A week late and a dollar (or eight miles) short. But here it is…
Admittedly, Nick and I did not put in nearly the amount of training or long distance runs we would have liked to in order to feel comfortable running our first marathon.
But I knew I was committed and come expo time, I was in it to win it. Well, not win it, per se, but in it to finish it. There.
I arrived at the expo early in the day to pick up my race packet, shirt and bib before the crowd got too large and hectic. I was also working at the expo later in the day so I wanted to make sure I wasn’t waiting in a line or had any stress involved.
Arriving at the expo I could just feel my happiness levels increase. “I’m really doing this. I’m one of the runners. This is my event!”
I thought about how I couldn’t even finish the mile run back in junior high and that here I was picking up a packet to go and run 26 times that. I’ll be honest that I had an incredible sense of pride in even being registered for such a thing.
After picking up my race kit, I ran a bunch of errands and returned to work my stint at the expo.
I was there representing the GOAL exercise course – a project which deserves its own post but in short: I wanted the river parkway to be used more. I met an architect that wanted to re-do the parcourse at Weber State but couldn’t get through their red tape. I started thinking a parcourse on the parkway would be even more useful to the community. I met a few others that had the same idea but alone we were all lacking the ability to carry it out. We were all having the same conversation but missing the threads to tie things together. Until we met and the threads wove themselves so perfectly that this project has come together in a seeming snap of the fingers. Really. Collaboration is funny like that – done right, it hardly even feels like work.
I manned the booth and got to tell visitors and community members all about the exercise trail, which was really awesome because I was already on a pre-runners high and having people get excited about something you’ve worked on for so long – well shoot that’s the best drug in the world. I was at the expo from 4-6 and then it was time to carb up and get to sleep!
Before bed I took Tylenol PM so I would be able to fall asleep early and get a decent amount of sleep before the alarm went off at 4am. I’m typically a three-snooze kind of gal but when the alarm went off Saturday morning I was like a kid awaiting a vacation to Disney. I was wide awake and ready to do this thing!
One thing that’s super cool about running the race here in Ogden is the community that comes together to back the event – staffing, volunteers, aid stations, etc. We ran into a friend at the bus loading station and that was the start of many hi’s, good luck’s and congratulations throughout the entire course. One stat I heard was that one-tenth of one percent of the population runs a marathon each year – what I’d like to know is what percent of a percent gets hugged by a friend at mile 9, sang happy birthday to at mile 13.1, or a personal phone call from one of the race coordinators to check on their blistered feet after the race has ended.
We rode the bus from downtown up to the valley where the full marathon start is located. Once we got off the bus we had almost two hours to wait until the start. Nick and I both kind of rolled our eyes and thought we were in for a long haul but the time went by really fast and all of a sudden it was time to line up. Nick kissed me and we wished each other a good race before we split up into our estimated pace packs.
At that point they had the music turned up super loud and it was all amp-up music that I normally can’t stand – Thunderstruck, some Kelly Clarkson song, etc. I cried to Thunderstruck y’all.
When the gun went off and the race was officially begun, I was just so happy to be a part of that moment that I didn’t ever realize the distance we covered over that first mile. I was honestly shocked when my Garmin beeped indicating a mile’s distance.
The next several miles went just as well. I felt strong, I was in a good stride, and running happy.
I lost my pace pack waiting for a porta potty around mile 6 (there were only three and a loonnnng line) and was a bit bummed but still running strong. When I got to the 13.1 check in I was really excited to see that a friend of mine was announcing for the relay exchange. I had assumed she’d be at the finish line but was totally surprised to see her there and even more surprised when she jumped off the podium thing and ran beside me singing happy birthday (and getting everyone in the stands there to do the same). That was the second time I cried during that race.
I was feeling really great up until about mile 16 when I could tell that my feet were in real trouble. I had problems with my shoes during the half marathon; aching and tightness in the ball of my foot and ankles, so I knew that the shoes I was running in were not the best for distance like this. What I didn’t know is how bad it would mess me up.
I just kept trucking along until about mile 18 when my feet were in complete rebellion. I had large bubble blisters forming on the ball of my foot and the pads just inside my big toes. I knew I was in major trouble at that point and even though my legs still felt strong, my silly little toes and feet simply weren’t in the game anymore. I ended up walking, then running, 100 paces at a time from there to the finish line – 8+ miles.
I thought about giving up quite a few times. I thought about how stupid I would feel if I gave up a race because my “feet hurt” and that no matter how real that pain was in the moment, that I’d regret it forever if I let it stop me.
Coming in around mile 23 or so there was a porta potty grouping set aside from the aid station and as I was making my way between the two, there was a random man with a white bird on his shoulder. I ran by and thought “that’s weird” and the moment I thought it, the bird squawked at me “trust your journey.” Well, I don’t know if he squawked it at me or just at random but… what the what?
I KNOW that happened. And still, I’m telling this story and I’m all “Did that really happen? Did a parrot really tell me to trust my journey?” Yes, yes it did.
And it’s even more crazy because I wrote those Trust Your Journey stories for the GOAL Foundation over the last few months. Anyway, that parrot was sort of an extra dose of encouragement and a reminder of why I was here and why I was doing this. Trust.
As I came around the corner where I could see the finish line and knew that I was going to complete this thing, I cried again.
So…I finished. Way slower than I had anticipated – even knowing that I had under-trained – but I finished. I finished in 6 hours and 22 minutes.
Mackenzie was the first person to notice me nearing the finish line and I could see his little arms waving at me in the stands. Once I got through the official finish, medal photo and all that, I couldn’t find anyone but once we re-connected both Mack and my dad came running up to hug me. Nick did not. Ha, he ran the dang marathon!
And just like that, it was over. We did it!
Here are my lessons from the course:
Running a marathon is like planning a pregnancy: you can plan it all you want, or you can go in unplanned, but come race day – whatever planning or prep work sort of goes out the window. We signed up for this race and had all these plans for how we’d fit running into our schedules, how to balance family/work/training and then it all got thrown up in our face. Nick was offered a job* in another state and amid all the other changes/pending changes, we barely got eating and showering in over the last several months, let alone running 18 miles at a time or whatever the training schedule wanted.
*I’d like to point out at this juncture that training for this marathon is exactly like planning a baby. When we decided to have another child (Spencer), we talked about finances, time, etc and made all these great plans. A month and a day into little Spence-magoo’s life and we were suddenly shipping out to Utah – on a job transfer for Nick’s work. See… exactly the hiccup in our marathon training. See? See?!
And it’s also like raising children. There are a ton of variables you aren’t in control of, like the weather, chafing (no matter how hard you try), the course conditions, your stomach jitters – all you are in control of is your mind and your will. Two things, shockingly similar to parenting. You don’t get to decide all the variables, but you do get to decide how you think about them and how you push through.
Finally, I learned that I am capable of so much more than I have ever imagined. According to Jillian Michaels. The one constant thought running through my head was that quote from Jillian “you are capable of so much more than you have ever imagined.” As I got to the various mile markers I’d think to myself “Mile 17?! See, look what you have done already! You’re capable of so much more than you’ve ever imagined.” Corny, but whatever yo, it got me through 26.2.
I guess there is one other lesson in this: shoes matter!
Will I run another full marathon? I think so. I’d like to do another one this season with better shoes so that I can prove to myself that 6:22 is not all I’m capable of. I trust in my heart that I could have done better on May 17th if I’d had different shoes, but that’s all just conjecture until I go out and prove it. Even if the proof is just for me. I’m looking for a bib…
But in the meantime, I’m relishing bike rides on the parkway without feeling guilty that I should be out running instead J