Sunday, September 18, 2011

Top of Utah Marathon 2011 - YESSSS!!!!

A much needed success.  That's all there is to it.  Sometimes when life sucks, you just need a day to have a little happiness.  Saturday was my day!

Remember how TOU was gonna be my first marathon ever?  And then I had that awful stress fracture and was on crutches?  Let's not even bring up the resulting CRPS.   Sucky time in my running life to be sure. 

So this year, when I saw that it was part of the Grand Slam requirements - I was excited to come tackle the one I had only imagined doing.

Friday night, Splenda and I left town and headed north.  Once we hit Logan, a quick stop at the Marriott to pick up my packet and then it was on to Smithfield and the Firehouse!  LOVE THAT PLACE!!

Back to my sisters for a little Cade loving and small talk while Splenda got our bed ready and stuff set up. 

(yes Mr Cade is so chubby that even his big toe has rolls)

(my hair is not really yellow - it's the lighting.)

I couldn't sleep.  Negative thoughts kept circling around and around.  Conversations.  People.  Situations.  Panic.  Anxiety.  Nothing even race related and I was laying there wide awake and freaking out.  I finally found a song in my head and sang myself to sleep.

Next thing I know - the alarm is going off at 4:00am.  Up, dressed, and rousing Splenda to drive me to the bus loading zone.  Apparently it had started raining sometime in the night and by all accounts didn't look like it was going to stop.  I got on the second bus, sat down next to an older lady in a rain coat - some small talk and then it was look out the window so I don't get car sick.

I think this is the worst part about a marathon is the drive up to the start line.  It feels like it takes FOOORRRREEEVVVVVEEEERRRRR.  Finally, 45 minutes later, we got dropped off in front of warming tents and off we went.  I found a quiet spot next to a heater, laid my drop bag to sit on and turned on my tunes.  There was still an hour and half to start time so I just wanted to close my eyes and sleep if I could.  I slowly stretched and warmed up my legs.

More and more buses were dropping off runners and it began to get pretty crowded in the tent.  I figured now was as good as time as any to hit the porta-potties. 

My mistake.  The lines were HUGE!  I gauged the length of each of the lines and figured they were all about the same, so jumped into the first one I could.  As I inched my way forward, an announcer kept coming by and announcing how close it was to start time.  Finally, I realized that there was no way I was gonna make it to my turn before the start, and since I wasn't in an emergency situation, I figured with the johns stationed every mile, I would hit one on the course.  I made my way back down to the start line just as it started to rain.   

I shed my leggings, secured them in my drop bag and tossed it into the bus.  Just as I started in the direction of the start, it started POURING rain.  No lie- a downpour!  We all raced for the heating tent.  Can you imagine the smell of hundreds of bodies crammed into the heat tent?  BO, morning breath, and ben-gay.  Not pretty.

Soon we heard the gun go off and knew the wheelchair and hand crank entrants had started.  I crept towards the opening of the tent and could see that it was no longer a downpour, but back to a slight drizzle.  I headed out and tried to find my way back to the pacer for 4:45 since it was my friend Chris.  I knew I wanted to see if I could be faster, but I wanted to at least say hi.  No such luck.  There were too many people, and when the gun went off, I found myself with the 4:00 pacers.

Off we went.  The sky was just getting light, the rain was drizzling and the temps were chilly, but within 5 minutes, very comfortable.  I got to mile two before using the portapotty.  Mile 3 I dropped my sweatshirt and was settling into a nice quick little pace.  The rain had stopped and it was perfection!

The scenery was spectacular!  The canyon was beautiful and here and there you could see glimpses of leaves beginning to turn. 
(one of the rare moments that we weren't getting drenched)

The crowd was perfect.  Not so many people that you were dodging bodies, but enough to keep things sociable and interesting.

The miles were flying by and I was feeling great.  Good foot turn over.  Solid, steady pace and feeling fantastic.

And then the heavens opened and the deluge of rain came.  For several miles, it poured.  And then.....ow!  What is this?  HAIL!  It was hailing on us!  There wasn't anything to do but keep moving forward.  And laugh.  Serio - what are you gonna do about?  Some lightning, thunder, more rain, more hail.  Soaked to the skin.  Water filled shoes and squishy socks.  Less than comfortable, but not completely miserable yet.

At mile 14 or 15 we come out of the canyon and begin looping through some farm country.  It's very pretty and lots of spectators are out cheering us on.  I love that.  I love that a perfect stranger will catch your eye and tell you what a great job you are doing and to keep working hard.

For the next several miles, we looped through neighborhoods.  Now spectators were increasing in their numbers and unfortunately, their ways to encourage.  For a couple of miles we had people riding their bikes along side their runners.  Nice gesture but I almost had a little girl crash into me on her princess bike and then I had to dodge a couple others while they tried to manage balancing while going so slow to stay with their runner.  Not gonna lie.  Was a bit irritated.

The course continued to loop through quiet neighborhoods, and around one turn, I came across a three some that I stayed with for a little while.  One lady and two guys who were talking her through it and encouraging her every step.  At mile 19 or 20 is when you see people start to struggle.  The legs have trouble moving, and some give in to the temptation to walk.  These guys with the lady were so much fun though!!  They would let her walk and then cheer her legs into running again. And they were not just cheering and encouraging her - but all of us around!  They were a delight to run with for awhile.  At about mile 20 I lost them.  She was walking more and more and I felt good enough to keep running.

Mile 20 is my hardest.  There is something mental at mile 20.  It's not the proverbial wall, it's just a mental thing for me.  I had already talked to Splenda.  I had talked to Tiburon.  I had texted Lisa.  But I needed some tough love.  I needed someone to YELL AT ME and tell me to quit whining in my head and kick it into gear.  I called Corbin.

Poor kid answers the phone and on the other end is his breathless mother begging him to scream and yell some motivation to her.  I think I caught him off guard.  No Mom, I'm not gonna yell at you.  Mom, it's all in your head.  You feel pain or feel tired, it's all in your head.  You decide if you are tired or not.  Mind over body.  We talked about his buddies that are now in Afghanistan.  Most the boys he did boot camp or combat training with are now over there.  One in particular has been on my mind.  I told Corbin I had been thinking of Cody Crangle and telling myself that if that young kid could be over there in that god-forsaken land running in his gear while being shot at, I could certainly run it here and not be such a whiny butt baby.  We chatted another minute and then Corb told me get off my phone and stay off it since it was wasting energy!  Love that kid!

I looked up and it was mile 21 - that last mile went fast and now I knew I was on my way to finishing, and I wanted to finish strong.  Back in the canyon, I had passed the 4:00 pacer but towards the bottom of the canyon, he passed me.  I gauged the time on my watch and while it might be close, I could possible hit around the 4:00 mark.

The miles started to drag.  We were now looping into town, and while the spectators were kind and encouraging, they didn't take the pain out of my legs.  At the next aid station, I had them put some biofreeze on my knee and tendons at my ankles.  That did the trick and I was able to find a nice foot turnover and steady pace.

We turned onto main street and I started looking for the mile 25 marker.  As I saw it nearing in the distance, I looked down at my watch to see the time and MY WATCH WAS DEAD!  What the??  I pushed buttons, I got nothing.  I cursed at it, I got nothing.  So disappointing.  Now I had no way of knowing the time I was at and trying to gauge a finish time.

Nothing to do but keep running.  Drank water, ate oranges and kept pushing.   Just before the 26 miles mark, I came up on a couple old guys that were laughing and complaining about the last .2 - how it was the toughest.  I knew that once I rounded the last corner, I would see the finish.

Sure enough - and let me tell you that is a blessed sight!  The big finish line, the clock, the stands of fans and people all lined up to cheer you into the finish.  I saw Splenda Daddy - gave him my happy dance gesture and then as per tradition - sprinted in!  I looked at the clock and saw 4:15.09!  Knowing that I was a little ways back at the start, I felt confident in posting a sub 4:15! I.was.thrilled!!

I made it through the chute, into the racers recovery area and then out to look for Splenda.  We met up, took some pictures, I stretched, grabbed my Wasatch Running company Grand Slammer swag bag, found my dropbag and sweatshirt I had left along the route and headed for the car.

A few more minutes of visiting with my sister and baby Cade and then it was time to head home. I laid a bag of ice on my knees and then spent the drive home re-living the entire 26.2 miles for Splenda.

While I love telling him my side of the event, I also enjoying hearing about his observations while he watches at the finish line.

Splenda: "We could learn a lot from marathon race fans. As the runners approach the finish line, a good portion of the spectators are cheering on people they don't even know and giving them lots of encouragement. If a runner is struggling to run or even walk the crowd gets even louder. That would be awesome if life was like that, encouraging those who need it the most."

There I am!!

What is to be learned by that?  Sometimes the world is quick to kick when one is down.  Or to revel in another's failure if that means progress for them.  We sometimes secretly like to see others fail because in some sub-conscious way, it validates us that we are better than them.  That we have value.  I think the world has that backwards.  When someone is struggling, that is the time to be the kindest, to cheer the loudest and to offer the most encouragement.  We need to conquer the selfishness that exists in each of us to some extent and instead sincerely strive to support and help others through the difficult trials of life.  It's easy to look at another's situation and even pass judgement that perhaps they created their own bed, they can lie in it.  That doesn't sit with me anymore.  Sure, I'm all for the law of natural consequences, but instead of condemnation, we need compassion a whole lot more in the world. Most especially, when we see someone struggling.

As always, I tend to have great Spiritual experiences, or gain a new level of enlightenment during a long run.  Saturday was no different.  I had told myself I was done thinking about a particular situation, but nevertheless, my mind drifted there and the hurt feelings surfaced again.  It was raining anyway so I figured it was safe to cry - no one would know any different.  And then something strange happened.  I wanted my Mom.  If you know me and you know my relationship with my Mom, this is extremely unusual.  But right there at about mile 7 or 8, I desperately wanted to get on a airplane, fly to Sweden and lay down in my Mom's lap and cry.  And then I wanted my Dad.  I wanted him back.  Just for a day, so I could lay down next to him on the couch and he could read his law books and tickle my back and I could cry.

That canyon was cathartic for me.  Very cathartic.  I came out renewed and with a sense of direction. Some earlier decisions I have made were confirmed for their rightness.  I came out with a strong mind and body despite being soaking wet, having been rained on, hailed on and slogging through the sloppy wetness of it all.  Life is like that isn't it?

Love Top of Utah Marathon - fantastic course, wonderful volunteers and well organized.  In my "will most def do again" list.    The only bummer is that my ipod is now ruined.  I wear it in a waterproof arm band, but it was just too much water.  I've had it sitting in rice, but so far, no luck.  Super SUPER bummer.  I'm gonna have to figure out a way to get a new one and get my music off the computer before St George marathon or  : )

Official results

Time:  4:14.08  with a pace of 9:42
18th out of 66 in my age group
302 out of 864 women
856 out of 1831 overall runners.

NGL - pleased.  I know that a BQ is not in my cards this season, but this was my best posted time so far for a marathon, and while they are all different courses, I will take this.  It's great for me and I couldn't be happier.

Now my body.....?  Prolly would answer that differently right now.  But it's all worth it baby.  Worth every last mile and .2!


Kelly said...

Very inspiring! Congratulations.

CountessLaurie said...

Way to go!!

Connie said...

You're awesome! You're still smiling and standing after that run! You're one strong lady, physically and mentally. I love that you have so many people who can help you along the way.
Love the picture you took along your run. Looks beautiful, in spite of the rain or is it because of the rain.
Too bad about the ipod.

Rest those knees and pat yourself on the back. You done good!!

Becca said...

WAY TO GO!!! You never cease to amaze me. There is no way that I could ever do what you do on a regular basis! You deserve to relish in the satisfaction of this race! Great job!

One Fantastic Housewife! said...

I am so proud of you! My knee started aching just

Anonymous said...

You are one awesome lady!!!
Good for you!

BTW, my coworker's son just graduated from marine bootcamp in San Diego and I thought of your son:)

Amy said...

As always, I am awed by your awesomeness. Since we met up at Culvers I think I have exercised maybe 5 times. No running. One day I will be so inspired by you that I will start running program.

Stace said...

you ALMOST make me want to be a runner again...almost. great job! i'm a wee bit jealous :)

wendy said...

I just think anyone who is committed to running a marathon is pretty amazing!! and you seem to run a bunch of them.....
I can imagine it would be kind of a "spiritual high" during that time, as you only have yourself to talk to and reflect on and look into. I feel that way when I go on my WALKS (notice I said Walk)

there were so many good things in this post. I love your hubby's comment about wouldn't it be great if when we are having a difficult time, and don't think we can make it...that there is a cheering squad encouraging us on.

that comment about the baby even having fat toes is hysterical. He is one round baby. but so cute. I just want to squeeze those cheeks.

now, will you rest a little.

Ann Marie said...

You are my hero.. and I love you.

After saying this.. I have to say.. after I read about the long porta-potty situation.. and thinking back at our blog discussion at the retreat last year.. I thought you were going to tell us you just pooped while running. lol! ~ And how are your toe nails??

Maybe you need to give Blog friends your numbers.. and we can all give you some " Run Melissa Run!" feed.-- We've got your back too ya know.

LOVE all of your analogies.. and therapy with running.. and the canyons. Very true thoughts you had. I have been the recipient of much love and kindness.. and friendship from you.. and many others when I felt like I couldn't muster anything extra to give to anyone besides my little family these last months.

Thanks for always "cheering me on" and supporting me. I really do think you are amazing lady.
Fast and determined too..

Lara said...

I just love the recaps of your runs. You are such an inspiration!

Garden of Egan said...

M...I love your thoughts and reflections of the run. You are so inspiring to me.
I need someone like you in my life every day being my M-Cat Boot Camp. Glad Corbin could talk you through it.

And yes, I love your thoughts on when someone is down, that's when they need your love and support the most.

I just love you!

Sue said...

Yeh!! you are my hero-ess! (is that a word?)

I so miss my running days..I know, shocking huh? yes, I use to run. Now I'm a walker. Walking is good. But my body shape loved the run.

can't eat anything I want anymore. But I could when I was running. boo

Pedaling said...

first of all, you look fantastic! I love your body! so fit and fine! :)

emotions the end of the day it's family...we want our mom--imperfections and all- we forgive and we crave the comfort of family. whatever it is they are able to give. and a girl and her dad-there is no substitution for that- not even a husbands love. none.

way to go on the happy, hurtin' run! loved corbins motivational pep talk...all without the scream and yell you requested.

i really don't know you a person runs that far. i am such a pathetic runner. it's embarrassing.

Way to go Melissa!

tammy said...

1. Great job.

2. I love that you can call your own little (well not so little) drill sergeant to yell at you.

3. I love fat babies.

4. I'm glad you had some confirmation of your choices.

5. I would be whining about soggy shoes.

6. I think no matter our age, there are always times in our lives when we need our moms.

Plain Jame said...

Why are you so damn cute? I love ya. I'm so proud of you, I can't believe there are people in this world like you that love to run. WOW.

Heather said...

This line, "BO, morning breath, and ben-gay. Not pretty." was so hilarious to me. Loved it and love you!

And HOLY CRAP on the pace!!! Seriously I am blown away. I have pretty recently started running more, and am currently doing a jog/walk program to get up to a 10K. The idea of pacing less than a 10 min mile for TWENTY-SIX POINT TWO freaking miles blows my mind.

I also really loved what you and Splenda said about encouraging others and all that. I, too, sometimes find myself secretly happy if others fail if it means a pay-off for me. I realized this about myself recently and was a little ashamed. But the way you worded this lesson was great - you don't condemn or guilt trip - you inspire to be better. I read that thinking, "Yeeeah! I can do that!" So thanks for the lift. Glad you had such an awesome day. You deserve it.

DesertHen said...

Awesome read! Congrats to you! That last part...WOW! So right! I'm glad you received some clarity during this run! Sweet baby photos! Cute little car! ((HUGS))

Mrs. Organic said...

I love reliving these with you. You are awesome, you can do HARD things, and tomorrow when you run you will be amazing!

I am just so proud of you and happy for you. 9:42? That is so freaking awesome!!!