Sunday, August 21, 2011

Park City Marathon 2011 - I am in awe. I am in pain. I had a spiritual epiphany.

I registered for this one because of the Grand Slam

I do four marathons in the season, I get a big cool medal and the bragging rights to call myself a Grand Slammer. 

I missed Ogden, so in order to get my four in - Park City was my next available option.  I didn't think much about it except that I expected the scenery to be gorgeous.  I knew the altitude was going to be a challenge, but really, I just didn't think about it too much.  Normal training, took it easy at Epic and kept it in the back of my mind as just another marathon to check off.

I may have greatly slightly underestimated it all.  I started to give it some second thoughts during the weekend of Epic and after talking to both Wayne and Aimee who had done Park City before.  They both gently, tried to help me understand that it.was.brutal.  Admittedly I got nervous.  Decided to evaluate my goals and decide what I wanted out of this one. 
1.  I need it for the Grand Slam so just finishing would be a good start
2.  It's not a BQ so no need to even pretend I could hope for that.
3.  Sub 5 hours and I would be pleased.

That was it.  That was all the expectation that I put into it.  I wanted to just run, enjoy the scenery and finish respectably.

Saturday morning came early but gratefully not as early as most marathon mornings. There is no shuttle to the top of a mountain so no early am bus ride to catch and then sit around fire for a couple of hours trying to stay warm.  Instead, I hit the I-80 and made it to PC in about 40 minutes.   I parked near the  start/finish line and went into the fieldhouse to stretch and warm up.

There were several people already there so I found a spot on the stairs to sit and get my race music queued up.  Of course, fellow runners are chatty people so during the next 30 or 45 minutes, I met a man from Colorado (Georgia originally) who was running a marathon in every state; a young woman there to do the half who just picked up running, and a older gentleman who had run this course several times.  He guaranteed us all that there would be NO pr for this one, and to conserve on the first half to kick it up on the last half.

Remember, I am not one to review the course or check elevation much.  I get a general idea but I don't want to know about every single hill or turn or aid station.  I just like to run and take things as they come.  After hearing him, I was starting to get a tich nervous.  I stuck firm to my sub 5 goal and decided to follow his advice on reserving during the first half.

After the pre-race potty stop and the national anthem, we were off.  The sun was just beginning to rise and while it was a bit chilly, it was still grand running weather.  After mile 1, I checked my pace and was just over a 9 minute mile.  I felt okay about that and was feeling good so I hoped it was a pace I could keep at.

I passed the guy from Colorado who, by the way, was running with a torn calf muscle.  He was limping and I still wonder if he even finished.  I passed a guy from the gym, asked about his wife, chatted for a moment and moved on. 

The scenery really was gorgeous.  The sun rise in the mountains.  The first 6 miles were fabulous.  I thought, 'what are those guys talking about brutal?  this is great - I could run forever'

Yeah, got over that pretty quick.  From there on out - it was a climb.  And a climb.  And a climb.  Hill after hill after hill after hill.  And the more I climbed the thinner the air got.  The thinner the air got, the harder it was to breathe.  The harder it was to breathe, the less oxygen I could get to my muscles.  The less oxygen to my muscles meant my legs wouldn't work.

By mile 16 at the FREAKING TOP OF THE FREAKING MOUNTAIN - I had had enough!
This was where the course looped back down.  I placed a couple of phone calls to friends to let them know where I was and to vent my utter frustration.  The downhill was just as brutal!

I was hurting.  I was tired.  I was hot.

The course thus far had been through some paved asphalt, quiet neighborhoods, trail, under some bridges, along the running trail in the city, and up to the ski lifts.
It was now winding through the east part of town which is uphill and downhill.  Over and over and over again.
Mile 18 was unrunnable.  I had to walk.  I couldn't make my legs run.

I was drinking water, I was eating oranges, I was gu'ing, I was shotbloking, I was doing everything I could, but at this point, I really wasn't feeling well.

As we came across the back part of the golf course, I wondered if I should stop. I was unsteady on my feet.  I felt a little dizzy and wanted to puke.
I let myself walk a little more and told myself that if I could get to mile 21 then there would be no quitting.

Made it to mile 21

I let myself walk some more.  Dumped water on my head in an attempt to cool myself down and checked my pace.  If I kept running, I could still finish sub 5.  I decided that my legs hurt even more when I stopped so I just had to keep going.

Not gonna lie.  I was in tears.  My body screamed for me to stop and I honestly have no idea how I did it,  but my feet kept moving.

We were now back on trail.  It was hot, a little dusty and the sun was getting high.  I watched as other runners were in the same boat as I was.  Struggling.  Walking/running/trotting - any combination we could come up with to keep moving forward. 

It felt like forever but I finally could see that I was within a mile.  We were on a path behind some homes and a sweet old couple stood out by the course and sprayed the runners with water as we ran by.  I think they might have saved my life - it was the best thing I had felt in hours!  It was just enough to help me round the corner and see the finish.

As I started to come through the people lined chute - I started to tear up again.  I hurt so bad.  I was so tired.  I felt like I had been beaten in a street fight. 
And then, there was the Splenda in hand - cheering on his "Trixie" (explanation below) - so of course I started to cry more and then decided I was not going to limp or stagger across the finish line - I was going to SPRINT!

When I looked at the clock I saw 4:58 and some change so I knew I had made my goal of sub 5.  That was enough for me.  I had done it.  I was through. I didn't quit.  I didn't fail.

I put a cold, wet rag on my head and tried to get my head to clear and eyes to focus so I wouldn't fall down.  You know how you see those guys collapse at the finish?  Yeah, I get it now.  I understand why.
This literally kicked my butt!  It was so hard.  The hardest run I have ever done.  And I was so glad it was over.

I met Splenda in the spectator area and we walked around while I still tried to get my bearings.  We finally found some grass in the shade, and I let myself sit.  Took off my shoes and socks and felt like I was getting normal again.

They were doing a raffle and so as we were leaving, I heard my number called.  I came away the lucky winner of a nice new head lamp - SWEET!

We also met a gentleman that I had been with at the finish.  I had noticed his shirt that marked he had run a marathon in every state.  He happened to walk by us and needed to borrow a cell phone.  We chatted for a minute.  Meet my new idol Larry

He was over 70 years old and this was his 773 rd marathon.  SEVEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY THREE

*shakes head in amazement*

By now, all I wanted was home and an ice bath.  Both were never better.

Final stats:
Official finish time: 4:57:47.4
11th out of 17 in my age group
96th out of 156 of all women
255 of 385 overall.

I think I am going to separate my spiritual thoughts into a different post  and leave this one with the final thoughts of - CRAP!  This was hard.  It was hard for at least 20.2 miles of it.  I have never wanted to quit more in my life.  I don't remember feeling so much pain.  Or trying harder to breathe.  Or trying to keep my wits about me.

Solid respect for anyone who ever tackles this course.  No lie  - it's brutal.

Will I do it again?

I'm gonna take my cool finisher's medal and my sub 5 time and call it good.

Yes I am blonde now. 
No, it's whiter than this picture. 
Yes, it completely changes how I look. 
No, I am not afraid to do things like this. 
No, I didn't change my name to Trixi - it's a joke with Splenda
Yes, it mostly likely is a mid-life crisis. 
 Deal with it.

*spiritual post coming soon


Cherie said...

Ok I am so excited that after reading many of your race posts I finally understand all the words - Yayyyy!

OK that does sound totally brutal I was tired and crying just reading. I do not know how you did it - You are amazing.

Congratulations on Sub 5!!!!

Jewls said...

Holy smokes! You are amazing, seriously! WAY TO GO!

gigi said...

I am proud for you! I am amazed that you are so strong and determined! Go, go girl!

tammy said...

773? Holy crap.

And that answers that about the hair. Midlife crises can be good. Mine made me lose 45 pounds and grow my hair long.

You are amazing. I don't know that I could do it. Unless my life depended on it. Let's hope it never does.

Pedaling said...

I admire a girl who can go for it!
and you do...from running to parenting/grandparenting/ adventure and even to a brand new look!

Heather said...

Holy crap! You are a superhero.

Connie said...

WOW!!! I feel like a real wimp after reading about your marathon! That is awesome! You are amazing! I like your blonde hair and big smile! Congratulations!!

CountessLaurie said...

Well done, chica. You didn't quit. You are a winner.

And me loves you and your blonde hair!!

Sue said...

If going blonde is the only thing you do in your mid-life crisis, you done good girl!

you are impressive, amazing,tenacious, competitive and inspiring!

Mrs. Organic said...

Yep did the blonde mid-life thing last year and fried the crap out of my hair. I love your epiphany - I read that post first and am still thinking about it.

Rachel said...

Excellent Race! That course is brutal. I think there should be a party wagon at the top of Deer Valley loop so we can all celebrate for a few minutes the fact that we made it! I wish I would've kept an eye out for you and actually met you...I'm probably somewhere in the background of one of your finisher photos :) You are an amazing lady! Congrats on that sub 5 - PC is a BEAST!! Thanks for the inspiration on your spiritual post from this race as well.