The Oregon Summer Marathon route is very similar to the Vernonia Marathon that I ran back in April. The marathons have different locations for the start and finish, but about 21 of the 26.2 miles are run on the Banks-Vernonia State Trail in both races. A couple of my running friends, Terry and Joe, decided to do the Oregon Summer Marathon, so I decided to give the course another try.
I have had posterior tibial tendonitis in my left foot for the last couple of months and my ever problematic piriformis (weak heinie) issues. I did take a couple of steps (well . . . at least one step) to try to fix my problem areas. I went to the physical therapist. He gave me some strengthening exercises. He also DID NOT tell me I COULDN'T run the Oregon Summer Marathon, so I decided to tape up my foot and give it my best shot.
Logical people (my entire family) told me I should not run this race because of my aches and pains. Nyah looked at me on Friday when I told her I was still planning to run and said, "Mom, you are crazy!"
My response was, "I prefer to say that I'm dedicated!"
I actually did a couple of things that I THOUGHT were RIGHT in preparation for this race. I ate really clean for days before the run. I did not slip up and eat Thai food for my pre race meal this time. (I am still having nightmares about the repercussions of the Pad Thai during the Vernonia Marathon.) I wore a newish pair of shoes without many miles on them that I had broken in on a couple of previous short runs. I purchased all my favorite GU flavors to enjoy during the race (peanut butter chocolate and salted caramel). I also bought a "new"robe from the Salvation Army to keep me warm before the race. So, besides my nagging injuries, I felt like I was ready to go.
Terry, Joe, and I got on the first bus at 5:30 am. While on the bus, I gagged down a banana which I despise, but I ate it anyways because that's what runners are "supposed to eat" before a race. The bus took us up to Vernonia High School where we were blessed with INDOOR FLUSHING TOILETS! This is the 2nd time I have been blessed with the gift of flushing toilets before a race. There is just something special about being able to flush a toilet vs. shutting the lid on a porta potty. I did notice something curious while in the restroom line. The line for the women's restroom was VERY short compared to the men's line. That never happens! My mind was racing; either the women running this race had strong bladders OR there weren't many women running the race! I used the bathroom seven times and then decided I'd better head to the starting line. Ready or not! When I got to the starting line I looked around and realized it was a VERY small race. (I found out later there were only 29 women that ran the full marathon.) I chit chatted with a woman beside me and found out she was visiting from Utah! What a small world! I waited until the last minute, kissed my "new" Salvation Army robe goodbye, and started running.
I decided to start out a little slower this time in hopes that I'd have something left for the last six miles. There were quite a few people in front of me. I kept my eye on one girl that was about a half mile ahead on the path. My goal was just to keep her in my sights. I ran in silence, listening to my breathing. Aaron had spent 3 hours loading my iPOD with new music the night before as a special treat. Running for me is all about mental games and tricks to make it through the miles, so I told myself that I couldn't turn on my iPOD until mile 4. I saw the mile 4 marker and pushed play. I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard music playing! I really needed a boost. It was an Eminem rap song. Very motivational! Next mental trick: I forced myself to listen to that SAME Eminem song over and over again until I caught up to the girl in front of me. I pushed "repeat" many times as I ran along. Finally, at mile 7, I caught up to her and quickly pushed the fast forward button on my iPOD to a new song. Mile after mile ticked away with music playing in my ears. A couple men passed me. I took a GU. A couple more men passed me. I took another GU. Then I threw up at Mile 17. Chocolate peanut butter GU is no longer my favorite flavor. I smelled really gross. I kept on running. I could feel a huge blister forming on the bottom of my left foot. I guess my newish shoes were a little too new. Run, run, run . . .
Then there was an out and back at around Mile 20 or 21. The volunteers handed me a cold wet towel. It was a nice reprieve from the heat. However, during the last five miles, I really wanted to quit. My Aleve had worn off. My ankle was aching. My new blister was throbbing. My butt hurt. "Why am I doing this?!" kept running through my mind. Then I remembered . . .
I needed another mental game. I imagined myself doing a tempo run on the Springwater Corridor. "It's only one mile to the stoplight from Johnson Creek," I thought to myself. I ran a mile. Then, "It's only one mile to the food carts!" I ran another mile. "It's one more mile to the overpass where the nice homeless man lives who always waves at me." I ran another mile. I talked to myself, listened to music, and just slogged out the rest of the race.
When I crossed the finish line, I heard the announcer say, "Vanessa Heber . . . first female finisher." I couldn't believe it! I won?! 3:24:33 was fast enough to be female and cross the line first that day. A nice volunteer at the finish line brought me a cardboard box filled with ice cubes as a special treat for my bum foot. Best reward ever! I also treated myself to a Diet Pepsi from a local food mart and then headed home to tell my family that their crazy mom had survived another race and lost another robe.