Saturday, June 11, 2011

Utah Valley Marathon, June 11, 2011 (LONG)

Well, it wasn’t great, but I finished. I’m disappointed, and I know exactly what I need to do differently for next time. (Yes. There will be a next time – this fall – Hoover Dam marathon to be exact.)

PRE-RACE: This all did NOT go well.

All marathon training plans that I’ve ever seen say that the day before the marathon should be for resting. You know – RESTING – as in doing nothing. Well, that’s not what mine consisted of at all because it was La*goon day at work. This means that my employer pays for all employees and their families to go to the local amusement park for the day. It’s a GREAT day for the kids, and even some of us parents have fun. We were SO excited. What 4-year old isn’t?

I got up at 3:45am and was to work by 4:45am. Meatball woke up later and said “I don’t feel well.” Bub then replied that maybe we couldn’t go to La*goon; he was suddenly fine. But, really, he wasn’t. His eyes were watery and itchy, and his nose was plugged, and he was just not as energetic as usual. We think that it might be allergies because we’ve never seen this watery eye problem with just a cold. We decided to soldier on.

Bub and the stinkers picked me up from work at 10:45. We stopped for a quick sandwich and then headed to Farmington. The admission lines were already long at 11:30 because the weather was beautiful. It was perfect for a day of play. Unfortunately, the cottonwood trees were releasing their billowy, cotton-like, pollen-laden fluffs, and Meatball’s eyes got worse and worse. We still managed to have fun by walking all over the place, riding the cars, bumper cars, helicopters, rattlesnake rapids (where we were drenched), mini-rollercoaster, train, and etc. etc. etc. After eating, we decided to head to Provo where we were spending the night since I had to catch a bus by 4:30am at the latest.

While on the hour+ drive to Provo, I found out that my cell phone was all jacked up. I couldn’t unlock it, text, or do anything. This is NOT good as I was relying on it to find the hotel, make some phone calls, and stay in touch with the world. We stopped at Wal*Mart for allergy medicine and to get a new battery for my old running watch. While we got the medicine, I found out that my watch is broken. I haven’t used it for a couple of years, and a new battery didn’t help. There is a real problem with it. (I had my heart rate monitor watch; I just wouldn’t be able to keep track of my mile splits.) We checked into our hotel, and quickly dragged our bags to the room. Then I headed off to the race expo. I tried to talk Bub into going, but she was having none of it. She really doesn’t enjoy all of the race stuff (like gawking at new running bras or shoes or ointments or whatever), and the boys were tired. So, I rushed in and got my race packet and shirt. I tried to get my bearings for the bus pick-up the next day and drove around enough to hopefully find some places for Bub and the boys to park the next day.

When I got back to the hotel, everyone was dressed for the pool. I slipped into my suit as fast as I could, and we were off to swim. There was nobody there when we arrived, but within about 15 minutes, an entire girls’ basketball team from Box Elder was in the pool and screaming like only high-school girls can. We stayed for about 45 minutes, catching the boys as they jumped in over and over and over. As we were leaving, even more girls arrived along with a family of three, dad, mom, and daughter.
We got back to our room and got the boys into the tub. They then snacked while I showered. After we were all in our PJs, we settled into beds. It was 10:30pm. I slept with Meatball while Bub slept with Peanut. Had we not done this, Peanut would have been awake all night with Meatball’s restlessness. I managed to sleep until about 12:30, but he was really all over the place. He was fussy, feverish, up and down. We spent part of the night in a chair, part of the night in the bed, part of the night just walking and rocking.

I wasn’t sleeping, so I started getting ready at about 3am. I had laid out everything the night before, so it didn’t take me long to get ready. I had met up with the dad from the pool in the lobby after everyone was done swimming, and he agreed to drive me to the bus pick-up location since he was running the full marathon, too. (I’m sure that he finished well before me.) So, after getting dressed and eating a graham cracker with peanut butter, I was ready. I woke Bub (who hadn’t slept much, either), so that she could lock the door behind me (since without the lock at the top of the door, the boys wanted to peek into the hall at every opportunity). Then, I went to the lobby to wait for my ride. I was hoping that they would have a very early breakfast ready for runners, but there was nothing. I wasn’t worried because there would be some food at the start line. I only waited for a few minutes, and we were at the bus pick-up in no time.

The drive to the start line was loud for someone who really wanted to sleep. Also, it’s been about 25 years since I tried to sleep on a school bus; I don’t remember it being so hard to do! I don’t know how long the ride took, but I know that I didn’t get any sleep. The race started in Wallsburg, about ten miles from Deer Creek Reservoir. It was cold, so the race directors had lots of barrels for fire pits. Runners were gathered around them getting warm. I realized that I should have brought my space blanket from a previous race. On my way to the many porta-potties (nice job, race director), I was looking for the food tables. I only found water and Power*ade. No food. Was it a different race that I was looking at that promised food? Must have been. DAMN! Not good.

I found myself a good spot next to a fire pit and waited with my fellow runners. Luckily, there was a very funny guy (Kevin) at my fire who kept us all entertained. We occasionally heard wild turkeys and horses that were in pastures close by. A couple of hounds barked and howled. About 30 minutes before the start, I hit the porta-potties again, and then stripped off my jacket and put my bag in the sag wagon. Even though the sun was starting to light the sky with its promise to come over the mountains, I was still very cold. I found a generator that was powering the announcer/DJ table, and stood by it for warmth.

Right on time, the hand cycles and foot bikes were off about five minutes before the rest of us. Then, promptly at 6am, the gun fired for the foot race to begin. (Very punctual, race director!)

RACE (This only went well for a while):

I hung out at the generator for as long as possible while watching the pace groups go by. The longest time (group) they had was four hours, so it wasn’t worth my time to get in there. It seemed like there were a lot of runners, but I was later to find out that there were only about 1600 people running the full ‘thon. It seemed like more. I was shivering like crazy, but I never regretted dressing like I did as I was only cold for about half mile. (There were so many people who must have really been kicking themselves for the last six miles because that’s when it got hot for us back-of-the-pack-ers.)

Wallsburg is a small farming community, and I think that we ran through every street in the town. Everyone there has a little land, and almost everyone has horses. The horses were enjoying the excitement of the race and were quite frisky – running, bucking, neighing, and having fun. There were a few residents who got up early to cheer for us, and it was appreciated. (Notably: A man and his two kids sitting on their porch roof with blankets and hot chocolate, and a group of three in their early 60s ringing a ranch “bell” [triangle] and making a lot of jokes with the runners.)

My first mile was purposely slow because I didn’t want to burn up too much energy at the start. I’m really good at that. However, it was too slow at 12:17! I picked up the pace a bit and managed 11-11:30mpm for most of the next 12 miles.

The aid stations were excellent all along the race. The first table was always Power*Ade; the second table was always water; three porta-potties were at the end. Starting at mile seven, there was a GU or fruit station before the Power*Ade. They were really consistent, and the volunteers were well organized.

I stopped for the porta-potty at mile seven, but decided the line was too long. So, I wasted some time there. About a half mile later, there were some relatively private bushes, and lots of girls were taking advantage of them. So, I added a bit of time here as well as some short hills that I walked during mile eight. (Really, I’m not going to win – what’s the point in running up all of the hills? It wouldn’t have done me any good.) During this time, there were some irritated motorists/recreationalists all of whom seemed to be trying to get to Deer Creek Reservoir, and we were holding them up. There was some grumbling and complaining, but most of them were patient and were willing to smile and wave.

I got to the mid-point of the race at 2:30:46. If I could have just kept that pace for the rest of the race, I would have PR’d, but I knew that it wasn’t going to happen. Even though I took a Clif Shot at mile seven and a ½ banana at mile nine, I knew that I was already feeling the effects of very little food. Knowing that was a big bummer.

Having raised money for Huntsman Cancer Foundation in order to do this run, I knew that I should be focusing on my purpose, my goal time, my cadence, my pace, my motivation, my mom and my friend Gwen (both of whom died from colon cancer), but ALL I could think about was my sick little Meatball! I didn’t have a phone with me (no pockets and it was all messed up anyway), and I just wanted him to feel better! At mile 15-ish, I had sort of a panic attack moment where I had difficulty breathing. This usually happens when I’m running very sad or worried – my throat closes up as if I’m about to cry (and sometimes I do), and I have to gasp for air. It’s probably similar to (but probably not as bad as) what exercise induced asthma must feel like. Anyway, I knew what was causing it – worry – and I knew that I had to get myself together. It only lasted for about five minutes, and then I was fine.

Around mile 18 I developed a very low side stitch. Deep breathing didn’t help, so I just had to push on it as I ran. That seemed to make it much better, and it eventually went away. It was also about this time that we passed Bridal Veil Falls – beautiful as always. I actually enjoyed my run down the canyon. This is a great canyon if you’re interested in the striations found in rock as you can literally see millions of years in the canyon walls.

At about mile 22, my friend and co-worker, Lish, and her friend, Meg, met up with me. They had been riding the course looking for me and another co-worker – our own personal and mobil cheering section! I would have been happier to see her if I hadn’t been so freaked out about the Meatball. She asked if I needed anything (she probably had food in her bike pack – duh!), and all I could think about was getting a call to Bub and telling her to take him home or the doctor if he wasn’t doing better. I kept running because I just wanted to FINISH and get back with him while she called. She caught up with me a few minutes later and said that his fever was gone, he was doing OK, and I should stick with the original plan. My throat closed up again as I fought back tears and struggled to breathe. At least he was going to be OK. My time was going to suck, but that didn’t matter anymore.

At mile 23, I just stopped. I didn’t really care if I ran another step. EVER. I walked almost this entire mile. I sat on the curb and stretched. I felt sorry for myself. I beat myself up for not doing runs longer than 17 miles. I plodded. I silently cursed every happy person on the sidelines. I envied everyone that passed me. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa………. Poor, poor me.

After taking some pictures of me WALKING (oh, the shame), Lish and Meg said good-bye and went on their way. I’m not sure if I can express how grateful I am to her for just being there as a friend, and for responding quickly to my mental needs by reassuring me that Meatball was OK. I know that I was too exhausted to really tell her much on Saturday, but having her there was a great emotional boost. She is, and always has been, a great friend. I’m pretty lucky.

I decided to run again at mile 24. Or shuffle. Or whatever it was. I just needed to go faster because I wanted to be done. The frozen Otter*Pop at this aid station was a very welcome relief. Immediately after the mile 25 aid station, I noticed our car to the left before I saw my cute (and sick) little family off to the right. Bub was holding an obviously unhappy Meatball, and the Peanut cheered loudly for me. As soon as I saw them, I lost it and just started to cry which, of course, freaks out Bub as she always thinks that I’m hurt. (Hurting, yes. Hurt, no.) So, I stopped to hug on them and tell them how sorry I was for leaving that morning. Poor little Meatball cried a bit, too, and Peanut got mad that he couldn’t do the last mile with me. (He probably would have beaten me.) I cried because I had missed my goal time (about a mile before). I cried because I was tired and emotional. Then, I had to finish.

So, I did. As always, there is a bit more energy in the last 1.2 miles, but today there wasn’t much more! I shuffled across the finish line, collected my medal, picked up my sag bag, and started walking as fast as I could (not very) back along the course to find the family. After about a block, they waved me down from the opposite side of the street. We hopped into the car and headed for the freeway and home.

Stats: I finished 1449 out of 1637 and 87 out of 102 in the 40-44 women’s age group. My final time was 5:21:42 for a 12:17 mpm pace. Not spectacular.


Bless her heart, Bub had a Power*Ade waiting for me in the car. And popcorn – salty, salty popcorn. These two things really helped put my nausea at bay. The boys wanted ice cream, but with his cough and congestion, we thought that a shaved ice would be a better option for Meatball. Can you believe that there was not ONE snow shack on the main road in all of Provo and Orem? Weird. We found one in Lehi, and that was the BEST FREAKIN SHAVED ICE I have ever eaten. I really stiffened up on the ride home, and I was happy to get into a hot bath and get the stink off of me. (Yes – I know that I’m supposed to do an ice bath, but I just HATE them. HATE THEM! Besides, I was only stiff for a couple of days anyway. An ice bath wouldn’t have made that much change anyway.)

I hobbled around the house after a nap with the boys. I mostly sat on my butt for the rest of the day. I don’t feel guilty about it. On Sunday, Peanut and I both got Meatball’s cold. It’s very UN-fun. It’s a sinus infection and sore throat. I actually missed two days of work – I never miss work. I haven’t been sick since January of 2008 – not even a sniffle – until now. This sucks.

I’ve had time to put the race in perspective, and I know that almost all of the problems could have been avoided:
1) Run longer training runs. 17 miles just doesn’t cut it. Granted, my life has been hectic with a full-time job, twins, and school for my MBA. But, it is what it is. In order to run 26 miles semi-happily, I need to run some 20 and 22 mile training runs. End of story.
2) Lose weight. My PR at the ‘thon distance was set when I was about 12 pounds lighter. Even then, I was still fat. Um, duh.
3) ALWAYS have a granola bar (or some other type of food) with me before the race start. Do not rely on the hotel or the race organizers to have any snacks. Um, double duh.
4) Try not to spend the day before a big race walking around the kiddie-land of an amusement park. But, then again, I would never tell those boys NO….
5) Get better sleep the night before the race. OK – this one was unavoidable. He was (still is) miserable. Ideally, everyone would be in perfect health. It’s never going to happen.

(PS - I did take three days off. I ran 4.5 miles this morning at a very respectable pace. I may be disappointed, but all is not lost. I will kick ass in the fall.)

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