Why I subject myself to this kind of misery over and over again is beyond a mystery. I'll be honest, this is the first time after running a marathon, that I didn't get that euphoric high afterward. I just hurt. EVERYWHERE. I'm glad I finished. But, for 26 miles, my mantra was this: Why on earth didn't I sign up for the half?
I kept saying to myself, Look at all these smart relay people. They only have to run 7 miles. It must be because they haven't fried half of their brain cells, training for a damned marathon.
It wasn't all bad. (I'm trying to convince myself, more than you).
Friday night, I went to the marathon Expo, to pick up my race number, timing ship, and shirt, and got caught up in the excitement of the crowds, live music, and free stuff. (I was a little disappointed that there was less free stuff than last year's expo).
Then enjoyed my yummy pasta dinner from Pizza Factory (LOooooove that place!!) Took a long shower, and went to bed.
Saturday morning, my alarm went up waaay before the butt crack of dawn. 3:30 am to be exact. (It's interesting one of my running friends and I were talking on the bus about how we only got up 1 hour earlier than normal to run.)
I got up, got dressed in my Race Ready shorts (with pockets stuffed to the brim with GU, ibuprofen, bandaids, and my magic muscle-restoring potion Ultragen), my favorite blue singlet, strapped on my shoes, and hit the road.
I met up with 9 of my friends from my running group. We've affectionately named ourselves the LARDS (Layton Area Running Dudes). But Lards has more of a ring to it.
We caught the buses in downtown Ogden, and hitched a ride 26 miles up the canyon.
Then, commence the waiting game. The start was lined with port-a-potties, (trust me you do NOT want to know what that smells like), and fire pits. I bumped into some buddies, shot the breeze, and waited.
Finally at 6:50, it was time to line up to start. I made my way towards the 9-minute pace section. I started out with my running friends, Connie, and Nicole, and my good friend, Christy, who I happened to bump into at a fire pit. We started out strong, the goal being to keep a 9 minute pace for the duration. Running down the canyon, surrounded by thousands of excited runners, it's hard not to cruise. We found ourselves running more like 8:15's or 8:30's. Then at mile 4, I really had to hop of the road to brave 30 seconds (I timed it) in the Port-o-John. I really had to haul arse to catch up to my friends. When I finally did, they were kind enough to slow down to 9 minutes for me to catch my breath. Then, around mile 7, my bum hip started to complain. By mile 8, I was forced to slow down, and my friend sped off ahead of me. I could feel my hip clicking in and out with every step I took. The pain was bearable, but worsening. By mile 9, I found myself, slowed all the way to a 10:30 pace.
I couldn't believe I had hit a wall already. And only 9 miles in to the race. So, at the next aid station, I slowed to a walk, popped a couple ibuprofen, slurped down a GU, then went on my way, running through the pain, and waiting for the blessed drugs to kick in.
All the while, I'm giving myself an out. Just make it to half way. There are lots of buses parked there. You can just quit. By the time I made it to miles 13, the ibuprofen had kicked in, so I sped up.
Around 14.5 miles you meet the biggest uphill climb of the race. I don't know the grade %, but it's pretty steep, and lasts about 1/2 mile. Call me crazy, but when I hit a steep uphill, my instinct is to plow up as fast as I can. So, I picked up the pace. It's moments like those that make me love running. You push as hard as you can, it hurts in places you didn't know you had before, but when you make it to the top, you can say you've conquered one more obstacle. I made it to the top, rewarded myself with a few seconds of walking, and then ventured forward.
I felt pretty good after that for a few miles. When the course started downhill again, I saw it as an opportunity to make up for the lost time between mile 9-13.
I also love running downhill. Because you don't really have to even try, you can just let gravity to it's job, and carry you down. And fast. Before I know it, I was at mile 17, but getting tired, and that bum hip was started to hurt again. I choked down another GU, then at mile 19, decided it was time for my magic drink. I took it at mile 20 in St. George, and felt like Popeye after popping his can of spinach.
Well, it wasn't quite as magical this time around, but it did help abate my muscle pain enough to keep running.
I caught up with my friend Mark around mile 23, then saw my friend Betty right around 25. That was just enough to keep my going. I now had a goal to achieve. There was no way in haites I was going to let Mark and Betty beat me. Mostly because they are consistently faster than me during our training runs. I had something to prove.
So, I pulled back, conserving what little reserve I had left for that final quarter mile. I was right next to Mark, and a little behind Betty as we neared mile 26.
That's when the fire lit under me, and I took up. It felt so good to pass people (since I was being passed for a good 26 miles before that), and I sprinted in to the finish. The clock at the finish read 4:23. But my watch said 4:16. So, I'm guessing once they factor in the timing chip (I can't find where/if they've posted the results), I'll be somewhere around 4:20. Not my best time, but not my worst either. I beat last year's Ogden Marathon time by 8 minutes.
The greatest reward of the day, was not the sense of accomplishment of finishing the race, but the sight of 4 familiar faces in the crowd as I crossed the finish line.
Nothing means more to me than knowing I have the support of my husband and children. And seeing their faces, hearing their little voices yelling "Go Mommy!" is just the kind of refreshment I needed after such a long and grueling race.
So, today, I'm tired, achey, and happy.
And I think this will be my last marathon for awhile.
Bear Lake half marathon 6/13
Ragnar Wasatch Back Rely 6/19-20 (which I'm running with our awesome friend Melissa!)