Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I definitely got my money's worth

It's over ... yes, that is a medal around my neck ... oddly enough, it's the same medal that the guy who finished 4 hours BEFORE me got. Therefore, I definitely got my money's worth. It took 7 hours and 7 minutes (maybe because I like 7's and it's a lucky number) ... if you subtract a water stop at mile 6 where I almost lost my bagel, then it took slightly less than 7 hours. And, if you take out the dancing that I did at mile 19 (there was a good band on that stage) and the photo opps and family hug stops at miles 13.1, 18, and 22), it probably took me about 6.5 hours - still a heck of a long time.

Before I start with the recap, I will say that overall this has been an incredible journey. I'm still processing it all. I went into an autopilot mode right before the start of the marathon and I think I am just now coming out of it. Team In Training for just the Phoenix Rock and Roll Marathon and Half Marathon raised over 3.6 million dollars for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I am in awe just thinking about that. On the way back from the Grand Canyon on Monday (we took the Grand Canyon Railway), a man about my age approached me and said, "I just want to thank you." I smiled and said, "You're welcome, but why?" He said, "Because of the money raised that allowed research to be done, I am a 23 year cancer survivor". So am I glad I did what I did? Yes! (Although, my feet are not so sure at the moment - eventually though, they too will come around.)

So here's the scoop.

I really don't remember much about Saturday (the day before the race). I know I made my family drive the course with me (I wanted to see the hills for myself ... let's just say, "hills" might actually be a bit generous). I know I went to the TNT pasta party and that's about all I can remember - I'm sure there was more, but I was sort of in a fog.

I woke up at 5 AM on race day, ate my bagel, banana and sports drink ... dressed, and went downstairs to meet the "team" in the lobby. The TNT organization is truly a well oiled machine, you really don't have to think for yourself, which is quite handy when you're preparing for your first full marathon (or half marathon). They do just about everything for you and keep you on track quite literally from start to finish.

So fast forward through the team photos, the last minute well wishes, the handing out of garbage bags, the bus trip to the starting line and finding the appropriate coral (mine was the last one, #11 ... see previous post!). There was no gun start, just the Star Spangled Banner and off you go ... which in a coral start with 11000 other people was, well, kind of slow. The garbage bags (for those who don't know) are to keep you warm. The temperature at the start was about 46, so the bag (with a hole for your head) keeps you insulated, then you shed it after you warm up and toss it into a trash can or on the curb as opposed to throwing away a perfectly good t-shirt or jacket.

For the first 3.2 miles, Bruce, one of the TNT coaches ran with me. He kept saying, "your pace is fast, Lisa, you might want to slow down a bit ... you'll thank me in the later miles." I said, "I know Bruce, my head agrees with you." (Apparently my feet were too far away to hear the conversation or weren't paying attention as usual).

I had to make a pit stop around mile 6 (right before the first split time for those who were following along). There were two port-o-potty's and about 7 people - so I waited ... not opting to run a few more miles before the next bio-break opportunity. When it was my turn, I went in and almost came directly back out ... but my bladder wouldn't let me. Apparently one of the people before me had some "issues". I don't know how long I actually spent in that enclosed space, but I can tell you it went something like this ... "Don't breathe, don't cough, don't breathe, don't cough ... OMG, don't touch anything ... silent scream ... " When I regained consciousness and breathed fresh air again, I said to the person behind me ... "whatever you do, hold your breath before you go in there." If only the person in front of me had said the same thing.

Prior to the port-o-potty incident, I had thought to myself ... ok, cool - I did a 10K warm-up for my 20 mile training run, I feel good. As opposed to the 20 mile training run being a warm up for a 10K ... the point is, I was still energized.

It took me a few miles to recover after mile 6.

Between miles 10 and 12, there was a lady standing on the street with a sign that said, "Because of you I am alive." Talk about motivation, I started to run faster. By 13.1, the halfway point, I felt pretty good (a little tired, but still keeping a decent pace). Doug, Dominic and my mom were there at the half way mark with camera in hand and rejuvenating hugs.

The Rock and Roll events have stages about every mile with different bands performing. I heard just about every type of music there is throughout the event, but somewhere close to mile 19, there was an awesome band (I wish I could remember what song they were playing, but I heard so many good ones, I can't quite pin it down in my head). At this stage, there were a few wacky people dancing with the runners as they came by (now, think about this, at this stage of the marathon, you're not with the serious runners, those guys had already been finished for about 2 hours, had their ice bath, and were into the celebratory alcohol phase). I was watching the fun for about a quarter mile (Phoenix is a rather flat course and you could see and hear things from a good distance). When I approached, it was my turn and I took advantage of it, it was good to stretch out some muscles and have fun. I was tempted to stay and party with those guys for awhile, but thought maybe I should finish.

The point here is that at mile 19, I was a bit tired, but still smiling and having fun. And, shortly before my dance fest, I had another photo opp and family hug session - it was amazing to have them there - maybe a good part of the reason I felt like dancing at mile 19.

The family was also there as I smiled through downtown Scottsdale - but shortly after that, things got a bit more challenging.

The day was fairly windy (I think they said 15 - 20 mph winds but I'm not certain) - it warmed up into the 60's, but the wind was still a bit chilly. So by mile 22-ish, it was starting to become difficult to breathe. As I learned from my 20 mile training run, the more difficult it is to breathe, the slower I run (who knew?). I tried to borrow energy from the birds that I saw (and wished that I had wings). I learned afterwards that my dear friend Barb was sending images of butterflies - well it worked, because I got through that mile. But then I saw an abandoned skate board ... was anyone responsible for that?

Somewhere after that, I don't remember exactly - I stopped running ... I just couldn't anymore - I had to walk and although I tried to walk quickly, there wasn't alot left. At mile 25, Yo, one of my coaches, was waiting for me. I have never been more happy to see anyone. She phoned in that I was not lost and we made the last stretch together. I remember telling her that I was nauseous and dizzy and that my feet hurt. She said, "OK - let's run a bit ..." She and Page are friends! No, seriously, she asked if I had been hydrating and made me stop at the next water stop and then encouraged me to run again!!!! As I look back on it, it was awesome - I probably would have done whatever she asked at that point because I just wanted it to be over. She kept a positive and encouraging spirit - urging me forward and reminding me that I had done such an amazing thing!

Chuck and Bruce were there a bit before mile 26 and the three of them escorted me across the finish line! When I thought I couldn't take another step, Chuck held my hand and beamed some extra energy my way. I crossed the finish line and then Chuck whispered, "OK, now's the hard part ... you have to keep moving."

I vaguely remember them cutting the chip from my shoe and putting the medal around my neck and stopping at the ice tent for a bag of ice which I placed on my shoulder (I think it was sore from all of you pushing me forward!!!!). I also remember stopping to pose for a picture and then finally being able to sit down when we reached the TNT tent (which must have been at least another half mile from the finish line!!!) The picture above was taken after I had some water, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and an oatmeal cookie. The smile is genuine, I was so glad it was over! I think that Dominic looks more tired than I do in the picture ... bless him - he had to wait a whole 7 hours for me to finish! I did get an awesome hug though.

I returned to the room for my obligatory ice bath ... I actually looked forward to it! Mom brought me a beer and a cheeseburger and a few hours later, we all made it to the victory party . Doug and I danced for about 3 or so songs, and then I was done. Yes, I did feel like dancing - sore feet and all, it was an incredible experience.

Now here's the funny part ... I think I may have to do another one to see if I can get a better time! Not this year, though ... it's only half marathons at least until the end of the year.

Stay tuned ... there will be more posts - probably some pictures of the Grand Canyon and definitely about the Half Marathon I'm going to do in March!

My sincere thanks again for everyone's support and encouragement along the way!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

way to go lisa!!!!! I would have like to have done it with you we could gab the whole way and still have our breath!!!