Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Vernonia Marathon 2012

So to carry on where I last left off....my chiropractor did fix my left knee.  Well actually, it wasn't my knee, but as usual, my hips, which were failing (after 50 miles, if you can really call that failing) and my knee was picking up the slack and not very happy about it.  The knee is all better now, but it has taken some time for my hips to re-settle, resulting in some right hip/ITB issues and low back pain.   So I have been getting some more work done.  I don't feel injured but am trying to find that sweet spot.  Starting up a new strength program after slacking for months probably didn't help.  But I really need it so I'm okay with working through a little pain.

Coming through the halfway point

Last week my chiro said I should definitely do the marathon.  He said my body knows how to run so I should let it run.  Just don't go all out.  Not a problem since I didn't plan to race it anyway.

At this marathon, you park in Banks at the finish and they bus you out to Vernonia for the start.  After a little detour around a cute little lake, you head back to Banks, almost exclusively on the Vernonia-Banks rails to trails paved bike trail.  The half marathoners stop at 13.1 and they bus them back to Banks.  Most of the racers were doing the half - 371 finishers and 108 finishers in the marathon.  At the start I met up with many of my Portland Running Chick friends, most of who were doing the half.

Portland Running  Chicks - I'm decked out in my maniac attire - which I usually only do for marathons
The weather was perfect for running - 40's at the start and partly cloudy.  I was fine in my tank and sleeves.  The course started on a downhill so it was easy to cruise.  My goal was to keep my pace around 11 min/miles.  I recently got a heart rate monitor and I've been wearing it on all my runs to try to get an idea of my range.  150's seem to be my "little harder than easy" zone and I was hoping to stay in that range.  We bottomed out after a few miles and then it was a very gradual uphill to the half.  I put my music on from the start and tried to zone out.  I chatted with a few people here and there but essentially I was running my own race.  I tried to not think too much about how I was feeling...I didn't want to focus on every little ache or pain.  But in general I felt pretty good.  My back felt better to run and my right leg didn't seem to be tightening up too soon.

Steep downhill to the half finish and then another steep uphill to continue on the marathon course.  This had been my bailout option in case something in my back or hips seized up.  Didn't need it - I was doing okay.  But where did everyone go??  All of a sudden I was by myself.  I kind of liked that and it was time to really go on auto-pilot and get this marathon done.  By this point I was averaging about 11:10 pace.  But after a half mile of steep uphill, the course descended steadily for about 8 miles.  I picked up the pace and was averaging 10's.  A few times I thought I might be going too fast and should save more for the end.  But it felt good and I kind of wanted to get a feel for thrashing my quads on the downhills.  I need to be doing that a lot this summer anyway.

For a road marathon, this really is a beautiful course and I enjoyed this section the most.  It was peaceful and I loved running through the forest.  It was starting to warm up but I was still in the shade for the most part.  But around mile 20 the course flattened out and as we got closer to civilization there were more bikes on the path.  And the course opened up into field so we lost our shade.  My goal was to keep my pace and I succeeded.  In fact I believe I picked it up a little during the last 6 miles.  But it was starting to get harder.  My fitness is pretty high from all the slow, long distances I've done in the past 6 months.  I can tell my legs to go 10-11 minute miles and they can do that all day long.  But that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt sometimes and my quads were starting to get tight.  I never felt like I needed to stop and walk, but there were a few times when I told myself that Pine to Palm would be MUCH more painful so I better get used to pain.  I did stop at all the aid stations to make sure I was hydrating well, especially as it got hotter.  I stuck to mostly gels and oranges for "food" and I didn't have any problems with my stomach or bonking.

The last mile you have to run on the sidewalk through the small town of Banks, through the high school parking lot and then once around the track.  By this time I was ready to be done...my last mile was one of my sub 10 splits.  My finish time was 4:46:41, about a half hour off my PR.  While I wasn't exactly racing it, I don't think I could have run it much faster.  I have lost a lot of my speed and a 4:30 is probably the best I can do right now in a marathon.

Bret and Gail (who PR'd!) were at the finish and I chatted with them for a bit.  Then back inside the high school I got some soup and saw a bunch more maniac buddies - Steve W. , Cyndie M., Peter, etc.  There are so many maniacs now - over 5,000 - but it's kind of fun to hang out with the old timers.  Also saw Monte at the beginning.  He was the first maniac that introduced himself to me at my first marathon as a maniac.

Soon I headed off but then realized I had forgotten my drop bag.  So I came back and discovered that I had won an age group award - third place!  1st and 2nd were a half hour ahead of me and I think there were only a few behind me - but I'll take it.  Found my drop bag and discovered that my chick buddies had left me a little present.  I love running in and of itself, but it's the friends you make while running that makes it extra special.  

Chick made marathon cookie!  Yum!
 One last thing.....I have some cheesy songs on my iPod - one of them is What a Feeling from Flashdance.  I've never really listened to the words that closely but the main refrain really hit home for me when I heard it around mile 22: "Take your passion, Make it happen."  I think that's my new favorite quote and mantra for my summer training leading to Waldo and Pine to Palm.  Oh yeah, my back pain went away during/after the race.  Gotta love the running cure.  When in doubt, run!


Olga King said...

It's a year of awards for Sarah! Who cares where is everyone, must be sleeping in bed and getting unhealthy! You look good. Glad your chiro can fix you - and also that he sends you to run.

Joe said...

A road marathon!! What a concept!! Fun to read, Sarah and so glad it went well. And a good training run. Hope that strength work helps build your core and training for the rest of the year!!

Way to go!!!