Sunday, April 20, 2008

Salt Lake Marathon

I've been waiting to post this whole experience until I can be positive about it and I think I may have thought of enough things to write it now.  It was definitely not the perfect run.  But it's o.k., now.   I was doing better than the day prior to the marathon, as far as the nerves go.  I think I figured out why I was so nervous.  I started to remember all the pain from the first one and knew that I wasn't going to have a running buddy with me this time.  It's so much easier to endure pain and be excited for something when it's new and someone's there to share it with.  I didn't know the course at all and was nervous about the weather.  I felt more prepared physically, just not mentally.  The night before was so good though.  We had been to the temple and then out to dinner with good friends where I was so good about my carbo loading.  I never could get in all the carbs I needed to either day.  I'm sure I could if it was junk food, but when it's good for you food that was limited on the fat content, it was tough!  Janzen gave me a blessing too and that calmed me.  
I was able to sleep about 3 1/2 hours and then got up at 3:45.  I got in a warm bath and shaved my legs (I was planning on that massage afterwards) and just took my time relaxing.  I put Body Glide on what seemed like my entire body and really focussed on my toes.  I was determined not to lose any toenails this year.  I made some oatmeal and got my pre-run drink ready.  Just as I was getting all my stuff together, Holly pulled up.  I wasn't sure what to wear.  I had on a short sleeved shirt and my long sleeved technical tee over the top of that.  I was going to wear my vest that has the really good pockets that I've trained in so I didn't have to use the back pocket in my shirt.  I got my phone, my gels, my sunglasses, i pod, chapstick, and ran out the door.  We picked up Sherrie, who was waiting on her front porch and headed out!  It was fun riding down with friends.  But the closer we got to Salt Lake, the nerves came back.  We decided that since it was going to be 70 degrees that I had better not plan on wearing the vest so I packed all my stuff in my back pocket, hoping that it wouldn't bounce too much and give me a bruise.  They dropped me off and I went to find the porta potties.  
I was once again amazed at the number of people paying to punish their bodies and thinking to myself that I was a little crazy.  It was so different than my first marathon.  I didn't have a buddy to hang with so I found a spot of grass away from people and laid down and thought about Janz's blessing and just tried to calm myself as much as possible.  I lost track of time and when I got up and looked at my watch, there was only 5 minutes until the start.  I ran over to find the clothing drop.  I dropped my bottle and vest and some other things in my bag and started to walk to the starting line.  There was a gospel choir singing up on the Olympic Bridge and then they starting singing the Star Spangled Banner.  It was beautiful and there was a big flag on the side of the hill made out of rocks or flowers or something.  I settled in near the back and got my i pod ready to go.  I heard him say go! and then a whole 5 minutes later I started running.  Did I mention that there were a lot of runners!  1243 Full Marathoners, 3819 Half Marathoners, and 3020 5 k runners.  The 1/2s and the fulls started together and then split about 6 miles in so it was really crowded at the start.  I was feeling really good and just told myself to take it easy and not get carried away.  I missed the first mile marker and when I hit the second one I checked my watch.  It said 18:57.  I felt great and felt like I was holding back a little.  I could feel my right quad, but just barely and I hoped that it would loosen up, which it did.  Mile 3 was 9:55 and I developed a plan for the rest of the marathon.  I'd try and run an average of 10 minutes miles and allow for extra time on the uphill miles and try to make it up by gliding down the downhills.  And I'd have to allow some extra time for going against the wind.  Did I not mention the wind yet?  Well, it was a steady 25 miles an hour wind with gusts of 40.  Yeah, great.  Oh and did I mention that it was going against us?  
Oh, and did I mention the hills?  Well that was coming!  The chart is deceiving because it's only a drop of 500 feet or so overall, so the hills weren't as drastic as they look.  The next couple of miles were downhill and I did them in 8:25 and 8:39.  Then next six miles were rolling hills but my pace stayed pretty steady around 10:10.  The wind was so hard.  There were times where I didn't feel like I was even moving forward.  I also had to adjust my gels, but I think it was in the wrong direction.  I realized that the water stations were about 2 miles apart and in training I had been doing 1/2 gel every 30-35 minutes.  I decided that I'd gel every other aid station and just drink water in between.  The wind had a nasty side effect of making my mouth totally dry.  I wished I wouldn't have sent my gum down in the bag.  I got to run through Sugarhouse Park which was where I ran my only 5 k ever last year.  That brought back fun memories and I took my phone out and texted Jodi, who I ran it with.

At mile 13, out of nowhere, my right calf started to cramp horribly.  I didn't even get any warning like soreness before.  I ran through it for a little and then decided (o.k. my body decided) to stop and walk and stretch it.  It helped for a while, but after running for a few minutes it was right back.  Mile 16 was the first 11 minute mile and it was both calves by then.  I was getting really discouraged.  I knew that I hadn't entered the hardest part of the run yet and I was hurting so much already.  Each mile got progressively slower and more painful.  I had to do more and more walking and got more and more discouraged.  Part of the reason I was so discouraged is because the rest of me felt great!  I knew I was faster this year, I was stronger and it wasn't going to show.  My knee wasn't hurting at all, my quads felt great and I just wanted to GO!  

About mile 18 I took out my phone and called Janz.  I really needed a pep talk.  I could hardly talk because I had started crying.  He told me that athletes don't cry!  How's that for a pep talk!  Then he gave me the words of encouragement I needed.  He wasn't even in Salt Lake yet or I may have told him to just come pick me up.  I did some serious praying, more crying, and finally just turned off my music.  I tried to change how I was running, tried telling myself to relax my legs, tried to just block out the pain but I'm a wimp and ended up walking a lot.  By mile 20 my spirits had gotten positive again.  I knew there was only 6 miles left and we were in the city again.  I haven't mentioned yet how great all the spectators were!  People were lining the streets almost the whole course and some really cute little girls around Abby and  Caroline's age lined the streets with their hands held out waiting for runners to give them five!   There were 7 bands along the route and lots of people cheering for all the runners.  The last 6 miles were pretty slow.  I could run about 10 steps before my calves would lock up and I'd have to walk.  I bet I walked about 3 miles toward the end.  

Then, about 3 blocks from the finish line I tripped!  Yep, you read right!  I tripped and fell down.  I was getting ready to cross a street and was looking at the policeman directing traffic making sure he saw me.  And the road just happened to come up a little around a manhole cover.  I went down in front of all that traffic and lots of people!  I caught myself pretty good, no blood or anything, just some hurt pride, but when I went to stand up, my calves were locked up and I was up on my tip toes like a very uncoordinated ballerina crying in pain and unable to get my heels down.  Several runners who had already finished were walking by and came running over to help me get up.  They were keeping me upright while I got one heel down, but the right one just wouldn't go down.  One lady rubbed my calf and it finally relaxed enough to let me stand up.  I'm sure I'll never see those people again, but I was so grateful they came to help me out.  I crossed the street glad I had my sunglasses on so no one could see me bawling like a baby!  I was right before the last turn before the couple of blocks to the finish line, and a volunteer from the marathon came running over to me.  He could see I was crying and took my hands and ran backwards leading me onward telling me I was almost there.  He asked what was hurting and I told him my calves.  He was awesome, kept encouraging me, and talking me through the baby steps I was taking to run.  He took me to the corner and congratulated me on finishing.  Those last few blocks seemed to last forever. 
I kept scanning the crowd for my family.  I knew they were on the right side and when I saw them...well I was already crying and they were cheering so loud for me.  I couldn't wait to get to them.  I got my timing chip cut off and then went to find my family.  My mom and two sisters and her kids were there as well.  I was crying and couldn't even enjoy the moment. 

I was just so disappointed. There was no sense of accomplishment, no joy.  I went to the massage table and should have gone to the first aid tent for the huge blister I had on my foot.  It was in the exact same place as last time!  And that's even with wearing my special (that a code word for ridiculously expensive) socks!  
(BTW-check out the great salt lake that accumulated on my face for the day! O.k. so I couldn't get it to enlarge but trust me, there is salt dried on my face like nothing else!)

We went home and I took my ice bath which felt SO good and I was o.k. the rest of the day.  Sore, yes, but o.k.  I woke up today more sore than yesterday and it's my whole lower half.  I took another cold bath (all the ice was gone) this morning and I may do it again tomorrow. 
Now that I can look back on it, I can see some things I need to improve on and learn from.  
First:  I need to work on my fueling and find something that will be easier to do in the marathon situation.  I didn't want the intestinal problems from taking in too much, like last year, but I don't think I got enough this year considering the hills and the wind and the aid stations farther apart than I was used to.
Second:  I still need to learn to pace myself better and remember that 26 miles is a long way and not use it all up in the beginning.
Third:  I need to seriously work on being able to adjust my goals in the middle of a race and still be happy about it.  I can't let myself get so discouraged again.  That was bad!

Now, some things to end on a positive note:
*I ran a marathon for crying out loud!
*My knee didn't hurt!  Yeah!
*I haven't lost any toenails this year!
*No chaffing whatsoever!
*The wind actually kept me cool and the 76 degrees didn't even feel hot!
*I'm not as sore as I was last year and will recover quicker!
*I learned a lot about enduring to the end.
*I have an awesome support system and that includes anyone who reads my boring little blog and leaves me comments to encourage me!
*There are awesome people in this world willing to cheer and help people they don't even know and will probably never see again!
*I have the chance to try it all over again in 4 weeks!

Please give me tips if you see something that I don't so I can use it on my next one!  
Oh, and check out my family blog to see a really funny but true video if you haven't already!


Jen said...

Oh Jen, it was not the race/time I had hoped for either, and now that I hear your time, I was RIGHT next to you! We could have crossed together. I was pretty crushed as well, but you know what made me feel better? Today I talked to a friend who runs amazing times in marathons and he said "I don't know if I could have kept going through that headwind-- you are one tough b*$#h!" Why, yes we are! Everyone's times were slower, everyone I've talked to hit a wall from exuding too much energy during the wind, and for pete's sake-- we ran a freaking marathon! I am so proud of you-- way to go, girl! It was great to meet you along the way, and I hope you will visit WRFDJ more in the future! And, enjoy your toenails. I still have one that is hanging on for dear life. I'll spare you any more disgusting details.

Yankee Girl said...

So proud of you. And the marathon community sounds so great and supportive.

Doran & Jody said...

Jen, I am so proud of you. I texted Holly just before 7 am to see if you started yet. I didn't hear back from her until the afternoon. I was thinking about you ALL weekend, wondering how you did. I almost called. I guess I should have.
Chin up and know there are many of us who admire you!! Your great! I am glad you were able to do this run and I will be cheering for you again on your next one!!!

BPacker said...

Brenton and I went out for an eight
miler on Saturday, and I thought of you the whole time. We both were pressing against the wind and it seemed like a total wall. We could only get in five before we crashed. I am so amazed by what you have accomplished. I think a lot of the growth was in the training and the fact that you did not give up. You are such a great example to us. When I read your blog I even found myself wishing I was there with you for moral support, but I don't think my body could withstand a Marathon. We think your awesome if that makes you feel any better. Love Ya Jessie

Jodi said...

You are amazing! That pretty much sums it up! I don't know of anyone else that would have kept on going after what you were going through! And to run it alone is the most amazing! That sounds near impossible to me! WOW! I too was thinking about you the entire route and when you didn't text back after mile 18 I was worried. Now, I know why! YOU CAN BE NOTHING BUT PROUD (okay well pleased!) ABOUT YOURSELF!!!! I am so in awe of your spirit and determination and guts! You're my hero!!!! And at least the next one you will have a running buddy for half!!!

Michael said...

Jen, You write so well, I lived the marathon experience through your text. The wind, the damn wind, it plays with your mind and does horrible things to your pace. I can see the emotion in the photographs, I've been there as all who have run a marathon has. I read your reflections on how to improve next time... "next time" ... sheesh, most runners wait a month for the pain to subside before the words "next time" crop into their vocabulary! Man, you have spunk. Well done Jen, you did well and your family must be very proud. Three Cheers to you lass, all the way from Canada! Michael

Jen said...

Thanks to you all! You don't know what your words of encouragement mean after such high expectations were blown away (literally!) I have the best friends and family EVER!

The Hoyt's said...

Jen, I am sorry the race didnt go as well as you had planned, but you are awesome and I am proud of you for doing it. Wow you ran a marathon not many can say that. You are an inspiration for me. I think reading yours and jodi's blogs are what gave me a stronger desire to strive for such a goal. You should be very proud of yourself. You did great!! I hope someday to be there with you.. You mentioned having previous knee pain I would like to hear your story and any tips you could possibly give me if you have some time. You have a great family and friend support. Keep staying positive. Just remeber YOU ARE AWESOME!!!!