Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Delaware Marathon

Warning: The stunts in this post were performed by an experienced crazy marathoner and should not be attempted by runners who have common sense.

Apprehension. Now there's a feeling I haven't had at a marathon in a while.

Since my fall Tuesday night, I'd spent two days cursing, hobbling and ironing. Finally on Friday I could walk pain-free but my butt was still quite sore. I decided it was best for me not to try running at all until race day. Why am I doing this silly 50 states marathon quest again???

Oh yeah, I thought it'd be fun to travel and run marathons.

But there was no backing out. Dave was coming with me to the Delaware Marathon since he had to be in DC the following week anyway. The weather forecast was pretty good: party cloudy, 58 degs at the 7am start, high 60's later in the morning. I'd even been assigned bib number 77, which had to mean I was going to have good luck, right? Right??

Still, I had no idea what to expect. I'd never gone into a marathon not knowing whether I could run. OTOH, I knew adrenaline was a powerful pain killer. Here I am at the start doped up on a couple Tylenol 8-hours hoping for the best. Funny, I just realized I'm standing in front of some medical cots, things I was hoping not to see during my race.

For a smaller race (600 marathoners, 700 half marathoners, 200 relay teams), this race was very well organized with an attractive start/finish area (I like balloon arches). They also offered nice cash prizes to the top-3 open and top-2 masters winners, not that I was thinking I'd win anything.

50 yards into the race, my Achilles felt tight but my butt seemed to be OK. I was running and trying to stay positive. Woohoo, only 26 miles and 335 yards left!

The first couple miles we snaked along the scenic, flat Wilmington riverfront. This photo is actually from the race website as Dave had gone back to the hotel after the start of the race to get his free breakfast. Priorities!

Later, though, there were some hills and we'd see them twice since this was a double loop course. After mile 6 is where things started falling apart.

Because climbing hills requires using your butt and my left butt was broken (not really, but definitely not working right). To get up them, I had to use a lot of right hip flexor and my left calf so now they were complaining too. Hey, give us a break! We're not used to working so hard on hills. That's the butt's job. Yeah, not in our contract. We're going on strike. Blah-blah-blah.

Miles 6-10.5 seemed to take fooooooor-eeeeeeeeev-eeeeeeer and take a lot out of me. Not good!

Dave had his bike and was riding around on the course. He found me at mile 11, just in time to see my grimacing turn to relief as we headed back downhill.

But a little hill at mile 12 nearly locks my butt and legs up so I accepted Dave's offer to go back to the hotel and get more dope (Tylenol 8-hour) to hopefully get me through the race.

Back on the flat riverfront section was easier but I'm now just hanging on and only just over halfway done. It was the second worst I'd ever felt midway through a marathon (the worst being at the 2007 Olathe Marathon where I had major GI issues).

Dave is waiting for me at mile 15 with a baggie. I greedily grabbed it from him but dropped one and then another pill on the ground before I could get them into my mouth. ARRGGHHH! Now my hands aren't working!?!

Luckily, there are 5 or 6 pills in the bag. I saw Dave again a little while later and handed him the bag back with only one pill left. I swear I took only 2, though! (Technically, I know it is cheating to receive outside help during a race but I was past the point of caring.)

But unlike morphine or heroin, there's no immediate relief. I trudged on for a while dreading those hills and told Dave he should just go for a ride elsewhere and leave me to wallow in self pity. He refused. Perhaps he thought I took all the pills missing from the bag and would collapse any moment? I do look pretty awful in the above photo.

But then around mile 17, the drug starts kicking in! We're now back in Brandywine Park which had plenty of shade and the spring has begun to return to my step.

There are cute llamas in a zoo that I didn't see before on the first loop.

A pretty wooden foot bridge that I do remember from before but enjoy much more the second time (I've already passed the bridge so I'm not in the photo).

Nice river views.

And a wonderfully shaded bike path.

By the time I got to mile 19 where the hills began again, I was warmed up and ready to start racing!

Wow, what a difference. This time the miles seemed to fly by and the hills were no problem.

My high continued all the way to the finish. I didn't count the number of folks I passed after mile 20 at this race as there were so many relay runners passing me and distracting me (again, something like 200 teams!). But I know three people not wearing "Relay" on their backs passed me the last quarter mile, including one woman who happened to be in my age group. Oh well!

At least I finished and stayed out of the medical tent. Here are my splits for anyone interested:

Official splits:
First 5.2 mi (flat) in 44:46, 8:36 pace.
Next 13 mi (hills and flats) in 1:59:49, 9:13 pace.
Last 8 mi (mostly hills) in 1:08:39, 8:34 pace.

My watch splits (surprisingly even paced halfs):
1st half 1:56:11, 8:52 pace.
2nd half 1:57:02, 8:56 pace.

Final race time:
3:53:13 (8:54 pace), 4/29 F45-49, 39/212 Females.

Thanks to Dave for all the photos and support. No doubt it would have been much uglier if I'd gone to this race alone.

Now, time to see what all you bloggy friends have been up to. Thanks for your kind words of encouragement and for reading!


Sherry said...

You are an amazing! The fact that you can complete a marathon that fast (having just recently ran another one) AND with a missing butt cheek! Well... WOW!

Way to go, Shirley! You always make me want to get out there and RUN no matter what. :o)

X-Country2 said...

Way to tough it out! Congrats on a hard-fought race.

Gotta Run..Gotta Ride said...

You must have a wall of serious medal BLING!!!

Great race report. You are on tuff chic!

Marlene said...

Congrats Shirley! You showed some real "oomph" out there for a strong finish when clearly you were in some serious pain. I hope everything feels okay now.

As for acepting outside help... is that really considered cheating? Like, taking oranges from my hubby?? :/ I guess I never thought of it that way. I'm not too worried about it since I'm not competing for any prizes, but interesting to know what people think of it.


Pretty scenery on this one... a lot better than the indoor track one...
By the way: I'm not sure if MACHINE or ANIMAL best describe you!

Formulaic said...

4th in your age group is pretty nice!!

Dave, thanks for the grimaces. She IS human!

Molly said...

Great job!!! Wow, you really had to push through pain, super impressive!

Regina said...

Way to tough it out. That could not have been easy. Good job Dave for getting you some meds!

I love your sense of humor about all of this (I'm sure you didn't have it while racing though). you are funny.

Btw, you have smokin' legs!

daniele said...


love to read about yuor traning life. and you are very amazing to make all this way. so for me its not over until i coss the finishline.

hope to someday be in Orlando and fight on your side.

take care

DaveP said...

I doubt giving you the Tylenol was any more illegal than the folks with head phones on or me riding next to you for while. Either way, it's not the Olympics so the judges really don't care.

ShirleyPerly said...

Yes, you're right. Receiving outside medical aid, wearing headphones while possibly competing for an award and having you ride alongside me for a while are all considered violations of USATF Rule 144.3. They happen quite frequently in running races since there are seldom referees to enforce the rules but that still doesn't make them right. Just saying ...

Rainmaker said...

Nicely done pushing through the pain. Another awesome marathon in the books!

Meg said...

Way to keep a smile on your face, even with a "broken butt." That cracked me up. Oh, and by the way, what's with those pills???? I wind up losing at least half of them throughout the course. It's so frustrating!

Vickie said...

Again, thanks for taking us along on your marathon! Glad things worked out for you toward the end. And I hope that injury clears up before your next venture!

Midwestern Dot said...

Good grief, I wish I could pull off that kind of pace when my butt is only half working...hell I wish I could pull off that kind of pace when both sides of my butt are working!
Congrats on another awesome race...hope recovery goes well for everything!
What a great Sherpa!

aron said...

wow woman you are a machine! congrats on a great time, especially considering all those issues! uggg! one more marathon down and one more state down! love the report and pics as always :)

lindsay said...

you did so well, especially with your broken butt and all! your race recaps are always amazing :) minus the breakfast break, so is dave for his spectating skills!

outside help is cheating? hmm. i'll worry about that "when" i go pro ;) sorry, not gonna carry all my gu's on me when i can have someone hand them off! besides, the pro's don't have to carry their water/gu's they have special water tables. i won't tell on you...

Black Knight said...

3.53.18 is a very fast time. Brava! A beautiful place to run a marathon. The usual great report with wonderful inspiring pictures.

EndorphinBuzz said...

Way to show how tough you are with such a great time despite the injury! It looks like a fairly scenic course too...

TRI TO BE FUNNY-Carrie Barrett said...

Way to keep digging through the dark moments! Inspiring, to say the least!

RoadBunner said...

Wait. Did you just BQ again?! (dies of jealousy)

Great job! Way to tough it out!! I hope your butt has forgiven you and is feeling better.

I didn't know medical aid was not allowed. Hmmm.

Another state in the bag!

Marathon Maritza said...

HOLY MOLEY! I can't even run that fast on my BEST DAY, you marathon machine!

As always, very inspirational marathon effort and I love all the pictures! What a pretty marathon!

Go Shirley go!

peter said...

Great race! I know DE is an important one to get in for those 50-M runners.

Runner Leana said...

Wow, you really pushed through a tough race! Congratulations! I'm sure having Dave on the course to cheer you on helped a lot. I definitely like to see friendly faces out there.

Petraruns said...

How you can have such a fast race with such a sore butt and such a hard day? You are amazing. W

Thank you for sharing your dark thoughts with us - makes us feel we can all relate I'm sure.