Monday, November 30, 2009

The results are in!

My official finishing time for the 2009 Seattle Marathon is 4:13:10. Slightly above my goal time, but taking the extremely hilly course into consideration, this is a time that I am definitely proud of! Actually, I'm mostly just proud that I am able of crossing the finish line of a 26.2 mile race. Something I'd thought I would never be capable of doing.

Let's back up to the day before the race. Mid-day Saturday afternoon, I started to feel a stomach ache coming on. I was assuming that it was just nerves and I'll get over it. However, as the day went on, the stomach ache kept getting worse and worse. I was following pre-race protocol and not eating or drinking anything out of the ordinary, so I had no clue what was causing it. When the stomach pains didn't subside by the evening, I decided that I had to try to do something about it or the race wasn't going to happen. So, I took a few doses of Pepto-Bismal, started to feel a little better, and went to sleep. Then, at 1:00am, the stomach pains had made their return in full force! I opted not to take any more Pepto because it clearly wasn't helping, so I just waited a few hours and went back to sleep again.
Thankfully, the next morning (race day), I woke up feeling great. No more tummy ache! Must have just been a freak thing, probably caused by nervousness. I ate my traditional pre-race meal - oatmeal with raisins, walnuts and a Powerbar. I also made sure to drink plenty of water. After breakfast, I immediately checked the forecast, and to my great relief, it was going to be a perfect day for a race. No rain and not too cold. This is amazing for the end of November in Seattle. Actually, miraculous if you ask me.

I arrived at the race a little early and watched the walkers and half-marathoners take off to the sound of hundred of cowbells, some techno beats, and the Star Spangled Banner. Quite the combo. Once they all had started their races, it was time for the marathon runners to line-up (more cowbell, more techno, more Star Spangled Banner). I chose to run with the 8:35 pace group (3:45 finish time) because that is about the pace that I comfortably train at.
The bull-horn sounded and off we went on our 26.2 journey to the finish line in Memorial Stadium. The pacer was great; he kept us right at 8:35, which felt great and attainable for 26.2 miles.
The beginning of the course was fairly flat, with only a few slow inclines. I had no problem keeping up with my pacing group. In fact, at one point, I felt like I was going too slow, but I knew that it was only adrenaline that would soon where off, so I kept my steady pace.
We made our way across the I-90 bridge and through Seward Park where we got to the half-way point. I was still feeling good and keeping up with the pacers. The scenery was fantastic, so I did my best to just put myself on cruise-control and enjoy my surroundings.
Everything was going fabulous...until we hit the 20 mile marker. My body suddenly decided that it was time to stop. It was actually a little scary; I didn't stop voluntarily, my body just stopped itself. This has never happened before. I got extremely nervous. I made it all the way to mile 20 and I did not want to be carried across the finish line by the medics.
Before I went into a complete panic, I did some rational thinking. My muscles actually weren't too sore or locking up - in fact, my legs could've probably kept going and left my body behind. Instead, I was feeling the symptoms of either hyponatremia or dehydration. I was starting to feel a little dizzy and nauseous. Not good. I ruled out hyponatremia because I wasn't over doing it on the water. It must have been dehydration, even though I'd stopped at just about every water station on the course.
I am a very determined person and I do not quit unless I feel like I am in serious medical danger. I didn't feel like I was blacking out or passing out, so I just walked for a bit, regained composure, and started running again at about a 9:30 pace - much slower, but it'll still get me there and that's all that matters. I also made sure to continue to re-hydrate and eat GU gels for energy wherever available.
The last six(ish) miles were all up hill - big Seattle hills - and were pretty rough, but I trudged right along, slow and steady. I was listening to body, slowing down when I needed to, and got myself to the finish line where I was greeted with hundreds of cheering fans. I did it!

The whole experience was quite surreal. You don't realize how far 26.2 miles is until you're on foot in a race. My best advice to first time marathoners (that I should have taken myself) is too not have any time goal in mind. You're goal should only be to get across the finish line safely. I can't stress the enough. Once you've proved to yourself that your mind and body are capable of running such an incredible distance, then, maybe you can start setting modest time goals. Running 26.2 is an amazing feat! Ask the person next to you if they can do it and they'll probably say, "yeah right, that's crazy." And it is crazy! No doubt about it. Remember, finishing is a victory. I read a spectator's sign as I was running the course and it said, "you are your own champion." A little cheesy, but a great message. I am happy with my time....forget the stupid time goal...I finished the Seattle Marathon!!

Later that day, I was naturally feeling sore and still a bit nauseous. (Warning: too much information about to come). I went to bathroom and noticed that my urine was dark orange. A classic sign of dehydration. I'm assuming that this is what happened to me at mile 20. My body simply didn't have enough fluids to continue at the pace that I was going. Like I said, I made sure to drink plenty of water before the race and stopped at nearly every water station throughout the race, so at first, I didn't understand how I got so dehydrated. Then, I found the culprit! Pepto-Bismal. Right on the front of the bottle: "May cause dehydration." I was so focused on getting rid of the stomach ache, that I didn't even bother to read the side effects of the medicine. Big mistake, but at least I know for next time! I drank plenty of water throughout the rest of the day, and what-do-you-know, the nausea was gone. Lesson learned - if you absolutely have to take some type of medication before a big race, READ THE LABEL!

Anyhow, my next marathon will be Eugene Oregon on May 2nd. A few of you have mentioned that you will also be doing this race. Let me know if you'll be there! Maybe we can train together.

This concludes my blog for my Seattle Marathon journey. Thanks all for reading and sending my encouraging comments.


  1. I am amazed and impressed, awed and overwhelmed with pride for you!

    You DID IT!

  2. You did AWESOME! I actually saw you pass me and thought ... how cool was that? I read her blog :) When I was thinking about doing the marathon I googled "Seattle Marathon" and you popped up and I have been following ever since. Very inspiring... Good Job!

  3. Great job MelissaEileen! Very cool, indeed. What an accomplishment~