Monday, March 17, 2008

2/17/08 National Marathon to Fight Breast Cancer

It has been a month since this race happened. My goal race, after 13 months of running in pink. 69 marathons and ultras overall. Why did I wait so long to write about this? Honestly, I was hoping that something/someone would hit me over the head with inspiration... and that I could turn my report into a wonderful story. Make you laugh! Make you cry!

But really?

Have you ever had a goal, and once it finally arrived, it seemed kind of anti-climactic? This surely was. Not that the race was a disappointment - it was anything but that. The organizers did a great job, the weather was wonderful, and I had a good time. I just didn't walk away with a unique story. I didn't run a PR, nothing truly bizarre happened, and I didn't meet a ton of people.

I met so many people during the 13 month pink campaign. I heard many stories... some happy, some not so happy. It was rough sometimes, but not usually. Mostly it was fun. Moving, too. And when it came to THE race? I honestly didn't talk to that many people. Tons of women in pink. Lots of survivors. So many, in fact, that it was a completely different dynamic. Being part of the huge crowd was nothing like races where one or two people came up to me and we talked about breast cancer. Actually, it was nice being able to just be part of the crowd. Much less on-the-spot.

Unfortunately, I was not able to personally meet the inspiration and driving force behind this race, Donna Deegan. I would have enjoyed meeting her, of course, but I knew that the weekend would be absolutely stuffed for her. I was not able to find out beforehand whether she was running (she had been in active chemo treatment just before the race), nor whether she'd be running the half or the full if she DID run. It turned out that she did run, and that she decided at the half's turnaround to continue onward and do the full. And she finished! Go Donna.

As for me, I completed my race too. More slowly than I wanted. And I was completely wiped afterwards. But I had a great time, and even though I wasn't overwhelmed with released pent-up emotions about breast cancer or generically achieving Robert's Big Goal, well, I had fun.

I won't offer up detailed splits and analysis of the course. It was a loop course (really a pinched loop with a few out-and-back sections along the way) with about 3 miles along the beach. Not near the beach, not in sight of the beach... physically ON the beach. I had been nervous that these would be tough miles because sand can make for tough running. And sand can hide nasty obstacles like sticks, glass, and holes. It wasn't fast, but it was a great surface for running a few miles. Hard packed with the obvious nice sights, sounds, and smells of the ocean. Now, they had elected to start the race at 8:30a to coincide with low-tide on this beach. That's probably why the surface was so nice. Unfortunately, 8:30 is very late to start a race in Florida, even a race in February. Plus, it was a warm weekend. Most of the race was 70-85 degrees with 200% humidity. Ugh.

That heat and humidity took my goal away. Originally, I had wanted to try for 3:30 on this course. I knew it would be flat, and I knew I wouldn't be cold. Plus, I figured the energy of Robert's Big Goal would push me along. I've been punished in similar conditions before, though. My last big 3:30 attempt was at Kona last year. Kona was warmer and maybe not quite as humid, but it was still similar. And I never EVER want to feel like I felt in the last miles of the 2007 Kona Marathon. So within the first mile of this race, I adjusted from a 3:30 goal to "beat 3:45". I stayed pretty consistent with my splits, but the heat finally got to me and I slowed down towards the end. I finished at 3:46. I ran a much smarter race here than at Kona, so I actually remember the last miles of this race... but I was still completely wiped out afterwards.

I really enjoyed the community's involvement during the race. It was not wall-to-wall spectators for the whole course, but MANY people came out onto their porches, balconies, and driveways to cheer us on. And everyone was so very friendly. Even people who were inconvenienced by traffic issues seemed okay with that. Thank you, Jacksonville.

So... see? No great stories, no flowing prose. And I probably won't have loads of new info about the races I've completed since then. I returned to Ft Worth's Cowtown Marathon on the following weekend. Then I got sick and had to skip my first time-based event, a "run as far as you can/want" 6 hour event at a local park. The weekend after that, I ran a half marathon PR. By 18 whole seconds :-). This past weekend took me to Texas for a race near the Johnson Space Center. I'll be back with those reports real soon now.

Next up, another one of those local holiday marathons. This time, the Easter Marathon.

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