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Yakima River Canyon Marathon - Run

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Ellensburg, Washington
United States
On the Run Events
40F / 4C
Total Time = 4h 43m
Overall Rank = 211/395
Age Group = 50-54
Age Group Rank = 30/39
Pre-race routine:

Drove 3.5 hours the night before the event and stayed near the finish. Shuttle bus would bring us to the start at 6:00 for an 8:00 start. Before leaving town, my wife, who was hosting a large party Saturday evening asked if I'd mind mowing the lawn and washing the windows of the house before I left. In my mind I was like are out of your mind, I just got off work, have a long drive ahead, running a marathon in the morning?!? Somehow my thoughts translated into words of "Sure Honey". arghhh.

I had been suffering from a cold for the last week and a half and it had crept into my chest. I woke up in the middle of the night and could not stop coughing. Ended up laying in the shower for about 30 minutes hoping the steam would help. It did enough to get a few more hours of sleep. As I awoke I started coughing again. I think I was now suffering some bronchitis.

I should have just gone home at this point but instead drank some NyQuil and headed for the shuttle.
Event warmup:

After checking in hung around for the start trying to stay warm. It was a little chilly but thankfully almost no wind and clear skies. A beautiful morning.

I figured I'd use the first few miles to warmup the legs.

  • 4h 43m
  • 26.4 miles
  • 10m 43s  min/mile

If I can borrow words, this summed up the day "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness".

I had high hopes for the day given my last HM and the miles I've logged over the Winter. First miles went according to plan. I was running 8:40ish miles which were clicking off quickly. Got high fives at mile 3 and 10 from Kathy Switzer, who was the speaker at the awards banquet. She is a true hero and it was an honor to receive encouragement from her.

Got through the hallway point in about 1:54 which was right where I wanted to be. Another mile and I came to the first lengthy ascent. It went well and I passed other people. My legs were much stronger from the work I had done. It was about this point though that my lungs started searing from the cool air. I was started to hear a wheezing in my breathing and the coughing started again.

I kept going until about 20 miles and then I started getting dizzy, my head hurt from the constant coughing, and I felt feverishly warm. My body had been screaming at me for the last hour and it just clicked in my head that I better quit being stupid and listen or I was going to end up in a med tent. I was on pace at 20 to have reached my goal so I felt good about that and decided I would walk it in from there.

I had very mixed emotions on that long walk which was still very uncomfortable because I couldn't stop coughing. I was so grateful for all the support I've received and wished that I was going to be able to report better news of the day. But it was was it was and sometimes through suffering and disappointment we find great enlightenment and perspective. I had a conversation with a lady before the race about what a gift it is to be able to run. A gift that I cherish (especially with being very sick several years ago) and the lady shook my hand with a tear in her eye. At the end on the day that meant more to me than my time goal and got me thinking about why we do this and what the true prize is. Even with a disappointing clock time and a fair amount of discomfort there are nuggets of joy that continued to present themselves through the day.

What would you do differently?:

Not be so stubborn and listen to my body more.
Post race
Warm down:

Just headed to the car for the drive home. Stopped at the first 7-11 I saw and tried to sooth my throat with a Slurpee. An hour later, stopped for another, and then again.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Just being sick

Event comments:

This is my fourth time at this race. The course is stunningly beautiful. I used to think this was a pretty fast course but the pounding from the long gradual descents and then the 2 mile long climb at mile 21 makes for a very painful experience. The shuttle bus system is more of a hassle than I am willing to deal with again. So unless I have a driver along I wouldn't come back.

Last updated: 2014-04-06 12:00 AM
04:43:00 | 26.4 miles | 10m 43s  min/mile
Age Group: 30/39
Overall: 211/395
Performance: Below average
Course: A point to point that winds along the Yakima River amongst hills and cliffs. Long downhill stretches punctuated by two long climbs. One at miles 21-23 but a downhill finish after that.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Below average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? No
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2014-04-06 4:41 PM

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Bellingham, WA
Subject: Yakima River Canyon Marathon

2014-04-06 4:59 PM
in reply to: 0

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South Windsor, CT
Subject: RE: Yakima River Canyon Marathon
I am very proud of you!

Outstanding job pulling it in and shutting it down at mile 20. You DID listen to your body. The M is so tough because we train for so long and sign up for these infrequently- you never know if an injury or illness will muck with your race...and it did to you.

I'm sorry about that.

The fact is that your fitness has improved tons and you just didn't get to show it yet at this distance. The logistics of travel seem to not be so good and I personally hate taking any shuttle. Hopefully you can dial in another race and get some of the good mojo that you deserve-but only after you recover from your illness, my friend.

Although it's disappointing, I loved reading about the angel you talked to before the race. Tearing up over the gift of running is a real treasure. You are spot on in that assessment.

Rest and have some PR's ready for you later in the year.

Edited by dtoce 2014-04-06 5:01 PM
2014-04-06 7:56 PM
in reply to: dtoce

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Middle River, Maryland
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Yakima River Canyon Marathon

Steve, the fact you were able to put down 20 miles at your target pace while clearly being sick is just amazing.  You have a great perspective, too...I know you've been looking forward to this race.  Get well soon...Slurpees are awesome!!

2014-04-06 9:04 PM
in reply to: #4977383

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Subject: RE: Yakima River Canyon Marathon


I am so sorry that these are the conditions you faced on your M day, but you handled them beautifully. It sounds like you did exactly the right thing, and there is no doubt in my mind that if you were healthy you would have had your goal race. 

Running is a gift and it gives those of us who make it a regular part of our lives, so, so much.  It takes experience and wisdom to get the kind of perspective you were able to get so quickly on this race--things that serve you well with better conditions too.  There is only so much we can control, and a bad cold and bronchitis are, unfortunately, not on that list :

You made a valiant effort with this one.  Get some good rest--really good, deep rest.  Hugs brother.

2014-04-06 9:17 PM
in reply to: switch

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New user
Subject: RE: Yakima River Canyon Marathon
Steve, I am so sorry you got sick before this. I know you must be very disappointed

You did a wise thing listening to your limits on this day. You can't rush bronchitis and you may have been shut down hard in the last part of the race.

It is nice to read your positive thoughts on our gift of fitness, running and improving our bodies. Thank you for sharing these thoughts!

2014-04-07 11:55 AM
in reply to: Chunga

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Subject: RE: Yakima River Canyon Marathon

Hey Steve, very sorry to hear about the tough day.

I think given the circumstances it is very tough to know what the best call is for you, even in hindsight.

It's very important to focus on all of those bright spots, especially all of the great races you had leading up to this one.

Take some time to recover and then pick up where you left off!

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