Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Napa Valley Marathon Race Report

I completed my 7th marathon on Sunday and I have to say Napa Valley Marathon was one of the most grueling and painful races to date. Wait, let me start from the beginning. I've been training for this marathon since early January when I signed up for it. I had just run CIM in December and felt really good. I PR'd by 12 minutes at CIM and I felt like I could run another marathon pretty easily. So I started training, putting in the miles and hitting all the long runs. I wasn't planning on breaking another personal record this weekend but I wanted to do well. There was a lot of things I could control, like my training plan, nutrition, degree of workout, etc. One thing I didn't have control over was the weather.

I woke up Sunday morning at 4am to the sound of rain. It was expected. The weather forecast called for rain on Sunday. All week. I saw the heavy clouds forming by Sunset. But, I really really hoped that the rain would hold off until later Sunday. Like after I was done with the marathon. I've never run further than 8 miles in the rain and it wasn't because I chose to. I got caught in the rain! I heard the sound of rain, which I normally love but that morning, it was a sound of dread. I fell asleep for another 45 minutes and woke up. I got dressed, ate my pre-race peanut butter sandwich and faced the music. Questioning my sanity the whole time. I live about an hour away from Napa and as Duane drove me and my friend to the starting line, I saw the windshield wipers moving back and forth, back and forth. The rain was coming down. During the drive, I had all sorts of thoughts. Should I not run? What if I didn't finish? All sorts of doubts.

Started decently enough... (with my friend Dennis, who PR'd by 12 minutes, btw!)
At the start line, starting 6 min after gun time! (I'm in the pink shirt!)

We parked not to far from the starting line and I had to use the Porta-Potty as usual. This was supposed to be a smaller race, with about 3000 runners. Apparently, everyone and their mother had to go because the lines were really long. To make a long story short, I started 6 minutes after the gun went off. I kissed Duane good bye, even took a photo of me at the starting line and then, off I went. Marathon #7! I wasn't really nervous or all that excited. I figured I'd just enjoy myself and see where the run took me. It was actually kind of nice to start late because I didn't have to weave through people and saved me a lot of energy. Maybe that's why I started off too fast. Maybe if I started on time, I wouldn't have rushed in the beginning? Did I mention, it was still raining?
Me around mile 3, still going strong!
Did I mention that it rained the WHOLE time???

The first couple of miles were a breeze, I passed a bunch of people and felt I even caught up to my pace group. I must have been running around 8:30 min pace. There were a few hills in the beginning, actually, hillier than I expected but I still had a lot of energy at this point. Then, around mile 3, I felt wetness all around my feet. My shoes were wet. And so were my socks. At almost mile 4, I glanced at my Nike+ Sportband to see how fast I was going. It was blank. My watch died. I totally panicked. I didn't even know how far I had gone! I saw Duane around mile 5 and I shouted to him, "My watch died! Please go find my other watch in the bottom of my gym bag." The poor guy had to run with me for a few yard to catch what I was saying. Good thing I brought my gym bag with me where I have an old Timex Ironman watch. When Duane caught up with me around mile 8, I was completely soaked, freezing and already tired. My shoes sloshed and felt really heavy. Duane passed my the Timex and when I looked at it, it was an hour off due to the Day Light Savings from last year! Ugh, why didn't I check before??

It went downhill pretty quickly from there. I was still on target for a sub 4 hour finish at around half way point. I was running a bit too fast and Duane actually missed me twice, somewhere around the half way point and also at mile 18ish. I didn't see him again until mile 23. I had expected to see him and was really sad that I didn't. I was really struggling and could have used his lovely smile. The amazing thing is that at time when I didn't see Duane, I got to see the ROHOs! The girls had told me that they were coming up to cheer for me, which was the most awesome thing ever. I had text'd them at 5am to tell them not to come due to the rain but they came anyway. All dressed in ROHO gear with the BEST signs in tow. I think I heard them from half a mile away, with their cheering and cow-bell'ing. There wasn't much crowd support for this marathon, not sure if it was the rain or not... but it was pretty lonely out there. So whenever I neared any kind of crowd, I figured the noise came from them. And it did! They were like a little ray of sunshine during a storm... literally! If you haven't seen their spectator reports, go check out Aron, Tara, Maritza and Kristin's blog. They have some awesome photos!! I love the signs!!

So, besides the little spots of ROHO sunshine, it was a tough run. So let's see, where was I? I was soaked to my socks, my Nike+ died... My Timex had the wrong time and I forgot how to set it and didn't bother to even start the timer. Oh and my left ankle started sending out sharp pains. And the best part was that I started to feel lots of irritation on the soles of my feet. Yep, blisters were forming. I did something really stupid. I bought brand new shoes a week before my marathon and I figured since they were Asics GT-2140s, shoes that I have never had issues with, I was good to go. Maybe under normal circumstances, that may have been ok even to run in a marathon. But in the rain, brand new shoes were probably not a smart choice. I felt irritation and pain in areas that I don't normally feel. Like on the balls of my feet. I am not going to share these blister photos with you because I wince every time I look at my feet. And I don't want to gross you out! I have a total of 5 blisters the size of a quarter EACH. One of which I freshly popped and drained tonight. They all hurt like a mother during the race but somehow, I was able to block them out!

Anyway, back to the run. Somehow, I managed to make it to mile 16 but at this point, I was done. I thought about quitting. But the idea of a DNF was worse than any physical pain. I knew Duane and the ROHO girls were out there waiting for me at the next landmark and I couldn't let them down! I already felt bad that they had to wait so long for me! Slowly, my sub 4 hour finish started slipping away from me. I had to walk a few times, every few miles, I walked for a few minutes. Around mile 22, I knew I couldn't stop anymore. Because it just hurt too much to start running again. My feet were screaming murder and I figured if I ran, I would finish that much faster. A few times, I had to choke back some tears, also because if I started crying, I knew I would hyperventilate. It was hard enough to breathe as it was!

Some more photos for your enjoyment... Courtesy of Duane's excellent photography... LOL! My husband might be bad at taking running photos but he's pretty fabulous!
Yeah, I was suffering and in PAIN.Why are the last 6 miles the LONGEST miles in history? In my delirious-ness, I somehow managed to knock out those last 6 miles... seeing Duane at mile 23 helped and the ROHO girls at mile 25.5. Heh. They were there at the very end. Jumping up and down, waving their arms and shaking their cow bells. I wish you guys could have seen what I saw. It really took all my energy, not to cry. I was exhausted, whipped, a bit defeated but never felt so loved!

And when I crossed that finish line and saw my finish time of 4:20:XX, I was a little surprised. I thought I would finish much later.

My official chip time is 4:15:19. Not my best but certainly not my worst. It was probably one of the most emotional and challenging race, ever. Not because the course is hard... The Nike Women's Marathon takes the cake for that one but because so many things went wrong for me. If only the weather cooperated, if only my NIke+ didn't die, if only my shoes were broken in, if only my ankle didn't hurt, if only my feet didn't blister... if only I had trained more, if only... Gosh, let me get out of my pity party. There are so many "if onlys" but it is what it is. I don't want to dwell on all the things that went wrong. There will be good races and bad races.

And this will be one of those that I'll learn from. I ran 150 miles each in January and February but I don't think those miles really prepared me for this race. As for the post-race hoopla, I didn't have the energy to do much. I congratulated other finishers and took pictures with my friends from Twitter (who, by the way all happened to all PR or run really great races IN THE RAIN) got my post-race soup. All I wanted to do was get out of my wet shoes and clothes. I was a little delirious at this point and almost forgot about my friend Dennis, who we gave a ride to! Oops. He also PR'd by 12 minutes and finished a 3:36 race. Hello, 12 minutes? Grrrrr. I was supposed to meet up with the ROHOs but I just couldn't. Emotionally and physically, I was drained. We got back home and Duane made me the most delicious cheeseburger ever. I ate two. And then passed out promptly. I needed some alone time to lick my wound and forget about the morning. I woke up feeling much better. It looked like it finally stopped raining, too. I thought about my finish time and didn't feel so bad about 4:15:19. After all, I ran my 7th marathon...

Did I mention I chaffed around my ankle, where my socks sat? Sorry for the mug shot of my foot. It ain't pretty on this side, just think what it looks like on the other side!I wish I could share my blister photos but seriously, I am embarrassed to show them to you guys!

Was it all worth it? YES, of course!!!

Oh, did I also mention I signed up for the Big Sur Marathon on April 26th?
I seriously am questioning my sanity right now! (Why am I such a glutton for punishment?)

Thank you for reading my long race report... (again!) I apologize if my grammar isn't all correct... it's almost 1am and I'm pooped but I had to write my race report! And now that I got all the whining out of the way, I'm kinda proud of myself!!

62 comments:

  1. Congrats on a great finish under miserable challenging conditions!! You did very well considering the blisters and cold (stiffens up the muscles and screws up your gait). In the future, you might try Drymax socks in wet conditions.

    Next time will be better!

    Cynthia

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your poor feet! Great job Julianne, you certainly had many battles. But, I think your time reflects just how much stronger your running has gotten. Despite all the challenges both physically and mentally you still ran nicely. Well done!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Fantastic effort. You rock for finishing despite all the things working against you, particularly the weather.

    And thank you for not posting more pictures of your feet. Eww.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You're absolutely amazing!

    Now you know you can fight through any race, and still do really well. Congratulations on not just pushing through the bad conditions, but for adding on number #7. Many more to come!

    ReplyDelete
  5. You signed up for another one! You're a machine!! You did fantastic in those weather conditions. I'm so proud of you!! I was waiting for your report after I read Aron's and saw it rained the whole time. You finished in a great time, too!! Such a trooper!

    But I do think you should show us pics of your blisters. I know, I'm a sicko.

    ReplyDelete
  6. omg! i had no idea this race was so tough for you. i'm so sorry...BUT...so proud of you for pulling through. i have one DNF (budapest) and it still sticks in my craw (whatever that is!). time to move on to big sur, girl!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Ohhhh Julianne Wow! You are one hardcore chica! Amazing job and an amazing time especially given the circumstances ;D

    ReplyDelete
  8. oh my i am cringing just thinking of being in your shoes. way to go girl, you are so strong. that chafing/blister looks terrible!! ugh! way to get it done i am glad you had so much support out there!!! but you ran all those miles yourself and i am so impressed :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Congratulations on Number 7, Julianne! I'm sorry you had such a tough race, but you did an AMAZING job especially considering all the circumstances working against you.

    Here's hoping for a speedy recovery (especially those feet - ouch!).

    And you've already signed up for number 8?!?? :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Congratulations on #7!!! That's a GOOD time -- especially given the conditions. I'm sure that the tough experience will make you a better runner overall. Those tough runs always do!

    Hope the chafing heals quickly!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Way to go Julianne. You did awesome, especially considering the terrible running conditions. I hope you're feet are feeling better!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Congrats on an awesome race. You hung really tough out there when the weather was not being so nice! Great report and nice pictures!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I know things didn't go as planned and it was not the race you wanted, but you did AWESOME Julianne! Those conditions were pretty uncomfortable just standing around...I can't imagine running 4 hours in it! You are a supah dupah rockstar and congratulations on #7!

    OMG that ankle chaffing looks painful. WTF?

    P.S. We need to go out to celebrate once you're up for it! Stop leaving town!

    ReplyDelete
  14. wow julianne what a race report! you are soooo amazing for pushing through and finishing up a very TOUGH race!! CONGRATS!! if you can do that you can do anything :) i am so glad we were out there to bring you a little sunshine! congrats again on #7 you amazing girl :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Your foot looks so painful! Too bad about raining the whole time!! Congrats on finishing another marathon! You are amazing!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hey Julianne, I just read Aron's post on your marathon and just wanted to say congrats!! .I'm actually stretching right now to go run, and it gave me some motivation - That is truly an accomplishment that you did!!! And some nice battle scars to boot ;)

    ReplyDelete
  17. You are so awesome! Way to go!

    Like I said - you are such an inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Congratulations on finishing marathon #7. And you know what? This is SO SELFISH but I'm grateful I have the image of you struggling through a tough race on a miserable day when nothing seems to go right and STILL FINISHING, and doing so in a time that would make me celebrate, even if it wasn't the day for you to post a PR. A finishing time that probably doesn't tell the true story of what a grueling race that was for you! I am mentally storing this race report in my head for when the going gets tough in my marathon because I love the mental strength it demonstrates. Go crazy girl! Hope your feet are healing.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Congrats on sticking it out and running in the rain! You even were able to get a cool battle wound for it.

    ReplyDelete
  20. holy crap! julianne, you are so tough. the conditions sound brutal; and with all of the pitfalls like your watch malfunctions and the crime scene that is now your foot...you still made a great time! you are amazing!! when my sh*t hits the fan at mile whatever, i will think about how strong you were in this race.

    ReplyDelete
  21. love the race report, sorry about the blister!!! I hope to do that race someday, but now I am not sure..lool

    ReplyDelete
  22. Congratulations Julianne!! You ran your 7th marathon AND in 4:15!! That is awesome. You really pushed through some tough conditions and should be proud of yourself. I am proud of you. :) I loved your race report- it really told the struggles and the pain that you went through and I can definitely relate. Great job finishing strong after all that! You are amazing. :)

    ReplyDelete
  23. That sounds awful! I do NOT like running in the rain for long. But you kept on pushing and never gave up! That's the great part about this story. :)

    It's so nice that your husband will go with you and traipse back and forth to cheer you on! Also that your friends will. :) You have great people surrounding you!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Congratulations!! You are so strong. Your pedicure looks good post-marathon, haha...mine would be all chipped and gross!

    ReplyDelete
  25. sorry it was such a tough race, but you did amazing! you should be extremely proud of yourself, and congrats for signing up for another!

    ReplyDelete
  26. You did it and I swear it's just the most amazing thing to me every time someone finishes. Way to go on digging deep and thank goodness for those fantastic ROHO's!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Nice job! You did great, despite all of the adversity. Congrats! Your determination provides a huge amount of inspiration

    ReplyDelete
  28. Congrats on #7 Julianne!! You did amazing and I would have been a total wreck if I had run a marathon in those conditions!!! You are a total rockstar!!!

    Poor little feet :( that chafing looks like it hurts and sorry about all the blisters..hopefully they heal up quick!!!

    Congrats again! Always love cheering for you!!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Awww, Julianne, you really do heart running! I did two half marathons in complete downpours so I can kind of relate but I did not suffer the feet damage you did. During the Chicago marathon, my iPod and cell phone died because of water because I kept running through fire hydrants to cool off. (They lived once dry)

    Anyway - you really are an inspiration and a champ! Best of luck for Big Sur and all the other amazing things you've got going on!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Great job j. I cannot believe that you ran so far in the rain. You are my hero! :) Sorry about all the hardships you had to go through to deal with everything, but it only makes you stronger. xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  31. Well done on a tough job and a nice time as well! Don't be hard on yourself - you always take something from a marathon and I'm impressed you turned around so quickly after CIM to get trained up for this. Don't beat yourself up! You're in strong shape - maybe you need to give yourself a little bit of downtime?

    ReplyDelete
  32. Congrats on a race well done, despite the conditions.

    Having my watch die or it be raining are my two worst race fears! Ive run in the rain before but it soooooo miserable. At the Portland marathon, we cheered for POM and it was raining. I'd never seen so many bloody spots. OUCH!

    Sorry about the ankle chafe, yikes. I was too embarrassed to post pics of my blisters after Arizona too. Some things are best left off the internet.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Wow...Julianne, amazing amazing job. Seriously if I didn't look away from the words a few times, I would've had a tear down my eyes. You are such a trooper, running in the rain like that with all those things going against you. I'm not sure if I would've had the guts to even get past the starting line if I knew it was going to rain the entire during a marathon. Hmmm...I'm kind of speechless right now.

    I'll remember this if it ever rains during one of my marathons. You are an amazing inspiration. Thanks for your race report! Hold your head high girl because you did something that many of us veteran marathoners have never done...you ran a complete marathon in the rain! Incredible job!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Great report and awesome race! Way to push through the rain, the pain, and all the other crap that was thrown your way. If you can push through a race like that then the 777 will be a walk in the park :)

    ReplyDelete
  35. Great job Julianne, you did awesome, and proved how tough you are with running in those conditions! Sorry about the toes and blisters, the medal looks awesome, congratulations!

    ReplyDelete
  36. I just teared up reading this!! I think we can officially say you and I are the most emotional, lol!! Great job, I had fun cheering for you and I can only imagine how NOT fun it was to run, but you did it, finished it and now have number 7 under your belt! Congratulations, very inspirational!!

    ReplyDelete
  37. I can't believe you ran in the rain! You are one tough woman. I would've went back to bed.

    ReplyDelete
  38. congratulations!! You really ran a great race! I ran a marathon in the rain once (flying pig '04) and I feel your pain. Blisters are the worst in the rain! But it will also be a memorable one for you. great job ;)

    ReplyDelete
  39. Awesome job on the race! Way to tough it out in that rain, I don't know if I could have done that. Hope those blisters heal fast!

    ReplyDelete
  40. wow - way to finish in those conditions. You did great. I have only done one race in rainy conditions and it was NOT a marathon and NOT fun! GREAT JOB!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Awesome race report & pics, Julianne! Your poor foot :-(

    I cannot believe you ran when it ran the whole time - congrats on gutting that out.

    Time to get a Garmin, honey. Really.

    ReplyDelete
  42. "...when it rained"

    Geez-o-peets.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Ok, this is eerie. Napa was my 7th marathon too and I am doing Big Sur! How cool is that?!

    Awesome job getting it done on ugly conditions. I am such a baby about blisters, you are beast for pushing through!

    I escaped with no blisters, although I am not sure how since I seemed to step in EVERY puddle on the course!

    We will have to met up at Big Sur for sure!

    ReplyDelete
  44. Those hard-fought races are the best. You EARNED that medal.

    I can't wait to hear about Big Sur. I've heard it's amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  45. Great race report, and oddly encouraging. If a runner like you can endure this...well, then I have no excuses. It helps me more than you know.

    I think we're either doing Big Sur Half or Nike Women's Full...signups are today!!!

    ReplyDelete
  46. AMAZING job - 26.2 in the rain, new shoes, a dead watch AND a great time. You are such a trooper to stick it out.

    Your poor ankle and feet.

    The medal looks nice - you sure deserve it!

    ReplyDelete
  47. So impressed. Seriously. What an amazing woman to deal with all those mishaps and still pull out a 4:15. Your one tough chick.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Sorry you had such a tough run but, really, you did VERY WELL all things considered. I know how painful it is to run a marathon in new shoes that hurt your feet, BTDT. Interestingly, I think you'll find that this race will probably mean more to you in terms of making you a stronger person than a race that goes easier for you. At least, that's what I have found to be true for me.

    Congrats on your finish and you are lucky to have such a wonderful support group!!

    ReplyDelete
  49. Dang, girl! That is one heck of a race. You sure you want to do the 7 in 7? JK :) I know you do!! I'm proud of you for finishing - that takes balls!

    ps - your running outfit is very cute.

    ReplyDelete
  50. I think it sounds like you did fantastic given the crappy weather!

    ReplyDelete
  51. I guest posted on this over at RunningonHope.blogspot.com

    Thanks for this!

    Claire from Hope Runs;)

    ReplyDelete
  52. Scary to think that in 10 months we'll be ready for the 777;)

    ReplyDelete
  53. Awesome job Julianne! I'm back from paradise and trying to catch up on everyones lives! LOL

    ReplyDelete
  54. A GREAT BIG CONGRATS TO YOU!!! You are amazing and a true athlete for toughing it out and doing a great job as well!!!

    ReplyDelete
  55. I'm a little bit late but Wowww!!! You are amazinggg! Great job sticking it out in the end! You know what they say--20 miles of hope, 6 miles of reality!!

    Keep it up, and rest up well!

    ReplyDelete
  56. You are one hardcore marathon runner! You'll be getting your Maniacs vest soon enough!

    Way to grit it out and come on with a great time to boot!

    ReplyDelete
  57. http://www.You4Dating.com , is a Profesional Dating Site Visit Site and Find Your Match at:
    http://www.You4Dating.com
    -------------------------
    http://www.You4Dating.com

    ReplyDelete
  58. congrats on finishing! your one tough chick!

    ReplyDelete
  59. Great performance, Julianne, you are tougher than I am. Not sure if I could run on blisters.... I was also hurting the last 6 miles, not as much as you, but enough that I can sympathize. As for shoes, I also had forefoot problems with Asics in my last marathon. Afterwards, I was told that Asics tend to have soft cushioning, especially in the forefoot. I was recommended to try Brooks, which I did for Napa (Brooks Ghost) and they were great. I buy them a half size bigger and put one extra flat insole inside. I suggest you go to a good shoe store and ask them about Brooks.
    PS: I won the 60-64 age group in 3:09:58. Not bad, but I really wanted to break the age group record. I may have to go back again.

    ReplyDelete
  60. A little late, but still wanted to say Congrats on finishing in such tough conditions!

    ReplyDelete
  61. I read lots of posts before and yours is the best one,I appreciate your attitude more information.
    Eeveryone love fashion clothing, Polo Ralph Lauren is very popular all over world, that is my dream to get Ralph Lauren Polo Shirts.We know Ray Ban by America soldier, all of them wear Ray Ban Sunglasses when they walk on the road, it is fashionable for you.

    ReplyDelete