Ah, Maine, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...okay, well it's a lot. First trip to Maine, and the northeast, and now I'm hooked. Can we say freaking gorgeous?! One of my younger sisters, Holms, and I ventured into the unknown for a week of unknown...ness. We found a condo on Craigslist, crossed our fingers and hoped it really existed, bought some plane tickets, I registered for a half marathon, and off we went.
Saturday was the big expo day (and we all know how much I love expo's...I even blog about them) and I volunteered to help Atayne out at their table. Mike, Jeremy, and Rebecca were there as well. I got there midway through the day, after some breakfast with the other members of the fab 5 (Becca, Chrissy and Brad) and after we all picked up our packets for the race.
I've done a gazillion expo-type events in my previous life as a radio DJ, but for some reason this was different (maybe because I actually like doing it, and it's for something I believe in), and I felt pretty bashful about talking to people about the product while everyone was there listening to me. Kind of like performance anxiety. It was my expo warm-up : )
I met lots of cool peeps, and a couple who approached us wearing Leadville 100 sweatshirts...I almost felt star-struck for some reason. Those people ran Leadville!! Anywho, Stephen Wells came up to talk to the guys, and Kelly (Stephen's wife) walked around with their son. We took the opportunity to trash his son...seriously, how cute is that?!
Fast forward to Sunday, Mike and I launch ourselves out into the frigid temps at 5:15a.m. to meet Rebecca and Jill (Jeremy's awesome aunt who is totally hilarious and a real trooper) at the start/finish area to set up the Atayne tent and get things rolling. It was SO COLD! Walking around in wet grass didn't help the cause either. Our feet were soaked before the sun came up.
The morning flew by, and before we knew it, everyone was lining up at the start line to run. I was signed up, but was going to be doing course clean-up with Mike, Jeff and Ian. This meant we'd be shuffling off to the 12-mile mark and running the remainder of the 26.2 mile course. I had no idea what I was in for. Just as the gun was about to go off, the rest of the fab 5'ers finally showed up and were rushing to get to the line...
First, we need a fab 5 group shot, it's the first time we've all been together since August!! Brad, me, Mike, Becca, Chrissy...
Mike and I hopped into his car, picked up some more coffee, and then headed for the 12-mile aid station. Directly across from us, and a good 50ft. down, is the 15-mile aid station, so we set to organizing the two stations simultaneously. Ian and Jeff join us here. Basically, we just talked to all the aid station volunteers and made sure that they knew to separate the paper cups and plastic water jugs, broke down the cardboard boxes, and separated garbage from recycling. The volunteers were incredibly responsive and unbelievably helpful. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I sure didn't expect such great help for some reason! We hung out at these two stations until all the marathoners ran through the 15-mile station, made sure everything was appropriately sorted before we left, and then off we went!
I'm sorry now that I didn't get any pictures of this stuff, but it was so busy, and my cold was really beating me up by now.
We set off, Mike, Jeff and I, garbage bags in hand, latex gloves on, heading for the tip of the turn around where we would meet Jan, Jeremy's dad, and pick up the retro-fitted twin baby jogging stroller. Imagine a double jogger, but with the seats taken out and replaced with two large garbage bins. One bin was for garbage, and the other for recycling. We circled back, and picked up our packs and Ian at the 15-mile station. Now, the show was really on!
We ended up doing a lot more running than I anticipated, and we got really good at picking up garbage without breaking stride...it's an art form! Gu packs became the bain of our existence as they were everywhere. We all developed what Mike and Jeff referred to as "Gu-dar". The packets would stick to the pavement though and it was pretty disgusting picking them up, even with gloves on. We found plenty of interesting garbage along the highways and streets of the marathon route...toilet seat, weed whacker, slippers, porno dvd (not kidding either), mp3 players, enough clothing to outfit a third world country, dog poop bags, an airplane bottle of tequila...empty...now that's a hardcore runner!
At each aid station we stopped, unloaded our garbage and recycling into Jan's pickup truck and unloaded all the garbage/recycling from the stations as well. We were sweeping behind the last runners and once we passed a station, they could close down. Then we were off. I pushed the stroller for a few miles (between two aid stations) and it wasn't too bad, except that the front wheel veered to the left and my left arm got quite a workout as a result. The guys were seriously awesome though and traded off the stroller between the three of them the rest of the way. It's tough running with that thing! Once we reached the 20-mile mark, we were joined by 3 or 4 more sweepers and then a few more at the final aid station. So by the end, we had a sizable group crossing the finish line. It was so much fun! Jan followed close by from mile 20 on so that we could keep tossing our full bags into his truck. The garbage really picked up in those last 6 or so miles, and clothing was everywhere! We were now covering what had been the initial first three miles of the out-and-back marathon course, so that's why there was so much discarded clothing.
My head cold was really acting up, and my cough got courser towards the end of the run (probably due to the wind and chilly temps). My nose was running faster than I was in the final two miles! My left hamstring started tightening up around mile 20 and what felt like fist-sized knot was forming behind my knee. When I asked my PT about it, she said I was probably running too fast for the distance we were covering and my hamstring was trying to decelerate me by tightening up. It was painful, but not enough to stop me. Mike was getting the same thing, so we just complained to each other about it and kept on trucking.
In all, when we crossed the finish line to a very warm welcome by the crowd, Mike, Ian, Jeff and I had covered 14.5 miles...the longest distance ever run for both Jeff and I. I was elated, because I had such a great time (way better than expected), met some totally awesome people, saw my sister standing there at the finish, I got a distance PR and because I could finally wash my hands and blow my nose. Oh, and I got a finisher medal. Sweet.
Holms and I after finishing...
Wow, what a great experience!! I can't even begin to describe how much fun this was, you really just have to experience it for yourself. Even Holms, who's not really into the whole running thing, and is by no means a morning person, showed up at 7:30a.m. without any complaints (at least none that I heard!) and helped sort trash all day long at the start/finish area. She was all smiles when she saw the rest of us crossing that finish line. I was assuming I'd come back to find her pissed at me for volunteering her to volunteer on her vacation, and she ended up having an absolute blast! I think we may have even inspired her a little bit as she said she just might start training for a 5k now! Hell yea, and the running bug is spread...it's a contagious little bugger. She really loved the free Atayne shirt she got for volunteering. I think her words were, "Oooo, a free running shirt?! That totally makes it worth it!" Hahaha
Now it was time to sort everything remaining at the start/finish area and break down the Atayne tent. Rebecca did a killer job and really held down the fort at the tent. So kudos to her. And kudos to Jeremy who killed it out there on the marathon course and BQ'd!!!! I think his finishing time was 3:09 for the marathon. Good gracious, so all that training really did pay off. Congratulations, Jeremy!
We separated recyclables and garbage, and loaded everything into Jan's truck. We broke down all the boxes and loaded those up too. Jeremy and Jan were going to take everything to be redeemed and all the money earned from that would be donated to the Maine Marathon charity, Center for Grieving Children. All clothing gathered along the course was going to be donated to the Salvation Army. Once everything was broken down and there was nothing left to clean up, we headed home for hot showers, clean clothes and then dinner at Gritty McDuff's in Freeport with Jeremy, Rebecca and the rest of the Litch' clan to celebrate a job well done and a Boston qualifying time by Jeremy. What an amazing day!!
That was only half of it...
Holms and I on Cape Elizabeth, with the Portland Headlight in the background (that's the "most famous lighthouse in the world" according to some website, and Jeremy).
So, what does one do to celebrate a killer trip, a great run, and their namesake?Get tattoos!! Yep, they're real, we did it.
Maine was fabulous. The running was top notch. I got to see my "Maine" squeeze, Mike, for a few lovely days, even though we were both pretty sick. And now I know where my next destination is. Operation: Maine.
For more recaps of Atayne's involvement in the Maine Marathon check out these blogs: Polka Dot Shorts, The Story of a Red Shirt, Trail Monster Running, and Livestrong Maine.