On Saturday I ran the inaugural Sitka Cross Trail Classic Marathon.
In short I ran. I ran some more. I tripped. I kept running. I thought about crying then I kept running. More running. Then somehow I finished. I crossed under the balloon arch and didn't even look to see what my time was. All I could focus on was finishing. I believe I stopped my watch shortly after but at the moment I have no clue where said watch is.
The race started out with a bit over 100 runners at the airport terminal. I’m fortunate enough to work in the building right next to the terminal and got primo parking and my own private bathroom. They made a big fuss about starting promptly at 7 am and not a second later.
At 7:02 and some odd seconds we were off.
Sick joke #1: Part of the course description on Active.com boasts about beautiful snow capped mountains and ocean views. The view yesterday? Grey. Completely grey. And raining. The sun was no where to be found. Talk about hard nipples everywhere and not just the ones on Nathan water bottles. Typical Sitka day. Really I think this is perfect running weather. It was mid 50's and lightly raining. Not to hot and not to cold.
Sick joke #2: Race shirt given out was a long sleeve tech shirt that's white. Wet t-shirt contest anyone?
The course looks like this. Don't get confused like I did and think the numbers are mile markers. They are aid station locations.
Sick joke #3: After the start you head towards town from the airport. But first you run this nice little loop called Alice Loop. Where the waste water treatment plant is located. Gag me. Did I mention it was a loop? So you ran past it twice.
After everyone's sinuses were filled with the smell of feces you head over O'Connell bridge and onto the main island. Pass through the heart of downtown and in just over 3 miles you pass the finish line(sick joke #4?). From there you head into Totem Park and complete the big loop and small loop. In the park is flat well maintained trails wide enough for 2 or 3 people with totems all over the place. It's the battle ground where the Russians came in on ships and fought the Indians. After the park you hit a paved bike trail for about a mile before entering the trail portion of the race.
This portion is where I wanted to kick some ass. This trail is right behind my house and I run on it easily 4 days a week. I got on the single track portion and let me legs loosen up and feel right at home working my way over the rocks and roots and through the mud. I absolutely had a home court advantage. I was passing people frequently. Until I immediately needed to find the back woods bathroom. And by immediately I mean 5 minutes earlier. And then... nothing. I got back on the course and had fallen back about 30 people. I didn't really mind about placement just my personal time/effort. Eventually the Cross Trail changes from semi-technical single track to a multi-use hilly trail. I wish I was able to get an elevation profile but I'm not. So just trust me when I say it's quite hilly.
The trail ends at "the Benchlands". Which is a new development road which has not developed past the "road" stage. It's really an ultra wide rocky trail in my opinion. The half-ers went about half way down the road and turned around while the full-ers went the entire way to turn around(about 1 mile out). I tried to mentally prepare myself for when I would need to run this again on the second loop knowing it would be my hardest spot.
After the out and back you drop down onto one of the two main roads in town to run along the ocean(read: big wall of grey.) I passed by a water station where a fellow EMT was kind enough to warn my that the Chief was announcing over the fire department radio my whereabouts. After about 3 miles of road the course passes through the round-about. Firefighters were doing traffic control and cheered me on which gave me a bit of speed. Then I turned the corner to pass the finish line again(sick joke #4 5 and 6) and made my way into Totem Park to make another loop.
I ran the first half of the race strong. Really strong. I felt great and energetic. Then the second loop came along and the pain started to come in. I let myself slow down a bit to conserve some energy and never sped up again. At this point the 25 or so marathoners were so widely spread out that I went about an hour without seeing another runner. When I came to the hilly part of the Cross Trail I let myself power hike(not walk ) on the uphills. I hated walking power hiking but I was giving it my all. And then I came to the dreaded Benchlands. Where I wanted to cry. And I almost did. I think I might have if I knew I wouldn't see anybody but this being the out and back portion I didn't risk it. Let me tell you the mile out and the mile back on the god forsaken "road" was tough. It was really really tough. I can't explain what "tough" means but I'm sure you all understand in your own way.
As I was nearing the end of the Benchlands I saw a familiar face. The Chief had driven as far as he could then got of the the car and walked in a bit and started cheering me on as soon as I came into sight. "Michelle!!!" That one man cheering section kept me running out of the Benchlands. He laughed when I asked where my wheelchair was. ..I was only half kidding.
When I finally made it onto the main road I saw the 23 mile marker sign and told myself I only had a 5k to go. I could handle a 5k. In this section I must have looked terrible because the reaction from all the AS workers was much different than my first go around. They all kept saying "You're so close. Almost done." They all had the "I'm sorry" tone to their voice. Someone else must have been hurting more than me(really not possible) because I was very slowing reeling in a guy in front of me. It took me a good 10 minutes to get from 30 feet behind him to his side.
I was a little disappointed when I got to the round-about and the firefighters weren't doing traffic control any more as I was about to start crawling. I made it through the round-about and look up and all the fire trucks are outside and as I start to pass by the fire department every singe truck turns its lights and sirens on and blasts their air horns. Talk about the most incredible moral support in the history of ever! I went from the stumbling dead to "kick it up 100 notches and sprint the last .5 mile."
Seriously incredible what that did for my spirits.
I rounded the corner and saw the 26 mile marker and told myself ".2" I just kept repeating that until I saw the balloon arch. Who moved the arch further away?? But at that point the finish line crowd pulled me through.
Oh I guess I finished in 4:13!
At the finish DBF found me and helped me hobble into the basketball quarts where there was food set up and little pools of crushed ice to put your feet in if you wanted. I proceeded to sit directly in the ice as my ass was significantly more sore than my feet. A local massage therapist was and added bonus. She worked wonders on my butt.
I came home quickly showed and didn't let myself sit down because I had to rush off to work. I didn't even have time to stretch. For a few hours after I felt like I had chugged a bottle of vodka got ran over by a truck and then chugged more vodka. Come dinner break I was finally able to stomach some food. Around 9:40 pm I dipped out of work early to go get my well deserved beer. That beer is the reason there are no commas in this because I spilled a decent portion all over the keys of my laptop.
Over all I'm happy. Many things I could have done better. But no better way to learn than by first hand experience. And something interesting while I was in my deepest darkest running place ready to lay down on the rocks and cry I thought "I should run a 50k next". Clearly I like putting myself through pain.
Woooohoooo CONGRATS SNOWDEN!!!! You look awesome in both the pics you put up. How wonderful to have the fire station supporting you like that. What a fantastic time also. I know some of the areas you were talking about because my Alaskan Marathon Cruise we ran around Sitka with the HS Cross Country team. We only ran a 10 K though.
RR: Ran my half on Saturday morning - definitely not my fastest but I finished in a little over 1:49. I ended up getting 3rd in my AG, first time racing as a 50 y/o. It was super humid, about 65 degrees. I was so sweaty at the end that my car seat got soaked on the way home, ICK.
Sunday I ran 7 miles, it hurt at the start, legs were sore but when we hit 7 miles I felt like it went fast and I could still run further.
NRR: Older DD was pretty sick on Saturday. After the half I came home, took a shower and took her straight to the DR. They gave her 2 shots of antibiotic, a prescription for penicillin and a prescription for prednisone. She is starting to feel better. PHEW! I stayed home with her Saturday night, and then she went with her brother to a renaissance festival on Sunday so I went to DBF's last night. We watched Shark Week for awhile. He made me dinner, fish sandwich with wasabi sauce. MMMMM!
FR: Pretty good, not being as strict as I was.
NRR: Yes, I am alive! It's been a whirlwind the last few weeks with work trips, fun trips (2 river trips and a music festival), helping DD and her boyfriend move into their new place. Plus, not surprisingly, I got some kind of crud along the way and ended up with an ear infection that I still don't think I've shaken completely. Still have ringing in my right ear and I can still hear that sloshing, fluid-y sound. I've been through 2 successively more aggressive round of antibiotics, and I feel much better except for being somewhat deaf in my right ear. :-)
RR: Well, here I am with a half marathon coming up in less than 8 weeks and haven't run much in the last few weeks. But I did 3 on Saturday and it felt OK. My goal is to run 3 miles every day this week just get the motor running again. Will do 3 tonight as it's really cooled off here now so the evenings are fairly pleasant. My back feels great, so I think all systems are go.
FR: Have really cut back on alcohol throughout July ... pretty much didn't drink anything the first 2 weeks, and then only occasionally since. Which I think has contributed to ...
WR: I've lost about 9 pounds since the high weight that made me so depressed at the end of June, so I'm back in the mid 150s now ... was 155 yesterday. This makes me sound like I was a total lush before to have lost so much just by cutting alcohol: But I think the 2 or so drinks almost every night led to eating way more without thinking about it. However, I feel kind of blobby from the lack of running, so looking forward to getting tightened up, getting back to yoga, etc.
Snow: Congrats on your marathon -- that was an impressive push through some tough conditions. And you had a great finish time, too! I really hope things get better for you at work -- that sounds miserable to have such a horrible boss.
Mia: You are so speedy in the half marathon -- I so want to get under 2:00 in the one I have coming up Sept 22. Really need to do some speedwork to make that happen. So did you make a decision yet about continuing CrossFit? So glad your daughter is on the road to recovery ... she must have been in pretty bad shape for them to do antibiotic shots! Also hoping you hear positive news on the job front soon.
Seattle: How’s your cutback going? Sounds like work, school, family is really keeping you busy. Good that there is a break in sight for school. It’s cool that you and DBF both have work anniversaries at about the same time—and you have both progressed so much in your careers in the last year!
SJP: How many days a week are you doing P90? I’m thinking of getting some of the videos to fill in the yoga/sculpt gaps when I can’t fit a class into my schedule. Do you have any races coming up this fall?
RTR: Congrats on your marriage! So fun to hear that the wedding went perfectly. Your honeymoon sounds fantastic – just the sort of trip I like, too. I am with you on struggling to get back into running. It’ll happen!
Java: Your Mexico trip sounded amazing – but it is always good to get back into the routine, too. I’m living that this week. Honestly just really glad I don’t have to pack up gear for a river trip this week or pack for a work trip. How was the lake trip?
OU: Good job on getting the running back up post-marathon. Are you still doing CF a few days a week?