Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 17 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dallas Marathon Recap

I'm still glowing, albeit quite stiffly, post marathon. Here's the story.

The weather forecast called for temps in the 30's at the start, with sunshine and mid-50's predicted for most of the race. Based on that, my friend Kate and I both went with tank-tops, shorts, arm warmers, and gloves. Unfortunately, there was a 10-15 mph wind, and thin clouds kept the sun from warming the air. It was cold! Huddling at the start, I knew I was in trouble. My teeth were chattering, my arms, hands and legs were freezing, and I couldn't get warm no matter how much I jumped around. I enviously gawked at all of the runners around me who had remembered extra, throw-away layers or garbage bags to block the wind and retain their body heat.

Fortunately, after standing there freezing for 30 minutes, a woman in front of me began to remove one of her long-sleeve shirts. She was about to toss it aside when I desperately stopped her. She graciously gave me the shirt, and I couldn't put it on quickly enough. Ahhh... I was still freezing, but I was immediately relieved.

I ended up wearing that throw-away shirt for the entire race, as I never did totally warm up. The cold wind just wouldn't allow it. Without that shirt, I doubt I would have finished this marathon. I likely would have dropped out due to hypothermia. The shirt is now in my laundry, and I figure I'll use it as throw-away garb at my next marathon. It's obviously got some good ju-ju! (If the woman who lent me the pale yellow, hi-tech, long sleeve, Austin race shirt is reading this...THANK YOU!)

With 27,000 runners, the waiting time at the start was significant. Like I said, I stood in my starting corral for at least 30-45 minutes. Once running, it was slow going due to the crowds. My first mile was my slowest, but things thinned out fairly early. The race wound through downtown and some Dallas neighborhoods (with some of the largest homes I've ever seen) before heading out to White Rock Lake (and even bigger homes). The lake would have been the highlight if it had been warmer, but instead we were exposed to the cold wind for 5-7 miles. I was happy to get back into the city.

From the beginning, I felt good. That's atypical for me, as I'm usually very slow to warm up. I typically have several miles of feeling like the pace is too fast. But this time, I was running fast and feeling good. I actually forced myself to slow down through miles 6-8, as I let my worry about the quick pace get the best of me. In retrospect, I wish I had had more of a plan going into the race, but I really didn't know what to expect. By mile nine, despite my best efforts, I had sped up again. This time, I decided to just go with it. I'm so glad I did.

I went through the half in 1:49:30. It was then that I realized I was on sub 3:40 pace. Again my brain was nudging worry in my way, but I tried to avoid it. It wasn't until after the halfway point, and after I reeled off 5-6 sub 8:20 miles, that qualifying for New York even entered my mind. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be in such a position.

After exiting the lake, we hit a few long, but not-too-steep, hills around miles 21-23. I had heard it was all downhill to the finish from there. I could hear the 3:40 pace team behind me. I still felt good, so I went. My last 6 miles were the fastest by far. I averaged 8:11 per mile over the last quarter of the race. Otherwise, my best quarter was an 8:17 average. I was passing people left and right, and I felt like I was flying. It was hard. It hurt. But it was so doable, I couldn't believe it.

According to the race website, I passed 137 people, men and women, in the last quarter of the race, while only 4 people passed me. What a cool stat! I went through mile 24 in 3:20. I thought then that I had New York licked. After all, I was running 8 minute pace, and I had 18 minutes to get to the finish. Unfortunately, we re-combined with the finishing half-marathoners with about 1.5 miles left to go. Suddenly the road was clogged with thousands of walkers and joggers.

I made my way through the crowds as fast as my rapidly tightening legs would allow. With just a few hundred yards to the finish, I looked at my watch and realized in horror that I had less than 30 seconds to get to the promised land! Sprinting and dodging people, I gave it everything I had. Passing under the finish arch, I stopped my watch. 3:38:06.

I'm so proud of my accomplishment. I ran a personal best. My previous best was run more than 8 years ago, and I hadn't come close to it since! Yet those 6 seconds leave a bitter taste in my mouth. On the other hand, now I know what to expect from myself. With The Austin Marathon just 2.5 months away, I've got another chance to run fast. And this time, I'll go in with a plan--a plan that will not include panic if I'm running fast.

Here are my splits, for those of you who like such stats: 8:47, 8:21, 8:16, 8:20, 8:12, 8:29, 8:29, 8:28, 8:17, 8:07, 8:07, 8:19, 8:20, 8:18, 8:23, 8:17, 8:10, 8:18, 8:22, 8:15, 8:27, 8:33, 8:08, 8:00, 8:02, 7:58, 7:35. (My sprint to the line was at 6:30 pace!) Overall, I finished 10th out of 271 women in my age group, and in the top 100 of over 1700 female finishers. That, too, is pretty cool. I'm so grateful to have had this opportunity and this experience.


Therese Shumaker said...

Awesome!! I am very proud of you. I ran vegas in 3:59.. which was 15 minutes faster than my first ( med city) I need some tips on pacing,, not quite sure if I should run fast in the beginning hoping it holds, or back off in the beginning. I felt great up until mile 20 and then it took me an hour to get to the finish line,,, bummed about that.
Great job! Therese

Maggie Beth said...

C'mon - did you really need the Dallas marathon to confirm you are a TEN!!!??? -- That rocks Girly-Girl I don't care who you are!!

BTW -- I lost 5 pounds simply READING about your race! (SMILE) I respect the Hee-Haw Honey outta you! 30 minutes walking on the treadmill and I am out!