Last Sunday I ran the Portland marathon for the 5 time myself and the first time with baby tot. Being 34 weeks pregnant and preparing for a marathon is a lot of fun. Apparently not a lot of pregnant women, or late 3rd trimester pregnant women, run marathons. So my mother in law mentioned this to the local new crew and they called me up wanting to do a TV interview with me at the expo on Saturday before the race. While this was pretty exciting, I am not the type of person that likes to make a big deal about my racing before I actually complete my goal! I ran my first 100 mile race with only 1 other person, who happened to be in another state, who actually knew what I was about to go do. I just feel that the right time to talk up what you did is AFTER you actually do it- not before. I also don’t like the pressure and expectations that go with knowing that you have talked up what you are doing too much. IronMan was the worst about this, when I did that in 2012 we got there and everyone was celebrating and making such a big deal BEFORE the event. HUMMM I thought, well none of us have actually done anything that cool besides show we are pretty silly for spending this much time and money to get here. But I digress. So I did talk to the reporter on the phone and gave them a little background on me, but declined the interview on Saturday and said I would be happy to do one on Sunday when and after I finish and there is something to celebrate!
Sunday morning I was up at 5am and ready to run, little tot was excited about the event as well and was a mover and a shaker in the early hours before the event. I was able to do my normal start relaxing at my husband’s office down town and even had time to write in my hand written baby book about my pre-race marathon thoughts. I headed to the starting line and got in my coral with 3 minutes to spare, which is perfect timing for me, who wants to wait around that many other crazy runners that are not actually going anywhere for long periods of time? The start went off great and I was feeling pretty good, well as good as you can with an additional 20 pounds sitting on your bladder and internal organs while running. I loved looking around and seeing all the people out there watching and the crowd of runners. In a big marathon like this, I am totally entertained just people watching for the first 6 miles. So that is what I did, I took in the sunrise, the people, the course, and feeling little tot move around and talking to her or him in my head about the day and what we were doing.
By mile 8 as we got to the industrial district I stared to feel the weight of my front put the pressure on my back. I started to throw in some walk breaks to allow the pressure to relax a bit and give the tot and my body breaks. At this point I did get a little worried. If I was already having back pain at mile 8 I did start to question my ability to actually complete a marathon, especially when you are doing the math. It is never good to do the math, especially bad to do the math at mile 8 and realize you still have 18.2 MILES to go! OH DEAR. That did sound a bit daunting! So I did what any smart runner does and decided not to think about it and to keep plugging along running and checking out the crowd and the surroundings. The thing that I really stared to notice for this section of the race as it is an out and back and you start to see those front runners in front of you, and the other folks that are behind you. I started to think about how fast and how great the front runners are doing and how easy it is for them because the will be done MUCH sooner than I will be! Looking back at all the folks behind me gave me great strength. To know that they were also out here getting it done, and it didn’t have to be fast. These were my people. I loved that we all were going to put it out there together and get to that finish line. I didn’t have to be pretty; we just needed to cross that finish line because we are getting the same medal and finisher shirt that the people at the front of the pack are getting. And so I was determined to carry on and get that shirt and the medal.
As I had so much time to think during this race I also realized that I really love running, and running really does feel better than walking to me. I don’t know how this is possible, but if people saw me out there I was still “running” or making my attempt to run when some people could probably walk faster. Stilly I know. I also realized that I had to be patient for this race. I was not going to just fly across that finish line. It was not going to be easy and it was going to be a long hot battle in the sun and I was going to have to slog it out for the long haul in order to cross that line. Once I accepted this, I just kept moving forward and was pretty happy. I crossed the big bridge and only once thought about jumping off of it, hey at mile 16+ with 90 degree heat and being super pregnant I thought this was pretty good! I made it through the east side and somehow that side felt faster, as if I knew I was now headed towards the finish line, not away from it made all the difference. I was eating and drinking great and the baby was doing awesome with me.
I came across the bridge back into downtown knowing there was only a mile or so to go just thrilled. I was moving slow at that point, totally sunburned, hurting all over, but so very happy that I knew that I was going to finish and that I would finish well in any cut off they put out there. Coming across that finish line for the 5th time with baby tot inside my tummy kicking along happily was just the most special wonderful moment. The announcers read my name and I indicated to them “AND BABY” and they announced “Melissa Kistler and Baby crossing the finish line!” It was all I could do to not cry as I smiled and claimed my medal and shirt! Baby tot did a wonderful job at their 10th marathon and we had fun. It was a very good race!