Erie Marathon 2014

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Erie Marathon 2014

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Hey all,
Just wanted to give you my birds eye view of this past weekends race.
Note that the others who came should post their own experience. This was just from my view.
Please ladies and gents, add your comments.

Enjoy a little light reading! Erie Race Report

Soooo let’s start out by saying I’m not disappointed. I’m not sad. I’m not crazy… Okay I am just a little crazy but choosing to run as many marathons as I do, you have to be just a little crazy.

My time (which I usually end my race report with) was 3:55:26. Yes .26, just 26 whole seconds from my Boston Time!

Now here is the story as to why I’m nothing but proud and excited.

I decided to run the Erie Marathon at Presque Isle in April.

You see in my quest to run all 50 states I have made some really wonderful friends (see they YPOM forum race report from Kansas for the whole story of meeting Hoa). My friend Hoa is also running her 50 states. We have had lots of fun meeting all around the country and running, if not always together, at least staying together for several marathons.

In April, Hoa was running in Canton Ohio. Now I have run 2 Ohio marathons but when a friend who lives in Colorado is so close to you, well you just have to meet her. The problem was I had already signed up to pace a half marathon the day before here in Michigan.

Luckily I have the most understanding husband in the world. He agreed to pick me up from my pacing job at the Let’s Move half in Mt. Clemens, drive straight to Canton to meet Hoa and her husband Mike. He also, ever so graciously decided that since we were there we could run the half (I hate to just show up at a race and not run something).

So off to Canton we went. After an awesome race (Hoa runs a sub 4 hour always!) we had our celebratory burger and beer. In a stoke of fate or post marathon glory I asked what was next. Hoa said she was running in Erie in September.

Erie! OMG I ran that race in 2011!

Not only did I run Erie in 2011 but that was one of the two races that I Boston Qualified at (okay let’s be clear here, it was by the old qualifying standards and my time was 3 seconds into qualifying but hey a time is a time).

Anyway, I loved that race and when Hoa said she was going to do it alone, well how can a friend resist!

My original plan was to get through a tough race schedule, take a few weeks rest and try for a Boston time in January at the Rock and Roll New Orleans. Well Erie though that plan right out the window.

Once I got home to Michigan I quickly registered (just in case I got cold feet), re wrote my training plan to include the three other marathons I was already signed up for, then worked on getting others to sign up to run with us all without letting anyone know that in my heart I really wanted to use Erie as a qualifier.

Believe it or not the race sold out in May. May! That’s super fast for a small race like Erie. Luckily they offered a waitlist so 6 of my friends were able to get in.

Let the madness begin!

Now if you have ever trained for speed I can tell you it just flat out stinks. There are no runs just for fun. Even slow runs have a purpose. Food takes on a whole new meaning and weight isn’t about fitting in your jeans but trying to be as light as possible just for running.

Yes goal running sucks!!!!

My first marathon into training was Fargo ND.

In June I started running some extra miles with my Brooksie training group.

Okay I need a side bar here.
                I volunteered to do our local Brooksie Way ½ marathon training group way back in January. Being a group leader is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. For the past two years I was unable to do it so there was no way I was giving up the chance to be part of the training program again. Note here that when I say most rewarding it is pure selfishness on my part. Training for speed (at least for me) makes me hate running some days. My Brooksie group helped keep me sane. They made me look forward to every Thursday run. They made me remember the joy in sharing miles with others (since most of my training was alone). They made me a better runner and for that I can never ever thank them enough. Ladies and Gents from the Brooksie AM group, if your reading this now… Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Yes, Paul and Danielle that goes for you too.

Okay back to the training saga.

June also brought second marathon in training, the Rock and Roll Seattle. Once again I had the wonderful Hoa only this time she didn’t come to run. Noooo the wonderful friend that I have, flew from Colorado to Seattle just to show me the place she grew up. There is nothing in the world better than having a local show you their old stomping grounds. Eat, drink, run, and repeat.

Then it was back to training followed by the third marathon in Anchorage Alaska. Eat, run, hike a glacier, zip line, eat, run, kayak, hike some more, eat, take a bike ride of the marathon course, then run the marathon course. Yup, that’s just how I like to roll.

After Anchorage it was a tight schedule. I only had four weeks to rest muscles then ramp up training only to go straight into taper. Again, well that’s how I roll.

When you run a marathon for fun, you can build in all kinds of extra time. When you run a marathon for business (by that I mean a goal) you don’t want to have much extra time.

Well that was a good thing cause time was not something I had much of.

Here was my schedule:
Get up Saturday 6:30a get Charlie ready for bus to Cross Country meet in Holly
Gas up car and load for my trip.
Drive to Holly with John and watch the Cross-country meet
Drive home switch cars, drive to Metro airport to pick up Hoa
Drive from Metro Airport to Erie 7:30pm
Find a place to eat (Hoa like Asian food and believe it or not there are several restaurants’ in Erie’s little town, go figure) and eat.
Go to Erin’s hotel and pick up bibs (my wonderful friends came in early and picked up our stuff, saving us the morning hassle) I’ll come back to the story of pick up in a minute.
Get back to hotel to sleep for 5 hours
Get up Sunday 3:30a get ready for race
Leave hotel 5a for race
7a run race, then shower, eat and be on the road no later than 2p
Drive back to Metro for Hoa’s flight at 8p.

That was the plan!

Sounds kind of simple if you didn’t have the marathon part. You know the part where I needed to run faster than I have ever run. The part where at this point everyone knew what my goal was. The part where all the doubts can come crashing in.

Now here is what kept me from totally freaking out.

As we were driving to Erin’s hotel, which was just inside a huge strip mall, we saw a white Hummer Limo that was just pulling out of a DSW shoe store. Hoa and I instantly started making jokes about why a limo would be stopping at a shoe store.

We turned the corner to find the hotel and what was parked out front… You guessed it, a white stretch Hummer limo.

Ridding the elevator up to Erin’s room we meet the occupants of the limo. 5 big guys all holding bottles of beer.

Now if you know me at all you know I couldn’t’ resist telling them how wonderful their beer looked after our long day. The guys were hilarious. They said if we wanted a beer that their limo was stocked so just go down and tell the girls we would like one.

Of course we laughed (but still in the back of my mind, ummm beer)

We left them on the third floor and made our way to Erin’s and our packets. Erin was glad to see us. She said that Meg (another of our friends) was just down the hall. She (Meg) really wanted to go out for a drink to steady her pre race nerves. Erin couldn’t leave her room but really wanted a drink as well. Soooo I ask you what should a good friend do.

I’ll tell you. We went down the hall, picked up Meg and went down to the limo.

As it turns out one of the fellas was in the elevator with us. We told him we wanted to take up the offer of a beer. He was happy to comply.

Downstairs at the limo we meet the whole group, and got the rest of the story.

You see, it seems that is group of guys all went to school together from elementary on up. One of them had just had a sad divorce and all the others were suffering a mid life crises. They made plans for a weekend. Hawaii… too expansive. Las Vegas… too expensive. Erie PA where they all grew up… just right!

So after a little chatting we were handed three beers and bid them good night (but not before Hoa looked in the limo to see 3 girls. We assumed the DSW stop was for them, go figure).

Drop off a beer to Erin, tell the limo story, have a good laugh, then back on the road to bed.

Okay now we are back on schedule.

Sunday morning was perfect for running and I do mean perfect. Chilly but not windy. Partly cloudy buy not rainy. Today, I felt was going to be my day!!!

Well a few things did go wrong but nothing major. I brought my earphones, but left my iPod. I had my toss away but had to run back to the car and pick up my belt with all my GU’s. Nothing that said this wasn’t going to be perfect.

At 7a the race started.

There were no pacers at this race but I had Hoa. We also (while waiting in the corral) meet Nancy, DoDee and 2 gals from Erie who all had around the same race time goal.

Okay… if you have to stop reading and pee now is the time cause this will be a bumpy read.

So Meg and Erin (who by the way are super super fast runners) are lined up with us. I have never been able to keep up with either gal. I say this because it will become important later. Ken is in one of the first corrals since his goal is 3:15 (Yikes for real folks) and Matt is just behind (his goal was to run a strong marathon after about a year of injuries) Peggy and Kristen are doing the half which starts half an hour after us.

Off we go!

My how the miles fly. I’m focused just on running, while Hoa is doing the hard work of  keeping track of the pace and time.

The first goal is to get through to the half relaxed. Check!

The second goal is to make it from the half to mile 20 without letting the pace slip away.
BEEEEP! And here we have the first error.

It is now into mile 16 when I make the mistake of looking at my watch.

Do you play chess? Did you ever read the book Born to Run? Have you ever heard of the Queens Gambit?

Well crap. I was in the middle of a queen’s gambit! I started out too fast, too aggressive. Was running a pace that I never trained for. I didn’t see anyone other than Hoa.  No Erin! No Meg! No Nancy! No DoDee! Where the hell were the gals from Erie that were ahead of me for over 13 miles!

Enter a full-fledged panic attack complete with hyperventilation and all because the Queens Gambit is the most risky move and usually ends badly.

Hoa however pulls me back together but now I’m no longer controlling the 90% physical and the 10% mental is messing me up.

Slowing down a little but still not too bad I try to relax when just after a GU I begin to gag. Oh yes, now the stomach doesn’t like me too much. Hoa says just throw up.

And I do! Yes, on the run, barely missing a step. I hurl the offensive GU, wipe my mouth with my wristband and soldier on.

Past mile 20 but each mile is getting slower. Every part of my body is making itself known. I’m walking though water stops but still I soldier on. I have Hoa run just ahead of me so I have a moving target to stay with.

I’m using everything I can to just keep one foot in front of the other. I’m counting my cadence trying to just keep moving. However the mind and the mouth are not on the same wavelength and I realize I’m counting out loud.

Can you just imagine someone coming behind you breathing heavy saying “1…5…8…3…7”  Yes I was talking in tongues! I probably scared the ½ marathon walkers to death.

At mile 24 my mantra became a little more adult. No I’m not proud but f**k ,  f**k, f**k has a really nice rhythm. While passing a fellow runner I heard “I’m thinking it, your saying it, go girl!” Unfortunately mile 24-25 was my hurt locker and the nail in my goal time.

Mile 25 to Mile 26.35 (yes the courses are always a little long) I considered my Meb mile and finish. I took what I had read about how Meb pushed to the end of Boston, I took all I had done to train, I took the words Pat told me about what I was willing to do for my goal.

Looking at my watch I knew there was no possible way I would have my time but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t finish with every thing I had.

I focused,  I pushed past the spots that kept swimming in my eyes, I pushed past all the pain and I ran my heart out.

Crossing the finish line is usually the best part of any race. I wish I could report that this was no different however once I crossed the finish line I made the critical mistake of looking down to stop my watch.

Bam. That’s all she wrote folks! The next thing I remember was being dragged under my arms and placed on a table in the medical tent.

Now don’t’ worry, honest it was no big deal. Just a little blip.

Once I was laid down with my feet elevated, I began to sweat again. I heard a voice tell Hoa to get an orange, water and chocolate milk. As I opened my eyes (and was immediately squirted by orange juice) I saw the cutest young doctor ever.


Unfortunately with sweat falling in my eyes, juice from and orange and lord knows what else I rubbed off all my mascara. So doctor cutie was really treating a female version of Alice Cooper.

Within just a few minutes I felt fine. So fine that my bowels decided they wanted my full and undivided attention. They were not to be denied. I begged, please let me go I’m better. Luckily the doctor understood that when I said I had to go, I realllllly meant I had to go! One last blood pressure check and off to the port of potties I went, and went and went.

Lord, how the body held so much I really don’t know but Hoa had left me to go get our checked bags. She came back and began yelling my name.

“Sue where are you? Are you okay? It’s been ten minutes! I don’t remember which potty your in! ”

Yes my good friend I’m just stuck in the potty for a bit more! I rattle my door to let her know I haven’t passed out.

Ahhhh! It’s amazing how the body can bounce right back.

I clean up my Alice Cooper eyes, drink chocolate milk and greet my friends. I’m now totally stoked!

No I didn’t make my goal time but what the hey. I ran faster than I have ever run before. I ran a 5 and a half-minute pr from the last time I ran this race (which at the time was a Boston Qualifier!) and I had amazing friends all around.

Life was good!

Hoa was so afraid that I was going to be disappointed with not making the BQ goal but I ask you. How could I be disappointed?

Could I have done things different…Yes, Could I be any prouder of how hard I worked…NO!

If your wondering how everyone else did, well here we go.

Ken missed his time too but by only 7 seconds (kind of makes my 26 seconds a small blip) but he was proud.

Meg nailed her Boston Time by almost 10 minutes (her BQ was 4 hours)

Matt ran an amazing sub 4-hour marathon and was upright and injury free!

Erin paced Meg keeping her in check then finished in a stellar time.

Christy (walking the half as Mike S) helped another walker complete her first half!

Peggy ran the half like always…A rock star.

Hoa, the best friend ever checked off Pennsylvania off her list of states, and helped a friend do a time she honestly though was a miracle.

As for me. The feet are a bit blistered and I will be loosing 3 toenails (who needs toe nails any way) Finishing in 3:55:26 was great. I placed 31st out of 199 in my age group so not too bad for this tired runner. I proved that my time is not really out of reach. Most of all I had a great support group both at the race and back at home.

What more can a girl ask for!!!

Okay, I lied… I still plan on running Boston in 2015 but will take some different steps to get me there.
I have applied to a charity and also sent a friend my runner bio with hopes to be chosen as an invited runner.

Hey you never know!

I have been blessed to take an incredible journey. Thanks to all those who have helped make it note worthy.

Without the love of my family (and much understanding), the help of my running community (the YPOMer’s that never lost faith and the Brooksie way folks that kept the joy) I would never take on the challenges, or overcome them.

Sooooo all I can say is BOSTON PICK ME!

On tap next, the Brooksie Way half, my victory lap!