Monday, July 29, 2013

St. George Marathon

(I realized this was in drafts and I had never published it! Since I am feeling pretty out of shape and pregnant right now I want to relive I am finishing it now!)

Dear blog friends, it has been SO LONG since I wrote! Since starting teaching I have been both busy, and slightly terrified that a student or one of their parents would Google my name and find this blog, and why that terrifies me I am not quite sure (at a new teacher meeting they kind of warned us against having a life on the internet because "parents will look you up!!!"). Anyway, I have realized that I need to make time for record keeping, and reading other people's race re-caps has made me want to write about my marathon before I forget details from the whole thing.

The week leading up to the race I was a nervous wreck for two main reasons:

1. I felt horribly under-trained, as starting school had totally overtaken my energies and time in the last month and a half,

2. and, I had a failed attempt at a 20-miler like two weeks before the race, and I was convinced that this was foreshadowing for the event itself.

The 20-miler was a big disappointment, but I foolishly attempted it on a Friday night, which I have learned is definitely not my time to run. I am way, way better in the morning. I only made it 14 miles into it and had to call Dave to pick me up. He found me slumped on the ground, fighting back tears. The week before I had done 18 miles and it had gone fine, on a Saturday morning when my legs were fresh, so I just kept trying to tell myself that the race would follow this pattern, rather than the failed Friday night run.

I got permission to leave school right when the bell rang on Friday, so we hit the road as soon as we could. Even so, it wasn't optimal to spend all evening in the car before the race, but there was nothing else we could really do. We rolled in to St. George around 7:30, and grabbed my race number and shirt, bumping into some friends from Provo (and one of my students, who pretended he didn't see me :) at the Expo. We got to my in-laws and ate some pasta that Dave's mom had kindly left for us.

The funny part about that night was that while we were at Dave's parents' house, they were up in Provo at our apartment. There was a BYU game that night and so they were going to stay, but they ended up driving through the night back to St. George to see the race! It was so sweet of them to do that--and then they had to turn around right after the race and drive back up to Liberty (which is up by Logan) to meet up with some friends that they had plans with. When I woke up at 4:30 to catch the race buses, they were just rollin' in. I have such supportive in-laws!

I had previously made plans to meet up with Dr. Dudley, Dave's Dad's partner who I worked for this summer, and Bethany, who is one of their surgical assistants, who I had gotten to know and trained with a little bit when we were in St. George back in the summer months. We hadn't really planned on running the race together, since we all run at different paces (Bethany is way faster than me!) but it was really nice to have people to hang out with at the start and to ride the hour-long bus ride with. The bus ride was by far the most intimidating part of the marathon! Sitting there in the dark for and hour makes you realize that every minute that you drive is like five minutes that you are  going to have to run  back to civilization! 

The hour of wait time at the start was kind of miserable. I was shaking the whole time, partly from the cold and partly from nerves. It was such a relief when it was time to go and I could finally start running, actually moving towards my goal. The beginning was, for me, actually a little anti-climactic. For one thing, I guess there was a mix-up and they forgot the National Anthem! I thought it was a little weird that they didn't play it, since they usually do at large races, but they sent out an email later apologizing for the oversight. It was also still really dark, and it took so long to get all the runners over the start line that I didn't actually start running for like 9 minutes after the gun went off. I took off on my own, letting Bethany run ahead. Dr. Dudley was right behind me (he actually finished right after me at the finish. I had no idea we were so close the whole time or I would have run with him!) and I saw a few other people that I know along the way. As it got lighter, it was really, really fun to look at the beautiful scenery. You can't really beat St. George for awesome views, and the October weather was perfect. 

I will skip a play-by-play of the middle of the marathon, because no one really wants to read 5 hours worth of commentary. I will say this, though: 

1. If I run it again (which I hope to!) I will walk up the hills. People were walking up the hills and I was running by like "suckers!" but then my legs KILLED on the downhill parts!

2. I surprised myself by not running with music for the last half of the race. I thought that was when I would need it the most, but actually I really enjoyed listening to the people around me and hearing the encouragement of the race support at all of the aid stations.

3. People who volunteer to man an aid station are angels! This race had TONS of aid stations. One every mile, with Powerade, water, bananas and oranges, Otter Pops, you name it. I see why the St. George Marathon has a great reputation nation-wide now.

4. I think I would run my next marathon with a friend. I usually am fine running alone, but 26.2 miles is a long gets a little boring! And I was worried about holding someone back, but over that length of time there are lots of water breaks, stretch-your-calves-breaks, etc., so for me at least it would be worth the sacrifice of waiting for someone else to have the company. Just a thought.

I remember hitting mile 18 and thinking, "Wow, this is the farthest I have ever run. Whatever happens next is a total crap shoot." I seriously didn't know what to expect. By this time my legs were killing. But I also knew I could keep going. I never had the feeling that I couldn't go on, or that I just wanted to sit down and not run anymore. I definitely knew I would finish, but I wanted to run to the finish, not walk! At this point in the race there were a lot of people just walking, but I am proud to say I never got to that point. I walked through the aid stations but I kept a very slow little shuffle going even at the end.

*One funny side note: This race happens on the first weekend in October every year, aka General Conference weekend. So the Saturday morning session is going on during the race, which I actually felt kinda guilty about even though I watched it later. Some people had set up their car with huge speakers and had Conference blaring through one of the aid stations, which was funny. But at around mile 16 or so I heard this girl tell the guy next to her, "They changed the missionary age for girls!" and when I finished, that was all anyone was talking about at the finish line! I WOULD miss the most exciting announcement of our time the one time I don't watch conference!

Anyway, around mile 23 you dip down into the actual town of St. George, and aren't just on the highway anymore. This was exciting because there were finally spectators! You will notice a lack of pictures on this post up until now, which is due to the fact that the entire race course is blocked off for the runners, but since it's kind of in the middle of nowhere, no one can access it to watch except the farm families that live wayyyyy out there. So it's really fun to finally run along a portion with people cheering! It also motivated me not to stop because I knew a lot of people with family watching and I didn't want anyone I knew to see me walk (my ego is showing, I know. Hey, it worked for me!).

The last mile or two are quite honestly a blur. I will say that I just wanted to finish SO BADLY! I was kind of near tears I think. But I knew Dave would be somewhere close, since we had talked about where he would stake me out and so that kept me distracted looking for him. I turned a corner around mile 26, and all of a sudden I hear a bunch of people calling my name: Dave, and our friends Taylor and Heather (Heather's dad was running the race too) were sitting on the curb and all started waving frantically for me to see them. I later had to apologize to Heather for not being friendlier at the time, because I really loved seeing them but I think I just kind of groaned in their general direction. Taylor has run the race before, though, so she was understanding :)

Dave was so cute because he hopped up (with his parents' snazzy camera) and started running with me in the St. George heat! (wearing jeans and Sperry's and a button-up I might add). He couldn't really run on the course because they were monitoring it, but we was right along the side. He was snapping pics the whole way. I kind of wish I had pictures from the first mile instead of the last, but it's good to remember how thrashed I looked I guess, in case I ever get it in my system to sign up for another marathon:

 Rounding the corner about half a mile from the finish

Trying to look happy and kind of failing. Not sure why the double-peace pose was all I could pull out for these pictures. I think my brain was malfunctioning.

 After crossing the finish line! My official time was 4:56 but the clock is always longer. Not a fast time at all but at least it's under 5:00!

With Bethany and Dr. Dudley, who inspired me to sign up for the race during the summer! Bethany had an awesome finishing time and Dr. D. finished with me. It was the first full marathon for all of us and I must say we rocked it!

*Warning for future runners: Towards the finish, the race has these cool, damp wash clothes they hand out for you to wipe off the trails of salt that dry onto your face while you run (yes, that actually happens when you are sweating for five hours straight), which feel AMAZING! BUT, they will make you look like a drowned rat in all of your post-race pictures if you get your hair wet with them too. Just something I wish I would have known....

All in all, this was a FANTASTIC experience! I would totally do it again. When I finished I just kind of wanted to cry, I am not sure if it was because I was so tired and hungry or grateful for all of the people that came to support me or what, but I think I was also just so amazed to have a physical body that can do such hard things! Training for and completing the race totally strengthened my testimony of bodies and of the creation: the world we live in has so much beauty!

 I think it is funny that our baby girl is due the same weekend as the race this year (well, she's due before but she will probably be late). I will be doing something else very hard and challenging, and I think there are probably a lot of similarities, actually: preparation, endurance, focus, etc. But I definitely didn't get such a sweet reward at the end of the race as I will labor! (Although Dave's parents did give me the sweetest gift bag with a 26.2 car sticker and a Kneader's gift that's pretty much as awesome as a baby, right?). 

Sorry this post was a nightmarish length....I never want to forget this race, though!

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