September 15, 2008

Timberline Marathon Sept 13, 2008

26.2 miles is a long way to run, no matter how you slice it - on rugged trail, it feels even longer. Saturday Ben and I challenged ourselves with the Timberline Marathon, starting at Timberline Lodge and following the PCT to Clackamas Ranger Station. We left the lodge at 8:30am on Saturday after a restful night at Trillium Lake Campground with our friends Aubrey and Jodi. Aubrey was also running the marathon, Jodi was soon labelled "coach".
It was just the Tuesday that we decided to embark on this adventure, I have been training for the Portland Marathon, so the distance wasn't such a stretch for me, but Ben, while he had been running, hadn't been training for anything long......... he likes to say he did it "off the couch", I won't go that far, but he did show his mental and physical toughness by completing the distance.
The race was difficult, starting with a 5 mile down hill stretch followed by the climbing and descending of 3 additional passes. I felt great until about mile 19 when the final climb began, then my feet quit listening to my brain, my legs were slow to respond and as the trail got more technical with roots and rocks, I had to slow my pace in order to prevent a fall. As slow I thought I was going, I passed 3 guys between miles 20 and 23. From the first aid station (#1 of 4) people were telling me I was the second women - although I didn't know if 1) I could believe it and 2) I could keep a pace that would let me remain in that position. All I knew was that I had to keep running, but the idea that I was in second place helped to keep me motivated and stay focused.
The last few miles were tough, given that the last aid station was only about a quarter mile from the finish as the crow flies, but we had to run a loop that was over 3 miles long to actually cross the line, it was a test of mental toughness. When I emerged from the trail and back onto the road, just.2 from the finish, I tried to "kick" but was just about out of energy. I crossed the finish in 2nd place - and my first thought hydration, but second thought was of Ben. I hadn't seen him since mile 3 and I hoped that he was running strong. When I saw him come into the finish, I couldn't help but smile and almost cry..... big hugs all around, he couldn't have been happier to be done, he was in a lot of pain; but he had done it, he really is tough as nails. Aubrey came through the finish soon after Ben, being paced by Jodi and we all celebrated together our accomplishment!
Before heading back to Bend, Clear Lake called our names and we soaked our weary legs in the cool water; dreaming of milkshakes and french fries that we would enjoy later that night at dinner. Results and photos can be found at: (Bib numbers 122 & 193)