I ran a marathon! It was awesome - from the first decision to go for a big M to the free massage at the end.
As one would expect, flying across North America with a 2 yr old is not the optimal pre-race day set-up - but that's how the family needs balanced out. It was a surmountable handicap.
We were met at the airport by Ama and Grandpa Greg and a surprise hello from Uncle Jim and Aunt Kathy who were passing through town - a great way to be welcomed home. I went straight downtown and registered for the race (oh my word, this is finally happening!) then Ama and I took Natalie to fun little Elderberry park so I could jog the kinks out on the Coastal Trail: beautiful. Denali was out in all it's shimmering white glory, the Chugach range was a happy green and Cook Inlet at low tide was glacier mud grey - just the way I like it.
Grandpa Greg's famous Red Sauce was the perfect carb load dinner and I made it to bed by 7 pm (11 pm my body's time). I slept terribly. (No surprise there) And at 4:30 the pitter patter of little feet got Murray and I out of bed. Uuuuugh.
After psychologically walking away from the lack of sleep, I had a lovely morning with my ritual breakfast, some stretching, playing with the kids and generally preparing for the run. It was another stunningly beautiful day with blue skies, sunshine and light, clear (and a bit chilly) air. Remember, it's the Solstice run in Alaska (although not on the actual day) so it was already light with a welcoming sunrise.
It was a small starting crowd - I think about 1000. The last organized run I did (other than the Cordova ones) was Bloomsday in Spokane which brings in more like 30,000. So this was downright intimate. I tracked down my childhood best friend who battled pneumonia, -10 degree training runs and other injuries to run what was her first marathon too - what an inspiration. She was running with Team in Training - a sea of purple t-shirts with great energy who've raised an immense amount of $$ for cancer research. With the obligatory state and national anthems played, we were off to run for (in my case) 4 hrs, 33 minutes on one of the most picturesque marathons I can imagine.
- Running in a silent crowd a mile or so in - that was pretty cool. We were still pretty packed together, but the nervous chit chat was done and people were just getting their pace.
- A friendly runner about miles 4-6, just when I was starting to feel lonely and miss Monique. I was replaying some of our funnier conversations and starting imaginary ones with her when he dropped into stride with me and struck up a conversation. Normally I wouldn't have appreciated it, but right then he was a gift. Although I didn't know the correct etiquette when I finally pulled ahead - and I don't know what he looked like or even his name.
- The Tank Trail - running on a gravel road through an aspen and pine forest, towards my beloved Chugach mountains - priceless.
- My family cheering me on - everywhere! After mile 16 they were like jackrabbits, popping up around every corner. It was great. High Five's for all the kids and the joy of brief runs with both sisters. "Go, Mommy, Go!"
- Feeling so good for the vast majority of the run - hurrah for actually training. It really paid off.
- Miles 22-26.2. Those were the hardest. It's amazing though - as your mind is telling you that you're going to die, your legs keep moving and after awhile, there's another mile marker, then another and so on. That's how the run gets done.
- The Train Wreck that was Jen after finishing - my GI system does not like being stressed. I was one of those runners lying in the grass in the fetal position who occasionally leapt up to cut the line at the port-o-potties.