I DID IT!!! I REALLY DID IT!!!
AND I DIDN'T DIE!!! (completely anyway!)
I am happy to report that I ran and survived 26.2 miles! And without the need of a stretcher or ambulance.
I ran the Top of Utah Marathon on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2010. The course begins at Hardware Ranch in Cache Valley and ends in the city of Logan. I decided to do this in June just before the Ragnar Relay, but after many marathon runners told me it was not a good one to do for my first because the last six miles are tougher than other Utah marathons and the first 14 miles really hammer your legs because of the downhill, I decided against it after all. I respect and FEAR the distance of 26.2 and I didn't want anything but a wonderful course to do for my first. First? Listen to me! This was to be my ONE AND ONLY! Either way, I decided to wait until next year and do the Ogden or the Utah Valley Marathon because everyone really loves those.
WARNING: This post is long. 26.2 miles is long too. Enough said.
I started to get nervous on the Monday before, and started to stress about every little detail. I was worried what miles to GU (gel) and which GU to use and how much and what I should eat the morning of and the night before. I was obsessed with the weather forecast and prayed hard for a beautiful WARM day. And most important of all → WHAT TO WEAR! ☺ Packet pick ups were the night before and I also had to get to my son's varsity football game where he was starting, so I couldn't be late. It was also our 28th wedding Anniversary. I knew I had to be up by 3:15 a.m. and I didn't want to be eating after the game, so I went to Rumbi Grill to carb load on some brown rice and veggies after the expo on my way to the game. How romantic to eat dinner in the car, by yourself on your anniversary! We decided to celebrate another night. Have I mentioned running a marathon consumes you? Well, it does!
I was finally starting to get excited about this ordeal and so got everything ready to go early in the day, but I ended staying up until almost midnight with so many details to worry and think about. I was pretty sure I wouldn't be sleeping a wink anyway because of the nerves.
D-day arrived and I once again went over in my head everything I would need to remember, like what miles to GU on and the reason WHY I WAS DOING THIS. I wrote Tyson's name on my hand so when things started to get tough (which I knew they would) I would remember that I was dedicating this to him in his memory because when things got tough for him, he didn't quit or give up. Nor could I. I am healthy and physically able to run a marathon, whereas he was not. I CAN do it and so I wanted to do it for him in honor of his amazing courage and dignity that he so overly possessed.
Rob and Heather showed up at 4:30 a.m. Dave was up with me and so I asked him to come along for the ride to help calm my nerves. I used the travel time to write on my hand the miles I needed to GU because when those long miles start to set in, it's hard to even remember your name, let alone anything else important! We arrived at Merlin Olsen Park in Logan and bid our farewells. I told Dave it might be the last time he sees me alive and so maybe he should start preparing my funeral on the ride back.
We loaded the buses at the finish line and traveled to the starting line. It seemed like that ride took forever. Once there, the first item on our list was to hit the porta potties! There was already a line, but we had to do what we had to do. The temperature felt like it was around 40°; much warmer than I had anticipated thankfully! We walked down to the warming tents. YES, warming tents! They were awesome. We were packed inside like sardines, but it was so warm and cozy no one seemed to mind. Some people were even sleeping inside.
You could feel the tension and excitement start to build. Everyone started to line up behind the starting line according to their predicted finishing times. Elites in the front - slow pokes in the back, with everyone else in between. Me and Heather noticed we were standing in the 3:30 pace group (pretty elite) and started to laugh. We thought we probably faked some of them out and made them think we were elite runners. We eased back to the 4:30 sign. Then the five minute warning gun went off and the chatter noise level escalated and everyone started to get excited. Right then, I realized I needed to make another trip to the porta potty! It was quite a hike and I knew I'd never be back in time and so I just danced around and hoped the feeling was just from nerves and the cold and would go away once I started running.
THE GUN WENT OFF and so did we! It took us almost a minute to cross the pad that reads your chip and records your exact time. Not too bad considering there was almost 3000 runners.
Oh you could feel the excitement in the air. Everyone was chatting and glad to finally be starting on this long journey. There was a couple we talked to that said they were from Florida and just decided on Wed. that they were going to run it. They were worried about the altitude's effect on them. Ya think?
There were many medics on bikes and a lot of campers down the canyon. I was looking forward to mile 14 where spectators were finally allowed. It was amazing to me how fast it came. We were still feeling strong and had kept up our pace perfectly. I looked for Dave in the crowd but couldn't see him, but Jen, Julie, and Abby were there cheering us on with a poster! It helps so much to see someone you know that came just to cheer you on. It gives you that boost that you so desperately need!
mile 16 one of our fellow runners we were chatting with said that we were almost to the single digits. I realized she meant the miles that were now left were no longer double digits. The countdown was on and we only had 9 more to go! Only NINE? Actually that sounded really encouraging at that point. The run was going great and we were both feeling pretty good but starting to feel it at MILE 17. My hamstrings were getting really tight and my calves were starting to cramp. That's when I saw Dave. He was just arriving at the point where we were passing and so we didn't get to really talk to him. At the aid station at mile 17, Jen caught up to us with some Advil for Heather. I did a half GU and took some Tylenol and some Advil as well.
I had been pleasantly surprised that my injury did not flare up once at this point, but I was so nervous it would that I decided to take the meds BEFORE to catch it before it did. My "doc" advised me to only take three Advil, but I decided that the way I was feeling would just get worse and that four would be much better for when it did. Next time I will listen to my doc. I basically took them on an empty stomach (other than a little Gatorade and a half a GU gel) and I started to feel my stomach protest. I took out the pretzel sticks I had brought and started to eat a few of those to help curb things. I knew the salt would also help with the calf cramps as well. Another bad idea. They didn't sit well in my stomach. But it was still all good... for now.
I wanted to quit!
I wanted it to be over right then. I immediately called Dave and as soon as I heard his voice the tears started to flow. I told him that I couldn't do it. That I was not going to make it. That it was just too hard. I remember he kind of chuckled and said, "I just saw you half a mile ago and you looked great! You can do it." He then told me that he would meet me at mile 22. I told him that I didn't think I could go that far. Looking back now, I realize how humorous that must have sounded since it was just a half a mile! Though at the time I was dead serious. Everything inside of me wanted to quit. The pain was too much. The thought of running four more miles feeling like I was at the moment was too overwhelming.
Then I saw Dave!
Then there was another hill! Oh glory! There were so many stinkin' hills those last six miles I was going to scream if I saw another one. Well probably not scream. I didn't have enough left in me to do that! Not huge hills but inclined enough to cause excruciating pain with each step. Then a sweet girl named Katie ran by me and told me I was doing great. She then asked me if I wanted her to cheer me on at the finish line and all I could say was, "I don't think I am going to make it to the finish line." She encouraged me on and ran off. About 3o seconds later she turned around and came running back to me and asked me if I wanted her to run with me. I said, "YES!" with as much enthusiasm as was possible in my state. We chatted about how this was her third time running this marathon and she was a returned missionary. I asked her what her previous times were and she said around 4:30. I immediately told her to please go ahead because that was my goal time and I knew that I wasn't going to quite reach it. She was sweet and told me that it was okay and that she felt inspired to come back and run with me. She was angel #2. Interestingly after about a half mile she said she was cramping and was going to have to stop. Then she ran ahead of me and I didn't see her again.
The next aid station was at mile 25. I have no recall of much of mile 24. It is a blur. I am not sure how I got through other than all the distractions on Main. There were people here and there waiting for their runner to cheer them on, but I wish more would have cheered us all on while they waited. The ones that did helped more than they know. Once again I just ran past the volunteers holding out cups of water with tears streaming down my face. I still couldn't even drink anything. They were great at cheering us on as we passed. There were several runners along side of the aid stations and side of the road in tears at this point. I was getting more hopeful just knowing that the finish line was so close... yet so far.
I turned off Main on another hill and was cursing the race organizers for yet another hill when I turned to see a long straight away ahead. I was done. So done. I just wanted to cross that finish line and I knew I was going to have to push myself so far beyond my limits to get there. But I knew the only way to feel better, to end this insanity, to stop, to rest, was to push hard because stopping before the finish was not an option. Just then an arm was around me and a voice saying, "Mom, you are doing great! You are almost there!" It was my son McKay! Angel #4. All I could say to him was, "HOW MUCH FARTHER?" He ran along side of me for almost a mile though I didn't know it because he was off the side following me. Then I turned another corner and saw the mile marker 26!!! I had never been so happy to see anything in my life! But then a huge let down because there was NO FINISH LINE!!! I knew I must be in a bad dream! This had to be a nightmare! Then another runner yelled out, "Point two! Just point two!" I had forgotten about the stinkin' POINT TWO!!! I remember feeling just sick that I had to run another point two. Just then McKay once again came up to me when I needed it most and told me I was doing great.
I was so ready to be done. I was pretty sure they measured that last mile wrong because it felt like it was seven miles, not one! Then Jen came running out to me and told me that I was almost there. Once again all I could say was, "How much farther?" She said, "About two blocks." That about did me in. I didn't think I could run two more steps let alone two more blocks!
We turned the corner and I saw the finish line. That should have been one of the greatest sights in my life, but it was more like seeing a mirage knowing it is there but I will never reach it. It seemed so far away that I didn't think I could make it. Then another runner we had been chatting with earlier ran up to me and said, "We're almost there. This is where we turn it on and sprint!" All I could say back to her was, "I am not going to make it that far." It is so comical now to go back and realize how silly and ridiculous that sounds but at the time it was my reality. Those last steps seemed longer than the entire marathon put together.
As I got closer, a wave of excitement began to rush over me and I allowed myself to think how amazing it will be when that medal is placed around my neck. I wanted it so badly. I dug as deep as I have ever dug to find every last ounce of energy and gave it all I had.
The announcer said,"Now finishing- Jodi ______ from (and my city)" Those words didn't even phase me. I didn't care. All I cared about was that I CROSSED THAT LINE and now I could STOP RUNNING!!!!
tears of INTENSE RELIEF. Ugly tears, but a beautiful moment! It didn't hit me right off that I had just completed a MARATHON! I just wanted to find my family and friends and rest. But I was amazed... relieved... and it was all worth it!
I was surprised how light headed I became about 30 minutes after. I nearly went down a couple of times and so decided it was time to sit. Not sure if that was a good idea or not. It felt like rigamortis was beginning to set in! Standing up and getting the muscles to work was even worse. But I had plenty of help to assist me as I began to walk again. I felt like a 90 year old. Dave and my Dad brought me some chocolate milk. That tasted so good, but I couldn't drink much. I heard the massage line was moving fast and so I hustled over. As fast as a 90 year old can hustle with people assisting her. The massages were only supposed to last about 10 minutes but the guy I got gave me at least a 3o minute one. It hurt so good. He was the Weber State Football team's sports therapist. If I could have, I would have stayed there all day while he massaged my screaming muscles.
The recovery was slow. I felt like I had been run over by a steamroller; hit by a semi or a locamotive. Stairs... Oh the stairs! For the first couple of days I actually slid down the bannister because it was easier than bending my knees. The only muscles I had to support me in the process were my hand and arm muscles. It was probably a good way to end up really injured. A video of that would have given a good laugh to future grandchildren someday.
It was definitely a life changing experience for me. I guess the best way to describe it is a feeling of empowerment. I feel empowered now knowing that because I was able to endure this, there is nothing I can not endure. I feel like I have accomplished one of the most challenging tests not only physically, but maybe even more so mentally, that I will ever do. I have already noticed that when things get hard either physically (like trying to run five miles the other day while still feeling the painful after effects of the marathon), or mentally (like tackling a huge mess -aka flooded basement last week), that I have more strength to carry on. I am sure it will carry over into all aspects of my life. I am definitely not the same woman that started the race. I now know deep down that I am able to keep going even when I want to quit more than anything. I may have to dig deep - really deep- to find the courage and strength to keep going forward, but it's there when I reach for it. It is a great feeling of security to know I have that inside me.
I CAN DO HARD THINGS!
♪♫*Enter Twilight Zone music* ♫♪
For you bud...
I THINK NOT!!! ↓
A MUST see!
It will feel better when it quits hurting!
"ONLY THOSE WHO RISK GOING TOO FAR CAN POSSIBLY FIND OUT FAR ONE CAN GO." -TS Eliot