Monday, October 13, 2008

Maine Marathon

Sorry for the delay! I was hoping that some of the official race photos (bib #550) would show me looking miserable but it appears that the photographers chose to position themselves close to the end of the race when I was oh-so-happy to be finishing. Darn it!

So I'll go with the pictures that hubby Dave took and add some narrative to better describe the Maine Marathon, which was not an easy race for me and resulted in my third slowest marathon race time to date. First off, it was a fairly hilly course, hilly to me at least.


But, as I've mentioned before, I trained for the hills in Hawaii so that wasn't a big deal. The main performance limiter was illness. For a couple days I'd been on decongestants trying minimize the symptoms, which started out as goop in my right eye (it was swollen shut on Wednesday!), became a wicked sore throat, followed by nasty sinus congestion and then relentless coughing. If I didn't have to run a marathon, I would have surely stayed indoors in bed or just played with Dave's friend's cats. They were so cute!


Thankfully, race day was about as good as it gets. Sunny skies, low wind, temps in the low 40's at the start and forecast to get up only in to high 50s by noon. Yes, it was the kind of day that makes runners, even sick ones, think they will run well. Before the race, we were fortunate to be able to hang out in a warm student union (race started adjacent to the University of Southern Maine). There I realized all the medicines I'd been taking might cause me some problems. I'd hardly drank anything that morning, just my usual one cup of coffee, and yet I was peeing like I'd drank a gallon!

But better that than feeling like your head is going to explode, right? You betcha.


So I use the restroom like 3 times in 45 minutes and then move my butt to the start line just before the race is supposed to begin. We start a few minutes late for some reason but are soon off and running along the beautiful Portland Back Cove area. It was such a perfect day that I'm thinking maybe, just MAYBE, a sub-4 hour marathon might be possible.

By mile 2, though, I've already shed my thin windbreaker, which is very odd (usually I'm like a popsicle in 40-degree weather for at least 3-4 miles). My legs are also feeling a bit sluggish but I'm thinking they'll probably loosen up a bit further into the race. Meanwhile, I distract myself with the gorgeous waterfront scenery and beautiful homes. Around mile 5, I see Dave on his bike. So far, doing OK!



But shortly thereafter, things begin going south. I've hardly drank anything while running but the meds are continuing to dehydrate me causing frequent pit stops. Fortunately, there are no porta potty lines but stopping every few miles is very annoying and I know my body must be going into a major fluid deficit.

Later, I find myself in back of the Mullet Marathon Men (not the real Mullet Marathoners, I found out later, but impersonators). This is actually a good thing, though, because they are a silly bunch who are clearly having fun and people are cheering for them. They take my mind off my troubles for bit.


But then Chatty Cathy relay runner comes up alongside me. She's never run in a full marathon event before and is amazed to see 50-Staters and Mullet Marathon Men who are out here having fun running 26 miles while she's hoping to just finish her 8-mile leg. And she doesn't seem to catch on that I barely have a voice to talk to her and would much rather conserve energy. After a mile or so next to her, I purposefully slow down a bit to try to encourage her to go on without me, which she does, thankfully. So then I'm left on my own again for a while to run in peace.

Well, not exactly. My kidneys are still working overtime and so when I see Dave again around mile 10, my first question is whether he's seen any more porta potties ahead. He pulls out the course map and tells me there's some at mile 12. This time there's a wait and the area is way too open to go find a place to hide, unfortunately. Thanks Dave for capturing this memorable race moment!


Finally, I get to mile 13 in 2:10-something and realize this is just not going to be the race I was hoping for. The legs still feel sluggish, I'm dehydrated and cranky, and I'm sick of peeing. Dave senses it's best if he goes on to the finish line and takes a few more pictures of the out-and-back course rather than follow me back. Yes, he knows me well. Anybody who tries to make me better when I feel like sh*t is liable to get bitten so better to leave me alone -- GRRR!


So we head back the way we came along the pretty tree-lined streets (click photo to enlarge). I try to force myself to feel better by picking up my pace a bit, which works for a while, but soon my hip flexors and glutes are aching while going up the hills. I thought I'd end up having to walk at some point but kept shortening my stride and trying to maintain my turnover rate. I'm sure I must have looked ridiculous taking such little itty bitty steps but at least I was moving forward and, believe it or not, I was actually passing some people.

By mile 17, we started going down hill which gave my legs a much needed break. I also realized that I was no longer having to pee and began grabbing two cups at the aid stations. Usually it's not possible to undo dehydration at a hot race but today it seemed to work. By mile 20, I actually started feeling noticeably better!

Then a funny thing happened. A woman wearing a Moms on the Run jersey, who I'd passed earlier, passed me back. I got really pissed off because she did not look like a faster runner AT ALL and until then NO ONE had passed me since the first half of the race. Where did she all of a sudden get her energy?

So I gave chase and finally caught up to her just after mile 22. Then I realized she was not the same woman after all, but a relay runner wearing the same Moms on the Run jersey. HA!


But by then I was pumped and knew I had to keep going strong or else the adrenaline would wear off and I'd start hurting again. The last few miles had a lot of nice water views (click photo to enlarge), which helped, but the best thing that could have happened was that someone else passed me at mile 23. No way!

Yep, this time it was a short Asian guy with a short fast-paced stride like mine. I stalked him until the last little hill at mile 24 where he faded and then went past him decisively. After that, I just kept on running as fast as I could for the finish. I wanted this race to be over ASAP before anyone else would try to pass me or the pain would catch up to me. Luckily, neither did.


Final time:
4:13:29 (9:42 avg pace), 19/40 F40-45
49th Overall Marathon, 39th State in my 50 states quest
11 more to go!

Thank you again, Dave, for the photos and support. And thanks also to Jennifer, his friend in Maine, for letting us stay in her lovely home.

38 comments:

Spokane Al said...

Congratulations on another one down Shirley. Even on your worst days you make marathons seem doable and enjoyable.

*aron* said...

wow that race looks soooo pretty!! 11 states to go - how exciting!!!! congrats again.. that is an amazing race, especially for being sick!

Jenny Davidson said...

A great report, and a most beautiful course! It is impressive that you managed to run such a solid race while feeling so awful.

Wendy said...

Well done Shirley!

(And they are beautiful Siamese cats, too -- I'd have been tempted to stay and play with them!)

Marathon Maritza said...

Shirley, you are just so freakin' cool!

Congratulations!

MarathonChris said...

Great race report! Way to finish strong!

Maddy said...

Great job! Even when you're sick, you're faster than I am.


Congratulations on marking another state off of your list!

lizzie lee said...

4:13 and with a pit stop!!!!

the pix are so nice!!! I agree with Spokane Al... you run so easy!!!!!!

take care and congrats!!!
lizzie

goooooood girl said...

So good......

i am Susan said...

I love the pictures. By the looks of it you had a pretty good race considering everything you went through. Beautiful Scenery. Awesome!

Stef said...

That scenery is tough to beat. Nice job persevering through being under the weather.

Can't believe you "only" have 11 states to go. So many choices for great marathons out there . . . .

Congratulations Shirley on a strong finish!

Oh and I too love the cat photo. So CUTE!

Susan said...

Gosh, SP, with all that peeing you could've been ME! Ha. Poor thing.

What a pretty course. And only 11 more to go. WOW WOW!

KodaFit said...

I have this problem whenever I call in sick to work - I always sound way to chipper and happy to be making the call.

I think you have the same problem, just with way too big of a smile and enthusiasm when you run sick!

Nicely done, and that scenery is incredible. Thanks for the report.

Sara Cox Landolt said...

Excellent report, I'm glad I found it.

I love passing people during races. I'm not fast, but I love passing others. It makes the miles go by even quicker.

cindy said...

Great pictures and race!! The smile on your face says it all :-)

The course is pretty, and those cats are cute as can be!

Bruce Stewart (施樸樂) (ブルース・スチュワート) said...

I'm glad you made the most of your trip to Maine even though you felt poorly much of the time. Nice photos. You must really sense the vibrancy of these rural US communities you run through. I hope you are taking time to recover well before getting ready for the next race. I caught a slight cold just watching the Ironman (I think I was tired as it was night and the AC blew toward me).

Formulaic said...

How cool.

I think Spokane Al said it best,

Even on your worst day you make marathons seems fun.

Only 11 more!

Iron Eric said...

Oh boy!! You are getting so close to your go. 11 states left seems so close. I am glad that your race went well. Nice pictures.

Sunshine said...

Congratulations, of course!!!
Great job.
I haven't paid enough attention... do you use salt tablets? I think (?) they can help prevent dehydration? I'm not sure how all that works.. and everybody is different.. even on different days.
Anyway, you sure are rolling.

Sunshine said...

Well, I just read what you wrote on Charlie's blog... so obviously my suggestion to you was too elementary; sorry.
Looking forward to your running MN!

sharon said...

It's a good things our husbands understand the need to be left alone when we're suffering. I tell him there is absolutely nothing he can say or do to make it better, just go away and let me suffer in private.
Well done Shirley.

Tammy said...

Wow, sounded like a challenging race, way to go on getting through it nice and strong being sick. The kitty's are sooo cute. Yep the weather in the North east has been so beautiful lately, I can't believe I'm missing the best time of year to run boo hoo. Well there is always the spring :D.

RoadBunner said...

Great job! Those cats are beautiful, too! I have to laugh at Chatty Cathy relay runner!

RBR said...

I love your reports! They are always so inspiring and you take such great pictures (you and Jim)

Even sick you look absolutely ADORABLE!

You should really consider the Bizz Johnson Trail Marathon. It has all the comforts of a road marathon without the road. Gorgeous views, great support. Great marathon overall. Best of all you can run it with me next year! Ok, with is a little strong, but we can at least be there at the same time ;o)

IrishBlue said...

Way to hang in there and gut it out Shirley. Now, get some rest, would ya?

Arland said...

Wow great job even if you thought it was a bad race. I know it sure felt good getting it finished though. Oh, and those relay runners always trick me too!

Rural Girl said...

How do you make this seem so easy when it is NOT SO EASY!! Especially when you're sick!
Congratulations!

Brittany M. said...

What does Shirley and Chrissie Wellington have in common--they both ALWAYS have the most awesome smiles when racing!!

Kevin said...

Thats one hilly course!

Great photos

Jade Lady said...

Wow...sounds like a real tough race u had - and the peeing...sounds like what happens when you run when you're pregnant. U want to stop at every PP. Still, u ran faster than my fastest marathon!

Love the kitties!

Calyx Meredith said...

So sorry you had to deal with being sick but WOW!! Two marathons so close together - and you did so well in both of them. Shirley you are my hero. (And since I'm catching up - please forgive me for sneaking in the comment about an older post - but the videos of your swim lesson and your comments were very helpful to me. Definitely gave me some things to think about for my stroke - thank you!) Peace. And I hope you are back to 100% soonest!

Brent Buckner said...

Doing so many of these things gives you a lot of perspective!

akshaye said...

Well done.. you finished with a great time too, given how you felt. I love the story about giving chase and finding out its a different person! You are one tough cookie!

TinaGirl said...

Great race report. With all your potty stops and a nasty cold you will still beat me in! You rock Shirley! I'm looking forward to your next race report and always looking forward to your next post. Its the highlight of my day (what can I say? I'm a single mommy for the next week)

Girl on Top said...

Great job! And I hate when people pass me too. I'm glad that you thought what you did and chased after her! Nothing better than competition to get the juices flowing.

jeanne said...

congratulations! you rule even on your off days! gorgeous scenery. and what a nice husband!

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

Very impressive! And you look great in the photos!!

Smithposts said...

Yeah, congrats on state 39! You are very tough gutting it through sickness. Based on the photos, this was another scenic marathon. Looks like the hill training in HI and the rested hamstring served you well.