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Napa Marathon

DATE:  March 1, 2009

WHERE:  Napa, CA

DISTANCE:  Marathon, 26.2 Miles

PLACE & TIME:  Robin 8th Place; 3:33:41

PR: 3:25:22

TEAMMATES:   David Easa

I look outside and it's drizzling rain.  Oh, boy, will this keep up the whole race?  I decide to put on my blue trash bag just on the short distance to the school buses.  I make a run for it to the bus and have to wait in line to get on.  At least it isn't cold or windy out here.  Once on, I find a seat, take off the blue bag and settle in.  Being on a bus brings back many school memories.  These new buses have seat belts now.  I wonder if the kids really use them.   


It's a 26 mile drive to Calistoga.  I'm glad to have the bus option so Troy and the girls can get a little more sleep.  I chat with a lady from Portland.  She tells me that her last run was in snow and hail.  We agreed that it more than prepared her for today.  I am thankful now that my last 20-miler was drizzling.  I was just recovering from the flu.  I should feel better today.  Another girl is doing her second marathon and she is nervous.  I believe we are all nervous, experienced or not.  The marathon is an intimidating distance.  I think it's because anything can happen after the 20-mile mark.  I just know that I'm going to, and need to, enjoy and appreciate this experience.  It's a blessing considering those who would love to be doing this like Troy and Jamie Whitmore


I do a warm-up run in the rain and darkness.  It's very peaceful!  Time ticks away and it's almost the start.  I find a spot on the line.  Compared to other marathons, it feels like a low key race, with the simple starting line, no pacers and small numbers.  It's a great race!


Ready, set, go!  We're off.  This feels good and 8 minute pace seems fine.  Of course it always feels great the first mile of a marathon.  You are purposely holding back because it is such a long way to go.  Oh, I never started my virtual partner on my Garmin.  It's an imaginary person that runs a certain pace for a certain distance.  Without thinking, I go to start it, and erase everything a half mile into the race.  Bummer!  I decide to start the watch again and scrap the first mile of the race. I feel a little in the dark, starting over and not knowing. At least I'll start getting splits the 2nd mile.  I know that God is with me and He'll help me stay on track.  Where is the first mile?  I think I missed it.  Well, I'll start it the next mile. 


Boy, despite the drizzle, I'm getting hot in my blue trash bag.  It's time to ditch it!


Mile 2:  I hit the split button on my Garmin.  I'll start getting splits now, although not very accurate because I didn't start them at the beginning and the mile markers are off.  I ask a guy nearby what time he has and figure out that my overall time is about 7 minutes off.  Later I can adjust my final time.  I'm so glad I have arm warmers!  I feel just right. 


I wonder when I'll see Troy and the girls.  I'm so glad they are with me.  I look forward to the day when Troy can be out here!


Mile 3:  8:01. Okay, I'm doing my pace and it feels good.   I start my regular watch here, too, as a backup.  I'm glad that I decided to carry a water bottle this time.  I can bypass the aid stations and I don't have to fumble with cups and spill them all over me.  Plus, I can use Hammer Heed which I love. 


I see a crowd of spectators ahead.  We are running on the well-known Silverado Trail.  There are few crossroads but the ones that do always have spectators lined up and waiting.  Will my wonderful family be there?  Yes!  There they are!  It just melts my heart!  Anna gives me a high five...and I also stop to give her a quick hug.  Troy tells me to keep my arm warmers on.  I smile...he's always looking after me.  It's selfless of him to be out here supporting when he cannot run at all!  I thank God for my family and uniting us!


Mile 4-5:  Over the next few miles I'm able to keep my heart rate steady despite some climbing.  My splits are up and down but it looks like I'm averaging 8 minute pace.  I hear someone say "look at that".  Wow, the scenery is gorgeous and I'm not taking the time to appreciate it.  Most of us are quietly trudging onward through the rain.  I remind myself to encourage others around me because it's not all about me but rather Jesus. 


Miles 6-7: Still on pace.  There are a few spots for spectators.  I'm looking for my wonderful family... there they are!  What dedication to drive to each spot, put the girls in the stroller, put the rain cover on, and wait in the rain to pick me out of hundreds of runners!  Troy gestures to Anna ahead.  I give Troy a high five and a smile.  "Anna is ahead.  How do you feel?"  "Great!  Love you!"  I come up on Anna and give her five.  She starts to run with me as I pass.  We run for a few strides and then I wave goodbye and tell her I love her.


My shoe is untied.  Even after double tying it.  I feel like a rookie pulling over to fix it.  I get going again and it takes a bit to hit my stride.  I look ahead and see the girl in blue that I was near.  My goal is to catch her half-way.


Mile 8-10:  Uneventful and pretty steady.  I can see the girl in blue but she's still the same distance away.


I see another girl ahead stopped after limping in pain.  A fellow competitor has stopped to give her ibuprofen.  I ask if she needs someone to come help her and she says yes.  I look ahead and wonder where the next aid station is.  About a mile later, I see a CHP car coming towards me.  I wave him down and tell him about the girl.  He says okay and continues towards her.  Please, Lord, let him find her.  After that, I see another guy on the side of the road, grabbing his leg.  Another competitor has stopped and is helping hold him up.  I'm really impressed by these selfless acts I've witnessed.  It's a sacrifice to stop and help someone, while the stopwatch is ticking away.... but I have seen Jesus make those deficits disappear.  I tell both guys that I'll let someone know.  Shortly, I see an official walking my direction.  I tell him about the hurt guy and he says he knows.  Please let that work out, too, Lord.


Mile 11: 8:14.  My slowest split yet due to a slight climb, but I get a little back on the next..

Mile 12: sub 8.  Here comes another spectator spot and I'm hoping to see my little gang.  I look for our yellow stroller.  There it is!!  This time Anna is staying in the stroller.  It's raining more so I don't blame her.  Troy pushes the stroller alongside to see how I'm doing and if I need to ditch anything.  I tell him I'm good and will keep everything including the almost-empty water bottle.  I'll fill it up at the next aid station.  "I love you honey!  See you soon!"


I've made ground on the blue girl.  She's only 20 feet ahead.


Mile 13.1: ~1:46 split.  We pass the half-way point and I guess I'm around 1:46.  Not bad but the hard parts lie ahead.   It's time to eat some Hammer Espresso Gel from the flask I'm carrying.  I've fasted from coffee for the last two weeks to make the caffeine effect greater.  A CHP car passes by and I happen to glance inside and see the injured girl from earlier.  I'm glad to know that she got help, but sad that she wasn't able to finish the race.  I hope the other guy was able to continue.  Thanks, God, for letting me know. 


The aid station is coming.  I get the top off my bottle, ready to fill it up.  I grab a cup and successfully pour it in without spilling much on me...not that it would matter with all the rain.


Mile 14:  I've passed the girl in blue and am looking for my next target.  A girl in black has just passed me.  I keep her in my sights.  I also notice a guy in white that I've been going back and forth with.


The mile splits from my Garmin differ from the course mile marker splits by more than 10 seconds.  It's hard to know what my actual splits are but my Garmin says I'm holding 8:05 pace. 


Mile 15-18: My heart rate continues up indicating my body is working harder to hold this pace.  The rolling hills have contributed to this.  And I am nearing the infamous "wall", mile 20, the perceived "half-way" point.  That is where the race really begins.


I'm looking for my gang again.  The last few spectator spots were void but I feel this will be the jackpot.  Up ahead I see Anna waiting to give me a high five once again.  The guy in white behind is clearly moved by this picture.  I give her a high five and she says "go Mommy".  She once again chases me down the course.  I look back and tell her, baby and Troy that I love them.  Not only is this moment uplifting for me and gets my feet moving faster, it inspires the guy in white to go...and he sure takes off.  I'm glad that was motivating!


Mile 19:  This is where I parted from Jami Andrews a few years back.  She was well on her way to a PR and I was slowing down to jog the rest as part of a training / injury-recovery plan.  Now I must maintain, or even better my pace.  I still see the girl in black ahead and wonder if I can catch her.  I'll keep trying because, as Troy always says, you never know.  I come alongside a guy and tell him, "good job".  We chat and I find out that the day before he ran the Pony Express 50 mile run.  I tell him, "This must be your cool down". 


Mile 20:  I break through the wall...for now, but I know it's going to be a long haul.  I remember the previous 2 times here.  How this last part dragged on and it was hard to motivate myself to push harder.  Now, every time I want to whine about it, Jamie and Troy pop into my head.  They would LOVE to be here right now going for it...don't be a woosy.   I'm still at about 8:05 pace so let's see what this body can do.  I can still see the girl in black...keep striving, keep striving.


It would be very hard for Troy and the girls to get out on the course one more time since there is little access to this point.  I look forward to seeing them at the finish. 


Mile 21-22:  My heart rate continues to climb but  my pace is steady.  I can almost taste the finish.  Suddenly the GPS goes out in my watch.  The only way to get it back is to stop moving and there is no way I'm doing that!  Now I rely on my backup watch.  


Mile 23:  8:18.  Push through.  Suck it up.  Remember Jamie, remember Troy.  Please Lord help me get to that finish. 


Is that Troy and the girls up ahead?  Oh, thank you, Jesus, it is!!  What a treat!  Tears well up in my eyes.  "I love you guys!  God is good!  I'm so happy to see you one last time!"  This is a big boost!  For others, too...  Anna is giving high-fives to everyone.  Stoic, determined faces turning cheerful as they swerve over to slap her little hand.


Less than 3 miles!!  I can do it!


Miles 24-25:  8:00 average.  Allright, there is something left in me!  The girl in black continues to elude me but I fight to keep her in my sights.  Soon, it's time to turn off the road into the residential area.  She turns the corner and I feel she's long gone.  Troy, Jamie...keep fighting, keep fighting!  Who cares, I'm just going to push as hard as I can to the end.


Mile 26: 7:56!  No holding back!  There's the finish...go!  I push hard and cross the line at 3:33!  3 minutes off is just fine with me...I did the best I could for Jesus, for Jamie, for Troy. 


Soon I'm reunited with my family and we celebrate together!






Anna helps give Mommy a massage!



Name Age Group Age Place Run Time
David Easa M30-34 17 2:49:21
Robin Soares F35-39 8 3:33:41