Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dead Woman Walking

Several people told me about the Martian marathon beforehand and their comments weren't exactly nice. The secretary at one of my schools was the most polite when she said it wasn't her favorite race. I should have listened to everyone! It was AWFUL!!!! Ok that's not very nice. There were some definite positives. It was a small race - 433 completed the full marathon. The only thing I can compare though is the Free Press, which sells out at 4000+. The full marathon started at 7:15 a.m. and the shorter races were much later, so there was no line whatsoever at the bathrooms before the race, my gun time and chip time were about 30 seconds different and the people at the water stations were super nice and encouraging. I also liked the inflatable martians peeping out everywhere :)

I'm glad this wasn't my first race because it probably would have turned me off from long distance running forever. It was BORING!!!! It was DEMORALIZING to be going out at 8 miles and seeing the leaders on their way back at 17...It was especially bad when more people were on the return trip than on the heading out trip. The out-and-back aspect wasn't even the worst part. It was the absolute and complete lack of spectators on the course. I talked to some awesome runners though - a man from Ottawa who was running his 35th marathon. He was extremely overweight but never ever gave up and kept putting one step in front of the other. We were chatting at mile 16 and he said we're almost done. We can count it on our fingers now. It didn't exactly give me a second wind, but more of a realization and acceptance that yup! I can do this! A woman told me about running 51 marathons in a year (all 50 states and DC). Can you imagine??? 5 or 6 times, she had to do back to back Saturday / Sunday races. Wow!!!

My first two miles were 9:30. At the turn around point (13.1 miles) I was 7 minutes under my 5-hour goal time. Then I blew a 14-minute mile. Arrrgh!!! Things slowly but consistently fell apart. Until mile 20 or 21, I was only a few minutes under my goal pace. At the turn off point from Hines, the woman directing traffic said we're all so happy. I said no, we're delirious :P Around mile 23 there was a small group of 8-10 people cheering for everyone coming by and they were much needed! The quiet solitude was by far the absolute worst part of the race.

I felt much better prepared than last time. I was consistently running the whole time (with some walking obv). When I got tired and mentally weak, I started counting traffic cones, running 4 and walking 2. I sang out loud. There was a group of 3 women who had passed me early in the race and were eventually out of sight. I kept going - I never hit a 15:00 mile - and eventually they came back in sight. It seemed every time they ran, I did as well and it became a mental game to not let them pass me. In mile 25, they got close and one of the women touched my sweaty shoulder and told me I could do it, that I could run, not walk. I listened and never saw the women again.

Turning onto Brady Street, it was uphill!!!! Mile 25.8 and we're going uphill?!? Then I heard a group of girls yell "Go Michelle!" The end was in sight, people were around, I wasn't alone. I hit the corner and saw my sister-in-law and her daughter there, with a group of 5 girls. I later asked who they were. She didn't know, just some girls cheering for me. Thank you!!!

The finish chute was by far the best part. My family and two friends all showed up for the finish and I made it! It certainly wasn't the time I wanted, but I don't know how upset I can be when I finished 1:14 faster than last time! Besides, according to Eve at the Free Press, fewer than 1% of the world will ever finish a marathon. Even less than that complete more than one. Not to mention I've only been running for about a year and I'm doing it all on my own. I need a coach or a training partner though. Going it alone is for the birds!

Yes, I know I didn't use the phrase dead man walking correctly, but that's how I felt. A woman at a water table called out encouragement, and said "You're beautiful!" That made me cry (one time of many!) because I don't think I could look worse if I tried! Did she mean me? my running? doing the near impossible? It doesn't matter. She later gave me 2 orange slices on the way back. mmmm sugar!!!

It was cold and rainy most the day. I ditched my jacket around mile 5 and predictably got cold later in the race. I saw a sweatshirt on the side of the road, so I picked it up and wore it for several miles. Gross, I know haha but somehow things like pride and modesty cease to exist in long races. At least I didn't pee on the side of the road!

I finished 20 of 24 in my age group and 376 of 438 overall. Even if I hit my 5:00 goal, I still would have been 20th. I don't put much stock in where I finish because I'm not running against those girls, I'm running against the clock.

Next up: work on over-crossing my arms. I successfully shortened my stride length and stopped heel striking, so now I need to focus on straight back and forth arms.


  1. Congratulations Michelle - you did it! You are an inspiration!

    1. Kathy,
      I'll be coming to Lansing in a few weeks. Shoot me an email and let's see if we can plan a running date :)

      trinity90578 at yahoo dot com