Well, I did it.
I finally ran the motherload.
The freaking 26.2 mile race that has been on my bucketlist since I was 16.
The race that I had planned to do once I graduated from college.
A degree and a baby later, I finally did it.
And “it” was a lot.
My marathon goal is to break 3 hours. Ames was born in October, which happens to be the same month as the St. George Marathon. Nate and I agreed that would be a perfect amount of time to train and break 3 hours. But when my sister (in-law, namely, Heidi) said she was doing Utah Valley and wanted me to do it with her, I decided to just go for it in June.
So I went for it.
Nate and I sat down in the middle of March and planned an outline of training from March till June 14th. It was a plan that had 3 week phases, each phase included more miles and more specific marathon workouts.
I followed the plan as well as a new, trying-to-get-back-into-shape, mom could have. As I look back on my training I know it wasn’t perfect. But for my circumstances, it was pretty much perfect.
|in the middle of a 14 mile training run|
All during training I went back and forth from believing I could break 3 hours, to questioning if I could even get past 14 miles. There were some workouts I would finish and feel like I was going to absolutely crush the marathon! Others…well…there would literally be a puddle of tears in the gutter below the curb where I sat.
|End one of my workouts that I crushed.|
Nate was both my and Heidi’s coach. And he was absolutely amazing (duh). But even more than usual. Some marriages can’t handle the coach-athlete relationship. Ours thrives under it. Nate was there for most workouts…timing me, driving next to me, making me eat nasty gus, making sure I got X amount of calories for X amount of time I was running, making me take naps, and most importantly, pulling me up from my curb and draining my puddle of tears.
On the bus ride up to the starting line I told my sister that, even though I knew he would be proud no matter what the outcome, I really, REALLY wanted to break 3 for him.
As mentioned, training was very up and down. However, the last month before the marathon everything clicked together. I had a series of weeks where I was running 60+ miles per week and nailing my workouts. Nate and I both believed, like for reals, that 3 hours was a very attainable goal.
|about mile 17 on the course|
1.5 weeks before the marathon I woke up and didn’t feel quite right as I got up to run. Feeling “not quite right” turned into a sickness that took me out for the count for almost a week. I did my best to stay positive about the marathon and (under orders from Nate) slept a lot and drank all the V8 juice Nate could force down me. The Tuesday before the marathon I was able to plop out 3 miles after not running for a week. Every day from Tuesday till Saturday I was feeling better so I became hopefully that sub 3 was still in sights.
One of 3 alarms went off at 2:43 am on Saturday morning and I shot out of bed.
(Side note: Marathons should not start at the ungodly hour of 6 am…especially when you have to catch a bus at the LATEST at 4:15 am to be bussed to the starting line…did not enjoy the 3 hours of sleep I got the night before.)
I made a last minute decision to run in my “sparkly” tank, brushed my teeth, and then suffered through a bowl of oatmeal as my sister and I drove to the bus shuttle pick-up. We nervously rode the bus 26.2 miles up the canyon. We got there at 4:15am. They had lots of fires and sleeping runners on the ground. So we picked a fire, sat down, and tried not to think about what we were about to put our bodies through. I actually didn’t feel too nervous as we sat there and chatted. I was feeling better and hopeful.
About 20 mins before the gun went off we stripped off our (many) layers of clothes and slowly jogged around. About 5 mins before the start we creeped our way up to the start of the line and nervously waited. I said a little prayer to the big man, turned on my watch, and buckled up for the next 3 hours ahead.
The plan was to start out slowish the first mile and then cruise the downhills and go steady up the couple of hills.
I actually felt great at the start and had to hold myself back. I was easily clipping off 6:50 miles, getting excited for my sub 3.
Then around mile 5 it hit me. One of the worst feelings known to runners…the poops. (Please excuse my frank-ness; gotta tell it how it is)
I tried to brush it off, mentally telling my body that “you do NOT have to poop. You will NOT stop to poop!”
My body just chuckled at me…I stopped at mile 7…mile 11….and mile 16.
After stopping twice before I had even hit halfway I started to get a little nervous. I went through half-marathon at 1:34…4 minutes off pace. I still had a little hope at this point though. The first half was WAY hiller than I had expected, and I had stopped 2-times, and just 2 weeks before I had run the second half of the course pretty easily in a 1:27. I thought if I dug a little deeper I could do it.
Pretty quickly after half-way I started slipping…and slipping fast. I tried with all my might but I did not feel right. I had eaten my shot bloks like a good girl…however, I did not get any fluids in me, and I started to feel it. At mile 14 I had a hard time keeping a 6:55 pace on a downhill and I knew that my sub 3 was quickly slipping away.
I hit mile 15 and started going up the biggest hill. There was a NASTY head wind the whole race and as I started going up the hill I broke a little. I finally realized that sub 3 was not going to happen and I knew that I was pretty dehydrated. As I climbed the hill, feeling like crap, I really had to battle myself to even keep going. I was so close to dropping out. I finally crested the hill and as I was going down the other side I regained some strength, both physically and mentally. I was right in front of the 3:10 pace group and I knew that if I wanted to, I could probably suffer and go with them and run somewhere around a 3:10.
I weighed my options…I could suffer with the 3:10 group, probably make myself more dehydrated, and run a 3:10 which was 10 mins off my goal, or I could throw in the towel for trying to run a fast time and just try to “enjoy” the rest of the race (if you can call running 26.2 miles enjoyment).
It wasn’t a very hard decision. I realized it was my first marathon and I wanted to have a good experience with it. An experience that would lead me to doing another one someday. So coming down the hill right before mile 16 I decided to just finish. I was going to “have fun” with it.
At mile 16 I stopped again. I drank 2 cups of poweraid and 2 cups of water. Nate & my bro-in-law, our support crew, met me at mile 17 ish and I stopped and drank some more water. I stopped again at mile 18 and drank 2 more poweraids and 1 more cup of water.
At from mile 19 till mile 25.5 Nate rode his bike next to me and made the race WAY more enjoyable. I stopped and walked through every aid station every 2 miles to make sure I got fluids in me. As I ran my 7:50 pace while chatting with Nate the competitive side of me felt like a failure. But with each passing mile I felt more and more grateful for my decision to just finish.
|Thanks to Heather for these pictures! She definitely put a smile on my face when I saw her with about 4 miles to go|
My family was at mile 22 and when I saw my little baby boy in the stroller I wanted nothing more than to stop and just hold him. 22 miles seemed like enough. After we passed them I cried (yes, actual tears) telling Nate “I just want to hold my baby.” I got over it about 30 seconds later and just took each (freakishly long) mile at a time.
Besides my legs aching like they have never ached before, I actually felt pretty good the last 6 miles. I think stopping and getting fluids in me did wonders.
I finally reached a half mile to go and told Nate to go ahead and that “I needed a BIG hug at the finish line”
I came to the home stretch more thankful than I ever have been to see a finish line.
I crossed that line, got a big fat medal around my neck, got a little help walking for about 10 feet, then slowly walked out of the finish area and into the arms of the best husband ever.
I cried the minute he hugged me. Cried because I was sad that I was 20 mins off my goal. Cried because my legs hurt so bad. And cried because I was SO freakin’ happy it was over.
After a good and big hug, I found a nice patch of grass and sat…for a long time.
My sister joined me on the grass 4 mins later…she had dug a lot deeper than I had and I was so proud of her! Neither of us got our goals, however we did both qualify for Boston with lots of time to spare and we decided that that was good enough to make us feel good about ourselves 🙂
|After we finally got the strength to start moving around|
After sitting for a little, my mother & father in-law (who watched our kids..THANKS KIM&KIRK!) Brought our babies to us and I finally got to just hold my baby boy (and he got to suck the salt from my sweat off of my shoulder…hahah).
|I did this race 8 months post baby & Heidi was 12 months post baby. She also has 2 more kids…much respect to her for training and crushing a marathon while juggling 3 crazy babies.|
All-in-all I am happy with my 3:20:25, 18th Woman overall, 2nd in my age group, and Boston qualifying experience.
It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but I have learned lately that we all have the power to choose how we handle our situations. And I chose to be very happy with my race.
A BIG HUGE shout out to all of my amazing friends and family that supported me! Whether you were there, or there in spirit, I seriously and truly couldn’t have done it without everyone!!
|Our awesome support group (aka our husbands)|
A couple days later, and still wincing as I walk down stairs I don’t know when my next sub 3 attempt will be. I do know that I will eventually want to go for it again. And I do know that one day I will get it 🙂
But I do know that Boston 2015 is happening. Whether it be fast or slow.