Nike Women’s Marathon Race Report

Let’s get the details out of the way.  Right now.

5:58:16, a 13:40 pace

121/212, 57%

I’ve started to write this report a dozen times.  I’m not sure that I can capture exactly what this race has been for me. 

PRE-RACE:  It all starts Friday, when my Mom and sister come up to be my cheer squad, and to take my sons to San Francisco for the race.  We are up late…my sister helping me pack and re-pack.  Getting everything laid out, then put back in. 

Saturday morning comes bright and early.  I wake with a stomach ache.  *that kind*…I get up at 4am, go back to sleep, get up…all marathoners must know this drill.  Sleep, wake, look at clock.

At 6am, I am finally packed, have my bowl of oatmeal and am driving to San Francisco, about 80 minutes away.  It’s dark.  I had planned on taking the BART, but switched at the last minute, and am so happy that I did.  Can’t even imagine dragging luggage today.

I check into my hotel, and decide to walk over to the Expotique.   img_1850

I decide that Nike is a machine, it’s all a racket, am very cynical.  I get some oxygen…I look like I’m sick here, but whatever. img_1844

I even stand in line for an hour to get a free manicure.  I look up.  The poster that would inspire me the rest of the weekend.  Two girls.  Happy finishers.

And…the Mother Ship.  NikeTown.


I’m sitting doing the manicure, and get a tweet from @anotorias, aka Jennifer, who is…in the building.  We have chatted on Twitter, but we go to Macy’s to get a coffee, and spend a lot of time talking about nothing at all…racing, running, folks.


My children ride spin bikes to make a smoothie. (what?)


Just as soon as I’ve decided that it’s all a big racket, I see a crowd in front of NikeTown.  I think they are all in line to go in the store.  People are taking pictures.  We stroll over there, and see that it’s a wall.  A wall of names of people who raised money for TNT.  Suddenly, I realize I’m on that wall.


And, I almost cry.

This is where it gets really boring…everyone does this…lay out their gear, the food, the stuff that goes in the fuel belt…and oddly, I’m not nervous.  We go to the TNT Inspiration Dinner, which is a whole other post.  I will cry.  I will.  We go to meet the team, and CharlieBob gives us our last instructions.  He’s dead serious.  One of the girls is slightly tipsy, and he seems irritated, because he has said…no alcohol!  We are told to be in the lobby at 6am sharp.


RACE DAY:  I wake up at 2am.  At 3:30, I’m still awake.  I put on my relaxation music.  It just wakes me up more.  I figure, what the heck.  Might as well get up.  Next thing I know I wake in a sweat, and it’s 4:45am.  I take a shower.  3 Alarms go off…and, it’s on.


I meet CharlieBob downstairs.


This is, literally, minutes before I am lost in the crowd.  I don’t know where anyone is.  I don’t know where I’m supposed to go.  I have my 12-14:09 orange bracelet, so I know I have to find orange.  I can’t find my Mom, my sister, my kids.  SpeedySasquatch, who at the 11th hour came in to coach me on my final moments last week, suggested I line up at the back of the corral.  Great advice, but I can’t find the corral.  Don’t even know what it looks like.  Is it wood? Iron?

I turn and see my kids.  The loudspeaker says something about the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society…and that Myeloma…and that’s all I hear.  My mother looks at me, and says, “Did you hear that?”  We weren’t sure if Myeloma was a blood cancer, supported by the LLS.  My grandfather died of this in 1970.  The only grandfather I will ever know, and I loved him so much.  My sister got out her sharpie, and along with the other names on my arm, wrote, “Grandpa Eddy”.  I will cry again, but instead, I will play this in remembrance of him.  It’s a long story.  Another post.  (I’m the Silver Girl, in case you’re wondering)

I look to the left.  There’s the corral.  I have to hop in.  I’m in the very front.  I tell ya.  It was the thrill of the day for me.  The 5:30 pacer was right behind me.  I didn’t even really know what a pacer did…exactly.  I held signs, I snapped pictures.  I watched as everyone started.  Finally, 20 minutes later…we went.

RUNNING:  It’s hard to describe that first mile.  Overwhelmed.  Crowded.  Joyous.  The pacer?  I think to myself when she takes her first walk break…”No way.  I am not walking in MILE ONE!”

At Mile Two, I joined her, and was with her until Mile Twelve. {*note:  At mile 6, I knew I would finish.  Jennifer ran up and with me around mile 9 or 10. (HOW COOL!)  Then, the Half Marathoners split off to the side.*}

Let’s just say, my good senses overtook my pride, and I decided that if anyone could get me through this, the pacer could…and she took me to mile 12, until I had a very bad stomach ache…again.  I had to use the porta-potty.  So she stopped.  Then, while I’m deciding what to do she yells, “5:30 pacer is leaving the bathrooms!”  This just made me get OUT OF THERE.

And, I never saw her again.  Just that little red sign going farther and farther away from me.

At Mile 13.1, we turn around in Golden Gate Park.  I see other runners coming back, and I think…okay.  This is hard now.  The hills.  I was prepared for the hills.  I was not prepared to be alone, after running with *Deb*.  She had a whole other group now, and I was lost.

I turn the corner, and out of the blue I hear, “Hey, Linda…can I run with you?”  Her name is Michelle.  She is from Houston.  She is all supportive.  SURE!  I needed a partner right about then, and she was struggling…so I said, let’s do what the pacer does:  Run 5 minutes, Walk 1.  We did this the rest of the race…or a version of it. 

We had rules:  She said, I don’t run up hills.  I said, I walk if I want to.  Jockeying for position I guess.  I had to go to the bathroom.  In the woods.  She says, “Go ahead, I’ll cover ya.”  With this, she saved my life.  Seriously.  I would yell, “HOUSTON WE HAVE A PROBLEM”, which became our signal of distress.

At Mile 16, the Half Marathoners come in and Michelle says, whatever you do, don’t look right.  There is my sister and my sons, and my youngest yelling…”It’s right here, you can stop RIGHT HERE!”  To the right is the finish.  We are at Mile 16, and have to go to the left.

I see my Mother, and want to cry…but I have no pain.

Here’s where it gets sketchy.  We go out 3 miles.  We go up to Lake Merced (who puts a lake by an ocean?).  From mile 19-22, I am at the *Bite Me* miles.  I know I will keep running, but I am having a hard time.  My legs feel like lead.  My stomach hurts, I’m cramping…I stop at Mile 22 and get Tylenol from the First Aid…which is exactly what I needed.

The best part of the day:  Coming down from the lake, and running the last three miles.  At this point, I had no music.  I listened to the sound of feet, and the ocean.  Beautiful.  Zen.

Several times, people from TNT come out and run with me.  Michelle waits, but then I tell her she needs to go.  I need her to go.  She has done a great service to me, and I want her to finish strong.  I don’t even care how I do…but I look at my watch, and if I keep running, I can make 26.2 miles in under 6 hours.

I hear my sister yelling.  My kids are running up with me on the sides.  Taking pictures.  I see my Mother.  Again.  I know she is proud of me.

I am so close.  I start to sprint.  I call up Granny in heaven, who doesn’t even need to give me that push again…but she does…and I thank her (again, another post).  I am vaguely aware that Michelle has turned around to look at me and cheer me in.

I sprint.  I remember the times in Jr. High when I ran with my dad.  The times on the track team when I’m last, and my family is in the stands waiting for me.  I remember my Dad yelling to sprint on our street.  And, I am sprinting. 

I look up at the clock.  I make it under 6 hours.  I get a blue box from a man in a tuxedo, which seriously was fabulous, but I couldn’t see a thing.  I take the box, and I cannot move.  People are hugging.  I don’t even know what to do.

Michelle comes up to me.  I hug her and say “Thanks Michelle!”  She says, “that’s not my name…I have a really hard name, so it’s easier to say Michelle.”  This makes me laugh, and then I cry like a baby.  A total stranger.  Who ran with me over half of the race.  Who pulled me when I wanted to stop. 

Her name is Najat. 

I cry.  I’ve done it…but not alone. 

More to come later…when I can process what this means to me…but I think I’ve found my race.  It’s the Marathon.  It is.



Thank you for all the wonderful comments on my last blog post.  Part of me is thankful to have it out there, and part of me is fearful that it’s out there…You never know who will read your stuff.


Yesterday, the TNT team did a 20 mile run.  Because I had not laced up on any long run, CharlieBob told me I could only run 15.5.  I listened.  I did.

Got up at 4:30.  Met Rick, a mentor, at 5:20am so as to follow him up to Knight’s Ferry, where the run was.  Got up there at 6:15…and a line of 15 cars was waiting to get in.

First things first:  Fuel…I have such trouble with this.  We weighed in.  I’ve lost 10 pounds in 2 or 3 weeks.  The point being, that we were going to have to weigh in afterward too, to make sure we took in enough fuel.

First four miles: Wonderful.

Then I got lost…up a hill, down the covered bridge (where we took honeymoon pictures, but I digress), then to cemetary hill.  Twice. 

I did it.  CharlieBob ran with me about 3 miles, and it helped me not give up.  We chatted, and I never do that normally.

Finally finished, weighed the same, did a 13:10 pace, which is fine with me because I just want to finish that marathon…

I weighed exactly the same after the run.  S!Caps (Succeed) saved me.  I felt great…not oversloshy and not sick!  Thank you Rick!!

So.  Training continues.  Life does indeed go on.

Getting it Done…

Date: 7/16/2009 6:00 AM
Type: Easy
Course: To Sophia’s House
Distance: 5.23 miles
Duration: 1:01:02
Pace: 11:41 / mile
Shoe: Mizuno Alchemy Lime
Weight: 181 lb
Statistics: Calories: 716
VO2 Max: 25.4

Today, Kim had strep throat, so I had to go out by myself.  I started at 6…took forever to get going…At Mile 2, I stopped, but then I just started pounding the pavement.  Mile 4 was over the Fulton Overpass, and it’s a LONG decline, so I didn’t want to stop there.  I just kept running.

I kept running right to Sophia’s door. We had Week 4, Day 2 of Couch to 5K to complete today.  She came outside, and we started our walk.  Today she had to run 3-5-3-5 with breaks in between.  She was barely moving, and I had to run around behind her to get her going.  On the first 5 minute run, she started crying.  Her arches hurt, her incision from surgery hurt.  I just kept saying…keep running.  She had a tough 3…then on the last 5, I knew she wouldn’t do it.  I held her hand, and we ran 3 minutes of it together.  She stopped crying. 

I was excited for her.  Fist bumps, hugging.  She has now puked AND cried…which in my mind, makes her a runner.  I tricked her, and didn’t loop, so I made her walk ALL the way home.  She texted me when she got in.

The boys and I had breakfast in the spa, they swam, I read my magazine, we watered the plants and played with the dogs.  At this writing, I’m waiting to secure a bib for the Wine Country Half Marathon this morning.  I talked with CharlieBob about the training if I do it this weekend.  I asked him about my walk breaks, and his response was that I need to do them, and BRISKLY walk through, so I can finish strong.  At the end of our conversation, he says “You’re going to shatter that PR this weekend”…I hope I can go!!  I will be looking around for a Half anyway, because I’m in race mindset.

Life is good.

PS-Princess is home, and fine!!  Thanks for the support!

A Tough 10.

Date: 7/11/2009 7:15 AM
Type: Easy
Course: 10 miler
Distance: 10 miles
Duration: 2:13:45
Pace: 13:23 / mile
Shoe: Mizuno Alchemy Lime
Weight: 181 lb
Notes: Felt awful. With team. Walked a LOT. Not a good morning.
Statistics: Calories: 1369
VO2 Max: 22.6

This morning, I woke up and my stomach felt wonky.  Something was up.  I went down to Mr. T’s Donuts to meet for the TNT training run.

CharlieBob says “The first mile is a WARMUP!”…that we should not be going faster than a 10 minute mile (no problem).  What he doesn’t realize is that I don’t even get the concept of warming up, etc.  That 11 minute mile? That’s me, balls to the wall.  It’s the best I can do…

The aid stations are at 2, 4, 6, & 8 miles.  We are told to walk.  Okay.  Here’s my problem…since I started walking, I really am very slow.  Slower than normal Ms. V. slow.  First station I make the mistake of sipping Gatorade.  I had taken an Endurolyte Hammer tablet early in the morning, but I can’t take sweet drinks when I run.  They just come right back up.  I made it to the second station, and by that time, I was by myself.  I enjoyed the time, the trail…the music even, but then my stomach started making noise…like,

No matter what, you have to stop.  Soon.

Did I listen? No, no I didn’t.  I passed Mile 4, and the beautiful Holiday Inn Express that the team said was very helpful in letting us use bathrooms, etc.  I should have stopped there, but was determined to hit it at Mile 6.  I took a hit of Hammer Gel, but that stuff is gross now to me.  The tablets seem to work much better.

Mile 5.  I had a map.  Problem is, I didn’t have my glasses.  So I just kept running.  Rick, one of the mentors came by and said “You’re doing fine.”  I turned the corner, and there were 4 of my cohorts running back.  I so wanted to jump with them, but you know, integrity and all…I just kept running.  Made the loop, and started back.

Holiday Inn Express.  My bowels thank you.  I was soaking, as it was 78 degrees now.

Mile 7 was rough, and at the Mile 8 station, I simply doused myself with water.  I ran through a guy’s sprinklers.  My hat was falling off.

When I turned for that last half mile, I had to pull out my iPod, and count.  I counted to fire hydrants, to signs, to that blue car.  I counted in rounds 10x at least.  I did the Serenity Prayer; I worked the AA Steps on the run (yes, I’m powerless)…and finally…bliss.

There CharlieBob sits, the team is there…clapping, and so kind.  I sit with him awhile, and tell him this may not be for me…that I have way too much self doubt.  He is an Ultramarathoner, and said that his brain tells him stuff on his runs too.  That he should stop, etc.  His wisdom and guidance is invaluable.

I fell asleep in the pool and the spa.  We went and got Scout #2 from camp drop off.  It’s 5:15, and this body is saying one thing:  Pizza.

Happy Saturday, and 10 in the books.

2 miles~2 minutes

I’m a runner.  It’s highly unlikely that someone like me, can feel that way, given how little effort I like to put into things.  If there’s a easier, softer way for me to achieve somewhat the same result as you putting in the hard work, then I’ll take the easier way.  Every time.  That’s why I liked liquid diets in the 80s.  40 pounds?  Gone.  Shortcuts and speeding?  My style.

However, this running gig:  It’s different.  I always thought doing *runs* was about balls out for however long (5K, 10K, Half Mary).  I had no idea that there were strategies to this whole thing.  For a year and a half, I’ve used C25K, and Hal Higdon, and opted out of the off day stretching crap, etc.  I just wanted to run.

This all changed when I joined the TNT team.  I decided with this running cycle, that I would learn as much as I could from CharlieBob and the other mentors.  I would shut off my head, and forget what I thought was best, and do as they said.  The first time we ran, someone said, “Oh we have to stop and walk for 2 minutes.” I’m like, whatEVER.  I am going to run.

This past weekend, I decided to do what they said.  You know what?  I was fresher, I finished stronger and I felt better.  All day.  I remember the first time I did 6 miles, and I was in pajamas all day. 

So, today was my 1 hour run, and I decided to bite the bullet, and walk 2 minutes after 2 miles.  twice.  Other than a sore back, which I’m off to treat, I feel good.  Legs feel strong, and getting just a touch of liquid from my sexy fanny pack made all the difference in a 5.5 mile run at 70 degrees.  I remember the movie Miracle, where the coach talked about putting *fresh legs* on the ice.

I’m listening.  And learning.  From CharlieBob, from your blogs, from your tweets.  I believe I am humbly admitting that you know best sometimes, and that I have so much to learn.

Today, I get notice of a Half Marathon at Midnight in Modesto on August 8th.  I think I’m in.

.and, 23 yrs in education.


23 years of school teaching and counseling may end today.  I find out yesterday that my seniors are graduating.  This tells you the intellectual and professional ethics of my now former boss.  I race to the graduation at 6:15 to find all the graduates and faculty in gowns.  My friend and colleague runs to find me a robe.  I throw it on, and am firmly placed on the stage with the other two teachers.  During the speeches, my boss and his boss talk.  All through the speeches.  All I did was one time lean out to give them the Ms. V. stare, because I am appalled, and hey.  What are they going to do…fire me? 

The above photo was taken as I was leaving to get in my car.  I turned just as they were throwing their caps.  I may have just attended my last graduation as a faculty member.

I know that something will happen as a result of this.  I am fighting to keep my house, to stave of the creditors, although they are starting to line up outside of my door.  As a fellow blogger said to me in a note:  “I would be crushed if I did to someone what he did to you…knowing that your children will be on welfare, and you will be losing your home.”” 

Too bad, not everyone is a good guy. 

For today, Kim and I ran 4×400’s.  Running is saving my life and my sanity.  We had a great mile out and back, then 1.5 miles of running the track.

Lap 1~2:20

Lap 2~2:25

Lap 3~2:35

Lap 4~2:15

I call CharlieBob, because I’m going to the Modesto Tweetup tonight.  He is emailing me the next four week’s workout.  I call because he said I have to call if I’m going to miss a day.  After 4 weeks, we have done every training, and like Billy said yesterday:  As soon as I signed up and trained, I became a runner.

I like that.

Modesto Kaiser Permanente 5K on Saturday, then I drive to LA for the LA Marathon.  If I haven’t said it a bazillion times, my family and I will be on Mile 20 volunteering…


30 minute run through town.  Week 4 begins right here.  I wonder why we are going so slow, but this guy Charlie.  I think he’s old school.  Building a base for the first month of marathon training.  We’ve been doing little itty bitty runs of 30 and 40 minutes and 4 miles at the most.  It’s hotter than hell here…It’s 84 at 9am, and gonna be a scorcher.

Thanks for all the well wishes on yesterday’s gloom.  I seem to have an unending supply of stick-to-it-tive-ness though, and I wake this morning with new resolve to figure it out.

My big problem this morning is the group of blackbirds that are again torturing my dogs and leaving huge messes on my car and in my pool.  I’ll save you the photogs of it.

I feel like the kid in Home Alone, protecting his nest.  And that is what I’m doing.  I’m fighting, and today at least, I’m winning.  Started with a run that always clears my head.

Blogging:  I have hardly commented the blogs I normally read.  I just don’t have the time…and I’ve become smitten with Twitter.  140 characters, and I’m out.

Happy Sunday…