Sunday, October 3, 2010

St George Marathon 2010 - There just aren't words.....

OMGosh!  OMGosh!  OMGosh!

I did it!  I really freaking did it!    

Even though I am in some serious pain right now, and I thought the runner's high had worn off, as soon as I started to look at the pictures, it's all right there again!  So, even though I am, at the moment packed in ice, I am grinning like a cheshire cat!

My first Marathon.  I did it.  I am absolutely giddy!

Now to be fair and honest, it wasn't all kicks and giggles.  I was stress level 9.5 all the way down to St George.  Especially when I didn't get to leave until later than I had hoped, missed seeing a friend who just had surgery, and then sitting in traffic in Utah County because of construction and an accident.  By the time I got to Spanish Fork, I was ready to spork my own eyeballs out!  Thanks goodness for phone calls to besties who can talk me off the ledge!

Picked up the Splenda Daddy, secured his vehicle at a co-workers home and even though I had been advised not to drive while so stressed out (thank you Tiburon) I kept my spot firmly behind the wheel.  I needed to be doing SOMETHING and feel like I had some measure of control.

We made good time, and as soon as we hit St George, we headed for the expo to pick up my race packet.
The place was ready to close in 15 minutes, but it was jam packed with people.  There were vendors, as well as race officials to answer questions and help a runner be ready.  I got my packet, picked up some gu and a new race belt and we were outta there.

I was exhausted and with a 3am wake up call I was ready to eat some dinner and go to bed.  Both were done in about 30 minutes.

Saturday morning, my eyes flew open at 2:58am.  I looked over to see the hotel room curtains had parted enough that the street light was shining right in!.  I have no idea how Splenda Daddy slept through that!

I snuck quietly into the bathroom where all my stuff was laid out and ready to go.  Packed myself up, kissed the Splenda goodbye and waited in the lobby for my besties the L's to come pick me up.

By now, the jitters were over.  Now was just pure excitement!  I had re-formulated my goals.  I wouldn't be qualifying for Boston.  My leg was hurting so I knew that finishing on my own power with a time of less than 6 hours would have to be my best.  I had reconciled myself to it and was happy to just go experience it all!

I jumped into L's car, we headed to the bus loading area and went immediately onto a bus.  By now it was about 4:15 am and as we rode up the course I was thinking that there was a lot more down hill than I realized.  Not that it made a whole lot of difference to me at this point, but I was happy to not see any MAJOR hills.

At the start line, they had a couple of fires going, and volunteers handed gloves and large pieces of warming foil to wrap in and stay warm while we waited.   Most people laid down and tried to sleep.  I laid down and pictured myself running.  Running like I always do.  Not hurting, just running and feeling good.  I also liked watching all the people around me and kind of soaking it all in.

Couple of bathroom breaks later and it was time to put our drop bags in the truck and get lined up to start.
I decided I needed one more potty break and by now the lines were long.  Waiting.  Waiting.  Finally I get my turn, I race in there and rip down my running shorts, squat it down.....into a WET toilet seat!  Gagging.  Gagging.  Gagging....reach for toilet paper.  None.  Gagging, gagging, gagging.  Rip off cardboard roll holder and blot.  As I walk out and warn the next person in line, I am praying that this isn't an omen of how the run is going to go.

K-Bear was categorized as an elite runner so he was at the front of the pack, Lis and I lined up with the 4:30 pacer.  Before I knew it, we were off!
Lots of bodies and elbows for the first 3 miles or so, but we kept a decent pace.  My leg was hurting, but I knew that there wasn't much I could do.  I had taken ibuprofen and was hoping that as time went on, the aching would subside a little.

It was fun to people-watch those first couple of miles or so.  Seeing other's gaits, their fanny packs, etc.  I swear Napolean Dynamite was right in front of us.  We burst ahead a little to double check, and while it wasn't him, the dude was sure a ringer!

We talked to a cute girl from the Provo/Orem area.  We joked with some guys.  It was actually pretty fun.  The sun was just rising, the scenery was beautiful and our pace was sub 9 so we were doing well.

We knew there was one particular hard hill.  Hard  by a lot of people's standards but not necessarily to ours.  Lis had done this hill during Red Rock, so she knew what to expect and frankly, some of the hills in Ragnar were much tougher than this one!

We started up it and determined to NOT walk.  Run it we did!  We showed Vejo hill just who's boss!
We hung together until about mile 10 and then I noticed Lis pulling back a little.  I asked if she was alright, and she was, but she knew we had 16 more miles to go and she wanted to pace herself a little better.  I tried to slow down, but found it hurt more running slower.  I decided to go back to a comfortable pace and see what happened.  Over time, I lost Lis.  I tried to turn around and run face backwards to see if I could see her and maybe wait for her, but she was nowhere in sight.  I decided that I would push on, and for the rest of the race, it was solo.

Once we turned into Snow Canyon, the scenery is just absolutely breathtaking!  I wished so badly that I could stop and take a picture - it's just that beautiful!  Now, it was a pretty steady down hill and was taking some pacing from me to run it and not pound my knees so hard.

I was enjoying the run, my music and the sights, when a very tall man came along side me.  I could see he was talking to me, so I took out an ear bud in time to hear him say, "Hey, can I just lean on you for a minute?"
"Sure", I replied, "as long as I can draft behind you for a couple miles."  We chit chatted for about 15 or 20 minutes or so.    I love the friendliness of everyone.  I got his name and his business and I will be checking off my next bucket list item soon in Alpine, with him!

Miles 18 to 22 were probably the hardest.  It's pretty quiet on the course.  The body is hurting.  The sun is up and it's getting hot.  Chafing has started, muscle cramping has started,'s a hard section.  The aid stations were fantastic!  Vaseline sticks, people to rub ben-gay on your cramps, water, gatorade, orange slices, banana's.  Fantastic support.

As I got nearer and nearer to St George itself, I recognized the area that I got lost on during Red Rock.  I remembered those feelings and then I remembered my lesson.  For some reason, I felt motivated and was able to dig a little deeper and push the pace a little harder.  I soon found myself running with the 4:30 pacer again.  I don't remember how I caught up to her and that pack of runners, but I did.  As I stayed with them for a mile or so, she was talking as she ran.  Reminding us to keep our shoulders loose.  What to focus on, what to be thinking about.  Shake loose our arms.  It was really nice to have her in my head for a little bit. 

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to stay at their pace and found myself dropping back.  By now, there is only a about 2 miles left.  I wanted to die I hurt so bad.  I found that I was barely lifting me feet off the ground, BUT, I was running.  I had NOT stopped running.  Okay, I let myself powerwalk about 50 feet up the last bit of a hill, but other than that, I had NOT stopped running.  I began to let myself think that I was actually going to finish this!  I was going to do it!

At this point, the streets of the city are literally lined with spectators.  There were signs of encouragement all along the route and people here and there, but now, it was full on like a parade!  Complete strangers looking me in the eye and cheering for me!  Shouting encouragement and clapping like I was a superstar!
To be honest, I would have never made the last two miles without those people.  I finally turned the last corner and could see the balloons of the finish line in the distance.  I'm thinking it must have been mile 25, and all of a sudden I felt one of my toenails pop right off the nail bed.  I tell you what - that made for some interesting running!  It took every ounce of will power to make my legs keep running.

As I neared the line, I saw Splenda Daddy waving his arm and yelling at me!  He was there and camera ready!  I looked ahead and decided I still had some sprint in me so I let loose and sprinted to the end!

As the finishers came through the chute of misters it was a glorious feeling.  Although the minute I stopped long enough for them to place the medal around my neck, my legs locked up.  I could barely walk!

 I made my way over to Splenda and was able to keep my emotions in check long enough to shout that I had DONE IT!!

I hobbled over to the area where the athletes exited and met their support teams.  I found Splenda and immediately was ready to collapse.  We made our way over to the massage line and while I waited drinking gallon after gallon of water, ripping off my shoes and socks to see the damage to my toenails and then laying in the grass so as not to puke, Splenda took my bib and grabbed my gear, my official time sheet, checked the early bird table to see if I won anything, and then came back hold my stuff while a got a quick 20 minute massage.

At least now, I could walk.  And really, while it was still pretty painful, I think the adrenaline rush of what I had just done was carrying me on air!  I looked at my official time and wanted to cry.  There is NO WAY that I could even have fathomed I would be capable of posting such a time.  I was astounded and amazed and then proud of myself.  I quickly scanned the course backwards in my mind questioning if there was any place that I could have done better.......NOPE!  I had literally given it everything I had, and so I had nothing to do but be pleased with myself.

We found Lis for a few minutes, but K-Bear was sick in the car and she needed to get him hydrated.  We said congrats and good-byes and then I just wanted to relish in the festivities.  I also wanted to be there when Ape crossed. 

We met up with our besties the B's and watched for Ape.  This was her first marathon too (like Lis and I) and I wanted her to know how proud of her I was. 

We finally saw her coming and she crossed while the rest of us were cheering and clapping and acting crazy for her!

Some more congratulations and chit chatting and then I was ready to leave and hit an ice bath.

As for the event itself....... I have never participated in anything so well organized, well staffed and so fun!  The whole community comes out to participate.  The signs, the people, the volunteers were all top notch!

The runners.....while I have to say that marathoner's are kind of a gross bunch of people -   What with peeing on toilet seats, bumping sweaty bodies and hawking loogies at random, they are the nicest and most encouraging bunch of people!

We spent the rest of the weekend, resting, icing, apple cider vinegar baths, dinner with the B's and coveting Eric and Ape's new house. 

I loved this!  I absolutely loved it.  And while I cry every time I try to walk today, and will likely tomorrow and the next, I am looking forward to getting the legs back to normal, healing and then tackling the next one.  The marathon bug has bitten!

Official time:
It seems the whole community comes out - this is just  a small glimpse of the number of spectators.  There were about 6,000 runners.

See the guy in camo?  I couldn't figure out why there were staged in two's along the last half mile or so.

And then I saw this photo and it dawned on me as to why.  There are several runners that have to be carried across the finish line.  They collapse and can't do it on their own power.

I'm approaching there in the distance.  Just to the left of the guy with the white ball cap. 

Now I am on the other side of his hat.

Does it look painful?  Cause it IS!

Look  Splenda Daddy!  I REALLY DID IT!!!

We did it Lis!!  The medals are super cool and I kinda want to wear mine to work tomorrow......

Look at Ape's face.  That is a girl who is exhausted and most likely still shaking on the inside from the pure adrenaline rushing through!  It's quite the feeling!

Love me some Ape!  So proud of her!

My official time.  I don't care if you see my real name.  I am damn proud of this! (and now you can all be my fb friends)

The local paper had a picture of Lis picking up her bib the night before.  I'm thinking the photographer knew he had a hottie on his hands and needed to snap the shot!

Ape's battle wound.  A gaping hole in the bottom of her foot that she got at about mile 13.  You hve to figure that she ran at least halfway on that painful thing.

Lis's battle wound.  I think I shall name her sixth toe......Herman.

I don't have a good shot of my wounds, but just picture in your mind all four toenails on my small toes on my right foot falling off.  Threw up in your mouth a little?  Yeah - me too.

And for the love of all that's holy, can someone figure out the timer on the camera and not fight over who gets to take the picture and be missing?
Scooter, Griff, Whit, Debs, Eric, Me and Ape - (Splenda missing)

Now Deb's missing

Now Eric's missing and I have an eye twitch!  Love me some B's!

The memories I will take with me the rest of my life?

Sunrise in Vejo

The crest over Snow Canyon

The cows mooing at the runners, and me pointing at one and letting him know I would be eating him later.  And his sister.

The sign that said "26.2 because 26.3 would just be CRAZY!"

The band playing the brass instruments along the route.

The man running in a shirt that said, "Two marathons in two days.  Today St George, Tomorrow Oklahoma"

The rest stop with General Conference blaring from a van across the street.

The planet of the apes dude that brushed against me and I thought I was being squirted with water.  He was the sweatiest, hairiest man I ever saw.

The 12 year old girl who beat me by 20 minutes.

Calling Splenda and the Shark at mile 20 and realizing that I really am going to finish.

Thinking about Lis and wondering where she was at, and knowing she was okay and that she would have made 20 new friends by the time she crossed the line.

Realizing how I have a spiritual experience every single time I do something like this.  I learn lessons while running.

Thankful that I have a strong body, and a strong mind and a strong spirit that allows me to do hard things.

Gaining the knowledge that I CAN do hard things.  Some challenges in life are shared.  Like my first 10 miles with bestie Lisa.  And some challenges we have have go solo on.  Like that last 16 miles.  We have aid stations along the way to help and support us, but they are only good if we allow them to help us.  Sometimes we need to let others help. And when it feels like you are at the finish and have nothing more to give, dig deep and you'll surprise yourself.  You always have a little more!

Finally, to the crew and race directors of the St George Marathon 2010.  Thanks.  Thanks for everything.  I loved it, and can't wait to do it again!  See ya next year!

(and for a post that has in the title - there just aren't words - I was awfully wordy)


Mrs. Organic said...

That's an amazing time! Congrats on a race well run. You're so inspirational!

LKP said...

holy bananas girl!!!! so glad for you and SOOOOOOO stoked to see your official finish time!!!!! fantabulouso to the extreme. you literally. go. girl! =)
can't wait to see your gruesome toes in a matter of a few days.

Pedaling said...

so, you do actually have words...haha

well, congratulations, girl!

yes, it looks painful, it sounds painful and you want to do it again?

quite the big crowd event-i think i understand the whole adenaline high thing...but then in some ways i don't really get it.
but i think i do.

anyway- You Rock - I am so happy for your! and bonus for finishing without the aid of the camo guy.

Stace said...

i'm so excited for you! sounds like an awesome experience. maybe one day i'll find the motivation to run a full...maybe you'll join me for the experience (and kick my trash)!

Anastasia said...

So excited! Those wounds are grody. And you should wear your medal to work!


You are Amamzing! What an experience. You can do hard things. I can not even imagine...See those war wounds alone convince me I am the wimp I profess to be. Way to go!!

Vanessa said...

You made me cry! So awesome! I can't even imagine the feeling as you come across the finish line because you accomplished something so amazing!!!

And DRIVING up that hill in Veyo is tough, I can't imagine running it!

Wonder Woman said...

Melissa, I honestly have tears in my eyes. I am so proud of you and happy for you for accomplishing this, especially with all the obstacles you've faced.

WAY TO GO!!!!!!!!!!!

tammy said...

Finally, the post I've been waiting for. I am so happy for you!! What an amazing accomplishment.

They really carry people across the finish line? Wow.

" Hit It......." said...

I am so proud of you! Congratulations....You did it!

Melissa said...

way to go! you freaking ROCK!

Erin said...

I read every word, and I am crying for you! Losing your toenails - horrible. But what an amazing feeling to accomplish so much. Wow!

Cherie said...

Huge Congratulations!! You sure do a good job of taking us all through the race - I felt I was running right there with you (I wish!!).
I was interested that that guy came and asked if he could lean on you - when I see you this weekend you'll have to tell me how that one works - ha ha.
OH my gosh when you said your toenail popped off I admit I grossed out a little - How on earth does that happen? Ouch!!!
SOOOO proud of you!!!

Cheeseboy said...

Never again will I... but CONGRATS TO YOU!

Jewls said...

I've been waiting for this post! I love your race re-caps. This one made me tear up a little! After my marathon I didn't EVER want to do another one, but as time goes on and after reading THIS I totally want to again! And, I want to do St. George, sounds like a great race!!

YOU ARE AMAZING, YOUR TIME IS AMAZING, and I am so excited for you!!

Lara said...

You seriously have me bawling. Yes, you can do hard things, and not only can you DO them, you do them WELL! I am so impressed by your time when you were okay with finishing at 6 hours.

Loved this post. I loved being there with you, since I'm pretty sure a marathon is one of those things I'll never do. But never say never, I guess!

PS--my good friend's hubby is one of those soldiers catching people at the finish line.

tiburon said...

I cannot even begin to tell you how proud of you I am.

You are a rockstar.

You are my hero.

I seriously want to be you in a lot of years when I grow up.

I love you :)

carma said...

well, I'll say you kicked butt - well done - congrats!!!

carma said...

well, I'll say you kicked some butt -- congratulations - well done!!!

Nancy said...

Wow! I'm impressed!

Mae Rae said...

loved the post and the pics. You are truly an amazing woman!

Just ME the MOM said...

Way to go! You are sooooo awesome, what a woman!


Heather said...

HOLY CRAP! You are a ROCK STAR!!! Seriously, I am so impressed. I know I'm way late in reading this, but I hope you are still riding high on how awesome you are, because this deserves it!

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