Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Marathon - Part One

"If you think you can or you think you can't, you're probably right." - Henry Ford

I am now a marathoner.  The marathon seemed like one of those goals I always had in the back of my mind but never would accomplish.  A few days before the race I seriously thought about chickening out and "just" doing the half.  The half in itself is a lot of training, work, and dedication.  I could not imagine running double that distance.  I was so nervous, I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, my thoughts just keep coming back to:  What if I can't finish?  What if I hit the wall?  Then what?  I was awaiting the dreaded wall?  I was questioning myself, and my training.  The most I had run before the marathon was between 17 and 18 miles, was that going to be enough.

I started talking to my friends for reassurance.  I told Mandy that I was super nervous and that I didn't think my training run of 16 miles was long enough.  I said, "I have never even run 20?"  Her response, "So, what you'll run 20 tomorrow." Yes, I guess I will.  Lysa told me to go through the motions.  Eat a candy bar the night before and go through the motions.  These were her comments, "You totally have it Jamie! You're killing all your halfs! You know you'd regret it big time if you backed out now. You can't think about it. Just get up and go run and go through the motions. I remember having to just get up and walk out the door bc If I gave it any thought, I would have talked myself out of it that day. It's hard at the end of training bc you're getting really burned out. Idk. I don't really have advice, other than I know you'd really regret not doing it. You'd kick yourself and then have to register for something else and do it all over again."

I talked to my cousin. He told me to Hydrate, take the first portion of the marathon slow, and that he would meet me at mile 17. My sister in law showed me some mental tricks and really helped me know that I could do this.  She talked me back into doing it and told me she'd see me at the finish. My friend Julie, who was doing the half, believed in me. She told me she I would finish and has been such a strong supporter all the way through. Joe told me, "Just do it, I don't want to hear about it when you are mad you didn't." Being a very stubborn person I knew he was right. There were a few people who were pretty negative me about finishing. They put thoughts of injury and disbelief into my head. I took their negativity and it really propelled me to prove them wrong.

I was able to sleep really well on Thursday night, Friday night was a different story. I had nightmares all night. About everything. First it rained the whole time. Then I missed the bus. Then I forgot to wear pants (no joke). Then I didn't have a pony tail holder. Thankfully none of those nightmares came true - especially the one about not wearing pants.

Friday morning I went and volunteered at the running expo. It was a blast! It was super exciting to meet so many different runners from all over the country. I met people nervous just like me: first-time marathoners. I met people who had done 85 plus marathons. I handed the race packet to the OVERALL, winner Danya. I met people from Florida, Texas, and Australia. It was a blast. The race directors were so kind, insightful, and organized. This race was going to be great I just knew it.

Saturday morning came quickly. I woke up at 3 a.m. I then pumped. (Yes, I'm still breastfeeding). Why I choose to run a marathon and still try to nurse is beyond me. I won't recommend it but, I got through it and it was fine. I then laid on the coach wondering what I was about to do. My friend Julie came and picked me up and drove me to the bus pickup for the marathon. I said goodbye to her, wished her luck in the half, and hopped on the bus. Why am I doing the full I thought?  Then my positive mental energy kicked in.

I get really carsick, and riding 30 plus miles in a bus up a canyon is not the most fun way for me to begin a morning.  I took a seat in the front of the bus where I could look out the front window.  An older gentleman sat next to me.  He was from New Mexico.  He was great to talk to.  He talked about how he was in Boston last year, his hopes of returning this year and his training.  I asked him for his best advice.  He told me, “Take one mile at a time.  You’ll have good miles and bad miles but, run the mile you are in.”  I can’t tell you how much this helped me. I only thought about the mile I was in.  Not what was ahead or behind me.  My cousin told me to text him a picture of what I was wearing, hence this lovely. (He text back "Run Little Red Riding Hood)"

We got to the top and it was a bit chilly, and foggy (as the picture shows). I had set good, great, and awesome goals.  A good goal is something you can accomplish no matter what. A great goal is something that you can accomplish if you have a "great" race, and a an awesome goal is one that all the planets align and everything worked out. I also had a running mantra: "fast as a fox calm as an ox."  These two mental tricks really helped me.

Good: First 17 miles slow save the juice

Great: Under 5 1/2 hours

Awesome: Under 5 hours

These goals kept me focus.

 We still had over an hour until the race started.  I learned after my half-marathons to always bring a fleece blanket.  I packed well and wrapped myself up and sad down on the side of the road.  I always make friends easily at races.  I found a girl who was from Las Vegas.  She had 3:30 written on her hand.  I asked her if she was trying to qualify for Boston and she said yes.  We talked about talked and talked until the start of the race.  She wished me luck, and headed to the front. (I looked up her time after the race and she finished at 3:33 :( breaks my heart ). A bus had high centered getting up Guardsmen pass and the start time was pushed back. Great I have to sit her and worry more.  I literally felt sick to my stomach.

Without putting too much thought into it we began the race.  I listened to my favorite speaker.  My goal after all was not to go too fast down the canyon.  I heard some talks I had never heard before, two of which he referenced running in.  I was, calm, motivated, and keeping a steady pace.  The best thing about starting at the back of the pack is that you always pass people and start to feel pretty cool.

I saw the 4:30 pacer ahead of me.  I always kept her in my sight, but in reality I was going for a great time of under 5 ½ hours and an awesome time of 5 hours so I was not terribly worried when they were not in my view.

The first six miles were not just good they were great.  I enjoyed the view of the canyon and stayed warm.  Mile 8 rocked my world.  The porta potties were calling and my hip was doing something weird I had never felt before.  I visited the bathroom and then stretched my hip out.  I was just trying not to think about it. 

There are definitely some interesting runners out there.  For instance a girl who I will refer to as “pink tank top girl.” Pink tank top girl had never run a marathon.  This was evident and I think she made it her goal to make sure I did not pass her in the canyon.  She would literally sprint with all her might for probably 400 feet.  Then walk. Then when she saw me coming upon her she’d sprint.  Let’s just say at mile 11 her strategy did not work so well and I never saw her again.   There was also a guy dressed in sponge bob boxers and a shirt.  Believe me, I was not going to get beat by a guy dressed in a sponge bob outfit.  At mile 14 I made sure he was no where near me.  The mile markers started passing quickly.  Mile 13, I text my cousin “13 and feeling lean.”  At this point my friend, who killed the half text me: “Run, Jamie, Run.”  I needed that. Mile 15, I text, “Mile 15 feeling mean.”  At this point my hip was really hurting (maybe all the downhill?) and I was not the happiest of campers, but I pushed on.  I realized that I only had 2 more miles until I met up with my cousin. “16.” I managed to text him.  I had a steady pace going and my legs did not feel like I had just run 17 miles.  I did not have a Garmin or a watch, and because of a bus high centering I had no idea what time we actually started.  I run better without knowing.

Marathon Part Two

I meet up with my cousin. I totally could identify him by his "John Stockton short shorts." ;) We ran past Joe and the kids, and I handed him my ipod and gear belt.  (I had come prepared – I had my ipod, and my phone, and my gear belt). I was NOT going to run 26.2 miles without music.  My cousin asked how I was feeling and I said, “fine.”  His "fresh" leg pace was kicking my butt a little (come to find out he had done 18 miles two days earlier, and was going to run 9 with me) but I enjoyed the change of pace.  My cousin was a champ and is seriously my hero, this next month he will complete his 12th marathon!

I remember many years ago, when he was running the Deseret News Marathon.  He asked my brother and I to meet him at certain mile markers to help him through.  I ran 3 miles with him and could not fathom running a full marathon.  My brother helped him through the end and he received his PR on that race.  Ever since that point and time I had wanted to complete a marathon.  He inspired me.  I kept putting it off, long training runs were hard, time consuming, and painful.  It was always a thought in the back of my mind, but honestly, I never thought I would really follow through with it.

My cousin helped me so much.  He carried one bottle of Gatorade, a bottle of water, his phone, cliff blocks, and a bottle of propel.  Slowly, through the miles I finished off the Gatorade and cliff blocks.  I carried the water from mile 19 on until it was gone.  I stuffed the cliff blocks in my bra. Until Mile 19 when I sqooze them so hard they started to disintegrate (any runner who knows those things knows that is really not possible).  Mile 20 was ahead.  I could not believe it.  Did I really make it to mile 20 without walking? There was a hill.  It felt good on  my legs to use different muscles and I got up that hill without any difficulty.  Person after person were walking up the hill and my cousin commented that that was “nothing but a mole hill.” I’m sure a few runners heard, but didn't care.

                                      *Look at all the crap he carried for me!

He asked me how I was feeling and I said fine.  He said, “If you were going to hit the wall, you would have by now, I’m going to push you.”  Great, I thought.  He pushed me to quicken my pace and obsessed about the miles and my time so I didn't have to (I had hoped I would run under 5 hours, but I told him never to tell me where I was at). He sang (err screeched and yelled) songs about a Blue Dog, and a solider.  He made fun of my music (Lady Antebellum, Tim McGraw, and Lady Gaga).  We talked, and ran. And talked, and ran some more.  We were approaching mile 23.  I read a sign on the side that said, “You can do anything for 30 minutes.”  I could. I had almost finished a marathon.

didn't hit a wall but I was feeling it.  It was getting hot, and my hip was hurting.  I searched every aid station for a medical tent, hoping that I could get some icy/hot to rub on my hip.  No such luck. My cousin pushed me along, running a couple feet ahead of me.  I was not a big fan of him at this point.  Why would he just not let me go at my comfortable pace? He didn't want me to have anything left at the end.  I ran the mile I was in. 24 came.  I was not letting anything stop me.  We crossed the intersection of 6200 S and highland, a car whizzed past nearly missing us, and some other runners.  I told my cousin, “If that would have been a Murray police instead of another police officer at that intersection, that would not have happened.”  ( I won't single out another police department here, but you get my drift).

Mile 25. Lovely Mile 25.  I got water and felt something sticky being poured on my back.  My cousin had dumped grape propel all over me.  It was gross, sticky, and I smelled like a giant grape.  But at that point I didn't care.  It was cool and I had a mile left.  Was he going to let me run my 10:00 minute pace? Um. Hell No.  We came to another intersection.  An older lady, who probably should not be driving tries to pull onto the road with other runners.  A Murray police officer literally jumps in front of her car and starts banging on her windshield   Yelling at her! "What are you doing?" He proceeds to lecture her, and I run pass smiling.  Yes, I was smiling at mile 25!  “See I told you Murray police take their job seriously,” I told my cousin.  He laughed.  Then it began.  He began singing at the top of his lungs, “I've got Soul but I’m not a solider” (Lincoln forgive me if I did not type the words correctly, but seriously at this point I was not focusing on what you were singing).  He was singing and singing, and then his singing got louder and louder. I was getting a bit annoyed at his singing and yelling so I turned up my music and tried to ignore his singing.  At one point an older lady turned around and told my cousin to, “Sing it to me baby.”  Awkward. She wasn't kidding.  We then had to run faster to get away from her.

“You need to catch up to the girl in the pink shorts,” yelled my cousin.  What? Why? I thought.  But I did it and then he’d tell me my next victim until one by one I was passing people on Mile 25!  “Come on Kalikakis,” he’d yell. “Faster!” “Gray shirt guy….go!!!!!!!” (Who by the way was actually someone I knew and I was pretty proud of myself to pass).  “Kalikakis go!” (Why is he yelling my maiden name I thought? But it motivated me.  Reminded me of my soccer days, reminded me of how far I had come, how much I had accomplished.  I was going to finish a marathon.) I passed person after person on that last mile.  My cousin stopped running with me at Mile 26.  He told me I better sprint to the finish.  I thought about not. I was tired.

*In case you were wondering I did beat that guy!

But then, the competitor in me sprinted.  I sprinted the last .1 miles of that 26.2 mile race.  I had finished the marathon.  I had checked it off my bucket list. I was a marathoner.  I saw the 4:30 pacer, and I saw them behind me after I crossed the line. 

I did it.

I walked across the line in a daze.  A volunteer told me to go to the medical tent.  (I must have looked pretty bad).  I was stubborn, I was fine.  I got my medal and went to find my family.

Joe, my Mom, my cute sister-in-law Kim, Tymon, and Laykin cheered me on at the finish.  Joe asked if I could hear them when I was crossing the line, and I said I could hear Kim.  Kim said, Joe told her, “Now that’s one determined girl.” He was talking about sprinting to the finish.  I told him Lincoln would be mad at me if I didn't  and in reality I would have been mad at myself if I finished the race having anything left in the tank. I shortly found out that my awesome friend, an amazing runner and athlete had finished only 10 minute before me.

*Look at Laykin, any chance to eat food she will

Tymon had the cutest smile on his face, and grabbed my medal. “Let’s put these with the rest of your trophies Mom. I hang it up with the rest,” he remarked in his cutest little voice.  Then grabbed my hand and pulled me toward the free food! 

I thought in my mind.  Yes, I’ll put this medal with the rest of the trophies.  But it is unlike those half marathon, 10k, and division winner medals.  It is my marathon medal.  I completed a marathon.  I did it for myself.  I woke up at 6:30 am countless summer mornings to do 10 plus miles.  I prepared, mentally, physically, and emotionally.  I accomplished it, and that medal and I will proudly hang that medal with my others.

When we got home, I took a freezing cold ice bath.  It was miserable.  Ty hung my medal in the middle of my trophies.  It represents more than finishing a marathon.  It represents having the determination to finish something I started.  It represents proving others wrong.  It reminds me that, if I put my mind to something, I work at it, and I want it bad enough – I can accomplish it.

Up next....Marathon number two.