Life's little adventures, accompanied by a running watch

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Yin-Yang Marathon (a race report)

Wikipedia describes yin-yang as literally meaning "shadow and light"; it is used to describe how polar opposites or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn in relation to each other.   And that is the best way to sum up my running of the Green Mountain Marathon this past weekend!!

Scott and I headed out Saturday for the long ride to Vermont.  We picked up our numbers, got a little warm up run in on the bike path in Burlington, grabbed some lunch, and then drove a good part of the race course.  All done on a gorgeous, sunny day.
However, here’s what race day morning looked like from the inside of our warm, dry car:
The early morning rain stopped in time for the race start – hooray!  The winds, however, were there to stay.  Heading out on the first half of the course was the strongest tail wind I’ve ever experienced.  I was flying!  I felt strong to start and knew immediately I was “on”.  I was also in tune to the tailwind.  So was my watch…..8:05…..8:10…..(OMG, must slow down)….8:07….(what?  I said slow down!)…..8:30…..(not slow enough)….and so on.  I finally resigned myself to the fact that, on and out-and-back course, I would at some point succumb to a strong headwind and be forced to slow down. 

Because of a short turn off of the main road, the head wind didn’t unleash it’s full force until mile 15.  Talk about a wall – of wind!  Actually, it reminded me of last year’s Cape Cod Marathon.  Remember that race?  The winds were so strong and cold in Falmouth that I nursed an ear ache for 3 weeks!  The challenge of Green Mountain Marathon’s course was also it’s draw; a beautiful island connected to the mainland by a causeway, showing off vast farmlands and pretty bays along the way – which meant there was no protection from the lake effect winds.  I joked to fellow runners that it was easier running that day than manning a water stop.  Those volunteers worked their butts off chasing down empty cups that turned into cardboard missiles!  They were everywhere…

I finally slowed down around mile 17.  I needed to stop fighting the wind so much and had to slow the pace to keep myself together.  Nothing really hurt; I was simply exhausted from the wind.  On the final long hill (mile 24 to 25 – perfect placement, right?), a girl came up beside me and encouraged, “We’re almost done”.  That one little comment helped me conquer that last bad-ass hill with a renewed focus.  Shortly after that, I slowly passed other runners all the way up that hill.  One carrot-top guy was walking in that “oh my God, when will this end?” way we all recognize from running marathons, so I yelled, “C’mon, you’ve GOT this!”.  I think I startled him, but he did answer, “Thanks, I needed that”.  God I love the running camaraderie in the later miles of a marathon.  Or maybe it’s desperation.  Whatever it is, it’s cool.  At mile 25 (top of that godforsaken hill), I found an extra gear and willed myself to stay in that gear until the Finish.

Again from Wikipedia, “Yin and yang are not opposing forces, but complementary forces, unseen and seen, that interact to form a greater whole, as part of a dynamic system.”  I had 2 very opposing but complementary halves of the Green Mountain Marathon that formed a greater whole.  I had the first half of 8:XX minute miles that made me feel like a rock star.  And I had a second half of 9:XX and 10:XX minute miles that forced me to claw my way through the final miles.  As fiercely as the wind, rain, and cold attacked, I felt nothing but calm as I picked off the miles.  I celebrated those miles I felt like a rock star and I leveraged the tougher miles as practice for my upcoming 50 miler. 

A cold/uncomfortable/solid/great/tough/memorable/challenging/exciting/rewarding day. Marathon #12 (aka Yin-Yang Marathon) is in the books.  Smile at the finish line....mission accomplished!




8 comments:

  1. Fantastic job! A huge hill at mile 25 seems cruel - great job powering through the tough conditions!

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    1. Thanks Michelle! It was cruel, though at least I knew I had to save something for it. Ironically, the day before and day after were gorgeous.

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  2. Congrats on a tough race...you are right, it sounded alot like my race experience this weekend - only I was doing half the distance :)

    Those first pics when it was sunny are just beautiful. I am so excited to one day visit that part of the country.

    At least the rain stopped for race time, rain and that wind would have been almost too miserable to endure!

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    1. Thanks! I know, I always say it's easier to get caught out in the rain while already on your run. Heading out for a run (especially one of greater distance) is a whole mental thing.

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  3. Congratulations! Those conditions, especially in the second half of a marathon, sound crazy!
    Adorable video and photo finish!

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    1. Thanks Abby! Although I'd prefer the perfect weather of cool temps and sunny, sometimes the rougher conditions make the glory all that sweeter!

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  4. Obviously, I'm still emotional after having done one of these for the first time because I got a little teary reading about you encouraging the guy who really needed it in those last miles. HA!

    Fabulous job in absolutely crazy conditions. You are going to kick some serious butt at that 50 miler.

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    1. I clearly remember my first (Disney) and I got extremely emotional at the Finish! I can feel it rushing back as I even type about it. Now that you've got your first under your belt, you'll find that YOU will be the person doing teh encouraging at some point. You heard it here first :)

      Thanks for the kind words and encouragement on the 50. We're watching hurricane Sandy right now (it should hit prior to my race day) and wondering how much rain we'll get and how bad the trails will get.

      Never a dull moment with this running thang....

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