Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Big Cottonwood Marathon: My first (sort of) attempt at Boston

*These journal entries get pretty long, so if you just want to see how the race went, scroll down to "Race Day." :)

Before Race Day:
This marathon story starts at my last marathon's finish line. See how destroyed exhausted half-conscious happy I am?

Well about 45 minutes later, right next to the marathon finish, my three oldest munchkins ran in the kids 1k. And while I was trying to do a video and take this picture... phone started ringing. Dang it! I hit "decline" and tried to video my kids. Little did I know how much that call would affect my next marathon's fate.

As I drove away from the finish, I checked my voicemail. It was from the executive secretary from my ward. The bishop wanted to meet with me the next day. Our ward was splitting, we needed a new young women's president, and I was the second counselor. I had a pretty good feeling I knew what was coming. 

I was right. Young women's president. I had no idea how much that calling was going to turn my world upside down. All of a sudden, I had a full-time job. It was right before girls' camp. It was YW, YW, YW all day, all night. Justin made a few jokes about how much I liked to work for free. I did the best I could to juggle my calling, take care of my kids and my home, spend time with my hubby, and OH YEAH... train for a marathon!

As if life weren't hectic enough, I decided I better go ahead and tell people I was going to try to qualify for Boston, too. I was itching for a little more pressure in my life, so that seemed like the way to go.

So I started pushing harder on those training runs. Speed work, hills, tempo runs.
Finally, my right leg said, "Enough!"
It took me weeks to figure out what was wrong with it. It killed.
First I thought IT band. It did hurt. My dear friend Becca gave me some tips and nipped that in the bud. But something still hurt. Bad. Now I thought it might be my hamstring. Or my quad. What the heck? Everything was hurting in my upper leg and I couldn't place it.

So I went to a sports medicine doc my friend Kim recommended.
He dug his fingers into my adductor (runs along inner thigh) and ow-chihuahua that sucker hurt so bad!! I don't know why I couldn't figure that out on my own. But by the time I did, I'd had about a month of sub-par training: missing mid-week runs to let it heal, slowing down on long runs, etc.

I was about 95% sure Boston wasn't going to happen. Deep inside, though, I dreamed that something crazy would happen and I'd run the marathon of my life and qualify. But mostly I just knew I was nowhere close to being prepared for that. 

Nevertheless, I set out to give it 100% race morning. Here's how it all went down.

Race Day:

I woke up sick. Can you even believe it? I can't. I came down with body aches and a super sore throat the day before. My throat killed and my body felt weak. I popped 4 iboprofen in my mouth and they really helped, so I figured with ibuprofen, I could do this thing.
A group of girls from my ward and I were doing this race together. We had several doing the half marathon, and the crazies doing the full were Naomi, Brecke and me. First marathon for Naomi and Brecke.

We got on our bus a little before 5 a.m. Note to self: "the bus ride for a marathon is long. Next time don't drink like a gallon of liquid before boarding." Oh my gosh. I have never had to pee so bad in my life. I held it and held it, and FINALLY saw port-o-potties. Yay! I was about to make a bee-line for the front when Naomi said, "Oh, this is the half marathon start. We still have 8 or 9 miles to go."  NOOOO!! How was I going to make it? I seriously thought about peeing in a water bottle. It was dark, but not that dark. And I am not that talented. But after a few miles, the bus driver announced that one of the buses had high-centered ahead of us and was stuck. There was a traffic jam. All I saw were brake lights ahead, and I walked straight up to the front of the bus. As soon as we stopped, I asked the driver to let me out. And I did what any respectable marathon runner would do and peed in the bushes on the side of the road. Lots of other people were doing the same thing. Good times. :)

I got back on the bus and we started to get worried about how much this would delay our start. Naomi was getting nervous. Brecke took a nap.

But it turned out fine. The race did start about 30 minutes late, but we got to wait on a nice warm bus instead of a cold mountaintop!

Here we are at the top. Everyone is zooming around in the background. It was a whirlwind! Port-o-potties, bag drop, starting line, and BAM! We were off.

I started out fast. This time I successfully started my garmin, so I have my mile splits. My leg injury, which I had babied, iced, rolled and ibuprofened, felt fine. Hallelujah!

Here's how my first 5 miles went (the # on the right is my pace):

1    7:02.2    1.00    7:02
2    7:20.8    1.00    7:21
3    7:21.9    1.00    7:22
4    7:27.9    1.00    7:28
5    7:26.8    1.00    7:27

Not bad, right? 
On mile 5, I caught up to the 3:35 pacers. 
That was my Boston qualifying pace.
I ran with the pace group for a few miles. I thought maybe I could keep up and cross that finish line with them. I learned their names, we chatted a bit, it was fun.
 I ran with them until mile 8, but then they sped up and I... gave up.

Miles 6-10:

6    7:23.0    1.00    7:23
7    7:52.8    1.00    7:53
8    8:55.7    1.00    8:56
9    8:19.8    1.00    8:20
10    9:25.9    1.00    9:26

Ugh. Miles 8-10 were rough. I watched Boston slip off into the distance and I did something I've never done in a race before. I walked. I was giving up. But my body felt like crap and I knew I couldn't push myself as hard today. I texted Justin on mile 9: "9 so tired no BQ"

Around mile 11, I started feeling a little better. I took more ibuprofen (um.. yes, I took way more ibuprofen during this race than is medically safe). It helped.

Here was 11-13:

11    8:33.7    1.00    8:34
12    8:35.0    1.00    8:35
13    7:33.7    1.00    7:34

I hit the halfway mark at 1:43, 2 minutes faster than my last marathon. That gave me SO much hope. That was the moment I decided that even if I wasn't going to BQ, I was going to run this race. I wasn't going to do 11 minute miles the rest of the time like I was tempted to do. I was going to give it all I had and see if I could at least PR.

Miles 14-17:

14    8:09.5    1.00    8:10
15    8:00.4    1.00    8:01
16    8:01.5    1.00    8:02
17    8:14.9    1.00    8:15

These were the last of the downhill miles. I was feeling so good. I did walk a couple of times, but only for like 10 seconds. I saw Justin and the kids around mile 17 and man, that was such a sweet moment. I was feeling really fast at this time. I did some math in my head and realized that if I could stay under an 8:45 pace the rest of the time, I could still qualify for Boston. I was hopeful.

Miles 18-20:

 18    9:01.7    1.00    9:02
19    8:40.7    1.00    8:41
20    9:19.0    1.00    9:19
These were my "you can't do it"/"yes, I can!" miles. I was fighting with all I had. My family was cheering me along. But I was getting tiiiiiired.

Miles 22-25 (the dark ages):

 21    10:27.9    1.00    10:28
 22    10:21.1    1.00    10:21
23    9:50.5    1.00    9:51
24    10:47.1    1.00    10:47
25    9:57.7    1.00    9:58

Ohhhh... that's right. I don't really run 7-8 minute miles. I was just flying down a mountain. This is hard. Really, really hard. And I am slowing down like crazy. Bye bye Boston dream. It was fun flirting with the idea of you.

At the 25th mile marker, I was walking through the water station when the 3:45 pacer breezed by me. How sad is that? I saw the pep in his step and said goodbye to my PR, too (last marathon was 3:44:36). I ran behind him, and right as we approached the turn to the finish, I saw he had stopped at the corner and was waving us in. I ran by him and had less than a quarter of a mile to go. The finish was RIGHT THERE. But he started running, way faster than me, and he hit me on the head with his pace sign as he passed and beckoned me to come with him. I literally had NOTHING left to give. It was a miracle I was moving at that point. I was at the point of mind over matter, literally so miserable that I would do anything to end the misery. And in this case, the only way to end the misery was a little more misery. Haha, aren't I a cheerful finisher? I saw my friends to the right- they had a sign and cheered SO loud and my family to the left screaming and cheering, it was the best moment. I crossed that finish line and the clock read 3:48- something. I wanted to collapse into a pile of mush right there, but I forced myself to step over to a garbage can and brace myself against it. The exhaustion is just unreal. The marathon distance has humbled me down to nothing, all three times.

Here are my official stats:

Chip time: 3:46:20
Average Pace: 8:48/mile
Place Overall: 406
Sex Place: 181
Age Division Place (F 30-34): 42

Brecke finished soon after me and I missed it, darn it. Who gets a sub-4 marathon on their first try? Amazing! And Naomi finished at 4:14 which is also killer. That's a 9:40 pace for 26 miles. I bow down to them, I could have never in my wildest dreams achieved that on my first- I was so intimidated by the distance. My first marathon took almost 5 hours. These ladies are so strong.

Here I am with my family:

And friends:

(Mari, Michelle, Naomi, Kim, Sarah, Devrie, me)
I didn't qualify for Boston, I didn't PR, but I finished. That's the awesome thing about marathons- no matter how bad you do, if you finish, you feel pretty accomplished.
I'm ready to give marathons a little break and do some shorter-distance races next year. I'll probably try seriously for Boston when my kids are older. Running marathons is an exciting challenge, but I'm glad it's over for a little while! I did it, it was crazy, and it's over. The end!