Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Yakima River Canyon Marathon

Okay, I finally get to write about my marathon. I was a little worried because I hadn’t been getting enough sleep the last few days. I came home from school on Friday morning and took a nap. I slept for about three hours. I’m glad I did too. Friday night I finally got to sleep about midnight. We got up at five on Saturday morning and left at 5:30. The kids were quickly back asleep. The drive was uneventful. We arrived at the starting line in Ellensburg right at the perfect time. I had about 45-50 minutes to get my packet and warm up a little bit. I needed warming up because it was less than 30 degrees. Amanda thought that I was crazy for not starting out with long sleeves on or even gloves. I think the gloves would have been very helpful for the first mile or two, but after that I would have thrown them to the side of the road. By the end of the race it was in the mid 50’s, perfect running weather, not a cloud in the sky.

The race started right at eight o’clock. There was a countdown and then a big truck blasted its horn for the starting “gun.” That was a little different but cool. The national anthem that was sung before the start was not so cool, the lady didn’t do a great job and it was rather quiet. I was glad for the race to finally start. It had been a long time coming. I started about mid pack, which was probably a good thing. Even being mid pack, I still ran an eight minute first mile. That was perfect, not too fast, and not too slow. Amanda was waiting to take pictures with the kids about two to three hundred yards from the starting line. She snapped a few photos and Ella tried to take a video of me (which didn’t work, I guess she turned it off right after Amanda turned it on). That was it. I didn’t see them again until the finish line.

I had decided to run with my iPod since I have done a lot of my running with it. I figured I might get a little bored without it. I was pleased with my pace for the whole thing. During the first few miles I stayed behind a few guys who seemed to be going about the right pace. I felt like I could easily pass them, but I also felt like I really didn’t want to go out too fast and totally burn out for the last few miles. I resisted the urge to pass them, at least for a few miles.

It was really a pretty run. I really love the natural beauty of the great northwest and how green it is, but these desert hills were very pretty. There were several times when I turned off my music just to enjoy the natural beauty of the place. The road we ran on was closed except for support staff and emergency vehicles. There were no cross roads to the course either. It was in a very serene canyon that paralleled the main freeway.

The volunteers were very helpful and courteous. Overall I was very impressed with this marathon. Along the course at one point I saw a bald eagle soaring overhead. It was a good thing there was no traffic because I probably would have been hit by a car. I was jogging out into the middle of the road because my head was turned upward.

I kept track of every mile. They had markers at every mile and I got my split at every one. I stopped really briefly at about mile four or five, then again at mile nine or ten. Other than that I ran the whole way. I felt fantastic. There was one point about mile fifteen where there was a pretty big hill. This hill climbed up the side of a curving cliff so that the top of the hill was visible from almost a mile away. At the top, there was someone with a couple of really big speakers blasting upbeat music that made me want to run fast. I could hear it from almost a mile away. I thought that was pretty cool. It helped me out. I passed four or five people going up that hill. I didn’t feel like I was pushing hard, but I wasn’t about to walk up that little hill.

There was another hill at mile 22. This one was a bit larger. There were more people cheering us up it. Instead of the one set of big speakers at the top, there were three or four smaller boomboxes that you could only hear from a few hundred yards away. Just before I got to that hill, I realized that I only had about five miles to go and I was still feeling fantastic. I decided to pick up the pace. At mile marker 22 I called Amanda and told her where I was and that I was feeling great. I also told her that I would probably be there in about thirty minutes. Mile 22 was 8:10. Mile 23 was 8:50 that included a big hill and about 15 seconds for me to call Amanda while I was walking. Mile 24 was 7:18. I looked at my watch and thought to myself “holy cow!” I was still feeling great and I only had 2.2 miles to go. Mile 25 was 7:25. I slowed down a little bit, but that was still a great time considering it was mile 25. Mile 26 I was determined to drain my energy. I really hit it hard. This whole section was a nice gradual down hill into the finish area. I did mile 26 in 6:40. I felt great still. Was it true? I really ran my last mile of the marathon in less than seven minutes. My last mile was by far my fastest of the whole race. For the last .2 miles my time was 1:41. That comes out to be a 7:12 per mile pace for my last 3.2 miles. My overall pace for the race was 8:17. My slowest mile was almost ten minutes which included a quick bathroom stop. I think I probably passed ten or more people in the last mile or two. There was one point where I got a little emotional and a sense of overwhelming accomplishment came over me, but then I realized that I still had a mile or two to go. I got back into the game and finished strong.

Coming down that last hill during that last mile, Mount Adams off in the distance several hundred miles away, came into view. I thought that was totally awesome and thought to myself “what a way to end a great run.” It was really good.

When I got close to the finish line, I could hear Amanda cheering for me. That made me run even faster. I really appreciate my family for supporting me, even if I did make them get up at five am and drive a couple of hours. I was so grateful to have Amanda and the kids there to support me. I was so tired I didn’t notice if Ella and Alex were yelling for me. I’m sure they were.

I think I will run another marathon in a couple of months and keep running like I have been doing. I’ll probably even start doing more speed workouts and do more regular long runs. I was thinking that I would also start riding my bike. I might be able to get my dad’s old bike to ride on the paved bike paths around here. It will be some great cross training. Anyway, I guess this is long enough.

One more thing, on our way back from the marathon we ran into some traffic. Even though it was sunny and warm, they closed the mountain pass. They were doing avalanche control and so we ended up coming to a dead standstill on the freeway for about 45 minutes. We eventually hopped out of the car and let the kids play in the snow on the side of the road. They had fun doing that and were upset when we had to leave. We saw cars moving and so we quickly grabbed the kids and shoved them in the car, normally we can give more warning, but hey, we were on the freeway. What fun.

All in all, I’d say it was a really good day. I was really tired though. And even though it is two days later, I’m still tired and quite sore. My quads are the worst. I am fine except for going down stairs. I should probably have gone for a little run today. Oh well.

There, I’m really done now. Enjoy.

Okay, I'll share a few photos. This first one is right at the beginning. I was actually a bit cold.

Here I am coming into the finish line.

You can see by this photo that my "official" time was 3:37:10.

After the finish. I feel great

These last two is to prove to you about the traffic over the mountain pass.

Well, I guess that doesn't really prove anything. They could just be really close together. This is really how we were though for about 45 minutes. and here are the kids playing in the snow.

and that is really it.


Andrea said...

Congrats!! Great time, and I am glad you felt good after the race. I remember the last race being not so fun afterwords!! That traffic!! YIKES!! At least the kids had fun in the snow!!

David Kleparek said...

Anton awesome show, great job! I like hearing about your uncanny adventures. More more more!