I'm thrilled to be able to share this post by Julianne at I Heart Running. Julianne is one of the runners on our Hope Runs 777 team and it's so fun to read about her rainy, rainy, rainy marathon day in Napa! Enjoy!

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!!!

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Anonymous said... @ March 9, 2009 at 3:22 AM

you did great!

Julianne said... @ April 1, 2009 at 1:39 PM

Thank you. It's fabulous being featured! :-)

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