Sunday, June 12, 2011

Utah Valley Marathon - 2011 - I didn't suck

WOW.  I really went into this one with a complete different expectation of the outcome. I am most pleased with myself.  Yeah, I'm just gonna throw that out there - I am pleased with myself.

Friday night, after a delightful carb load at Macaroni Grill, I went to Luke's apartment and tried to settle in for the night.  First of all, college boys are pigs.  Well, the ones that aren't MY son.  Secondly, what the crap is WRONG with them?  We walked in and it was like a numbing 50 degrees!  Okay, I don't know what the temp really was, but I am pretty sure, it was just a degree above seeing my breath.
Lukie was kind enough to give me his bedroom, he left on a date and I laid out my stuff, checked email on last time, and climbed under a mountain of blankets to try and sleep. 
Just as I was dozing off, a friend from the Philippine's called and since we'd been trying for days to talk, I happily answered and talked for 45 minutes!  Love re-connecting with great friends!  Now it was 11:30 and I really needed some sleep.  I finally dozed off in a frigid fetal position for a few hours.

At 2;30am, I was back up, putting on cold clothes, brushing my teeth and getting all my final prep done.  Luke hadn't bothered to go to sleep (the young can do that you know) and he drove me to the bus loading place. 

I expected buses.  Like greyhound buses, instead they were shuttle vans.  Like hotels use, and wouldn't you know it, I was on the first one.  Shotgun seat.  I figured it was a good sign. 

I had my water bottle and my hoodie.  I figured I would stay warm at the fires and was hoping they would pass out silver blanket things like St George did at the staging area.  I had forgotten my drop bag, but since the only thing I was gonna shed was my hoodie, I trusted it would make it back from the 5 mile drop.

I was the first one off the shuttle and rapidly making my way to the firepits.  I stopped at the first one, positioned myself upwind from the smoke and  planted myself firmly for the next 2 hours.  Gradually others joined, we made small talk, and rotatedpostions to keep all sides of my body warm.  About an hour into the wait, I was chiding myself for being there first.  There were no blankets and no real way to even sit down or lay down by the fire to wait. But as more and more people got there and tried to get to close to the fires, I was glad that I had gotten a spot early.

As it neared 6am - I made my way to the line for the porta-potties and more small talk with the fellow runners waiting.  There really is an atmosphere.  Complete strangers start great conversations as we get ready to undertake a physical challenge that not many people are crazy enough to do.  There is unity in insanity.

After the pit stop, final adjustments of my ipod, running belt, etc, I made my way to where the 4:30 pacer should be standing.  My friend, fellow running geek and gym rat was going to be the 4:30 pacer.  I planned on starting out with her, but knowing that I would never be able to maintain it.  I knew she had been extremely sick earilier in the week, so when I found that she didn't make it, I knew why and understood.  A few people around me starting commenting and asking where the 4:30 pacer was.  I explained the situation, and then was amazed at how understanding people were.  Runners are a unique group. They get each other.

The gun went off, the crowd moved forward, and away we went.  I found a nice pace and settled in.  My original plan was run, walk, run, walk, but I was feeling so good, that I just kept running.  I stopped at water breaks and always topped off my water bottle.  The first half I needed the porta potty every 4 miles or so, and when I stopped and stood in line, I took the chance to stretch and assess my legs.  So far so good!

Once we turned into Provo Canyon, the scenery was fantastic!   However, the surface then became concrete.  No bueno!  So NOT good for the body.  I took the opportunity to walk a little.  Usually the uphills, and when I could, I would get off the road and on the slim trail alongside.  Mostly running, a little walking at this point and really feeling great!

At mile 15, I started to feel some hot spots on my big toes., so at mile 17, I pulled off and took off my shoes.  No blisters yet, but they were red, so I applied some band-aids, greased my arms and thighs to prevent any chafing and off again I went.

Finally at about mile 20 we were out of the canyon and back on asphalt.  Now there were more fans and more signs.  This is when it gets hard, yet fun.  Runja and I started a little game/tradition back in St George in 2010.  So many signs are there for specific people   - "Go Debbie!"  "You can do it Tammy"  "Run Mom Run" get the idea, so we started pretending that all the signs were for us.  We'd pass and say, "Hey!  I'm Debbie - thanks!"  It would always startle the sign holder for a half a second, but then they would smile and cheer us on.  I did the same this this race.  By the end of the 26.2 - I was Hope, Kel, Hope again, Tiff, Bryan, Joe, Mom, and Lisa.  My favorite sign was in the finish chute which said, "Toenails are for sissies!"

At mile 20, it started to get hot and I had forgotten my sunglasses, so I keeping my hat down, and sun off my face as much as I could.  I had called the Shark and Splenda to let them know where I was at, and based on the time, I was realizing that if I finished the final 10k strong, I could be sub 5.  No where near what I thought I would do.  That spurred me on a little.  Until I hit mile 22

For some reason, it was a little disheartening.  I was used to St George where literally the entire city comes and lines the course cheering.  There were people here and there, the random sign, but it felt lonely.  I called Runja and told her she needed to talk me through mile 22.  She said all the right things, gave me all the right encouragement and then in the background I could hear Kris yell  "DON'T LET THEM PASS YOU!!!!".  That was all I needed.  I knew I was going to finish strong.  The PGFD guys that I kept leap frogging with were in my sights and I was going to amp it a notch and make a move.

The last few miles are a blur.  At one point, there was a mister, and just on the other side of the mister was a friend from work who yelled and cheered me and took a picture - that gave me boost.

A water stop further on down had otter pops - I can't even tell you how wonderful those were!

At about mile 24, I heard my song.  I had started my race playlist over again (need about 2 more hours added to it) and there was my motivation song.  It has the right lyrics, and more importantly the right cadence and beat for me to run a strong tempo.

I would walk the slow intro, as soon as the beat stated, I started running.  When the fade out started, I would let my self walk again while I pushed it to play again, and then repeated.  I think I listened to it 6 times or so before I was in the final chute!

As I came in and saw the crowds of people cheering, it just gives you a lift, and then there to my left was Chloee and Splenda cheering and taking pictures.  Little Chloee's face smiling at me and telling me to run hard was all I needed, somehow I found something left in my tank and sprinted.  I looked at the time and got choked up.  4:51 and some change!  I was in shock!  Euphoric!  Exhausted.....

I met up with Splenda, Chloee and some other family members that happened to be there in Provo for the day.  We chatted while the kids played on the bouncy house stuff and I stretched and relived the race.  I ran into a neighbor of mine who is HARD CORE!  As we were talking a gentleman came up to thank him.  Rob told us that as they were nearing, the man had been struggling.  Rob came up on and and told him he could do it and if they picked it up, they could be sub 4.  That man was able to pick it up and finish strong, he had come to thank Rob for his encouragment.     Yeah, that's runners.  We are a unique breed.

More hanging out at the finish, trying to get my hoodie (they had trouble getting the 5mile drop stuff) and then it was in the car to head home and get me in an ice bath.

Here it is a day later.  I am still euphoric despite the complete pain my legs are in.  As I drove to Cedar City tonight (what idiot plans a road trip the day after a marathon?)  I thought back over the race.  The people I talked to at the fires.  Wondering how they finished.  The old man that walked a bit with me in the canyon who had done a 50 miler last week and was doing the Wasatch 100 (running a 100 miles).  He's old enough for the Senior Games and yet putting more mileage in than I could ever dream of doing.  I thought of the two old men that were with me at the end that we leap frogged with for the last 6 miles.  They ran with no ipods, no fancy gadgets, garmins, or fluff.  Just their long basketball shorts, a tshirt and their shoes.  Purists. 

So, slower that my last marathon, but still respectable. 
Final results:
 67    4609   Melissa Catmull        04:50:06   11:04   04:51:55   02:25:02   11:04   
Place   Bib   Name               official time   pace    gun time    half      split

I'm def towards the lower end of my age group, and that is okay. My splits were even.  I'm okay with that pace for a marathon, but NGL - part of my thought during the drive today, was how I could increase my speed and if it would be possible this season.

The hope of qualifying for Boston is still in my heart, and next season the qualifying times change.  Right now, I have to shave off an entire hour.  I don't think I can do that, but it's fun to dream.  At the moment, I can at least say, 1 down, 3 more to go this season!

So Utah Valley Marathon folk - you put on a nice race.  Very organized and efficient in getting people where they needed to be.  The support and the volunteers were fabulous.  The fans that did come to cheer were very uplifting.  Not sure if I will do ya again next year, I guess it depends on whether or not I do the Grand Slam. 

Right now, I am entertaining the idea of trying to get faster and then perhaps...... a half ironman.

*Don't tell Splenda Daddy!*


Garden of Egan said...

Melissa! You are truly amazing! I do not know how you are able to do it.
I'm so impressed. I can't even FATHOM a marathon.
We watched the runners at the Teton Dam Marathon yesterday. It is inspiring to see so many people with such passion.

And your thighs are RIPPED!

Suz said...

Sheesh! You runners ARE a different breed! I don't "get" it, but I sure do admire it! I am awed.

just call me jo said...

Yeh, you!! I can't even run to the mailbox and back. Running?? I just don't think it's in my DNA...well, I'm sure it's not actually. You are so lithe and lean. Everything would jiggle like jello if I ran. Everything!! I am in awe of your fitness and determination. You go, lady! Getting up that early would be enough to do me in! I'm tired just reading about it!

DesertHen said...


I'm in awe! I spent Sunday afternoon jogging next to a kid on a pony and thought I was gonna pass out! lol!

You Rock!!!

tammy said...

4 hrs and 50 mins? And here I was proud that I could run for 4 mins and 50 secs on the treadmill before needing to walk.

You never cease to amaze me.

Rachel said...

Amazing! I LOVED reading your report - just amazing! I love that you are a runner and that you love the craziness of the world - and relish it! :) I must've passed you somewhere along the way! I started about 5+ min after gun time and finished in front of you, so I had to have passed you somewhere. Hopefully it wasn't when I was bawling my eyes out - hopefully everyone just wrote that off as another crazy runner thing. :)
Congrats on an awesome and strong finish! Family is what it is all about. What it's all about! You are amazing!

Mae Rae said...

my hero ;-)

Mrs. Organic said...

This is so incredibly awesome and if anyone can shave off an hour, it's you!

Diaper Diva said...

Your secret is safe with me. I am impressed! I love how youe make us feel like we are there with you, minus the leg pain.

Pedaling said...

of course you didn't suck!

i'm pretty sure it would be best for me to never do an event with you, because i am never first, never at the head of the just ain't how i go- it stresses me out....and it probably stresses you out to lag behind after some start....not to mention you'd totally kick my butt!

Connie said...

Wow!! I loved reading about your awesome run! I can't even imagine running that far. I'm on week 5 of training for the half-marathon in August. This Saturday is a 10 miler and that makes me a bit nervous! Great job! Love the pictures. You look strong! Oh yeah, you are!

Jaymi said...

I cried! I don't know you but I love you! Great Job.

LKP said...

hahaha.... you're an animal... AND my hero!!! serio- that toenail sign? that was put there by my massive telepathical powers. so it WAS for you! (your toenails were my first thought as you started the rundown of the race, lol!)

Jewls said...

Oh MCAT WAY TO GO!!! If you don't do the full next year you should do the half...this was hands down the BEST organized half I've ever done! Loved those misters, and the otter pops...perfection!!

Your time is awesome girl, you totally rocked it! I'm still feeling pretty firm in my 'sticking to half' rule, but *maybe* someday I'll do it sure is nice to reach mile 9 and only have 4 miles to go instead of 17!!