Saturday, May 11, 2013

Last of the 10 Events

The Avenue of the Giants Marathon
Humbolt Redwoods State Park, May 5, 2013
(Event #10 of 10)
10 Starts & 10 Finishes in 10 Events

After a long drive from SF Bay via Chico (picking up my son Elliot at college), we finally arrived Saturday afternoon in Arcata, a seaside college town north of the start of Sunday's marathon among the giant Coast Redwoods (the tallest known species of trees in the world). 

Up at 5 am Sunday to get to the start of the marathon, obtain my race number and warm up prior to the 7:45 am start. (Marian up early to drive hour south to the start,  then returned  to snooze, then return with Elliot to the Marathon). Marathon Sunday was also coincidently my 66th birthday.

Nice hometown feeling at the pre-race, fun booths, music playing and low-key anxiety. Beautiful sunny, cool morning. In rural California, Boston's tragedy was present:

The course was an out & back, in a layout that at each turnaround, a quarter of the marathon distance was marked. Additionally, because they also ran a Half-Marathon and a 10K Race (both of which started later), we got to see hundreds of runners for each event, including all the marathon leaders running the opposite direction (coming back back from where we were headed).

At 7:40 a man from San Francisco sang our national anthem, was moving to many -- and the start blast then sounded. Some 750 marathon runners started off down a road, in near-constant shade by huge redwoods on both sides. 

100 yards from Finish,
-- a Happy Camper.

My first mile was 8:18 so I slowed it down purposely to just over 9 minutes....and held it in the 9 minute range, until mile 10. I had hoped to run under 4:10 to qualify for the 2014 Boston, but I could tell by mile 11 that it was unlikely to happen (needing a 9:25 pace average), so I backed off and started to enjoy the scenery -- and focus on crossing the finish line of my 10th and final event of my Comeback 65 year.

Mile 15-17 I was running 11 minute miles, and slowed to 14 minute miles at the very end.  Just 7 weeks after finishing the grueling Ironman, it was clear my body needed more recovery time. Just 7 weeks (with 10K race in-between) would have been a challenge for most.

So I kicked back, watched the runners in the opposite lane for distraction, chatted it up among runners alongside -- and enjoyed the run. It started getting hot, so drinking at every aid station. 

This time no back spasm, no hamstring pulls, just good old slow from being tired, starting after 20 miles. 

As I headed finally toward the finish line, a few minutes below 5 hours,  I spotted Elliot who also saw me at the same time. It was a boost to see how excited he was. Me too.

The Year that Flew By
No major muscle pulls. No broken bones. No drowning. Feb. hospitalized for pneumonia, but bounced back. All in all, no complaints. 10 starts and 10 finish lines, for which I am very grateful.

I feel fit for the upcoming 2013 Dipsea Race. For a year, nearly daily I either swam distance in a pool, biked 20-60 miles with climbing; or ran paved roads for mileage. Only Tuesdays could I run trails. Now I'm back to my favorite of trail running.  

Now About You -- Yes You

If you are not already fit, find inspiration or motivation to do so. 

Everyone owes it to themselves to be fit. You feel good and have more energy for more hours. You'd also look fit. And reduce your individual risks of getting several chronic or killer diseases.

Walk, hike, run, swim, bike or get exercise any way you wish. But stop promising. Start being fit -- at all ages. No excuses.  You can do it.