First off, sorry for such a long post, but there’s so much to talk about. Please forgive me, but I hope you thoroughly enjoy what you read.
What a day yesterday was. So many emotions, so much feeling of accomplishment in running my first full marathon. To me, I am one step closer to completing my goal of becoming an Ironman.
At the beginning of the week I could already feel the nerves kicking in about running 26.2 miles. It usually happened at night when I’d try and go to bed. My mind would wander and would think of everything about the race and what could go right and what could go wrong. My nerves hit a peak the night before the marathon. I think I got 2 1/2 hours of sleep.
I always take the day before a race off from work. I have vacation to use and I know my mind is going to be preoccupied with the nerves of the race, so I just take the day off from work. I went up to the expo to pick up my packet and look around. This was the biggest expo I had been to. Most of the races I go to usually don’t even have an expo. This expo had 60+ booths. It would have been a great expo but there were so may booths in such a small space and SO many people, you could barely move around. It was SUPER easy to pick up my packet and bib # though. They had plenty of volunteers there and I was able to walk right up to the table, get my bib # and race packet.
The day before the race I really tried to carb up. I had waffles for breakfast and then for dinner my dad made spaghetti with meat sauce. It was quite delicious. It’s my favorite pre-race meal. I walked away from the table stuffed, but still meeting my calorie goal for the day.
I had to catch a bus to the starting line by 5:00 a.m., so with the bus being 45 minutes away from my house, I had to get up at 3:30 a.m. to get ready. I tried REALLY hard to get to bed early that night, but it just didn’t work. I was tossing and turning all night long. Ugh. My co-worker David met at my house at 4:00 a.m. to ride up with us and we got to the bus at 4:40 a.m. At the bus we also met up with my previous boss Sylvia and our mutual friend Rob to ride to the start line.
I was concerned that we were getting to the starting line SO early. We got to the starting line at 5:30 a.m. and the race didn’t start until 7:00 a.m. What the hell were we going to do until 7:00 a.m.? Plus, it was COLD outside. We were up in the mountains, it’s always colder up there. The starting line was up in the mountains East of the city Eden, UT. One of the sponsors owns a bunch of property up there and we basically just gathered in this huge field.
I was really quite impressed with the starting line. They had a TON of porta potties for all the runners (about 3,000) and to keep us warm, they had a bunch of barrels that they had started camp fires in. So everybody was huddled around the campfires. They did have a bag drop up there so that if you wanted to wear warm clothes up until you started then you could toss your bag in to the U-Haul truck and have it at the finish line. I didn’t want to worry about the bag drop, so I just huddled around the campfire.
The whole time around the campfire I’m getting more and more nervous. As soon as I got up to the starting line I had to use the restroom. Then, I ate a peanut butter sandwich and had to use the restroom again; however, the lines were insanely long. I decided to just wait it out and use one of the porta potties on the course.
Finally it was time to start. There were pacers holding signs with balloons that said 4:00, 4:15, 4:30, 4:45 and 5:00. You gathered around the pacer that had the closest finish time that you wanted. We decided to gather around the 4:15. We knew people would start out fast, so if we gathered around the 4:15 we would be with the people that would pretty much be running our pace.
All of a sudden we were crossing the starting line. Holy crap! I was really doing this. Once I started running, I was calm. The nerves went away. I tried REALLY hard to start out slow. All of a sudden I kind of ran ahead of my friends but was still staying near the people we started out with. I wasn’t too far ahead of my friends because I could hear them chatting behind me, but then right around the 1 mile mark Sylvia passed me and I never saw her again. 😦 At the 1 mile mark I looked down at my watch and I ran the first mile is 9:35. For a minute I kind of freaked out. I thought I started out too fast, but my legs felt strong, so I kind of just went with it, plus, we were running downhill.
My plan was to start out eating an energy gel every 45 minutes and if I felt like I needed it, I could up it to 30 minutes. By the time I got between mile 2 and 3, I knew I wasn’t going to make it to 45 minutes without a gel, so I scrapped that plan and just went with a gel every 30 minutes and that seemed to work really well. I had 6 of my favorite gels with me and then if I had to, I would use some of the gels, or fruit they had on the course.
Usually I can’t handle gels because the viscosity of the gel is SO thick it’s just nasty, but Powerbar makes an awesome gel!
At mile 3 I took my first gel. I ran and ate the gel at the same time and that was just no bueno. It’s easier for me to stop and walk while I eat the gel and then start running again. Rob caught up with me for a minute while I was eating my gel, but then he blew past me, but David stayed behind me for quite a while.
For some reason I thought as we were running down Hwy 39 that the first leg right there was only 4 miles and then we ran on to the main highway that took us in to Huntsville and Eden, but now that I look at the course, we were on Hwy 39 for 8 miles. No wonder it seemed we were on that road for a while. The miles were going by fast.
I only had to get water about every other aide station. At mile 6 I decided to stop and use the porta john. I didn’t want to chance running and have an accident. That would just be embarrassing. Running causes me serious IBS issues. (TMI?) Sadly there was a line at the porta johns, but it was moving fast. While I waited in line, it was time to eat another gel. This time I ate one of the gels they were handing out on the course and it was DISGUSTING!!! It was SO thick. But I gagged it down. I knew I needed it. Especially since I was now taking a gel every 30 minutes instead of every 45 minutes. I finally got to use the restroom and I lost a few minutes there, but then I was off and running again.
It was a nice surprise between mile 9 and 10 to see one of my friends who lived up the street from me standing out on the corner with her kids, husband and a neighbor lady cheering all the runners on. I hollered out to her “Hi Becca!” and at first I don’t think she realized who I was and then she realized it was me and she was screaming and cheering louder than ever. It gave me a nice boost.
At mile 11 I made the mistake of having a sip of Powerade. When I ran my 20 miler, 2 weeks ago, towards the end of the race, gels weren’t working for me and I knew I needed some liquid calories. So, when mile 11 came around, I thought I’d try a little Powerade, plus refill on water. I only had MAYBE 3 oz of Powerade, but boy, it was TOO MUCH. I got SO bloated from that little amount of Powerade. It was awful. It made the rest of the race kind of tough. But, I kept pushing through.
Right around mile 11 and 12, there was a pasture full of horses and I found it really cute that the horses were SO excited to see all of the runners. They were galloping along and romping through their field right along with the horses. I kind of wish I would have ran with my phone so I could’ve pulled out my phone to take a picture. It was cool to run in this area because this is where you run for part of the Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay too.
As I passed through mile 13 I started to cry. I knew I was really doing this. As you approached mile 13, they had a volunteer there that was calling out all of the names on the bibs and shouting words of encouragement through the microphone. There were cowbells galore. As I ran through mile 13 it just really hit me that I was doing this. I wasn’t just running a 1/2 marathon, I was running my first full marathon. I wasn’t having any mental barriers to breakdown either. Well, at least yet. 🙂
My goal was to run the entire 26.2 miles, but after the Powerade incident, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I was ok with that. I was a little worried about the 1/2 mile hill at mile 14. It wasn’t a super steep hill, but it was a hill. I didn’t know if that far in to the race if my legs would be able to handle a hill. Ironically, right as I was approaching the hill, it was time to take another gel, so I stopped and walked the hill and ate my gel. At the top of the hill there was a welcome surprise of an aide station and they were giving cold wet sponges at that aide station as well. It was starting to get pretty hot, so I promptly shoved that wet sponge down my shirt. It felt SO nice.
I made it up the hill and you do get a very gorgeous view of Pineview Reservoir. We were so close to the water. It was getting pretty warm, I wanted to just veer off course and go for a quick swim.
At mile 15, I had to use the bathroom again. Damn IBS! I was hoping that first stop of mine at mile 5 was going to be my only stop, but it wasn’t. At least I didn’t have to wait for a bathroom this time. There were plenty open. So, I lost a little bit of time again there. Dangit. But, I looked at my watch and I knew if I could keep a 10:30 pace and not walk too much I’d be able to finish about 4:40.
Then mile 16 came. I felt like I was going to barf! The first thing that popped in to my head was this:
I walked on the side of the road for a minute and dry heaved and then kept running. Thanks to the Powerade I had back at mile 10 or so, I was just bloated and felt like barfing many more times during the race.
Once I started running again, I saw that we were coming up to the dam and new we were coming to the mouth of Ogden Canyon and there would be a little shade and it was basically downhill to the rest of the race! Yes!!! I saw a familiar shirt too. David was in front of me. Thanks to the potty stops, I was slowed a little bit. I caught up with David and asked how he was doing and he wasn’t doing too good. His knee was bothering him quite bad. Before the race started David said that he was having bad cramps in his knee and he thought that maybe it was just an electrolyte imbalance. But when I saw David right at mile 17, he said his knee was almost gone. I asked if he was going to be ok and he said he wasn’t sure, but he was going to do his best to finish the race.
Mile 17 was a BIG milestone for me. Because they shut down Ogden Canyon for this race, you had to make it to mile 17 in 4 1/2 hours or they were going to come by and pick you up in a van and take you to the finish line. No exceptions. You wouldn’t finish the race. The worry wart in me was always scared that something would happen that come mile 17 I would see that van and I’d have to get in. But, every time I thought of that, I kept thinking of my friend Andrew on Twitter reminded me early on in my training that you would have to run slower than a 15:00/mile to have to be picked up by the van, so every time I had that fear, I just kept reminding myself what Andrew said.
I started running in to the canyon and felt pretty strong. Whenever I felt like I was going to barf, I stopped and walked, took a sip of water and then started running again. To keep me motivated, when I would stop and walk, I would look at my watch and tell myself that when I hit the top of the next minute, that’s when I would start running again.
There was plenty of law enforcement present during the race. I made sure to thank them for all of their help and safety for all the runners. One of them had the nerve to call me ma’am. 😦 I HATE being called ma’am. I know that it is polite, etc., but to me, ma’am is for an 80 year old woman. Call me Miss, I don’t care, just don’t call me ma’am. Lol.
As I was running down the canyon I started to feel blisters forming on the last 2 toes on my left foot. They were kind of painful, but not so painful to stop running and put band aides on. Plus, I didn’t want to lose more time. At one time I was talking to myself throughout the race and talking about my blisters and one guy said “oh keep running, you’ll forget about them in a minute” and he was saying it jokingly. A few minutes later he caught up with me and asked how my blisters were. I told him I had 3 now and he asked if I was going to take pictures of them and I told him you bet I was and he said he was going to look me up on Facebook to see pictures of them. Haha!
One of the aide stations in the canyon was put on by part of the Air National Guard. It was pretty cool. I kind of almost felt guilty that they were helping us when they are out serving our country, you know? But at the same time, they seemed to be having a good time as well.
About 1/3 of the way down the canyon I could feel chaffing of the boobs. 😦 It was no bueno, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle. It wasn’t as bad as previous chaffing I’ve had. I would’ve loved to have stopped and put vaseline on, but that would’ve been wasting precious time. Plus, how would I have done it? I guess I could’ve taken off my shirt and stuffed my hand down my bra, but that would’ve taken too much effort at this point.
The canyon was beautiful to run down. You ran along the Ogden river. There’s a beautiful waterfall towards the end of the canyon. I saw lots of cyclists on their Saturday ride riding up Ogden Canyon. I saw some people that were doing the relay running up Ogden canyon to see how their runner was doing. I was looking forwards to the end of the canyon because I was hoping that’s where my parents would be to cheer me on.
As we got to the bottom of the canyon, we ran on to a paved trail that goes through a park and part of Ogden. As I came out of the first tunnel on the trail, I was excited to see my dad standing there with his camera and my mom holding a poster. My dad was able to quickly get this picture of me running past them:
Only 4 more miles to go. I was nervous as I approached mile 23 because of the post Nixie made on her blog about her issues with mile 23, but I happily had no issues. I did keep thinking about the video she shared and had to chuckle about “don’t pants your poop, don’t pants your poop…” It made me laugh. Thanks Nixie for sharing that blog and that video.
The aide station at mile 24 was pretty funny. It was pirate themed. It was enjoyable to see. They were giving out Otis Spunkmeyer cookies. Oh how I wish I felt like I could eat that, but I very well might have barfed it up. That would’ve been no bueno. They were giving away free Otter Pops too. I would’ve LOVED one of those, but I would’ve had to walk to eat it and I didn’t want to waste time. I was really close with the 5:00 pacer and I really wanted to finish in less than 5 hours, so I kept pushing myself to run.
About mile 24 1/2, I was running and all of a sudden I hear “Hey Ara” and I turned around and there was Rob! I passed Rob? What? I told him I thought he would’ve finished by now and he thought so too. This was harder than he expected. He told me all the training in the world, there is still nothing to prepare you mentally for a full marathon. Rob is an awesome guy. I stuck with Rob for a minute, but then took off running again.
At mile 25, we ran on to Washington Blvd. That is the main road through Ogden. That was fun to run on for a minute and then we ran down 18th street to Grant. I was SO excited to be on Grant. In the course description it says once you turn on the Grant, the finish line comes in to view. That was a little tough. I expected to see alot of balloons and you could see the finish line banner from a distance, but until mile 26, you couldn’t see the finish line.
The closer I got to the finish line, the more excited I got. I started running down the finishers chute and all I could think about was how the Ironman finishers feel when they start running down the finishers chute. As I was running down the chute, I heard people cheering people on. All of a sudden I hear a coworker recognize me and was cheering super loud. I loved that no matter who you were, everybody had words of encouragement for you. I heard the announcer at the finish line say that we were 1 minute away from the 5:00 mark. I was disappointed, but then I looked at my watch and it said 4:59. I was still under 5 hours. Come hell or high water, I was going to finish this marathon in less than 5 hours. I didn’t care if I finished in 4:59:59, my first goal was to finish the marathon. Just finish. My second goal was to finish in less than 5 hours.
I’m happy to say that I finished the marathon in 4:59:53!!! I finished in less than 5 hours! Yes!!
My Garmin says I ran 26.54 miles. My average pace ended up being about an 11:15 mile. I’m ok with that. If I hadn’t had that damn Powerade, I would’ve been a hare faster. Oh well. At least I know what to do different next time.
Here’s a picture my dad got of me right after I finished. I saw them over by the fence and started walking towards them. The pain had officially set in.
I hung around for a second and waited for Rob to cross the finish line. He crossed maybe 2 or 3 minutes after I did. He finished strong. I’m proud of him. Rob and I walked around and got some water. Rob got a bunch of other goodies, but all I wanted was water. I got some ice cold water and oh man did it feel good.
They were offering free massages to the full marathoners at the finish line, but the line was sooooo long for a massage that I just wanted to go home. I met up with my parents and my dad felt the need to take this picture and my parents started walking back to the car…I started hobbling.
As I was walking back to the car, I saw David running down the finishers chute! So proud of David sticking to it and finishing the marathon. If I was in as much pain as David looked like he was in, I don’t know if I would’ve kept with it.
On the way home, I texted coach and told him my final time and his response was “Congratulations! I’m very proud of your performance today.” That means alot to me that my coach says that. I always strive to impress him. We also stopped by the grocery store, I hobbled in with my dad and we bought a 20 lb bag of ice. As soon as I got home I took a nice ice bath. Thank goodness! It hurt it was so cold, but it was VERY much needed.
While I was taking an ice bath, my dad went and got my post race recovery meal. I was SO excited. My dad went to Apollo Burgers and got me a cheeseburger and onion rings. These folks make THE BEST cheeseburger and onion rings I’ve ever had!
After lunch, I promptly went and took a nap. Man was I exhausted. But, I can’t wait to do another marathon. Now that I’ve got one marathon under my belt, I know what to expect for my next marathon, I know what to do differently for a better time. SO excited. My next marathon is actually Nov 5, 2012 down in Las Vegas.
Here’s a couple of side notes about the marathon that I didn’t know where to add: At one point, I was running and walking with a lady who is part of the 50 States Club. I asked her how many of the 50 states she’s done and she said she’s done them all and is now working on the 100 Club! Holy crap! She is AMAZING. She also said this was her 4th marathon in 3 weeks.
Every time I heard cowbells, I got a little teary eyed. That just really put in to perspective that I was REALLY doing this. I was going to get it done. I was so excited. I wondered if I would cry at the finish line (no I didn’t).
I got ALOT of compliments on my Idiots Running Club shirt. Everybody LOVED it. I don’t think they realize that it’s a real club.
The entire time I was running I was waiting to hit a wall where finally my mental wall would come up and I’d have to break it down. I was VERY surprised to have never hit that wall. Thank goodness!!! I’m sure other marathons I will, but thankfully, my first marathon, I didn’t.
Next race on the list: Onion Man Olympic Triathlon in Walla Walla, WA with Jeannie Gilbert on May 27, 2012. I can’t wait to meet Jeannie. She is a dear friend that I met on Twitter.