Saturday, May 17, 2014

Ogden Marathon 2014

Ogden Marathon 2014!
Marathon Post (literally!)

Number three is in the books!
Three fulls and 11 half marathons to date. 
  I am going to start this post with what I wrote on Facebook because I think that it basically sums up this experience.  And that way, if you don't want to read the rest of this very long post, then you will have the basics.  Kind of like doing a 5K instead of a marathon.  LOL  I really write these things for me anyway so I can go back and remember the experience as a reference for the next one.  Next one?  Did I really just write that?

Facebook post: 
I DIDN'T DIE! Even finished without a stretcher! And got a NEW PR! Finished in 4:14! I'm beyond excited. One of my hardest runs ever. Running a marathon is hard even if you are feeling up to par, but not feeling 100% makes it so much more difficult. One of my instagram friends said it best: "Marathons tear you down and bare your insides at your most vulnerable times". I had to dig deep and pray a lot. I felt your prayers for me as well. At mile 18 I prayed that I would have help to push me through and I felt a huge relief as I was able to put one foot in front of the other when I so desperately wanted to quit. I felt like I was being pushed by angels. Then I looked down and found this penny I'm holding. It was so hard to reach down and pick it up, but once I did I felt strength surge through my entire being. I clutched that thing with a death grip the rest of the way. I knew Tyson placed it there when I needed it most. Thank you to my angels Tyson and Gina. I KNOW that you were right there pushing me along. After that I was determined to reach that finish line and cross it strong. I'm so grateful for all the support from my family friends, both seen and unseen. I can do hard things because of you! This penny is more valuable to me than my medal!

After four and half months of training, it was finally here!  I trained really hard for this one.  I stayed pretty true to my training plan and rarely missed any miles with the exception of when I thought I had a stress fracture and took about a week off and a couple of other days off when I was afraid I was getting plantar fasciitis.  Other than that, I really worked it hard.  I used the Hal Higdon Intermediate 1 and 2 Training Plan.  I did three 20 mile runs compared to my usual just one, and I made those miles count this time instead of taking it at a slower pace.  I logged in almost 550 miles, which was a little short of the plans, but more than I've done in my past marathon training.

As race day was fast approaching, I was getting seriously nervous because the weather was predicted to be in the low 80's. Runners always start to obsess about the forecast two weeks out.  It's kind of funny because we have no control over it, but we freak out anyway!  Weather is always a HUGE factor come race day.  Last year I ran this race in a downpour for the entire 26.2 miles and ended up with hypothermia after I crossed the finish line, as did most of the runners.  
Just a little memory of last year's downpour!
This year, I had no fear of rain, just heat.  Heat will kill a race (and possibly a racer!) haha, especially when it suddenly arrives before you have any time to acclimatize to it.  You need 7-10 days to do that and since I had only run in temps above 62° three times prior (and those runs were so draining because I wasn't used to the heat), I was becoming concerned.  Most of my training was done in very cold temperatures because spring was a little slow in getting here.  And then if that wasn't stressing me out enough, on Thursday I started feeling like I had the flu!  (Always a good way to take my mind off of the fear of the high temps!)  I was panicked!  Here I train for FOUR and a HALF months for my race on Saturday and two days before I GET SICK!  Noooooooooooooooo!!!!   I couldn't believe it!  Seriously. 

Could. Not. Believe. It.
I never get sick!  When I woke up I felt like I hadn't slept all night.  I was also feeling queasy and dizzy, my brain felt foggy, and I was sore all over!  Not really achy, but if I had already ran a marathon.  I didn't feel like I was going to throw up though until I realized that I may have to run feeling like this!  That was a nauseating thought!  I tried to take it as easy as I could all while trying to take care of Dave who was also sick, (though much sicker than I - but HE didn't have a marathon in two days!).  I would be more than happy to be sick, but just NOT RIGHT NOW!  Argh!  I wasn't feeling any better on Friday when I woke up either.  I felt so weak and worn out.  I had a little bawl fest and was very discouraged.  One of my greatest fears was coming to fruition.  Running a marathon with the flu!  Last year another of my greatest fears came to pass too...running a marathon in a downpour. I survived that and felt very hard core after knowing I had conquered that fear and so maybe just for fun I get to experience another fear just to see if I can push through it too. Sometimes heaven has quite the sense of humor.  Hmm....  I think I better quit having fears when it comes to marathons!  It seems every time I do, that it comes to pass!
On Friday, I had to go to the expo and pick up my race packet. As I walked around, I started to feel less dizzy and queasy.  That gave me some hope.  I got my picture taken with running guru Jeff Galloway.  I wanted to ask him what his advice was about running a full marathon with the flu, but I was afraid he would jump away from me as if I had the plague.  I tried not to breath on him or shake his hand. ☺(hehe - I really don't think I was contagious).
 I was supposed to be carb loading for three days before but I couldn't eat much of anything on Thursday.  I forced my oatmeal down on Friday and by lunch time I was able to eat a rice bowl and Rumbi sweet potato fries.  They tasted so delish! That gave me a lot of hope!  I had a really hard time trying to hydrate and tried to sip water all day.  I had to force some pasta down Friday night.  NOT good.  I worried and fretted and freaked that I was going to totally crash and burn.  But I knew no matter what (short of throwing up non-stop) that I was going to run it.  So I tried to put my focus on how I was going to manage.  The good thing about it is that it took away my fear and worry of the heat on race day and instead I was totally focused on how I would survive being sick.  I put it in the Lord's hands because I no longer had any control of what happened.  I did my best to stay healthy and train hard and the sad thing is that no matter what you do, it all comes down to ONE day.  Just ONE day.  And anything can happen on that ONE day.  Anything...  But usually what happens is one of your greatest fears comes to pass.  At least in my case. 
I asked Dave to give me a blessing right before I went to bed on Friday and that relaxed my nerves some.  I slept pretty well and when my alarm went off at 3:00 a.m. I felt much better than I had when I woke up the previous two days.  I can't even express how relieved that made me feel.  I got ready and decided I was going to do this and come what may, give it my best. I waited for my ride and once they came I hauled all my junk out of the door thinking I really needed a suitcase for it all.  My friend Heather said that we all need a little red wagon to pull with us as we run so we have everything we need. The visual of that makes me laugh!

No turning back now...
Top left: with Heather before she left to catch the bus for the half.  Top right: with cute Marci at the start.  Bottom left: with Jen's Provo running pals.  Bottom right: with John Parrish from our hood.
There were a lot of porta potties!  But with 3500 runners, they could have used a few more!  Too bad I didn't get a photo of myself when I came out of the porta potty with a piece of TP stuck to my shoe.  That was fun.
To do these justice you must click to enlarge

Me and Jen with Adrian. ↓ He is our favorite runner!  
We pace with him with the American Flyers and he is the funnest and funniest runner I know.  He is always smiling and always has something positive to say.  His bright pink shoes were the hit of the day.  He has a lot of fans and made the rounds at the start.  When I was on mile 18, I felt someone tugging on my fuel belt, and I turned around and it was him.  As he passed me, I can't remember what he said, but it made me laugh when I needed it!  I ended up passing him about mile 22.  I think he is coming back from an injury because I never beat him.  He is a speed demon.

This ↑ will always be one of my favorite photos of this race. (click to enlarge) I only wish I had been able to capture it sooner.  All along that fence was a straight line of the male gender doing what the male gender are lucky enough to be able to do in a situation such as the start of a marathon.  I say this because as you saw in the other photos, there are hundreds of porta potties, BUT there are thousands of runners who need to use those porta potties.  When you do the math you can see why the lines are ALWAYS extremely long.  An experienced runner knows that the very first thing you do once you get off the bus is to get in the long line or you may not have time before the race starts. Many runners get right back in line after, because they know they will most likely need to go again before race start.  Nerves...  Unless you are of the male gender.  If someone from that gender is in line, either before or during the race, you pretty much know that they needed to do business of a slightly different nature.  If only I could have captured it a bit earlier, I am sure the photo would have gone viral or something because it was the funniest sight ever.  As far as the girl in the forefront...I do believe she is praying.  Something most runners do a lot of on race day!

On the bus ride up, Jen and I were talking about our finish time goal.  She had printed out a pace band for 4:15 that was course specific.  I had the 4:15 and 4:00 on my wrist because I wasn't sure what I would be capable of doing and I wanted both just in case.  Mine weren't course specific and so I wrote her splits down on the back of one of mine.  It's always better to pace with a course specific pace.  I just knew I couldn't go out too fast at the start, but not too slow either.  I had made another trip to the runner's best friend (porta potties or Honey Bucket as runners call them) and when I came out everyone was lining up.  I couldn't find Jen.  I still wasn't sure what my plan was but I decided to line up with the 4:00 pacers and see how I did.  I stayed with the 3:50 pacers at the SLC Half Marathon for 11 miles and so I was hopeful, but with the circumstances of being sick and the heat, I just wasn't sure what I could do.  Finishing at 4:00 was a dream that would be a real miracle.  I decided to shoot for the moon and be happy if I landed among the stars. 
I got in with the 4:00 pacers.  There is just nothing like the start of a marathon.  The energy, nerves, and excitement is so thick you could cut it.  I love that feeling!  

I'm in there somewhere among those 3500 runners.

It was pretty cool at the start and I left my jacket and gloves on for about the first 6 miles.  Surprisingly, things were not feeling as easy for me as I expected for those first 10 or so miles.  I'm not saying any miles are easy, but usually in a full, those first 5 or 6 pass really quickly without a lot of effort.  Not so this time.  I'm not sure if it's because of not feeling well or if it was because I was sticking with the pacers.  I wasn't sure if I should slow down because I didn't want to crash and burn at the end which happens if you go out too fast at the beginning.  I felt like it was taking a lot of effort, but I kept up with them.  By mile 11 they were getting a little bit ahead of me, but I still stayed with them.  By mile 13, they were quite a bit ahead of me, but still visible, but I was okay to just go at the pace I was capable of.  My dreams of qualifying for Boston did die a sad death at that point though.  I wasn't sure if I could sustain the effort I was currently giving, let alone keep it strong for another 13 miles.    

And then the hill....

The dreaded hill on mile 14.  I tend to slow down on hills, but for some reason I was able to run up that killer without losing a lot of speed.  I was determined to run that thing without stopping once.  It went on and on and on!  Luckily that is where the best posters are.  The hill is loaded with them and it keeps your mind off the pain.  The photo below on the left shows a few of them. Once I reached the top, I could no longer see the 4:00 pacers.  Like I said they don't pace with a course specific time and so they take the uphills the same pace as the downhill, which is absurd!  I never saw them again.
Click to enlarge. I saw the pink one at about mile 24. 
 Some photos I got online of the marathon...

I just kept waiting for that wonderful downhill once you go around the dam.  It seemed like it took forever to reach it this year.  And it was getting so hot!  I kept pouring cold water on my head to cool off.  My feet were hurting like I've never experienced before too.  They were on fire and very tired.  I hope it's not because of my shoes.  I love my Altra's but maybe they aren't that great for long distance.  Finally at about mile 17 or 18, I made it to the downhill.  Prior to that, I wasn't sure if I could keep going at that pace.  I was going pretty fast and I was really looking forward to some straight downhill to give my cardio a break.  I was hurting. I was sick of running.  I wanted to be done.  I questioned why I ever signed up for this.  I wondered why there are so many crazy people that do sign up for these things. I couldn't believe I was one of them.  I wanted that finish line to just pop up now.  I cranked up my music and tried to push all the negative thoughts out of my head.  I started to repeat mantras to myself, "You are strong!", "You can do this!", "Fight!", "Push!", "Your body will give out before your mind will, so don't listen to your body!",  "You are going to get a new PR at this rate!", "Trust in your training., "It is paying off.", "You have family at the finish line waiting for you.", "They will be proud of you."....  All those thoughts and many more, I kept trying to focus on.  They didn't seem to be working too well for me and so I said a prayer that went something like this, "Okay whoever is available up there, I could really use some help down here.  Do you think you could just give me a push for a while so I can regain some strength?  This is really hard and I could really use some help.  Please?".   

I was really hoping for some kind of help.  And miraculously enough, I got it.  I felt a renewed strength and even though I was still dead tired and would have loved to quit at that moment and be done, I knew I could make it a little farther because I felt like I had some angels pushing me along.  It was amazing.  I was still able to maintain my strong pace.  There was also some good downhill at this point that also helped.  My fatigue lifted for a bit and I was so grateful.  I kept looking at my Garmin and was pretty discouraged because it seemed like every time I looked at it, it was reading in the 10:00's and I never felt like I was pacing in the 10:00's.  But I accepted that it would be what it would be and I was giving it my all and I would have to be happy with it.  I never saw the 4:15 pacers pass me either and so even though I thought I would finish slower than that, I wasn't sure why I was still ahead of them with paces in the 10:00's.  Come to find out I only looked at it when it was relocating the satellite or when I had gone a little slower for a few seconds. 
 My favorite aid station (Ogden Clinic). They always do the coolest things!
 Some photos I got online

Once we got to the end of the canyon, I knew I only had a 5K left.  I almost rolled my ankle (twice) on some loose rocks when we ran down the dirt hill into the tunnel.  That really scared me!  I was so grateful I didn't!  I knew those last three miles were going to be ten times worse than all the 23 before and so I tried to mentally prepare for them.  I ate three Shot Bloks that had some caffeine in them on mile 22 and I hoped that would help get me through.  I had really tried to fuel well and stay hydrated this time.  I ate a yogurt, banana, and Cliff bar before the start.  I took my first gel at mile 5 (salted caramel), then another at mile 11 (peanut butter), another at mile 16.5 (salted caramel), and the Bloks (cherry chocolate) at mile 21-22.  I have never been able to do that before.  I learned you have to force that stuff down even if you want to barf while doing it,  otherwise you will bonk.  I also munched on a pretzel or two and a cinnamon Jolly Rancher.   I didn't take any drugs from strangers this year like I did last year either!  haha  Yes, that has been the family joke for a year now.  Some guy had all these pills at the start last year and I was so fearing those last three miles that I asked him about them and he told me they are what him and all his running buddies take to make it those last six miles.  He said it was a No-Doz and it had a lot of caffeine in it.  So I asked for one!  Yes, me the Queen of refusing to take even a Tylenol or Advil unless I am on my death bed, asked for one!  I was desperately in fear of those last miles!  I took it at mile 23 and almost passed out!  I was so dizzy and my head was spinning so fast and I thought I was going to collapse on the asphalt.  I had to walk it off for a bit and then I was okay after about a half mile or so.  NOT smart!  But, I did sprint across the finish line!  I don't drink anything with caffeine in it and so I'm sure my poor system was freaking out. Anyway it's a family joke now.  

However, this year if someone had come up to me and offered me a caffeine pill at that point, I'm afraid I would've accepted.  You get to a point in those last three miles where you want to feel better so bad and want to be done and your brain isn't fully functioning either and so it would be a great place for drug dealers if we runners were carrying any money on us.  haha  No, I actually learned my lesson, and know better now! 

Here are a few of the professional shots taken during the race. Excuse the water marks, but I refuse to pay $25 for a single photo unless there was a really good one.  Which there was not.  I never like my race photos.  I get super critical about my form and everything else.  And these photos always make you look like you are walking instead of running.  I really did run the entire thing.  But these will help me to remember the experience, (with or without the watermark). Besides, PROOF just means proof I ran it right?  ☺  I really wanted to do a jump shot, but I had to conserve my energy.  hah  The smiling took as much energy as I could muster. 

About mile 23, I said another prayer and expressed thanks for the previous help and asked if I could get some more for those last three miles.  I said, "Come on Tys, please help out your Mom".  Within seconds after that, I saw a penny laying on the ground!  I couldn't believe it!  It took all I had to stop and bend over and pick it up, but nothing was going to stop me from doing that!  I knew it was a direct sign from Tyson letting me know that he was there helping me along.  I KNEW.  That lifted my spirits so much!  There was a runner next to me that saw me pick it up and he said, "Good luck for you!".  I said, "Yes!  It's from my son that passed away!".  And it was.  I wanted to put it in my pocket, but doing that took way too much energy and so I just clutched that thing with a death grip so I wouldn't lose it.  What a blessing to me.  What perfect timing too!  I was beaming from ear to ear even though I was still hurting and so ready to be done.  But it gave me a surge of energy that I needed!  That is how I made it those last three miles and finished strong.  

The last mile seemed forever.  It always does because you can see the finish line ahead but it looks like you will never reach it because it's so far away.  And just knowing you are so close for some reason makes it harder.  I kept repeating, "Just one step at a time. One step.  That will get you there.".  Luckily that is where you get some spectators and the cheering helps more than you can possibly know.  I couldn't find a good song on my playlist and I spent half of the mile trying to find a good song that would really energize me.  I turned the volume way up so I wouldn't focus on the distance.  Any little thing to help get there.  Every step was getting harder and I really felt like I had lead in my shoes.  I told myself to remember that this is all mental. No matter what the distance, once you know you are getting close to the finish line, it gets harder.  So I told myself to just pretend that I was running 100 miles like in the documentary Unbreakable that Jen and I had watched this week. That didn't seem to help, so I then I tried telling myself I was running a 30 miler.  It's amazing how powerful the mind is, because that thought really did help me get there a little stronger.  I'm convinced your body will do whatever your mind tells it to do.  It's amazing really. 

 I was almost there!  I heard Dave yell out my name and saw him.  My boys were there and my parents.  I had several friends who were there in spirit that wanted to come but couldn't. 

And without medical aid or a stretcher!  But with a lot of help from angels seen and unseen.  That stretcher did sound good a couple of times though!  haha  And the next couple of days I could have used a wheelchair because it was quite painful to walk!

I crossed the finish line strong at 4:14:51!  A new PR for me!  Wow!  I was so happy, I can't even tell you!  I shaved 23 minutes off of my last marathon time.  I ran the entire way at a pretty steady pace, usually around the 9:20-9:30's.  My overall pace was 9:44.  I was truly excited about that!  I was still a little bummed I didn't make it in 4:00 so I could qualify for Boston, but I think I possibly could have if the stars had all aligned perfectly for this race and it had been cooler and I had not been sick...but it is a very rare race to have everything go perfectly.  So I have no excuses.  I just feel very blessed and very satisfied everything went as well as it did.  The only drawback is now that I am that close to a BQ, I know I am going to want to keep trying to get it.  But 14 minutes is a lot of time to shave off.  If I could maintain where I'm at for three more years, then my qualifying time goes to 4:10.  Yes, I guess there are some advantages to becoming a geezer!  I'm not looking forward to all that training again, but most likely by next week I will be ready to go.  Did I mention runners are crazy?

I got my medal and lots of hugs. And then chocolate milk!  That is the best after treat in the world!  I was so grateful that two of my boys were able to come, as well as my parents, and most of all my husband.  He has been so sick this whole week and I know it took a lot out of him to come.

I wish there was a way to describe that feeling you get when you cross that finish line.  I'm not sure there are words that can even convey the true feeling.  It's not even close to the feeling of any other finish line, even a half marathon.  It's really something so personal and something that no one but you can understand because no one else knows how deep you had to dig to get there.  Not only on race day, but for the 4.5 months of training.  In crazy weather.  At crazy times of day.  No one but you know the thoughts you have during those 26 miles, or how bad you may want to quit at certain times of the race even while knowing that quitting is NEVER an option.  It just isn't.  It's one of those things that you really do have to experience in order to appreciate.  Running a marathon is truly a spiritual experience.  And I have the evidence to prove it!  ↓
With my prized possession penny!  It's more valuable to me than the medal.

This guy is one of those seen angels that has been supporting me the whole way!  He always gives me encouragement when I need it most and never doubted me, even when I got the crazy notion of trying to get a BQ.  He would bring me water on my long runs and was genuinely interested in how my training was going.  He even tracked me the entire race on his phone and wrote down my pace so I could analyze it after.  I think he was almost more excited than I was that I maintained almost a steady pace throughout the entire course.  I really am blessed to have such a strong athletic supporter!  (sorry I couldn't resist!)

I could have not done this without Jen.  Running those long 20 mile training runs alone would have been no fun!  She even shared her training coaches plan with me and we really hit it hard this time.  It is truly a blessing to have one of your best friends also be a runner you can train with.  She was hoping for a better race, but that dang heat got to everyone this year.  She finished strong and with a smile on her face and I am so proud of her.

Found these local pals at the finish line too!
I wish I would've lost the sunglasses for these photos.  I look like a bug.

To say thanks to my boys for coming to support me, we took them to Panda Express after.  I really didn't want to walk inside, but I managed.  I love this picture of Dave and me.  We were two cripples.  He didn't feel well and I was beginning to walk like I was 90. The rigamortis was starting to set in.

The shirts were actually pretty cute this year.  And they really went all out on the medals.  They were extra large. 

Can you tell my kitty missed me?  Ha!  I wish!

You're almost to the finish line of this post!  Don't give up now!

If you actually read all this, then YOU deserve a medal!  Holy cow, that was longer than a marathon!
A few more thoughts... just when you thought you were done...(this is the point two of the marathon - just a little bit more.)   ☺


This really is true....

And now I'm too sore to clean it!  hah

You VS You
I lost mine about mile 20

And now...
I could really use a massage...

You earned one ↑ for making it through this!

Side note:
Come back another day and watch this great inspiring video about marathons and the Boston Marathon.  If you are a runner find 23 minutes when you can watch it.  If you're not a runner, find 23 minutes when you can watch it.  It's that good.

(click to play)

I loved this video.  Here are a few of my favorite quotes from it:
"A marathon is more than just a race. To those who dare to embark on this challenge. It's a gift.  It's an opportunity to experience all that life has to offer in 26.2 miles. They journey thru excitement, camaraderie, happiness, fear, struggles, danger, tears of both pain and joy. The overwhelming accomplishment -these athletes competing not against each other for glory or fame but against themselves.  Forever pushing their limits to find their true potential." 
"Marathons are a lot like life.  In marathons there are good moments and there are terrible moments but all those moments pass and everybody has the same ultimate goal, but our journeys there are so different."

"Show me someone who has done something worthwhile, and I'll you someone that has overcome adversity."  - Lou Holtz


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