Monday, March 06, 2006


Wow!! It was a dark, cold, rainy & windy start! My shoes/feet were soaked within minutes of standing at the start line! Luckily we had some cheap plastic ponchos on to help keep some of the rain off and some of the body heat in!
It pretty much never stopped raining. Two lessons learned: 1) Wear waterproof gloves & 2) Wear contact lenses.

The gloves: My hands were frozen! Running with wet gloves does not promote warmth! I made a fist and kept my hand in the palm section of the glove to keep warm. I had to take off my glove though at water stops to grab the cup, that would freeze my fingers almost instantly. At mile 18ish I stopped to re-tie my shoe; I almost didn't get it re-tied. My white frozen fingers were barely working. I thought if I had to tie my shoes again before the end, I would have to find someone to help me!

The glasses (or lack of contact lenses): I hear it was a beautifuly course. I couldn't really tell you. My glasses were so fogged over and full of water droplets, I couldn't see anything but a few feet in front of me. Just enough to miss the big puddles and other runners. At points where Johan was going to cheer me on, I had to ask Jesus (my running partner) to let me know if he saw him because I could barely see. I was looking for his yellow jacket but guess what, everyone was wearing yellow rain gear that day!!

It was a great weekend overall though. Amy, Jesus and I (from the NAMTP, Miami Marathon) all met up Saturday night in Santa Rosa. We had a little adventure finding a restuarant to eat at, but once our stomachs were full we made our way back to the hotel and made plans for our two roadies/support team, Johan (my boyfriend) and Christian (Amy's finace). They were going to cheer us on at miles 9 & 18 then at the finish line.

We made our way over to Calistoga by 6:40, giving us just enough time to get in line for the porta-potties, drop our bags off, and stand in the mud for the start. Off we went. It probably only took us 20-30 seconds to cross the start line (I think that's why they don't have chip timing). Boy was it a cold start. The temps were in the 40's and it was raining pretty good...a the wind was blow head-on.

The first few miles seem to fly by with little problems. There were definitely some good hills. But the variation of going up and down felt really good on my legs. Plus I was able to glide down the first few hills.

At mile 5, we saw the first of the spectators and to my surprise, my friend Tony (who does my bodywork) was there. He wished me a happy birthday.

As about mile 8 or so, we ditched our rain ponchos. At mile 8.2 or so, the wind really picked up and I thought to myself I was really stupid for dropping off the poncho. Oh well!

I got to see Johan at mile 9. He was jumping up and down as we starting to pass. I went over to the side where he was at and gave him a quick smooch. He then starting running with us for a bit. It was soo nice to see him. He probably about 1/4 mile with us before heading back.

We kept going...amazing how quickly I start to forget what happened. We met a lot of nice people that were getting annoyed with Jesus and me. We were doing a 8:1 run/walk ratio and were keeping up with a group of people that were running the entire way. One woman said that every time she caught up with us while we were walking, we would take off and she was having a heck of a time trying to keep up. One runner, "Green Beer Ohio Girl" (aren't nicknames fun!) decided that she wanted to do the run/walk thing with us (she was getting tired and needed a little distraction). The second walk break we took, Jesus stopped to go to the restroom and I had to re-tie my shoe (once again) she had gotten ahead of us by 100 feet or so. I yelled "Walk Green Beer Ohio Girl" really loud and she turned around with a great big smile and starting walking. The people around me didn't exactly know what I was doing...but that's not my problem. When the minute was up, I yelled for her to run and everyone around us starting laughing once they figured out what was going on. We quickly caught up with her and after the next walk break, we broke away (the hill at mile 22 was pretty gruesome).

At around mile 22 (right after the hill) I got out my prize...gummi bears. I started woofing them down and offered them to everyone I ran by. (Only Jesus took some!)

I saw Johan again at some mile point around 20-24, but I can't remember exactly were. He had a guy blast on his trumpet for us as he was yelling our names. After we passed, I told Jesus I thought I was going to cry. I was so happy to see Johan and have someone cheering for me. I was also getting sad knowing the run was almost over. I know that sounds weird, but that's what happens for me.

Miles 23-24 got hard. I focused on my Garmin (which shows me current running pace) and kept telling myself I could break 3:50 if I kept up the pace. I then tried to do some simple math to see if I could hit 3:45. After multiple tries, I figured that I wasn't going to be able to.

At Mile 25, my watched beeped at me for my last walk break. I decided to take it, leaving Jesus to run ahead of me. It was probably the fastest walk I have ever done. The last thing I wanted to happen was to be left behind. I kept Jesus in my sights at all time, and once the walk break was over, I took off. I glanced at my garmin and I was doing 7 min/mi until I caught Jesus. Then at about 25.4 or so, I decided it was time to take off and give it all that I had left. I rounded the corner that lead into town and there were many spectators cheering us on. I told myself that if I started crying that I would become too dehydrated. That worked, and I kept going, picking a runner ahead of me, and catching them and then passing...looking for the next person. With the last 100 yards or so, I finally saw the finish line and gave it all I had. The announced my name as I approached the line, "And here comes Bradley Niess from Oakland" I yelled, "It's my birthday". The announcer wished me a Happy Birthday and the crowd let out a cheer.

I finished at 3 hours 45 minutes 48 seconds, beating my previous time by 14 minutes. I staggered through the finish, while a volunteer held me up until I could re-gain my balance. I turned and waited for Jesus to cross. I gave him a huge hug and we walked through the finisher's area holding each other up.

I was soo cold and soo tired, my focus was on getting to a warm place. Just to let you know how "done" I was, we were walking and there was a puddle in front of us. We both stopped, looked down, looked at each other and said, oh god, we have to go around that? We took a step to the side and moved past it. It felt like we had to go a mile out of our way just to get by.

Tony had found me wandering around...with a glazed over lost look. He asked what I wanted, and I told him, the finish line...I need to get to the finish line. I don't think he was quite sure what I was looking for. Once we got over to the finish line, I remembered that I had my cell phone in my pack. I told him, "phone in pack, call Johan" (and I do believe those were my exact words). He called Johan and we found him waiting by the finisher's area waiting for me. (I think we missed each other by seconds.) He came up to me and gave me a great big hug & kiss. He said that he was waiting for me there because he knew that was exactly what I wanted once I crossed the finish line. (He's a keeper!)

I started to get back some of my brain back and realized I was soaking wet and frozen! Off to my car we went were I quickly changed clothes on the street. Thank god the cops weren't siting people for being naked on the streets!

Besides the freezing cold and the rain, I had a great time. Johan and Christian made a great support team and without Tony finding me...I might still be wandering around the finish line!

Now...onto the next marathon: Gay Games VII Chicago, July 22, 2006!

3 hours 45 minutes 48 seconds
310 out of 1438 finishers (2,000 registered)
Pace: 8:37 min/mi


Blogger psbowe said...

Holy Cow!! Way to go! Man, you really did super, congratulations despite your glasses, cold, and everything else.

10:00 AM  
Blogger Brad said...

I was pretty impressed myself! I really thought that I would only be running a 4 hour marathon. I've started to set some new goals of a 3:30 marathon. With a little more speed training and a little more recovery time, I think I'll be able to do it!

12:40 PM  

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