Original Article by Carolyn [Carrie] Slayback, Writer, Daily Pilot Fitness and Health Column:
Brought another first place home from the Carlsbad Marathon. That's one part of the story, I ran my slowest marathon by an hour, coming in at 5:28 (five hours and twenty eight minutes,) that's another part, but before I tell you the conclusion, here's the way it all "went down," as they say.
Our Team Evie Shirts: "Run Now, Wine Later."
Don, Evie's partner picked us up at 10:30 Saturday. Cristina, Evie's daughter-in-law, celebrating Evie's first ever marathon, made us all shirts saying "Team Evie" and "Run Now, Wine Later."
Rolling into Carlsbad, Don dedicated his day to taking us sightseeing along the marathon route. Curled up in the backseat of Evie's smooth driving Mercedes, I didn't notice the rolling nature of next day's marathon, but Don's reaction was, "Just driving this exhausts me."
Lunchtime, we found an organic taco place where we befriended a six-month-old mastiff puppy with size-eight-feet and watermelon sized head. Cristina and I cooed over his soft cuddly coat, while he focused on our fish tacos. Tantalizing organic beans came with lunch, but we couldn’t risk eating beans, day before the marathon, nor could we toss them, so we packed ‘em into our water cups. Yum, post-marathon bean snack!
Night before the race. Our style of red carpet. 26.2 miles tomorrow!
Next, Don good-naturedly accompanied us to the EXPO where we picked up our “goodie bag” with race numbers, shirts and an unusual marathon perk—a fitted athletic jacket. Then he tagged along as we meandered through booths of energy bars, racks of running socks, sunglasses, displays of upcoming races, and sign-ups for adventure vacations.
Finally Don dropped us at the hotel, hurrying home to watch football. Instead, he watched break lights, stuck on the 405 for four hours, due to a vehicle fire.
That night’s pasta dinner, we met Cindy, a local runner whose parents, glued to the Green Bay game on the restaurant's tvs, were in town from Wisconsin to cheer her on. Cindy said, “I run this race for the jacket.” I reminded her we’d paid, between $95-$145 to participate, making a pricy workout jacket.
Bedtime at Best Western, Evie, in silk PJs, Cristina and I in T-shirts, were determined to sleep. Alarm set at 4:00 A.M for a 6:15 marathon start. Sleep took turns with trips to the john. We’d “hydrated” at dinner.
Spandex on, numbers pinned, breakfast downed, we set out for the start in pitch-black Carlsbad. No streetlights, Evie ignited her iPhone flashlight. A scant two miles from the motel to race, our desk clerk and a policeman we met, judged it an impossible distance to walk. For “Team Evie” two miles was a light pre-race work-out.
The morning of the race. Dark outside at 5:00am.
Arriving at the marathon line-up, we jumped into Port-O-Potties, dropped post-marathon warm clothes at “gear check” and stepped into a crowd of 1,500 runners listening to the National Anthem. Horn sounded. Evie and Cristina flew off, 26.2 miles to go. I’d see them at the finish.
I’ve seen more than one racer take a spill at the start, so my head’s down for the first half mile, dodging hundreds of running feet. With the temperature at about 60 degrees, I finally got my wish for a cool race day. I set to work to keep a pace at 11:30 which I achieved for the first 13.8 miles.
Though Evie and I had run 10 miles of the course weeks ago, racing it was “a whole new ballgame.” There’s only one real hill at Mile 19, but the course undulates, slowing runners on the many inclines. I liked the inclines because they gave my feet something new to do but uphills break my pace. Downhills require short steps—potential knee damage.
Mile 9, I got high fives from Evie and Cristina. At Mile 11, a young man joined me saying, “You move your left foot, to the rhythm of my right foot and we’ll finish this thing.” I agreed, having no idea what he was talking about, but soon, I outran him with my fastest 2 miles at 10:22. Hours later he showed up again, accusing me of “Kicking his butt.” By then, I felt like kicking myself in the head for doing this marathon.
I forced my feet on, eyes glued to the horizon searching out the next mile marker. This is a scenic course, beside the blue Pacific, but I wasted no energy gawking at whitecaps. I keep to myself on race day, but when a lanky gray haired guy passed me, I read his shirt out loud, “Leona Divide 50-mile-race!” “Yeah, he said, “and it was yesterday.” I laughed through my weariness.
A young woman thanked me for my even pace which slowed to 11:48 by Mile 18. Then I found an empty port-o-potty for a dreaded stop. Thinking I’d go lots faster post-potty, I willed a second wind but instead, slowed to 11:54.
I’d taken a hint for marathon food from the book, Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes. He runs 100 miles+, all night, keeping a rapid pace with handfuls of chocolate-covered-coffeebeans. Giving myself chocolate/coffee doses every five miles, I now hate them.
Approaching the end, I agreed with a guy who ran past me saying, “The ONLY thing that keeps me going is that I have to get back to my car.” I shuffled along convinced I had only one mile to go when I saw the Mile 24 sign. Drat! 2.2 miles remaining. Approaching the chute, another young man who’d been at my pace for miles, shot ahead, calling back, “SPRINT IN! You’re not tired, it’s all mental!” “Yes!, I agreed, GO!” Only my feet ignored my command to dash.
Evelyne being awarded a medal after crossing the finish line.
Recovering in the medical tent after the race.
I crossed the finish line, Cristina greeting me, fresh untried. I hit the chain link fence with grabbing links with both hands to remain upright. An hour before, Evie and Cristina crossed the finish, holding hands. Evie headed straight for the recycling bin with dry heaves. A paramedic saved the recyclables, diverting her to the medical tent where she recovered, replenishing her electrolytes.
Don found us collapsed on folding chairs outside the medical tent. I looked like a bedraggled waif and the glamorous Evie’s skin was the color of her platinum blond hair. Watching gurneys of fellow runners wheeled out to ambulances, IV’s attached, Don commented “Isn’t this a great sport!”
We hobbled over to find our times, discovering Evie’s name was nowhere. Her time matched Cristina’s, so we knew it was 4:30. Searching out the guy with the computer, compiling race results, we asked about Evie’s time. He found it and announced, “You’ve won third place.” Team Evie celebrated, a winner in her first marathon!
Then we asked my place. “You got a first,” he said.
“How many in my age group?” I asked.
“You were the oldest women on the course,” he said, “the only one in the 70-74 age group.”
Nice to be first, even when you have no competition, but I just looked up the 65-69 age group and I would have come in 4th there. I’m signing off to eat my left-over beans for lunch.
Cristina, Evelyne and Carrie at the finish line.
Shocking news when we returned. Evie’s dad hospitalized, far from her helping reach, in Switzerland.
By Wednesday, his condition improved greatly and he spoke to Evie, feeling much better.
No sooner had Evie cleared her mind, relaxed with the good news of her father’s speedy recovery than I got two texts:
“I’ll pick you up to run Friday.” “We going to run Huntington Half Marathon, 2/7/16?”
I texted back, “I’m not prepared to answer.”
View More Pre and Post-Marathon Photos Below:
Evelyne, Cristina and Carrie in front of the Marathon "Pace Car" the day before the race.
Evelyne and Cristina, at mile 20.
Evelyne and Cristina after crossing the finish line.
A medal makes all the hard work worth it.
Cristina, Evelyne and Carrie on a 10 mile hike the Monday after the race.