So, on Saturday, May 19, I wore the standard race gear, and ran 42.2 kilometers in 4:37:57. Yeah, it’s long.
We headed out from Helena to Missoula (the land of hope and dreams) on Friday. After getting into Missoula later than expected, we headed toward Spokane, and arrived later than we wanted to. We were staying with my awesome friend Catherine, so life was awesome. In our packets, I got a really cool jersey style shirt, a cool grocery bag, and another sweet beer coaster for the Missoula Marathon. At the last moments, I found out that Don was downgrading, so I would be running this one solo.
For some reason, this marathon turned into a mental battle. On the way from the bus toward Post Falls, I started to realize how crazy I was to run this insanely long race. After all, I’m coming off of a nasty 30K from last weekend. On the other hand, as I often remind myself, there’s nothing to do but get ready and run for the next four hours.
So, I got ready, and got to wait around Post Falls industrial park for half an hour. There were plenty of honey buckets, including a special ‘men’s room’ that had no lines. God bless the port-a-urinal!
The thing about running a marathon is that marathon runners tend to be a talkative sort, and Montanans are just naturally talkative. I got a chance to ask Amy Biviano about Spokane’s political situation (she's running for state representative, and you should vote for her, if you live in Spokane Valley), I talked with a man from Spokane doing his first race, I talked with one of the race sponsors. I felt strange, because everyone seemed to know the course marshals except for me. I was like the new kid in a John Hughes marathon.
We start in Post Falls industrial park, and head east, to get the required distance. The start is chaotic (as usual), but fun. My goal was to start slow and steady, and rock the course. I start slow, and get moving super fast on the downhill part of the course. Once we get heading west, I notice a huge billboard for Showgirls, the Northwest's Premier Gentleman's Club. I thought perhaps the smart people were there, rather than running a silly long race.
Anyway, I spend the first two miles jostling around and trying to find pace. I love crossing over the river into Washington, over an absolutely beautiful bridge. There's a good deal of roll in the first part of the course, but the weather is still reasonably cool. We head down toward Spokane. I skip the first water / Heed station, and enjoy talking and pacing with Darrel. Yep, the start of the race is strong and steady, just the way that I like. The course parallels the river, and I see a flock of Canada Geese flying over the water. There's some amazing irises growing along the way.
I keep a steady slightly over 9:00 pace heading for the first part of the marathon. I feel good and steady for the first ten miles. Then, between mile 10 and 11, the wheels come off. I go from easily running at 9:00 per mile to struggling to run 10:00 per mile. I have to walk the slightest uphill. The only explanation is that I was worn out from running the 30K last weekend and doing the nasty 10K Rodney Ridge run on Wednesday. Yeah, I ran too hard, and overdid it. So, all I had ahead of me was sixteen miles of hard and heavy running.
I trudge toward the spot where the full marathon and half marathon come together. I see a lady run by me, and I congratulate her, only to have her turn around and ask where the relay is. Yeah, I am annoyed by relayers. I actually am more annoyed by the high school relayants who passed me after Argonne.
When the full and the half meet up, a great sense that I actually might be able to finish this event. The rule for finishing marathons is that one should not worry about time, or honor, or pain, but merely to continue forward. And, so, with legs of pure jelly, I head onward toward the finish line, with distances counting down, rather than up.
At the 10K point, Catherine joins up with me as a pacer. It's nice to have someone to keep my mind away from the pain and frustration. She leaves me at the four mile to go mark, but Don comes back and pulls me to the finish line.
The strange thing about it all is how surreal running a marathon is. I didn't get anywhere near my sub-four goal. On the way back from Spokane, I talked with Don about how running Rodney Ridge with a bunch of hardcore old men on Wednesday didn't help. Yet, I finished what I set out to do this past week. That's the point, to finish.