Sunday, October 28, 2007


That was my theme for the race. The glasses were a bit much, but they did add to the effect. And no, I didn't wear the big bulky fleece for the race! Me after the race. The race director, Don Kern and me.

The start/finish line.

Some of the smiling volunteers (I guess I might be smiling too if I had their job, serving up the post-race beer!)

And what's a race without Elvis showing up?

And then there's the medals!

Little Miss Sunshine (Lecia). TriEric, post marathon. The guy is awesome. He ran a 3:33 after a minimalist training schedule like I usually follow (he says). Works better for some than others!

Some pics at the expo: Sunshine and her husband and daughter. TriEric and me at the Expo.

The guy who "ran" the whole marathon course on stilts. He has mild cerebral palsy and was doing it not only for the record, which he beat, but also for the Cerebral Palsy Foundation.

Such was the fun of the race!

Prerace: You know how the night before an important race, you can't sleep? Well that wasn't my problem. I did have a zillion race dreams though, so weird I will share.

My first "dream" was waking throughout the night, semi-conscious, wondering why I hadn't checked the results of the race before I went to bed? I mean, they should be done by now! Oh, wait, we haven't run it yet. And this isn't an Ironman!

The second dream I had was that Karen (Waddler) and I were running together. When we got to the 10k point, we decided to stop and have lunch! LOL! The place we chose? A retirement home! I'm really hoping this isn't a premonition of any sort.

Once we got in line to eat at the retirement home, I lost track of Karen. I have no idea where she went, but I'm guessing she escaped! Me? I'm left in line with these old people, and no way were they giving me cuts!

Later, I was at my old house and decided I had better get this race done, but I couldn't get through because there was a Halloween parade going on!

OMG! I have to say I was glad to wake up.


It was a frosty morning under a Hunter's moon when we were to begin this race. The temperature was about 31 degrees, but there was no wind. Surprisingly, even in the crowd, I had run into Sunshine and her lovely daughter, Sarah, and Tri Eric, as well as many others I knew.

Running a race on local territory is the best! Not only do you know all the ins and outs for parking and getting around, but you know the course and get to see all your old running buddies too!

I tried to line up according to my anticipated pace, but it was so crowded at the beginning, with 2 minutes to the start, I was still crammed into the 3:14 marathon pace group! With 10 seconds to go, I hadn't made much progress backward so went when the starting air horn went off.

We hadn't run even 1/2 mile when I noticed a chip on the ground! Oh well, I'm not picking that up. Whose ever it was was probably WAY faster than me, and would do better to use their number rather than my time if I carried it in.

The sun wasn't supposed to rise until 8:14, and the race started at 8, so it was still a little dark when we started. My plan was to do the same as I had in training: run 8 minutes, walk 2. I didn't dare risk any heroic moves to do longer than that. Truth be known, I hadn't trained farther than 10.5 miles, and I only had 3 "long" runs prior to this race, relying mainly on my triathlon base to get me through. Note: I'm sorry, but doing a 3.5 hour triathlon is not enough base to do a half marathon! Nevertheless, I toed the line like the idiot I am with the minimalist training I seem to always do.

As promised, I wore my entire pink outfit: sunglasses (eventually), vest, headband, gloves. The headband and glasses left a lot to be desired, as the headband did not soak up moisture, and since my head sweats A LOT, my hair was soaked early on and my ears were cold throughout. The glasses? Cool as they might have looked, they were way too big for my face, but the view was good! And I heard many times "Hey Pretty in Pink!"

I was really tempted to keep running even though I had reached my 8 minute walk time, but this time I decided to stick with the plan, considering my minimal training mentioned earlier.

I saw there were a few others also doing a run/walk, so I didn't feel too out of place. There had been a "velocity challenged" group that had done an early start, at 7 am, but I didn't feel like I needed to do that. I knew I wouldn't be terribly fast, but with the marathon going on, I wasn't going to be anywhere near last. And part of the course is in a totally unlit area, meaning it would be pitch black at that hour. Too spooky for me!

I was a little disappointed to see then, using the run/walk, that my first mile was about 11:45 and most other miles were hitting right at 12 min. I really was hoping I'd be a little faster, but part of that I can "blame"on the cold, since I never run as fast in the cold. My hips were pretty tight all week, and no amount of stretching, massaging, or relaxing during the week had loosened them up much. I definitely will have to step up management of that problem before it becomes another injury. And yet, even with the chilly temperatures, there were a LOT of people out there in shorts. Not me. I had on a pair of tights AND shorts over. No way could a little piece of spandex keep my behind warm enough when its less than 35 degrees!

Once the sun came up, we were treated to blue skies and still no wind. That is a rarity! Since I had started so close to the front, it took until almost 3 miles before my friend Jan and her daughter caught up with me, both dressed as black cats, with whiskers painted on, wearing tails, and ears! Cute! Soon after, another woman in my age group, Mary passed, then shortly after Bonnie also in my age group. The odd thing here is that NONE of them showed up in the results! So I'm wondering if their chips didn't register? Jan has her own. Another woman Bonnie ran with showed up in the results, as did Jan's daughter! I know they didn't run bandit so I don't know what's going on with that.

Between miles 3.5 and about 5.5, there are a few hills thrown in to make it interesting. Unfortunately, through this area, I began feeling the need to use the bathroom. I was really happy to see that at each aid station they also had some porta-johns, but the lines were long, and I was thinking I couldn't really afford to lose that much time stopping. So I waited until I was reaching a dangerous zone before I finally was forced to stop. In training, and maybe in other circumstances, I might have ducked into the wooded area that lines this part of the course, but wearing my more than visible bright pink, it would be all to obvious what I was doing!

Once I got that out of the way though, I could concentrate on the race again. To make up for the longer stop than my usual 2 min. walk, I continued on through my next walk break. This was in an area that was slightly downhill anyway, so it seemed easy enough. Its not that I can't run continuously, but not for as long as I would need to be out there. That's something I plan to work on next, running longer periods without stopping. Eventually, it will come together again.

There was a guy running, wearing a Chicago Marathon 2007 jacket on that I had come upon about mile 2, lost him for a while, and then after my stop, he came by me again. I have no idea where he'd been all that time, but I didn't miss him. As he ran, he rattled, sounding like he had several boxes of Tic Tacs in his pocket. I knew that would eventually drive me nuts, so I was glad to be rid of him finally when the marathoners split off from us. There was also another guy running so slowly, yet steadily, that even when I did my walk breaks he would pass me, but then I would get ahead of him on the runs. We went back and forth like this for probably 5 miles. It was obvious he was doing the marathon.

In Millenium Park, the first relay handoff was here. That explained all the busses at the start of the race. The park is huge, so part of the course wound through the park on the nice running trails. There was another aid station here also, and they were giving out gummy bears! Had I not just taken a gu, I might have taken some, but too much sugar for me spells disaster. It was a great idea though! As I said about the park, just before we entered the park we were at mile 6; before we exited the park we were at mile 7, and we barely touched the amount of trails in there. Its a great place! I was surprised though at how foggy it still was, with the vapor rising off the ponds and lakes. It gave it a surreal feeling, only seeing several feet in front of you, with the fog shrouding the distance.

By now, my right hip was starting to tighten up more and hurt, so the walk breaks became a necessity, yet I never got off my routine after the bathroom stop. I figured that added probably 3-4 minutes to my time, but that's just one of those things you have to factor in.

If I haven't mentioned it before, I'll say that the pink brought many comments and compliments! Everyone at the aid stations always cheered me and even called me "Pink Lady." If they only knew! This helped keep me going too, again knowing I was highly visible and didn't want to be seen walking all the time.

At 8 miles, we enter the river path, taking that to the footbridge where the two races split off. I was pretty sure, from others' information, that the half marathon continued on the path, but I was starting to worry we would have to cross the bridge too, and by now my mind was focusing on staying on the path, using my trusted method of visualization to get me through the final miles. I breathed a sigh of relief then when I found that we did continue on and the marathoners turned. That helped me not break my focus.

Once we passed the footbridge, the ranks thinned out enormously. I could see people ahead, but now it became more like a weekend training run, with just a few people in front or behind me. It now became my run, and when bikers or roller bladers coming from the opposite direction headed down the path, I got a little resentful when their presence forced me to move over. So I knew here I was not only reaching the zone of pain I reach around 2 hours, but the irritable zone I get in at that point too. So I had to focus hard here to keep under control. I also knew that the next aid station was at approximately 10 miles, and I wanted to get there by 2 hours, and I came pretty close (2:10). Another aid station here, and the ladies remembered me!

Here again we enter this area that I'm not sure what its for. Its a long paved trail, almost 2 miles long, but it is always gated and locked, so I've never been on it. Its out in a field, no buildings or anything indicating what its used for. Something I've always wondered about, but still have no answer to. But it is beautiful and peaceful here, with the river running along a portion of it.

Just before I reached 11 miles, a biker came up behind me announcing the first runner coming through, meaning the first marathoner! Wow! I never thought of them lapping us! I heard him say, "I'm doing 6:10s. He'll have to do 5:10s to catch me." So he knew he was winning.

As I was exiting the trail, between 11 and 12 miles, the next runner came through, and then shortly after another. I also knew I was getting close to finishing, and my hip was getting so tight I'm sure my running pace slowed some, although after each walk break I felt okay. It was just that starting running from walking that was the hardest. Still, I continued on. I passed a few walkers here, and as usually happens, right after you pass them, they start running. But it was short lived, so I was able to pass them and keep ahead of them as well.

By this time, I realized I would not make my 2:40 goal, so just hung on and hoped for the best.

I think I held my pace pretty evenly, even through the last mile or so, but I wanted to be done in the worst way. My legs were actually hurting, and not in a way I've had before. My feet and knees were getting sore too. But I knew the end was near, just not near enough!

Coming down the last stretch to the finish, a few more marathoners passed me, so I'm still not sure whether the crowd was cheering for me or them. And I passed a couple of walkers, then saw the clock and wanted to make it in under 2:48, which was the clock time, not my chip time. And then it was over and the post-race party began.

I saw TriEric after, a lot of my friends, but just couldn't wait for everyone. I waited until an 80 year old guy we all know finished his 100th marathon and then I had to leave.

So I'm sorry if I didn't meet up with some of you after, but I hope you all had a great time in Grand Rapids and a fantastic race experience! I invite anyone who wants to do a fall marathon or half to consider coming to Grand Rapids next year. You won't be disappointed! Maybe we can even get a "Pink Ladies" team going again!


L*I*S*A said...

Great report, and I loved all the photos!

Drats..I forgot to get my post-race beer!! Waaaaahhhh....

WADDLER26.2 said...

Great report! I love that we stopped for lunch but I think we'll get to a nursing home soon enough LOL.

bunnygirl said...

Sounds like a good time. Good job on hanging in there, even as the hip stiffened up. I can SO relate!

SWTrigal said...

Congratulations Vickie! loved the pink and looked like you had fun..Middle-aged women rock!!

Flo said...

You certainly were pink!!! Great report and the pics were cool. Good job on the race.

Non-Runner Nancy said...

It sounds just like my HM report. Great work!!!!

Lisa - Slow & Steady said...

Love the photos. Looks like good times were had by all. :)

I think I'm doing another HM in April. How about you?

Cindy Jo said...

Great job Vickie! I know how hard you have worked to do this - it paid off!

I would have gone to cheer you on/run with you but my son had a football tournament (they won).

I will definitely be there in pink next year!

See Zanne Run said...

they were totally cheering for you! nice job!

jahowie said...

I really have to try to make it to this event next year. I'm very proud of you!! Great job on the run!! Only ladies can join your pink team??? ;-)

E-Speed said...

great report! Great Photos! And Great Job!

Hope your hips are feeling better after a few days rest!

Sounds like you had fun being the pink lady.

Sunshine said...

Oh Vickie, what a great report!! I could picture it all as I read it. Thanks for encouraging us to come. You are the first blog friend we have ever met up with .. and I treasure meeting you. You are one special strong warm survivor woman.
A million congratulations for running the race, and wishing you rewarding training and races to come.

Sunshine said...

Fun to see us on your blog!