Tuesday, June 11, 2013

UTAH VALLEY MARATHON

I did it!!
It's over.
It was hard.
It was painful.
It was awesome.

Here's how it all went down:
I got up at 2:30 a.m. for this race.
2 freaking 30!!
Are you kidding me?
The last bus for the race start leaves at 4:15 (or so they say, but who wants to chance it?).
I didn't want to drive down to Provo the night before to pick up my bib so my friend Kim picked it up for me, as she was smart and booked a hotel in Provo that night.
I had to meet her at 3:30-3:45 a.m. race morning and I also had to nurse Micah before I left. Oh yeah, still nursing. Makes race mornings that much more exciting.
So between race jitters, nursing, and a 2:30 a.m. alarm, I got 2.5 hours of sleep before the race.
Thank goodness for my old friend Adrenaline. I felt fine. A little puffy, but fine.

I walked into the lobby of the Provo Marriott at 3:40 a.m. and found it full of runners. This looked like one fit bunch of runners. More fit than usual. And decked out in their fancy shmancy tech gear. I felt like such a newbie. A little baby marathon runner. Even though I've run one before (almost 4 years ago), it felt like my first time since it was my first time running one alone, pushing myself to my own limit.

Kim and I boarded our bus and made the long drive up to Wallsburg, UT. I don't even know where I was, really. She pointed out portions of the course she dreaded and some hills I could look forward to. We got to the race start and chatted for an hour or so between port-o-potty visits.

Here we are, hanging out in the dark in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of harsh, artificial lights, some port-o-potties, and a thousand other crazy people.  Kim is in the lead to win the Grand Slam for the 3rd time (I think she said 3rd time?), and was only leading by 15 seconds before this race started. Let's just say there was a lot more pressure on her than me. But you would've never known.


We headed to the starting line and my Garmin was having a hard time finding the GPS signal. I accidentally clicked "use indoors" and BAM, everybody started running. Agh! I wasn't ready! I was fidgeting with my headphones, phone (yes, I ran 26.2 with my big ole iphone 5 strapped to my arm... it wasn't bad actually), and Garmin. For the whole first mile, I was trying to get my garmin to search for a gps signal again, but I couldn't get it. Finally at mile 2, I gave up. I really wanted to see my mile splits on this race, but oh well.

The first half of the race went by fast and smooth.
I thought I had started just in front of my Boston qualifying pacer (3:35).
I was surprised and happy when he still hadn't passed me on mile 5, and as the miles went on without seeing him, I started getting really excited. 
I hit the halfway mark and the timer said 1:45.  Good news. I did some quick math and realized if I ran the race of my life and somehow kept this pace up, I would Boston qualify!
I realized that probably wouldn't happen, but being that far ahead of my 4 hour goal was exhilarating. YAY!

{Downhill marathon my eye}

Around mile 15, I saw Justin and the kids for the first time. I was heading up a long, dreadful hill and it was so nice to see my cute little family cheering me on! At that point, I felt so strong. Plenty of energy left.


I saw them again at about mile 18, and although I was starting to feel it now, I still had it in me to run over and give the kids high fives and thank them for cheering me on.


The last time I would see them before the finish line was about mile 21. This was about the lowest point of the marathon for me. My legs had just had it. They were ACHING so bad. It was getting hot. And there was no more downhill. Just a loooong, straight road ahead. I slowed down. Considerably. The 3:40 pacer passed me. I never even saw the 3:35 pacer... maybe they started ahead of me after all, or I missed them during my pee break at mile 13? I don't know. I didn't care. Let them pass me, I thought. I started dreaming of water stations just so I could have an excuse to walk for a second. I also started realizing I was getting dehydrated. I started downing 2 cups of Gatorade, 1 cup of water, and a bite of banana in futile hope the potassium might help my aching legs. Then I'd pour a cup of water down my back and move ahead. I was wincing in pain as I started running again. If you run, you know it's not until you walk that you realize how bad everything hurts. And starting back up is agony. But once I got back into my rhythm, it was manageable.

I had to dig into some deep places mentally to keep myself moving around mile 23. I started getting angry. I was looking around at everyone, drenched in sweat and obviously hurting, and thinking, "What is wrong with us?? Why are we doing this? We are so stupid! This is pointless!" haha... I was so mad. I started wondering why marathons have to be 26 miles and why they can't be 23. "23 would be perfect," I thought. But after getting lots to drink at the aid station at mile 24, I felt a little better. I allowed myself to slow down and that helped. I did start having an optical migraine on mile 25, which scared me a little. They're painless, but they blur my vision and they're caused by extreme physical fatigue. So essentially I was falling apart. I gave myself permission to slow down a little and that helped a lot.

The finish line was ahead of me, I could see it 2 miles away. And I swear every time I looked up at it, it looked like someone had picked it up and moved it back just a little. Seriously! It tormented me for 2 miles. 

But finally, I reached the end. I saw my family and my dear friend Naomi, who had run the half marathon and waited around almost 2 hours to see me finish (so nice!). Makenzie ran out and finished the course with me and I so needed the motivation. I looked up and saw that the clock still read 3:44 and I was so happy and relieved.

When I finished, my legs ached so bad I could hardly stand. I walked over to the med tent to beg for some ibuprofen. I had to sit in one of their chairs for a minute because I honestly could not stand. I finally got up and hobbled over to the grass and laid down. Holy shmoly, the pain!!

But I was surrounded by my sweet family and so proud of my accomplishment. Just 9 minutes away from a BQ on a race I was originally only hoping to finish! That was pretty good on the ole self esteem. ;)


Here are my race stats:

Chip Time: 3:44:31
Average Pace: 8:34/mile
Overall Place: 371 out of 1465
Gender Place: 101
Division Place (Female 30-34): 28 out of 112

Segments:
1st half:
1:44:57 (8:01/mile)
2nd half
1:59:33 (9:08/mile)

{By the way... my friend Kim finished in 3:01:22. That's a 6:55/mi pace, my friends. She placed 4th in her division and 38th overall... and picked up some prize money to bring home! She also gained a bigger lead in the Grand Slam and I'm sure she'll win it again! Go, Kim!}

My next race is the Big Cottonwood Marathon in September. This course is supposedly pure downhill. I am hoping to train hard and qualify for Boston. I realize I may not get in to the Boston Marathon even if I qualify, as it will be very popular and competitive this year. But just hitting the Boston qualifying time is something I never, ever thought I could achieve and would feel AMAZING. So here goes, another 3 months of training and hopefully another sweet result!

3 comments:

  1. Tara, you are amazing! Runner's World's July issue hinted that Boston might be having more than one marathon in 2014. I'm curious if that's true. Good luck in Big Cottonwood!

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  2. So amazing Tara! I can't believe you were only 9 minutes away from a BQ!!! Holy cow that is nuts!! you are so going to do it at Big Cottonwood. Just so insane that you nursed your baby that morning. Who runs a marathon, that fast, with a nursing baby?! I am just completely blown away. So funny the thoughts that go through your mind those last 5 miles. At DC I kept thinking, "This was a horrible idea! why did I do this?! Worst idea ever!" haha! I do think 23 miles would be much better than 26, and 20 would be perfect :) Great job on an awesome race! So so proud of you!

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  3. Worst idea ever!" haha! I do think 23 miles would be much better than 26, and 20 would be perfect :)

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