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?
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!