(i hit the stop button a wee bit late; was overwhelmed by the finish line)
it was a gorgeous day in carnation, washington. we'd gotten a good night's sleep in our hotel. the drive to the start and the parking was a breeze. packet pickup was practically empty. we saw matthew inman's intergalactic spaceboat of light and wonder in the parking lot with a 0.0 blerch race sticker on it. everyone there was a fan of a whimsical webcomic and running, our people... another runner in the parking spot across from ours had the same shirt as j.
i didn't blow my training by running too fast at the beginning and ended up reserving that initial energy surge for the poopy two to three mile slump. for some reason, i get to mile two and feel super slogged until mile three when i finally feel warmed up and on autopilot. this time, thanks to the rush, i didn't have that and it boosted my overall pace.
all the training really paid off. my stamina and endurance were exactly as i'd hoped and i was able to enjoy myself... for the most part. this race was not designated as a trail race, even though it was on the "snoqualmie river valley trail". obviously i was concerned at sign up and investigated the course when it was posted, looking at the provided google street view to assess the terrain. what i saw was hard packed dirt with some rocks that were packed into the dirt, so i didn't do any special trail training. we started the race on a paved section of the trail which quickly turned off onto a nightmare of large, loose, jagged rocks that seemed freshly laid to prevent mud erosion or something of that nature. after about half a mile of that awfulness there was definitely more dirt than rocks, but way more loose rocks scattered about than i saw on the street view. i ran eleven or so miles on loose rocks and my left knee fucking HATED me. by mile eight, it was screaming after every walk break (five:one intervals the whole way); it wanted to be done! the two or three bridges with cement paving were such a glorious relief... that's not normal.
thank pasta we at least properly carb loaded
i made it though, and my knee didn't fall off or quit on me. i had to baby it for the next few days (R.I.C.E!!!), but it's back to normal now and ready for the next pounding. though i'm definitely not looking to do any full marathons, i do want to keep longish distance running in my repertoire.
the festivities were super fun and fanciful. people dressed as sriracha bottles, nutella jars, and cupcakes. the aid stations had birthday cake, nutella sandwiches, potato chips, purple sugar drink, and couches with people dressed as the blerch encouraging everyone to stop running and have a nap. rainier brewery had an unofficial beer stop along the way, which was actually kind of a nice boost. there were plenty of people at the finish to cheer us across and our timing chips alerted the announcer who we were for a personalized congratulatory announcement.
the emotions at that finish line were pretty intense. the relief that it was finally over! all those months of training, all the planning and talking about it and getting there to do it and actually running it and dealing with those awful rocks for almost three hours was all over and i never ever ever had to do it again if i didn't want to... all the smiling faces cheering us on at the end and our names being called... and j being there with me and seeing his smiling face full of pride as he looked at me... and j grabbing the medal someone thrust in my hand to ceremoniously place it around my neck for me... and the biggest, sweatiest, happy tearsiest hug i've ever had in my life... and then "TIMING CHIP RETURN!!"... to say it was all a blur would be trite and inaccurate. i remember every detail, every moment, every emotion in crystal clear h.d. and will never forget them as long as i live, for THAT was being truly alive... or really really high on supercharged endorphins and purple sugar drink. whatever.