Saturday marked my 12th and COLDEST MARATHON.
I had a hotel in Allen Park, about 3.5 miles from the starting line. Holly, Lacey, Rachel and I camped together for the night. We met at the expo to get out bibs, get dinner and head to the room.
Holly doesn't know me too well. I think I may have left a lasting impression on her.
Saturday morning the weather was exactly as they had been predicting. STUPID COLD and WINDY. 12' with the windchill.
Let me just tell you, this little Latino is not a fan of cold weather and this was about 40' degrees colder than my limits for cold.
I was the only one in the group running the marathon. I was trying to be quiet but later found out that I woke everyone up.
I was not running this marathon for me, I was running this for Joan. This was Joans FIRST Marathon. I had written her training program, ran with her and I was going to run this along side her, embracing every mile with her.
I had been looking forward to this for weeks. The last long run I ran with Joan, I knew she was going to have an EPIC experience.
Joan and her gang were waiting for me in the lobby. Together, we would drive to the starting line. Marathon runners were given special parking right at the start. This was especially awesome because we literally could walk out of a warm car onto the starting line.
And that is pretty much what we did!
The marathon was much smaller with about 250 participants. I was surprised by the low number. I had heard many reviews that the course was nothing to write home about. It was boring and quiet, no big cheering sections.
The Course was a OUT and BACK. I was especially looking forward to seeing the other runners, this always encourages me. The benefits of being an Extrovert. More People=More Energy!
Before we started it was nice to see Fritz. I see him at a few of the local races. Fritz ran with Joan and I a few miles before he smoked us at the Clarkston Backroads.
The start was pretty melodramatic. We were off heading into the wind.
The first 7 miles were horrible. It was like sorcery. We ran with the wind beating the snot literally out of us. To add injury to insult we ran through this neighborhood what seemed like circles. Turns and side roads, around and around we went thinking that the next turn the wind would be at our back. It was never at our back, it was chasing us, tormenting us with 20mph winds.
We thought mathmetically the turn around would be at mile 13. We tried to focus on that magic number.
We came out of a water station and we hear this guy. "Hey, you girls have a lot to talk about, I think I will join you two."
He must have overheard us talking about "Just get to the 13 mile mark." He informed us that the turn around point was at mile 16!
It took time for me to process this evil piece of information. Afterall, we were currently running on Hynes Drive with no protection from the cold or the wind. I felt like I had lost a layer of my face. I thought of that song "I cant feel my face...." by The Weekend.
My hands were warm with overwhelming gratitude to Rachel. Rachel had passed out toe warmers for our hands. My hands were at least "TOESTY"!
The water stations were not serving just water, they were serving water slushies. The volunteers on Hynes drive were like Angels. They were in the elements, unprotected and battleing the brutal temps as gift to us runners. They really were amazing.
Coming towards the turn around, Joan and I not only lost the guy who joined us, we also passed 2 other guys we had been following. The Guy who was chatting before he dropped back made a statement "I don't know what it is about woman, I think they have the advantage because the can bear more pain, I always get passed by woman at the end."
The winds picked up adding heavy snow blasts at us. Joan and I were grunting, mumbling but not able to make complete sentences. We must have looked as bad as we felt. Other runners that had made the turn encouraged us "Make the turn, it'll be better."
The difference was night and day as me made that turn. We actually had a little more pep we needed to managed. Our effort level allowed us to run faster but we tried to hold on and maintain our 8:45 pace until closer to the 20 mile mark.
I was hoping at the turn around I would see Michelle. I follow her blog and have had the opportunity to see her at a couple races too. Michelle has been battle a terrible case of Plantar Fasciitis. But Michelle never mentioned NOT running. I just KNEW I would see her.
I see this tall blonde ahead of me..Hmm Michelle??
Yup, I nailed it. As I passed her I looked behind me and sure enough it was HER! I was so happy to have RUN into HER!
The 20 mile marker came and went with Joan looking forward to the 22 mile mark. This would mark the farthest she had ever run!
Joan was happy to see the 22 mile marker but was not as chatty. She was focusing a lot on our pace. She was wanting me to slow down. The problem was we were slowing down at the aid stations and I knew it. This meant I had to pick up our pace to try and maintain our pace. I really wanted her to have negative split.
I knew Joan was capable of this pace. I knew she was hitting the wall. I just had to get her over it.
She was hurting.
I shared that I needed her to pick it up that last 5K. If she wanted to reach her 3:50 goal she was going to have to get comfortable with pain.
I encouraged her. I reminded her that "The pain with part of the process and part of the Glory."
We passed two more guys we had been following.
We came through a park like setting with a paved path. I did my thing "FIRST TIME MARATHONER coming through!!" The path with being ran by both half marathoners and marathoners heading to the finish. I shouted it again. Runners cheered her on and let us pass through.
Joan was a couple steps behind me. "COME on Joan, Stay with me." I kept looking over my shoulder. She stayed close.
Mile 24 and 25 were nasty. Through the winding path, up a ridiculous hill, onto the busy hwyway and over some rollers that actually felt like MT. Everest.
Joan maintained her pace through it all.
I had her shaving seconds off the last couple miles, I know she was feeling it.
She was focused.
"WHERE is MILE 25?" Her anger was raging. "Relax, breath, its here." Every marathon I have ever done there is always a mile marker that gets lost. Your disoriented, discouraged and desperately wanting to be DONE.
When mile 25 came, so did Joans zeal.
She picked it up more determined than ever. I knew she had it.
We picked off runners, mostly half marathoners. There is an energy you draw from this.
With the Finish line in sight she picked it up, stayed strong and zeroed in the the FINISH.
Lacey, Rachel, Holly were shouting and cheering us on. It was the BEST to hear them cheering us on. Lacey was snapping pictures and jumping up and down.
She Finished with nothing left in the tank. But overflowing with VICTORY!
I seriously have the best running friends EVER. It was BITTER cold and Lacey waited 40 minutes in the cold to see us at the finish.
All the girls were there. Rachel and Holly didn't even know Joan and they waited shivering in the frigid temps to see us finish.
SHE DID IT! She met her goal!
The Marathon was a success.
Our mile splits were SPOT on.
Thank You for those that prayed for us, encouraged us and supported us.
OUT OF THIS WORLD MEDAL! LOVED THE SHIRT AS WELL. IT WAS A SHORT SLEEVE. THE FINISHER FOOD WAS ALSO EQUALLY AS GOOD. THIS WAS A GREAT RACE BUT FOR THE RECORD...
ONE AND DONE!!!
NEXT STOP: CLEVELAND MARATHON: MAY!