Runners Notes
By Heather Cass Erie Times-News staff blogger
If you want to know anything about the local running scene, ask Heather Cass. A member of the Erie Runners Club for 10-plus years, she is immersed in the local fitness culture, and she's taking your questions.   Read more about this blog.
Archive for the ‘Marathoning’ category
Posted: April 17th, 2014

Worth reading:

Dr. George Sheehan wrote this essay in 1976. He was a man who was way ahead of his time: You Let a Girl Beat You?

According to this article, what you eat the week of a marathon can make or break you. Meh…I don’t know. I suppose it probably matters, but “make or break” seems pretty dramatic. My husband can run a 3:30 marathon on chicken wings and beer.

Q&A with Shalane Flanagan, a hometown Boston girl and our best chance for an American female winner on Monday.

Speaking of marathons, here are 10 mistakes to avoid on marathon day.

Runner’s World’s best new gear choices for 2014.

images

T-shirt of the Week

il_340x270.548477011_6k0v

Posted: March 4th, 2014

AR-303029953

Melody Amendola, left, Michele Chereson, center, and Kelly Gibson, right, are photographed at Chereson’s home in Millcreek Township on Feb. 15. Chereson ran a marathon to raise money for the two women who were diagnosed with breast cancer. JACK HANRAHAN//ERIE TIMES-NEWS

Erie Times-News sports writer, Mike Copper, had a great story about a Millcreek Township woman who recently ran the Walt Disney World marathon. Though she’d never run more than 6 miles, she signed up for the race to support her daughter and ended up running for two of her friends who were diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Michele Chereson estimated she’d run 6 miles — none of them competitive — throughout her entire life before the summer of 2013.

The Millcreek Township resident never even had the urge to enter a basic 5-kilometer event, let alone finish one. She registered for the Jan. 12 Walt Disney World Marathon more as a way to honor her daughter Emily Chereson’s desire to complete a 26.2-mile race.

However, in the midst of training, learning of the plight of two close friends dramatically boosted Chereson’s own desire to run. She knew Kelly Gibson was already undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer when she learned that Melody Amendola had received the same diagnosis.

“My intention was to run in support of my daughter,” Michele Chereson said. “I wasn’t that interested (in the marathon), but when I found out about Melody, I told Emily, ‘You know, if I’m going to do this, I’m doing it for them.’”

Continue reading at Goerie.com

Posted: January 24th, 2014

dombrowski4 jenny4

Two Erie runners, Mark Dombrowski and Jenny Turak, recently completed the Dopey Challenge — a 5K, 10K, 1/2 marathon and a marathon in four consecutive days — in Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

I had to find out more:

1. What made you want to do the Dopey Challenge? What appealed to you?

MARK: In 2013, I completed my 4th “Goofy Challenge,” which is a 1/2 marathon on Saturday and a full Marathon on Sunday. I remember telling my wife “that’s it for the Goofy; not much more to prove at Disney.” Soon after I heard about the Dopey and signed up almost immediately. It was a new challenge. I’ll never be an ultra-marathoner. But string almost 50 miles together in 4 days and I’m in.

JENNY: Ever since I started running it had been my dream to run the Walt Disney World Marathon. I’m in love with both running and Disney, and 2014 was the year! I had requested my time off of work and saved up my money, and was planning on running the Goofy Challenge until I found out about the Dopey Challenge. I love running races and race every chance I get, so it immediately appealed to me. Thank goodness Mark told me it was 90% sold out after 2 days. I got in just in time!

2. What special things did you get for doing the Dopey Challenge? (discount on the package, special medal, etc.)?

MARK: Six race shirts and six medals. One shirt and medal for running each of the races; a shirt and medal for running the 1/2 and full (Goofy) and a shirt and medal for running all 6 (Dopey).

3. Have you run at Disney before? If  yes, what keeps you coming back.  If no, would you go again?

MARK: This was my fifth trip to Disney World Marathon Weekend. It’s a first class event. Considering the number of runners—10,000 each for the 5K and 10K and 25,000 each for the half and full—the races are incredibly well organized. The entertainment along the course is great, typical Disney. Running through the parks is hard, but awesome. Mainstreet USA in the dark, 6:30 in the morning, and the street is lined with cheering spectators and “Cast Members” (Disney employees). For the full marathon, runners get to run through all four theme parks plus Wide World of Sports and Disney’s NASCAR track. Once again I told my wife I’ve had my fill of Disney races, but who knows!

JENNY: I ran the Disney Wine and Dine half marathon in 2011. I had the time of my life, and at the time I wasn’t as into running as I am today. It was just incredible—from the fireworks at the start, to the characters, concerts and entertainment on the streets, to running through the parks and the cheering crowds, to the medals and Disney swag available to purchase. I’m a kid at heart and love just being in Disney. There is something so magical about it. Disney really knows how to do races right, and I plan on signing up for the Wine and Dine half marathon in November 2014 as soon as registration opens.

4.How do Disney races compare (or stand out) from other marathons?

MARK: All races have unique characteristics that make them appealing. I’d say Disney races are more social and casual. In 2013, my goal to to get as many character picture as possible along the course while still getting a respectable finish time (result in the marathon was 31 photos with a 4:11 finish). While that was fun for me, many others at Disney seem to have even more fun. I have a friend who stopped for a beer and did some shopping at Epcot before finishing the marathon. At Disney, there are also a lot of “highway miles” between the parks. Disney works to make them entertaining with characters and music, but it’s a lot different that running through downtowns and neighborhoods that you’d find in the majority of races (PA Grand Canyon excluded). I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that you’ll never see as many port-a-potties as you see at Disney in the runner’s village at the start and along the course.

JENNY: At Disney they say Every Mile is Magic, and it really is. Like I said previously, there are just so many aspects that make Disney races so special. The course entertainment goes above and beyond any other marathon I’ve been to, and it’s more like a party than a race. They even have fun DJs and music to pump you up, and they make you feel like a true champion when you finish. They give you a treat box, take your picture, cheer for you when you pick up your bag, and they have character pictures after and you can get your picture with your medal. The Dopey Challenge was the best experience of all my life! I’d recommend Disney races to anyone… Even if they are not an avid runner, because it is just an incredible amazing experience and the miles fly by. Especially since you run through the parks and it keeps it so exciting! The most magical part for me was running through Magic Kingdom at the marathon. The castle looked like something out of a dream, and all the lights on mainstreet were mesmerizing. Plus cheering crowds like you wouldn’t believe! I felt like a superstar and was dressed up like Cinderella and everyone was yelling “go Cinderella” such a rush!!

jenny3 dombrowski3

5.  Which was the hardest race for you?

MARK: Usually it’s the marathon, particularly the second half. This year, it was definitely the half marathon. Orlando had a record high temperature on the day of this year’s half marathon—86 degrees.. Even though I finished around 7:30 a.m., the temperature as already 80 degrees with 80 percent humidity. It was tough. Thankfully the next day the temps for the marathon were in the low 50s and the humidity was gone.

JENNY: The hardest race for me was actually the 10k. It was soooo humid that morning and hot and my body was in shock after the negative windshields I was used to training at in Erie. The half marathon was the same way, but I was saving myself for the marathon so ran slow and got my picture with every character and just made it a fun experience.

6. Was there ever a point at which you thought….what have I done? I can’t do this!

MARK: Nope. There’s way too much going on around you to keep you occupied.

JENNY: I loved every mile and was smiling the whole time!

jenny2 dombrowski2

7. What is it like to run four progressively longer races in four days? Did you conserve energy in the first couple?

MARK: I’d say I moderated my pace for all four. With the shorter races, I tried to stick with 9 minute miles. Normally, I’d be about 30 seconds a mile faster. For the1/2 marathon, I started with 9:15 & 9:30 miles, but I knew the heat was going to take a lot our of me so I slowed down considerably. The full marathon was a crap shoot this year. I felt good for the first 18 miles and kept decent sub 10-minute pace. I slowed down the last 6 to 8 miles because I needed to walk away without injury since my next marathon is Boston.

JENNY: I knew I would complete the challenge no matter what, but I conserved on the half marathon because the marathon is such a long way to run and I was exhausted already after the 10k with the early morning wake up calls (3a.m.!) and the humidity. I’m the worst heat and humidity runner! I think I ran the 5k too hard also, and my legs were sore. It’s hard to know how to pace yourself for so many miles. Luckily the marathon was perfect ideal weather and it was the best I felt of all four races! I was on such a high and it was the best experience of all my life, and I even got my picture with all the characters.

8. If you don’t mind, would you provide times for each of your races?

MARK: 27:13 in the 5K; 55:38 in the 10K; 2:07 in the half marathon; 4:24 in the full marathon

JENNY: I did Disney solely for fun. I dressed up as a different princess every day and felt like I was back in my childhood. I started off trying to run the 5k for time, but it was so crowded and got stuck behind walkers from start so decided just to get pictures with characters and have fun with it. Lines for pictures at half marathon were insane! I was in corral F so people were running way slower than my half marathon pace… I usually run around a 1:45 half and they were running 9:45 pace. Again, got frustrated from start, so I decided to conserve energy and waited 5-10 min for each picture. The pathways were so skinny so it got pretty frustrating after stopping and getting stuck behind walkers. I learned a lot for next year, and will definitely do some things different because I’m pretty competitive and was not happy with my times. But anyways here are my times: 24:45 in the 5K; 56:23 in the 10K;  3:04.30 in the half; 4:17.37 in the full marathon.

jenny1 dombrowski1

9.Parting thoughts?

MARK: Anyone planning to run a Disney race should consider it a chance to have some fun. Stop and take pictures with characters. Enjoy the parks. The second time I did the Goofy Challenge, I had a sub two-hour half and a sub four-hour full marathon. So, with the rest of them, I had little to prove. I still wanted to have respectable finish times but I also wanted to have a “magical” experience. Disney does it right.

JENNY: Disney is really such a wonderful experience! For how many runners are  involved, it is really well organized and it is so convenient staying at a Disney resort because they have buses to take you to start and back to the resort after you finish. I had the time of my life and am already planning on for sure running the Dopey again next year, and, like I said earlier, the Wine and Dine in November. I can’t get enough of Disney . Lived up the whole experience and went to 3 parks while I was there as well and just had such a blast! They also have the best running expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports — walking in there felt like Christmas morning. I didn’t want to come home and can’t wait to go back again!

Posted: October 16th, 2013

The best thing about a marathon? The spectators… especially the spectators with signs. I always see creative new ones — the funniest ones in Baltimore this weekend were those poking fun at the government shutdown. Here’s a selection of signs I managed to catch while on the run.

 

DSCF0272

DSCF0282

DSCF0283

DSCF0290

 

Under Armour is  headquartered in Baltimore and we ran right past/through the Under Armour campus.

 

 

DSCF0295

The first sign says: “Keep going! Don’t Stop…You’re almost there.”  The second sign read: “That’s what she said!”

DSCF0299

“Pain now, Beer later”

DSCF0301 DSCF0306

“Your perspiration is our inspiration!”  (These were the friends of one of the women I was running with.) DSCF0308

C”Chuck Norris never ran a marathon”

DSCF0309

You have no idea how tempting this sign was!

DSCF0311

It truly was. Perfect marathon conditions. DSCF0313

DSCF0315

DSCF0317

DSCF0319

Smart way to give high-fives without actually touching a bunch of sticky, sweaty hands!

DSCF0321

Beautiful things are everywhere…if you look for them.

DSCF0325

This lady was at mile 18 and….indeed…I felt like crap.

DSCF0327

“”Don’t stop…people are watching” and “Look alive. Morgue ahead.” LOL.

DSCF0328

I still have no idea what this means.

DSCF0329

Psshhhh…I can’t remember the last time I had all 10 toenails.

DSCF0331

“I’ll run with you, if you know CPR,” “More Cowbell?” and…the simple “Runners Rule!”  (So do race supporters!)

DSCF0337

“Keep running, you’re working harder than Congress” (Though, it’s not all that hard to outwork that crew, right?)

DSCF0338

“We’re strangers, but I am SO proud of you!” (Awwww….)

DSCF0256

The most awesome sign in the Baltimore marathon — Camden Yards (finish line is .21 miles from here).

 

DSCF0342

THE most awesome sign in ANY marathon!

 

 

Posted: September 23rd, 2013

547283_10201882328317228_2085102498_n

So I’m doing another freakin’ marathon. In three weeks. I know. I’m as surprised as you are.

Though, not really. I have always been easily influenced by my friends. Ask my mother, she’ll tell you. Fortunately, I grew up and found healthy friends (or I’d probably be incarcerated by now).

This spontaneous marathon story starts back at the Beast on the Bay where my friend, Leann, decided if she could run for four hours on sand, then she could totally do a marathon.

Running friends Cyndie & Robin told her, “You’re in luck, Leann, we’re doing one in three weeks in Baltimore with Jessie. You should come with us.”

A few days later, Leann and I are volunteering at marathon packet pickup. She asks about my Quad race. I ask what she did that morning.

“You really want to know?” she asks with a laugh.

“Uh…well, now I’m not sure,” I say. “Why? What did you do, like an Ironman or something?”

“I did 20 with Robin and Cyndie,” she says.

“Oh. My God. You’re doing Baltimore?” I ask. “Who decides to do a marathon on whim? You’re nuts, woman. But, I mean, you can totally do it.”  I throw that last part in because I don’t want to discourage her.  There are people who actually do love marathons.

“You should come with us,” she says.

“No way,” I say. “I’m done with marathons! I’m on the 7-year marathon plan, remember? I’m good until like 2018.”

**************

But, Leann, like most distance runners, is nothing if not persistent. And she’s persuasive.

8:12 a.m. on Sept. 19, I get this email from her:

“Is there any amount of peer pressure and begging that will make you make a trip to Baltimore?!?!?!

* you would be there for my first 5k (her times) — half — and full.

* you would be there for Jessie’s first full

* you could add to Robin and Cyndie’s stories along the way

* leisurely pace

* fun in Baltimore….”

Fun? I hate to miss out on any fun. A weekend in Baltimore with girlfriends sure sounds like fun…even if I have to run 26 miles. YOLO, right? I can do anything for four or five hours, right?

8:34 a.m. I write back, “Ohh…I am so tempted. Tell me more: When are you going…where are you staying…when are you coming home…how much is the race now…is registration still open?”

Well, that did it. Over the course of the day, the other three piled on, filling my e-mail box until I write back: “I hate you. I hate you. I hate you. (I’ll talk to Dan tonight).”

*************

1:30 p.m.  I text Dan: “I think I want to do Baltimore.”

“I knew you would,” he says.

***********

14 hours and $120 later, this message appears in my e-mail box:

Thanks for registering for the 2013 Baltimore Running Festival! 

***********

I think I need this shirt:

runner

Or, I need some lazier friends — the kind who like to go to movies and buffets.

Posted in: Marathoning
Posted: September 19th, 2013

Worth Reading

* Training for a marathon? Here’s how to avoid injury.

* Treadmill, Elliptical Trainer, or StairMaster: Which gym machine is best for weight loss? The answer may surprise you (and it’s DEAD on, in my personal experience.)

* Looking to hit the hills? Check out some of these routes (and upcoming races) at Penn State Behrend (yeah, I wrote this, but it’s OK to put myself on the “worth reading” list, right? Right? ;-) )

Funny Stuff

* 20 great triathlon spectator signs. (I swear to God, I would stop dead at sign No. 2 and make him drop trou…er, sign.)

* 6 ways to pass the time while waiting for Boston confirmation.

T-Shirt of the Week

tr112

Available here in a variety of styles and colors.

 

Posted: September 13th, 2013
In honor of this weekend’s Erie Marathon at Presque Isle, a little historical lesson about the marathon from The Writers Almanac with Garrison Keillor
The Battle of Marathon, one of history’s earliest recorded battles, took place on Sept. 12 in the year 490 B.C.E.
Greek historian Herodotus tells us that King Darius I of Persia was determined to crush Athens and Eretria, because the Greek city-states had supported the Ionian Revolt and burned the Persian city of Sardis to the ground. Darius wanted revenge, and he spent four years planning his strategy. He sent an armada to pummel the cities in August. Eretria was captured first, and then Persian forces moved on toward Athens. The two armies spent several days in a stalemate, facing each other across the Plain of Marathon, neither one really willing to start the battle.
This was fine with the Athenians, who were greatly outnumbered by the Persians, and they were hoping for reinforcements from Sparta to arrive. Eventually, a large share of the Persian cavalry departed, possibly on board a ship bound for Athens. The Athenian generals took advantage of the cavalry’s absence and surrounded the Persian camp. Herodotus wrote: “The Persians … when they saw the Greeks coming on at speed, made ready to receive them, although it seemed to them that the Athenians were bereft of their senses, and bent upon their own destruction; for they saw a mere handful of men coming on at a run without either horsemen or archers. Such was the opinion of the barbarians; but the Athenians in close array fell upon them, and fought in a manner worthy of being recorded.”
The battle was a rout, and the Persians retreated to Asia, losing 6,400 soldiers to Athens’ 192. Darius’ son Xerxes I eventually took up the cause, attempting to invade Greece again 10 years later. But now the Greeks knew that the Persians could be beaten, and their confidence grew. They successfully held off the Persians’ subsequent invasion attempts, and the Battle of Marathon is regarded as the kicking-off point for the rise of Classical Greece and the birth of Western civilization.
Of course, the battle also gave its name to the long distance race of the same name. The legend holds that a Greek messenger named Pheidippides ran the 25 miles from Marathon to Athens to bring news of the rout, collapsing and dying after he delivered the news. What most likely happened was that he ran from Athens to Sparta before the battle — a distance of 140 miles — to ask for the Spartans’ help. But when Plutarch wrote the story in the 1st century A.D., he confused the story of Pheidippides with that of the Athenian army quick-marching back to Athens after the battle to protect the city from the remaining Persian forces. Organizers of the first modern Olympic Games, held in Athens in 1896, came up with the idea of a commemorative race to honor their ancient Greek forbears. So the competitors retraced the legendary steps of Pheidippides, running the 25 miles from Marathon to Athens.
Good luck to all the runners going the distance this weekend.
I’ll see you at registration on Saturday, parking Sunday morning and then road marshaling — my own little volunteer marathon this weekend (and there are many doing much more than me…so be kind to the volunteers, please!).
Posted: July 30th, 2013

“This isn’t bad at all,” Heather D. says from the front seat of her gray Kia. From the backseat, Dan and I agree. Heather’s boyfriend, Brian, is driving. He doesn’t say anything.

“I’m not crazy about the rocky road,” I said. “Remember that training run at Carol’s when I could barely lift my feet over those stones? This could get ugly at the 24th mile.”

“Yeah, but it was really hot that day, remember? And those stones were a lot bigger than this,” Heather says.

“True,” I say.

After the first several miles, I’m bored with the scenery. I turn on the Kindle in my lap and try to read on the sly. I don’t want to appear uninterested, but the marathon course is as boring as running around Presque Isle. Worse even. There is no bay or beach or people. Just trees and a narrow, hard packed dirt road that winds on forever.  We go up and down, but it’s hardly perceptible in the car.

***************

I don’t have much trouble sleeping. I never do. But it seems a shallow sleep that night. As though I’m always on the edge of waking.  On alert. The slightest noise wakes me. Like the scratching of the nails of whatever creature is in the attic of this old cabin in the pines. It’s skittering around up there. It freaked me out the night before. I thought it was in our room. I was ready to sleep in the car until Dan convinced me the critter was definitely was in the ceiling.

I turn over, feeling a twinge in my left calf/knee. I massage it for a few seconds, trying to figure out where the dull pain is coming from, and I say another silent prayer:

Just don’t let me hurt myself here. Don’t let some tendon rupture or anything “pop.” Not here. Not in these the backwoods of Pennsylvania on that desolate course. Not when I’m almost done with this.

****************

I hear Heather get up to shower at 3:45 a.m. She knocks on our door a half hour later.

“Just want to make sure you guys are up. It’s after 4,” she says quietly.

“Shit! Dan, I thought you set the alarm for 4,” I say. “We are supposed to leave in 15 minutes.”

We scramble to get ready and toast a couple bagels.

In the car, on our way to the high school to catch the shuttle bus,  I say, “Sorry, Heather, this isn’t like us to be so last minute.”

Dan laughs.

“OK. Actually it is,” I confess. “We rush to every race start line. This is totally us.”

******************

The shuttle bus fills with marathoners quickly and we leave for the start line. It’s a good 15 minutes before we reach the dirt road. The bus (unlike Heather’s Kia) accelerates loudly several times to get up the twisty road, and it’s the first time I realize the course may be more hilly than we thought.

As we bounce along, I look at the forest that the road cuts through. The sides of the road are a steep incline. Guardrails are non existent.  One swerve and we’re all dead. I envision us rolling down the side of the mountain. A jumble of tumbling marathoners, thrown together like clothes in a dryer.  I wonder if I’d end up on top. Would being lighter help? I worry about where we’ll go if we pass another bus. The road doesn’t seem wide enough for two. But, apparently, it is.

The bus deposits us next to a row of eight portable toilets. We don’t see many runners, a picnic pavilion, a start line or any race officials. Clearly, this is not exactly the start of the race.

Heather cocks and ear and says, “I hear music up that way.”

We walk until we find the D.J. and the start line and all the other runners.

It starts sprinkling.

*******************

Forty minutes later, with five minutes until start time, it’s flat out raining.

“This sucks,” Dan says.

“Yeah, but nothing we can do about it,” I say. “Good luck.”

Heather, Mark and I start together. I’m glad I wore a hat. It’s not a pouring rain, but it’s steady and soaking.

We start a little too fast, but everyone does. We’ll settle down after the first mile.  I’m feeling good. Confident. I can do this.

Until we get to mile 3 and I realize the Kia’s quiet motor fooled me.

The course is full of grinders. The worst kind of hill. The kind that go on & on, increasing gradually forever. The kind you don’t realize you’re running until you can’t breathe. Vampire hills, stealing all your energy and confidence.

I can’t do this, I think, as I try to keep up my side of the conversation with Mark and Heather. 

In my head I am only thinking of myself.

I should turn around right now. I could fake an injury. I can’t do this. Oh, my God, how am I going to do this for 26 miles?

Some people start walking already. Heather is having none of that. Not this early in the race.

“We have to save our walking for the end,” she had warned me several times in the weeks leading up to the race. “We should hold off walking for as long as possible.”

So we trudge along, the pace dragging. But, we don’t stop running.

Relentless forward progression. My mantra for this race.

The course levels out after 3/4 of a mile or so.

We resume our conversation and 9:30 pace.

***********************

The hill that I know will break me is at the 14th mile. It’s the second of two turn-arounds at the midway point where we had to run a couple of dog legs that were clearly necessary to get the mileage.

As we run down and down and down to the 2nd turn-around, I say, “You guys, we’ve been running downhill for like a mile now. This is going to suck when we turn around.”

At the top, we stop to get our picture taken at the vista. You can actually see now that it’s stopped raining, but it’s still foggy, overcast and drab. We grab water, Oreos, and a banana.

me at top

I totally have a mouthful of Oreo cookie here. The good thing about eating Oreos in a marathon? It stays with you for awhile because you’re sucking it out of your teeth for at least a 1/2 mile.

We run three-quarters of the hill before I start to walk.  Heather and Mark walk, too. I know Heather doesn’t want to, but she’s committed to staying with me.

“You have to question expending this kind of energy at the 14th mile, Heather,” I gasp. “I mean, I can run this, but I don’t think it’s smart right now. We have a lot of hills to get up at the end.”

***********************

At mile 18, my quads are aching, my energy is fading fast, and I am freaking done with this shit. The only thing keeping me running at this point is Mark, who is distracting me with conversation. Also I’m fully aware that there is, literally, no way back but by foot.

We round another bend and see nothing but trees and dirt muddy road.

“Where the hell is the water stop?” I say, clutching my Gu, like the lifeline it is. “We’ve been running forever. There has to be one up here soon, right?” I whine.

I’m losing it.

Isn’t this where I lost it in Cleveland last time?  F@#$!  F@#$ the 18th mile!

me angry

Mark took this. I’m not sure if it’s the 18th mile, but I’m sure this is what I looked like at that point — angry, sweaty,veins popping.

Then, the water stop. Like an oasis. I eat my Gu. I take water and Gatorade. I insist on walking to drink them, dragging my feet like an insolent child while Heather jogs in place, waiting for me.

OK, OK…let’s go. Relentless forward progression. F@#$ this. I want this over. Now.

The next few miles I run from water stop to water stop. I can’t think beyond that. I can’t think about 8 more miles. Or 6 more miles. Or 4 more miles. I can only focus on getting to the next water stop. That I can do.

Relentless forward progression.

************************

At 24 miles, I get my second (third, fourth, fifth?) wind. We got this. You couldn’t stop me if you tried.

“No stopping us now,” I yell out, jubilantly for all the runners around us to hear. “We got this!”

At 25.5 miles we’re coming up on another grinder. A soul-crushing, enthusiasm-sucking, bastard of a hill.

“This is just mean,” I say to Mark.

We get about 1/2 way up before Mark and I start walking. Heather’s having none of that. Not this close.

“C’mon, we’re almost there,” she says “This is it. I see the 26 mile marker. It’s right up here. C’mon!” she barks.

Normally this might piss me off, but she’s right. Don’t leave anything on the field, right?

Relentless forward progression.

“Pain is temporary,” I say to Mark as I start running again.  I power up to the top of the hill where I, too, can see the 26 mile marker. I hesitate, looking back. Heather wants to keep going. I feel I should wait for Mark. He’s run this whole race with us. We should finish together.

He sees me hesitating. Waiting.

“GO! Go! Go!” he yells at me with a sweeping arm wave.

So we go.  We pass the 26 mile marker and come across a finisher, a young dark-haired woman with a medal around her neck, who says, “You got it! Looking good. Finish line is just over the hill.”

“Did you just say hill? Heather, did she just say hill? OH. MY. GOD. Is there another f$%^#ing hill?”

The look of horror on my face and the rising panic in my voice must’ve startled the poor finisher who was just trying to be encouraging. She backpedals. “NO, no…no…not really. I just meant around the bend, see? You can do this! You got it!”

I think: Finish strong. Finish strong. Finish strong.

I can hear the spectators. I pick up the pace. I force my tired legs and body into proper form and run on pure adrenaline.

And then we’re there. Crossing the mat under the clock at 4:32 something.  And it’s over. And I can finally stop running.

Heather waits for me at the end of the finisher’s chute with a hand up for a high five. “Good job! You did it.”

I feel like crying, but it only lasts a moment and the emotional wave retreats. I’ve never been an overly emotional person. It’s just not my nature.  We wait for Mark. Cheer him in. Embrace in  big sweaty hug. Exchange a bunch of “thank yous” and “good jobs” and “glad that’s overs.”

Mark doesn’t hang around. He has to get back to his hotel to shower before checkout. He’s gone before we wipe the sweat off our faces and the mud off our calves.  Before we start laughing again. Taking pictures. Swapping race stories with other Erie-area runners. Reliving the experience.

After about a half hour, Heather & Brian and Dan & I walk slowly back to the shuttle bus stop.

I feel weak and tired, but stronger than ever.

*****************

After every previous marathon I’ve done, I’ve said “never again.” I know better than to say that now because it’s possible. Anything is possible. But, I’d never do another marathon for me. It would have to be something I did for a good friend.

Anything is bearable with a few running friends by your side.

finishing2

finish strong

finish

me and heather me and dan

group

DSC_1116

999563_10201477944647889_797330068_n

____________________________
About Just Write
“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”

Posted: July 26th, 2013

Because I need it this week.

No stopping me now.

motivation

Posted: July 24th, 2013

The Erie Marathon at Presque Isle State Park has a new website. And, I hear that they will soon have a blog up and running (pun totally intended).

They’ve also got a Facebook page where I found this — the artwork for this year’s t-shirts:

artwork

By Erie artist Brian Payne.

Also, don’t miss out on the Erie Marathon carbo-loading pasta dinner on Saturday, September 14, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Rotary Pavilion at Presque Isle State Park (between beaches 6 & 8).  Here are the details:

Dinner includes two types of pasta with marinara sauce, meat sauce or garlic & oil, salad, bread, beverage and dessert. Prepared by Runner’s World recipe award-winner Linda Huegel and her crew.

Tickets will be limited to the first 700 and can be ordered at time of registration or purchased at packet pickup. Tickets for the pasta dinner are $10 each.

Switch to our mobile site