We did this same trip in 2010 for the first time. I ran the half-marathon. This year, since I had a DNS with CIM, I wanted to run the marathon and have number five under my belt and what better way than in the beautiful state of Oregon with my friends and family who were all competing in some way or another.
The Pacific Crest Half-Marathon and Marathon are held during their Weekend Sports Festival. It is literally four days of racing in various forms. In 2010 the weather was sunny and warm. This year we were lucky to see the sun our last two days in Oregon.
We arrived in Sunriver on Thursday afternoon and met up with Mommy on the Run and her family at the condo we had rented for the week. Friday we all went to packet pick up ... in the pouring rain and cold. When we left packet pick up, it started hailing!
The weekend racing schedule looked like this:
- Saturday: 7:30 am - my marathon start
- Saturday: 8:00 am - Mommy on the Run's Half Marathon start
- Sunday: 8:00 am - The Peanut and her friend Monkey's half-mile race start
- Sunday: 9:00 am Vans and JD's Duathlon start (28 mile bike & a 10K run)
I will do another post with vacation photos and such (believe me, I have lots of stories to share including two bike crashes, 2 fevers, crazy front handsprings and a swollen eye).
The half marathon and marathon course looked like this:
The marathon essentially did two loops of the half marathon course. I have never in my life done a two loop marathon. In fact, I have never done any other marathon other than the California International Marathon.
The elevation in Sunriver is 4,200 ft above sea level. Sacramento is about 47 feet. Um, yup that's a huge difference. The course was essentially flat with a few rolling hills but those little rollers can feel quite large when you are tired and sucking wind from altitude issues. The course was also strictly on a bike path/golf course path the entire time which was nice in some ways and not nice in others which I will detail later.
The night before the race I woke up a few times because I heard the torrential down pour happening outside my window. Squeaker slept fairly decently but not through the night by any stretch. I also slept in some compression gear the night before hoping it would help. Overall though, I went to bed early, I fueled well the night before and I woke up rested. More rested than I have felt in a long time.
I had some last minute wardrobe changes though. I was planning on running in a tank top with arm sleeves if necessary because I assumed we would have warm weather. Nope. Then I thought that the less fabric I had on me the warmer I would be if it was to rain. I eventually changed into a t-shirt with arm sleeves, a hat instead of my visor and I wore my compression socks which I have never run more than 10 miles in before.
The racing mommies!!!
Mommy on the Run helping me with my Garmin
I ditched the bag before getting out of the car
Wet but not raining at least! Off we go!
When the race gun went off I just started jogging. I started near the back which I usually never do. I wanted to run this race without any pressure on myself. My recent ankle issues of late have really been plaguing me and I had no idea how I would perform.
Well about mile 6 I had an "oh crap" moment. My lungs were burning from the altitude and my ankle started aching ... already! Shoot. I literally had thoughts in my head of DNF'ing already but I quickly pushed them aside.
I started to get frustrated because my garmin would beep for mileage but it was about three quarters of a mile off! So when I looked down to see mile 7 on my garmin, I was really only at mile 6. The mental games had started.
Now I admit, the Pacific Crest Race Directors do a wonderful job putting on these events. Every race runs seamlessly. There are aid stations almost every mile (along with porta potties). They have water, electrolytes and gels! The volunteers are sweet and very helpful. The packet pick up was a complete disaster this year but I guess as long as the races themselves are run well, that is minimal.
Since there were only 133 runners, it was COLD (although not raining) and in a tiny community, there were practically NO spectators out on the course. That meant NO cheering, NO clapping and NO motivation. When you are already down on yourself, not having that support can really get to you.
At one point around mile 8 or so, I passed a crowd of about 5 or 6 people who were standing along side the course sipping hot coffee watching us runners go by. No one clapped. No one said a thing. I turned to the runner beside me and said "Man, this has to be the quietest and lonliest marathon I have ever done!" She turned and said, "I was thinking the exact same thing!" Now keep in mind, with 133 runners, having someone next me was actually a fluke as no one had been near me for 8 miles.
So April from Seattle and I ran together chatting to kill the boredom for quite a while. She was nice. This was her fourth marathon and her first double loop course as well. Her pace was decent, probably slower than my 'normal' but I was okay with that because that was my goal, go slow.
When we ran past the finish line to start our second loop we tried to mentally convince ourselves that Race 1 was over and we were just starting Race 2 aka mile 1 vs mile 13 etc. We hit one of the larger rolling hills and April took off and I just lost steam. My ankle was hurting and my lungs were still not quite settled. I yelled "Go April Go!" and off she went.
At about mile 14 though, I saw the best thing in the world.
hugs for mommy!
I told Vans that my ankle was slowly starting to ache but not nearly as bad as in the past. The cortisone must have been dulling the pain some what. However, I just could not manage any speed. Every time I tried to run faster the ankle hurt more so I just sort of ran at a pace that was comfortable trying to forget that I was probably going to run the slowest marathon yet.
After seeing me, Vans and the Peanut and the rest of the crew tried to kill some time before I would reach the finish.
with hot chocolate
and picking flowers
At about mile 16 I put in my ear phones and made a deal with myself. I told myself since the aid stations were a mile a part, that if I ran hard to each aid station that I could walk through the station sipping water. That seemed to work. For a while, I was running hard (as hard as I could) to each aid station passing quite a few people and then would walk through it drinking water. Eventually, the speed started to disappear and it became a mental challenge to just keep running between aid stations. I never walked though unless it was at an aid station.
When I got to mile 20 I knew that I would finish and finish running. I felt "ok" considering but definitely tired and spent. I was consuming Hammer Gels (mmmm, Apple Cinnamon) along the way and water at every aid station. Mile 24 came and I got chills knowing that I was only two miles from the finish.
Mile 25 came and I actually did stop at that aid station and then managed a one mile gimpy sprint to the finish. I was running into the half marathon walkers at this point who were three and four across the bike trail. I'd yell "runner back" and they'd yell "which side" and I'd yell "I don't know and I don't care" and they'd laugh and move over for me.
Finally I heard the announcer and the people cheering at the finish!
coming into the finish
Running to the finish with Peanut and Monkey
As I was crossing the finish line the announcer said my name but apparently my last name was a little daunting for him because everyone heard "Here comes .... Pamela ... oh dear" and that was it. ha!!
Once I crossed the finish Mommy on the Run found me and lead me directly to the free massage tent she had found and then wisked the girls back to their dads. She had run the half and was well aware of what the finish area contained and she knew my ankle situation was probably not very good. She came back into the tent to hand me my recovery drink that we both have been loving and raving about lately (more on that later). She also took care of my odds and ends (iShuffle, arm warmer etc). She was awesome because as soon as the massage had ended I started shaking uncontrollably.
The weather for CIM and the weather for this race are very similar. CIM actually has a colder start and a warmer finish but regardless, I am usually quite cold after a long run like this. JD who is also nicknamed Arctic Man asked me if I was okay as I was literally shivering so hard my teeth were chattering.
But I finished!
The Peanut was happy I was home
While I was busy recovering Peanut and Monkey were enjoying the post race activities.
All aboard the choo choo train
So out of 16 women in my age group (which was the largest) I was 7th. I was 56th out of 133 total. My final time was 4 hours 19 minutes which is about a 9:55 pace. My first half was faster than my second half. Overall, that is not my worst marathon time. My worst was in 2006 when I bonked and finished injured. I am not entirely disappointed with my time/pace based on what I struggled through just to get to the starting line.
It doesn't however, sit well with me being my possible "last" marathon though. I know I need to take a break from long distance running for a while (I have two half marathons in October). I have to figure out if ankle surgery will be in my future or see about other ways to minimize the pain.
What bugs me the most is that a few hours after the race, I felt fine. This was the first marathon in history that I did not have a single sore muscle. No walking down stairs backwards the next day. Absolutely nothing bothered me after the race or even days after the race. My ankle pain was gone too. It only hurts while running which is the most frustrating thing ever.
Everyone was probably tired of hearing how NOT sore I was but I am just so shocked. I think my post race recovery drink which was consumed 10 minutes within finishing really helped. I think wearing compression socks the day before, the night of and quite possibly during the race really did help. I also purchased compression shorts that I wore after the race as well for added measure. Whatever it was ... it worked.
Our evening post race. Water, wine, chocolate chips & Puffins
(we did have an actual meal earlier)