All through running the race I kept trying to think of funny names for this post. I came up with quite a few and it was dependent upon exhaustion level as to how funny they were. Names like: “Oh my God will it ever end” and “There is a small child on my chest preventing me from breathing”. Yeah. I guess you had to have been there.
Bend Marathon was hard. I knew it was going to be but man. It was hard.
The hard part of the race was two things: 1) Running at a higher altitude. I knew it would affect me but didn’t really know how to prepare for the affects.2) The climbs. There were two mighty climbs that came at cruel moments. The first big climb was at at 9.9 mile mark. I had to walk part of this as it was a hilly 2 mile climb. By the time I hit this climb I had all ready gone through the serious doubt I had from miles 3-6 as to what business I had being out there. There I was all alone except for another runner who was dialed into her iPod. I was struggling for breathe and trying to glide. I ate a gel and from mile 6 to about 8 I felt really good. Starting at 8 there was a slight incline that got much steeper at the 9.9. At mile 10 I walked because I felt like I was dying of thirst and my heart was beating really fast. At the next aid station I stopped and drank several glasses of water. I felt better but my heart was still beating too fast and my stomach hurt.
That lasted until I got to the halfway mark. My goal was to run the marathon in less than 6 hours. I wanted to cross the finish line with a smile on my face and to have a good time. I hit 13 miles at around 2:38 or so. I felt pretty awesome. I ran more and more still feeling pretty good until I got to about 16 miles. Then I started seeing the dogs. At first I thought I might be hallucinating. I mean there were like 6 of them and they all looked the same. Then I saw a creepy guy standing in the middle of the farm road with all these dogs. Then I knew I was just in the country. The dogs followed him to a small house off of the road. I started running again.
At 16 miles I started to alternate walking and running. I knew I had a huge climb at the end of the race and needed to save a bit of strength for that. From there until 19.3 not much happened. I ran, I walked, I waved at people, I jumped into the ditch when drivers didn’t want to share the road, I groaned, and tried to smile.
Then I hit mile 20. There was no wall. Only the beginning of a very long hill. It was one of those that just seems to go on and on and on and on. Each mile I ran/walked seemed like a huge victory. I was tired. Very tired. And I still had over and hour and a half to go before I’d be done. I ate a fig bar. It was pretty awesome. My back hurt, my lungs hurt, my IT Bands hurt…..I could go on and on about what hurt. I remember at one point muttering to myself, “Well, you wanted a challenge…”And challenge I got.
I was monitoring my pace very carefully to ensure that I would make my goal. On the downhills I ran as fast as I could without blowing out my legs. This is much more difficult than it sounds. Your legs are shaky and not at all dependable. You just kinda pray that your knees will be captain and keep everything in line. On the inclines, I walked as fast as I could. It was hard.
From miles 23-25, it was the hardest part of any race that I’ve ever done. It was a monster of a hill that was long, windy, and just sucked. I just kept going telling myself that in less than an hour I could sit down and have a beer.
I didn’t really care about the beer. I just wanted to be done with running. At mile 24 I burst into tears. Usually I don’t cry. I’m too tired or too dehydrated. But not this time. I had a mini melt down. I kept chanting how much farther I had to go. And doing my weird little run shuffle up the hill.
So I get to a traffic circle where there are flaggers directing traffic away from the construction equipment. I didn’t realize that the young lady jumping up and down with the stop sign was trying to get my attention. It appeared that I was running the wrong direction. My bad. So I followed there direction and ran up a sidewalk to God knows where hoping that I was on the right path. The path that would lead me to a chair, finishers medal and a glass of water. Finally I saw a young woman who let me know I was right in front of the 26 mile mark. I wanted to hug and kiss her.
So I didn’t quite my make goal of six hours. I finished at 6:01:10. Over all I’m pretty pleased with my performance. There was no 3 mph death march at the end.I ran a pretty consistent speed the last half of the marathon which is something I’ve never really done. I realize that I should have had a handheld water bottle as I was dehydrated for the race due to a stomach ailment I had been battling for the last few days. I’m pretty sore and tired but think I may like to run the marathon next year. If I do, I will go out to Bend and run a few times.