Thursday, December 4, 2008

Vivian guest blogs her First Marathon Journey

Readers of See Mike Run may be aware in about 72 hours I will be running the California International Marathon in California’s state capital, Sacramento. I have been asked to “guest blog” my training and race experience. Hopefully doing so will distract the fluttering butterflies for few minutes. Here goes:
Where to start? Ironically this journey started exactly two years ago at the Las Vegas Marathon (running this year on the same date as CIM). The LVM was my third marathon, that is, my third marathon as spectator/supporter for David (six months into the relationship, three marathons, you do the math). Being David’s cheering section for an out of town marathon involves 1) car rental; 2) a full tank of gas; 3) detailed pre-race study of city and marathon route maps; 4) waking up at the same ridiculously early hour as he does; 5) a good luck kiss over the coral rope followed by a sprint to the car; 6) conquering a deep-rooted fear of driving in unfamiliar cities; and 7) rigorous training and stamina. The idea is to drive like crazy around the route, park a couple of blocks away, run to a spectator’s spot on the side of the road, do a quick “Where’s Waldo” so David can see me, and then do it all over again every 5 miles. Doing this was so exhausting (by then I was over 50 after all) I figured, how hard could it be to actually run the 26 miles?
My clandestine plan to become a runner instead of a spectator took root over the next couple of weeks following Las Vegas 2006. It helped spur me on that a legal colleague had been at Las Vegas doing a 1/2, I sized up my fitness level against hers, and I figured I was pretty fit already from spending a lot of time at the gym. I also knew that if I defined “runner” as David and his cohorts I’d never make it to the starting mat. A couple of weeks after our first date David was off to his 3rd Boston Marathon and is, as I loved to describe him at the time, “freakishly athletic.”
My first step was a Running Room 10 K clinic that started in the depths of a 40 below Winnipeg January. The fact that clinic instructor Neil MacLean didn’t make good on his announcement that he couldn’t run a clinic for 8 people changed the course of my running life. I finished off that clinic (not without a collection of new-runner injuries), went straight on to the Half Marathon clinic and in June 2006 I ran my first half marathon at the Manitoba Marathon.
The rest is all good. Since Manitoba 2006 there have been 4 more half marathons. More importantly I have met an awesome group of runners who have become my friends, my training partners, my running support network, and partners in crime. By the summer of 2008 I figured that since 1) I’m not getting any younger; 2) Being of good Northern European stock I’m not really a heat runner; and 3) David likes to do a pre-Christmas marathon(in 2007 it was Seattle Marathon, THE TIME HAD COME.
Through this fall I have pretty much followed the Running Room marathon training schedule. The 2 best things about the training have been David and The Ladies. About David: I’ve already said that he is freakishly athletic. This means that he runs sub 8 minute miles in training and 8:30’s on long runs (and don’t ask me about his speedwork pace, I don’t want to know). This also means that we do not run together – until this marathon training. Six Thursday nights at Garbage Hill, about a dozen Sundays once we got over the 10 mile mark, he’s been there by my side, running at my pace, encouraging me, almost literally carrying me back to our hotel after our 22.5 miler a month ago in Minneapolis, putting my yucky GU wrappers in his pocket, sweetly telling the barrista that his girlfriend propped up against the doorway needed a Mocacino RIGHT NOW because she just ran 22.5 miles, bearing with me during attacks of pre-race OCD … I could go on. David is the perfect coach, the perfect partner, the perfect friend … thank you sweetheart.
About The Ladies: You know who you are. What I said to you in my private email to you earlier in the week. Thank you for your companionship, your support, putting up with me when I get tired, or controlling, or OCD or when I say “Is there any impediment to leaving now.” Thank you for coordinating your 10 mile runs around my 20 mile runs. Thank you for watching for David and I through the window of the store and scooting right out so that we don’t have to break our stride. You have enriched my life. Thank you ladies.
Am I nervous? Am I preoccupied? Are you kidding? Case study: I’m obsessing about hydration. Right now it’s 25 C below with the windchill in Winnipeg. In Sacramento on Sunday I expect race temperature to be about 12 to 16 C – for me this is hot weather running. I need to hydrate a lot at the best of times. Does a normal person check their pee colour against a colour chart in obscure article on the internet?
Thank you Michael for all your support, your blog, and becoming the unofficial scribe of our little running community. I wish you could have been there last Sunday. It was a perfect taper-friendly long run. Gwen, Sandra, Lorie, Lori, Jason, Jacques and David’s pals Stig and Jake, 10 miles to the Forks, a mocca afterwards. It was a great day to be alive.
Hope I can do this. Stay tuned. Vivian
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