can do right? 

My pre-race drink I never drank.  It was chunky yogurt when I opened it.  Gross.
Race day is where all of the fun kicks in.  Not that I don't enjoy a good run by myself out in the middle of nowhere, but there is nothing like running with a diverse group of people to watch.  Now that is fun. 

The day started out early at 5:15 a.m. and foggy.  I quickly showered and put on my lucky spandex.  (How could spandex not be lucky?  Such a fun material.)  We ate quietly so as not to wake the children and then got out the door for our one hour drive.  (Don't worry, they had a babysitter)  It isn't very often that my husband and I get to run the same marathon.  Usually one of us is running and the other is cheering with the kids.  I like running with Kevin.  Well, let's be honest, I like running behind Kevin.  He's speedy.  But for the few minutes I get to spend with him waiting in the starting chute or seeing him cheer for me as I run through the finishers chute are fun. 

We got to the starting chute and nobody was there.  Uh-oh.  Cue nervousness.  Not nobody, but very few people were mingling about looking fit and athletic.  The smaller the marathon, the more nervous I get simply because I don't want to be last.  I don't want to get there when they are taking down the finish line because everyone else has already come through.  Yes, it makes me nervous.  I was hoping that wouldn't happen for me on this day. 

After multiple trips to the porta-potties for both of us (I have a nervous bladder) 7:30 approached and people started lining up close to the start.  A highschool version of the Star Spangled Banner was sung and with a countdown from 5 we were off and running. 

Kevin ran the first 0.25 with me and then took off to find his pace group.  I just focused on pacing myself and getting to the finish.  I didn't have high hopes knowing that I had only been able to put in two long runs beforehand.  I viewed this race more of a fitness test than anything and to peak out my running for my Ironman training.  The combination of a sunny clear day with Mt. Rainier and the Olympic Mountains in full sight definitely gave me something to smile about.  That and the man running in the tiny little bright yellow shorts in front of me gave me motivation to run faster.  (Runners seriously wear the most obscene clothing.) 

I had seen the profile of the course and knew that it was going to be hilly.  Around the 5K mark (and running uphill for a bit) a guy in front of me turns around and yells out, "Well, that's the first hill done!  The second one isn't as bad."  This led me to think that there were only two major hills to run.  Must be easier than I had first thought.


The next hill that I hit I thought, "Well, this must be the second hill."  Then the next one would be a little bit steeper and I thought, "Maybe this is the one that he was talking about."  That guy must have mistaken this race for something else, because there were definitely more hills that just two. 

The race itself wound about the city for awhile, back and forth on the streets, through alleys, through a park, most of the time I was incredibly confused where I was.  Then we finally headed out on the highway that lead out to Point Defiance which I knew would be a fun section.  On the highway out there running felt awesome.  I kept passing people on the hills when they would slow down or start walking.  I would motor past and yell out a "Good job!" (Yes, I'm always trying to motivate and encourage.)  Even though they were probably resenting me at that moment.  It's hard to dislike someone who is friendly so I tried my best to be friendly. 

I told myself at the beginning that I would not look at my Garmin except when it would alarm me at every mile with my pace alert.  By the 13.1 point I was averaging 8:40 and felt great.  Better than I ever had.  Out at Point Defiance there were some hills.  It was up and down, up and down and by mile 18 or 19 it was starting to wear on me.  That combined with watching people not following the course and instead cutting corners was a little bit discouraging, but I'm technical like that.  I like to know that I didn't cut through some parking lot to make it shorter for myself regardless of what other people do.  I came around the top of a hill and saw a steep descent followed by what appeared to be a San Francisco hill-like climb immediately afterward.  I inwardly groaned....and then was passed by a 70-year-old lady.  So I kept running.  I wanted to keep her in my sights.  My goal had been to run up all the hills and I had achieved that until towards the top of this hill in sight.  I walked.  Just for a minute.  I ate some jelly beans, took an endurolyte or two and then forced myself to keep chasing this lady. 

After about two miles I started feeling perky again and was able to pick things up again without the inward groaning.  For the rest of the race I had no idea where I was.  I am not familiar with Tacoma at all so I just followed the people in front of me and hoped I was going the right way.  The marathon was so small that there were times that I was running by myself and wondering if I was still on the course.  About mile 24 I had the privilege of running with Kobe Bryant.  Yes, the Kobe Bryant.  Well, he at least had the jersey and the Laker gloves and purple basketball shorts with black tights on underneath.  He was sweating like crazy.  I can't imagine running in that much clothing when it's 60 degrees out.  We chatted for a bit and then I wished him a good run and headed for the finish.  To keep myself positive, everyone that I passed that was cheering for me(since we were so spread out now they were literally cheering for each individual person) I would wave back and say "Thank you!" and to all of the police officers who were out there stopping traffic I would do the same.  I can appreciate a good spectator/volunteer.  It's a hard job to stand out there all day for no reason.  I've done it and know that it requires some serious snacks and race day planning.  Really.  If you need a spectator/crew, I make an awesome one.  I can send you references. 
Pretty sure he hates posed photos. :)

Finally, a man watching yelled out from his lawn chair "Just a mile and a half and it's all downhill!"  Yay.  I was ready  for some downhill.  He wasn't kidding about it either.  Probably the best finish to a marathon ever.  It was all downhill right into the chute.  I ran all by myself into the chute, waved at my husband who was already eating and resting his feet, and finished.

It was a lot of fun.  I would definitely do this race again.  I was able to come in 6th in my division and had a PR finishing time of 4:00:52 so I was happy with that.  There might be a little part of me that thinks there was possibly a way to knock off 53 seconds in the process to get a sub 4, but that's okay.  Spending the time to chit chat with Kobe as we ran was worth it I suppose. 

Definitely will do this one again.  It was small enough to not have to bump elbows with people the whole time and the price was cheaper than others in the area.  I was pleasantly surprised with how fun it was and how beautiful the course was.  I loved it. 


  1. Almost makes me want to start running again!

  2. I don't know how you make running 26.2 miles seem fun, invigorating and humorous, but you sure do ;) Congrats!