Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ogden Marathon 2012- I'm in love and a little hate at the same time

Lesson learned....never attempt an early in the season marathon without sufficient training.  If you do, you are an idiot.  Whose name rhymes with shmem-shmat

I am extremely grateful for a running buddy who gave me his bib.  When this particular marathon opens up, it fills within hours.  It's that popular, so when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped at it fully prepared that I wouldn't post a stellar result.

That doesn't stop me from hoping and dreaming.

From day one of bib transfer, it was a nightmare with the race director.  Confusion, understandably, dominated every aspect.  I thought we had it all worked out, so I didn't give it another thought, instead I started thinking about the race itself.

As the day neared, more and more customers were coming in for last minute fuel and race day necessities so I started to get more insight on the course.  I knew it was mostly down hill, with only one significant climb at mile 14.  I knew it was a fast course and an easy one to BQ on.  I knew that a gazillion people would be running it, but that it was a well run race and that everyone I ever knew or heard from had a positive experience running it.

All good mojo.  All good zen, energy and chi.  I still approached it as a long training run, and to simply finish sub 5.  As Saturday got closer and closer, I got more and more amped for it and the fun I anticipated.

Yes, I said FUN when discussing a marathon.  You should be used to that by now from me.

Friday, after I left the Intermountain Running Lab (more on that later), I picked up Sheri and we made the drive up to Ogden and the expo to pick up our race bibs and packet.  I quickly found my name on the chart, got my bib number and went to the appropriate desk.
No bib for me.  I returned to the chart, even took a pic with my phone, and returned to the table.  No bib.  I was referred to an information desk, who then referred me to a solutions table.  At the solutions table the gentleman found my bib but explained that it had been cancelled.  We attempted a sensible communication about the steps taken to transfer etc, but didn't really get anywhere with each other.  He decided he needed the race director.  The race director approached me with my bib and asked what the problem was.  I quickly tried to explain it to her, at least what I understood, and she clarified that there was no problem at all.  Held it over the laptop, activated it and explained that I was good to go.
Whew!  I was really glad that I made the decision to pick it up myself and not have someone else do it for me, that would have been frustrating for them since it was for me, and I knew what was going on!

Sheri and I wondered the expo briefly before heading back home to finish prepping and getting to bed early.

At 3:10am, my alarm went off.  At first, my thought was "I'm gonna skip the gym this morning" and then a nanosecond later, I sat upright realizing that my ride would be there in 20 minutes and IT WAS RACE DAY!

Since everything was basically already set out and good to go, I slipped into my clothes quietly, gathered my gear, grabbed my chilled Monster and waited at the window watching for the car that would creep through my darkened neighborhood street.

My friends pulled up, I ran out and jumped in the back seat ready for some positive talk and energy.  They did not disappoint.  After a quick stop at the Sev for gas and a maple bar, we made the drive with one small detour to pick up another runner.

Sheri knew about the buses and explained that if we waited long enough we could get a comfortable Le Bus, instead of the rough, yellow school ones.  So after some strategic placing of ourselves, we made it  on to one of the coveted luxury rides, sat in the front seat and prepared for the long drive up the canyon.

I hate that drive.  Only because as you watch the scenery in the early morning light, you KNOW that you will be running the entire thing back down, and it seems sooooo loooooong.

As the bus began to move through the darkened streets of Ogden and make the turn east, some movements of the bus driver caught my attention.  Wow, he was really rocking out to his tunes.  I looked closer.  He didn't have a radio on, nor did he have head phones.  I watched a few more minutes and then realized that the gentleman had strange head tic movements.  Clearly our bus drive had something along the lines of Tourette's syndrome.  Suddenly Sheri's joke that the front seat gave a great view when we careened over the cliff seemed that much funnier.  He was a very nice man, and very good at what he did, but I have to say, that I was not only distracted but also subconsciously crossed my fingers that we would make it unscathed.

At the start line there were some smoldering fires and huge lines for the bathrooms.  Since we were one of the last buses, the first priority was the potty.  I had my blankie wrapped around my bare legs and a hoodie over my head and as we waited we made small talk with people around us, and stamped our feet, moving our legs in attempts to stay warm.  

After the pre-race bladder evacuation, we made our way to the drop bag trucks and it was time to remove the warm, soft, accessories I had been enjoying.  Oh shitake mushrooms it was cold!  Ran into a few more friends, wished everyone luck and then walked with Sheri to line up.  I had in my mind a sub 5, but after hearing so much about the course, I started to believe maybe a sub 4:30 or close could be realistic.  Sheri and I lined up together with the 4:30 pacer and before we knew it, runners in front of us were moving and we were off.

I started my watch right as I crossed the start line and looked up to check out the scene.  Runners everywhere.  Do you have any idea how that feels?  There is truly something that one feels that is beyond description.  Surrounded by beautiful canyon, with HUNDREDS of people in front of you, behind you, beside you, all with the same goal of running.  Some with dreams of PR's, some with hopes of a BQ, some with hopes of a respectable finish without injury, and some with the nerves of doing their first marathon ever.

I started off feeling fantastic.  It was a nice downhill and watching my heart rate monitor, I settled into a very nice, comfortable pace.   I quickly passed the 4:30 pacer.  Huh.  Okay, well, if I stay at this pace, I might be able to post a decent time.  A mile or two later, I came up on the 4:15 pacer.  Wha?  Really?  Maybe the pacer was holding them back through the any rate, I still felt good so I kept going just as I was.

I lost a packet of Sports Beans out of my belt, but when I stopped to pick them up, I realized that I was posing a significant danger to myself and the runners behind me.  Oh well, I'll catch more fuel at a water station.

After a potty break at about mile 8, I came across a runner friend/customer from the store.  I know he's faster than me, so I felt good to be at his side for the split second that I was.  He was soon out of my sights and far ahead in the distance.

At about mile 10, my adopted work son came up behind me.  Wha?  He must have started WAY at the back of the pack, cause this kid is FAST and had already caught up to me.  He had been stuck in the bathroom lines, but he was on track and looking good!  Before long he was also a speck in the distance ahead.

At this point, my watch started losing my heart rate.  And everytime it did, it stopped the time.  CRAP! I was doing everything I could to get it going.  For the next three miles, I fought with it.  Sometimes working, sometimes dead.  Frustrated since I now couldn't rely on the my watch for a timing purpose.  I vowed to toss the thing and finally invest in a garmin.

Mile 13, I pulled off, applied some Dr Hoy's and texted Splenda to let him know I was half way.  And then.....dun dun dun.....mile 14.  The hill.

It actually wasn't as bad as I thought, but I was definitely started to feel a struggle with my body.  I had been fueling and watering at every break, but my stomach wasn't feeling great and my legs were hurting as if I was at mile 20 and not 14 or 15.

I pulled off a couple of times to stretch thinking if I got some tightness out and blood flowing that it would help, but everytime I started back up running again, it seemed harder and harder.

Finally, all at once. I stopped in my tracks.  There was no moving forward.  My legs simply would not listen to my head and work.  I made my way off to the side and stumbled forward wondering what the crap was going on.  My stomach seized up as hard as my legs and I really thought I was done.  

As I shuffled forward, I came up on the mile 18 marker.  Really?  I bonk and hit the wall at mile 18?  I usually struggle at mile 20 and even then, once I get to mile 21, I'm good again.  Seriously?  This early into it and I BONK?!?!

Tears crept into my eyes as I seriously contemplated whether or not I could continue.  I looked around me at  all the runners passing me and my frustration grew.  I expect so much of myself, and as badly as I wanted to create excuses (lack of training, poor diet last week, not enough water on Friday), I couldn't accept any of them.  I had failed.  I had failed myself.

I walked/shuffled a little and then would attempt to run again for a few yards.  I watched Sheri pass me and the thought crossed that I should try to catch up.  There was nothing in me.  I watched her go, and while I was so happy that she was going to make her goal, I felt more discouragement in myself.   I did this until I hit the mile 20 mark and then, I don't know what happened, but my legs seemed to come to life.  Probably the advil I took, or the thoughts in my head of letting myself down, my husband down, my work, and even my friend who gave me the entrance.  Failure just could not be an option.  And I WOULD run.

I picked it up again and found a steady, albeit slow, pace for the next several miles.  I fueled and drank at every opportunity and by now the spectators were gathering.

Never underestimate the power of a cheering crowd.  Either literally, or figuratively.  Sometimes just knowing there is someone out there hoping you succeed is just enough fire to keep you going.

During the last 3 miles of the course, we actually run under a couple of bridges.  I seemed to lose my equilibrium a little and feared I was going to topple over.  Thankfully they were short.  At about mile 22, behind me comes my adopted work son.  What the wha?  He had blown past me hours before.  I asked him what had happened.  Poor kid had been in the process of passing someone and stepped off the ledge of the asphalt and tweaked his knee.  Since then he had been running/walking/limping.  My heart hurt.  This was his first marathon (boy is a speed demon track star) and I so badly wanted him to sub 4 it.  We joked that we would finish together and chatted a minute or two before he stopped to walk again.  Since my legs were still working, I kept going knowing that once he recovered and started running again, he would easily catch up to me.

By now, the runners around me were the ones that were clearly going to finish together.  Some small chit chat and cheering of each other on as the crowds got bigger and bigger.  Finally the big white balloons of the finish line were in sight and the 26 mile marker appeared.  This was it.  .2 left.  That's it.  A measly .2

Those are the hardest yards ever!  I knew I had to keep up my race tradition of sprinting in, so I picked it up and did the best version of sprint that I could muster.  I knew I was leaning to the side, but I didn't realize how badly until I looked at the pictures.  And as I looked at the clock as I crossed I saw 4:38 and some change.  Part of me felt happiness in that I was clearly a sub 5, and part of me felt disappointment and frustration knowing that I was originally on pace to post a great time.  Miles 18 - 20 filled my head and tears crept back into my eyes. 

 I shuffled through, and calculated how far behind the gun I guessed myself to be so that I would have an idea of my actual time.  I walked around a bit catching my breath and processing the fact that I was done.  Then it was time to watch for Andy.

No way was I NOT going to be at the finish for Andy, my adopted work son.  So even though the volunteers were trying to shuffle the runners through, I kept dodging them and watching for my boy.  I was worried that he wasn't closer behind me.  I was praying that his knee was really okay and that he wasn't completely blowing it out.

 I finally caught sight of him, and volunteers be damned I made my way forward screaming and yelling while cheering him on.

Again, never underestimate the power of cheerleading.  Either someone for you, or you for someone else.  It brings energy and love to both of you!

He crossed, we hugged, his knee was killing, I said swear words for him (He's too good a kid), and we made our way to the medal hander-outters.

We meandered through the chute kinda soaking it in.  I saw a neighbor and fellow running friend.  Rob had KILLED this course and got an excellent time.  Not sure if it was a PR for him, but certainly a BQ. I'll have to ask him later.  

Andy and I kept moving forward, getting bread, water and looking around for people that we knew or were waiting for us.  A quick hello and congratulations for Sheri who beat her goal,  a phone call from Splenda trying to meet up all while Andy and I wandered around looking for the Wasatch Running tent.

Once we realized it wasn't there, we found his real mom, grabbed a picture and then off to find our drop bags.

Of course, nothing with this race could be smooth, so my bag was nowhere to be found.  I had put it on the U-haul truck myself, so I know it had to be somewhere.  We wandered looking.  Asked a few volunteers.  Checked a few bags.  Mine was a bright green one, so I knew it would stick out.  Finally after about 20 minutes, we located the bag in an area completely different than where it belonged.  At this point, although frustrated, I just didn't care. I was glad to have my bag, and get my traditional marathon gear back.

We stood in the shade for a few minutes so I could stretch before walking the few blocks to the car.  Splenda's mom had come with him, and I really appreciated the extra support.  I'm not sure that she has ever been at a marathon finish line, and truly, everyone should experience it.  It's something unique and completely different than our every day lives.  I hope she felt it.  I was certainly grateful for her support.

I stretched out in the back seat and called my besties all the way home to rehash the run as well as hear about the events they had done that day.  

At home, I hit the ice bath, took a nice warm shower, got dressed and drove straight to the store for a pair of compression tights.  I wanted every recovery tool I could get my hands on.  Some peanut butter, some naproxen and laying in my bed was the rest of my afternoon.  

I dozed a bit while Splenda worked hard in the backyard.  When I woke up, I immediatley hit the marathon website to see what my official time was.
What the wha?  I didn't exist.  My name wasn't there.  My bib number didn't exist.  It was as if I didn't even run it according to their stats.  I checked a few other friends to see if it was a glitch, but they were all there.  I tried three more times, three different ways and finally concluded that although I was told I was set to go, it was pretty clear, that my bib  chip was never activated.  There was a place for me to email my problem to and I did so, but I have a feeling there is nothing they can do for me.  

I ran it.  I struggled.  I cried.  I walked.  I limped.  I bonked for two solid miles.  I watched my goals race past me.  I crossed the finish line.
But according to their official times, I didn't exist.  So, so discouraged.  

Again, I did the calculations.  I couldn't rely on my watch that had stopped multiple times for who knows how long, so I checked with Sheri.  We had crossed the start at the same time, and she had us a minute behind the gun.  With that in mind, I can safely say that my time was
4:37 and some change.

Not stellar for that course.  That course is fast and I should have and COULD have done better.
I have tried not to beat myself up about it.  I've tried to acknowledge the success for what it is.  I am not allowing any excuses to creep into my head, because they are just that EXCUSES.  And I hate excuses. 

It is what it is.  I didn't do as well as I could and should have.  But it's done and over now.  There is nothing I can change about it.

That being said, I am sure as hell going to do it again next year!  I loved the course.  Even through the horrible miles at 18 - 20.  The course is stunningly beautiful through the canyon.  It's fast and has everything a marathoner could hope for.  The aid stations were well run.  There was organization at every turn.  Local authorities kept us safe, volunteers kept us watered/fueled and the spectators gave us energy to finish.

Speaking of aid stations I have to note that my two favorite ones were the one manned by adult special needs people.  Their enthusiasm towards the end was exactly what I needed.  The other one was the station manned by US Army staff and their children.  My heart always loves a man/woman in fatigues and the sight of them, made me think of my son and that made me think of running with him later this year, and that made my heart happy and light for the next couple of miles.

So while, I have given myself almost 24 hours to "get over it", I am going to chalk this one up as a "FINISH" and call it good.  It's a success just with that.  And I WILL learn to be okay with that.

Thanks Greg Green for giving me the spot.  Part of my disappointment was letting you down with a crappy time.

Thanks Sheri and Don for the ride up and encouragement along the way

Thanks Andy for letting me adopt you, love you like my own, and letting me cut loose with some swear words on your behalf.   I don't know about you, but it sure made me feel better!

And finally, thank you Ogden Marathon for putting on a fantastic event where me and a few thousand other freaks like me can come push our bodies and see what we are made of.  Despite the glitches with the registration, my bib and my timing chip, I still love you and will be back for redemption next year.

PS - never underestimate the power of a cheerleader.

Be one.


Connie said...

Every time I read one of your running posts, I'm close to tears! Dang!! You're awesome and I'm glad you're not beating yourself up over your time. You finished and that's with Bonking twice! Seriously? You're Wonder Woman! I wish I had your stamina, will power and legs!

I have a friend who ran this marathon. It was her first marathon. She's 56 years old. She finished in 6 hours 9 minutes. She was ecstatic! :)

Sorry about the mix-up with your bib. It stinks not to be listed!
But you DID it!

wendy said...

So awesome that I have a friend named SHMEM-SHMAT. !!!
I still oooo and ahhh, at runners, marathoners. Crap a brick, I think I've accomplished a gold medal event when I walk 6 miles!!!
(cut me some slack)

I love your "adopted son"..and who doesn't LOVE LOVE someone who can fill in the necessary swear words needed in life.
That I think, could be MY CALLING.

love you

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

Whether or not they have your correct time; you did it! YAY! I am so proud of you. I don't know how you do this. I agree with you on having cheerleaders in your court. I biked the a hill the other day that I thought would claim my life. My hubby and friend helped me. I felt like a special needs person myself. Anyway, this is about you. You rock!

karen said...

I continue to be impressed by what you do! I am your ultimate (yet invisible) cheerleader because you are doing something I would love to do if I could. All of my brothers were/are runners, as was my dad in his younger years - actually until just recently and he's 82! If I had any joints left worth *anything* (insert your own swear word there) I'd still be running too. Instead I enjoy your marathons vicariously! WOOT - way to go! And next time will be better!!

CountessLaurie said...

Okay, I'm a-stumped. What's a BQ?

Well done, shmem shmat ...


tammy said...

All that and your chip wasn't activated? AGH!!

sheri said...

M-I am so happy to know you!! You are an inspiration! Here's to many a more Marathon with you!! xo