Monday, July 21, 2014

Utah Valley Marathon 2014 Recap

My first instinct is to make excuses. I was sick the week before the race. It was a windy day. I started too fast.

But the bottom line is I wasn’t trained as well as I thought I was. I hadn’t made up for time lost to my injury. I didn’t train on big enough hills. I neglected strength training. I just wasn’t ready.

I expected to be disappointed if I didn’t reach my goal, but I also thought I’d be within a stones throw of it and not wayyy off. I also didn’t expect to basically crawl across the finish line.

Even though I’m sad I didn’t BQ I am proud of myself for different reasons. This was a miserable 3 hours and 50 minutes for me. I started to feel tired at mile SIX.

PROOF. Mile 6. Looking rough.
But I finished with a time that I respect. I never stopped trying to get over the finish line (okay maybe for a few minutes I gave up). This recap should actually be pretty interesting. You actually get to read about someone full out crashing and burning. How fun!


 The hours before the race were great. Ben and I had a lovely dinner with our friends Jon and Courtney. I fell asleep easily by 9 o’clock. I woke up a few times, but still got about 6 hours of sleep. I caught the bus by 3:40. I sat around the bonfires up at the starting lines with a wonderful group of ladies. The 7 of us – all total strangers – sat around and exchanged stories of training and past marathons. We pumped up the ones who were running their first marathon. I was the only one who had run the course so I let them know where the big hills were. Time flew by. I also ran into Ben’s co-worker Megan and we chatted for a few minutes. Always nice to see a familiar face before such a daunting race!

So now I guess I talk about the race. Sigh.

I started out fast. The first 7 miles are gradual downhill with some rolling hills so I made the classic mistake of thinking I could bank time. I started will the 3:35 pacer and quickly blasted past them. I could tell the pace wasn't clicking right from the start. I was feeling sleepy instead of full of adrenaline and was fixated on my watch instead of just running by feel. I was also already feeling hungry and very thirsty.

Mile 1: 7:56
Mile 2: 8:01
Mile 3: 7:56

I wasn't kidding when I said I started to feel terrible after the first 6 miles. The thought crossed my mind that if this was a 10k (which is 6.2 miles) I would already feel like I had pushed myself.

Throwing shade at the girl who is having too much fun while I feel terrible. Sorry girl!

Having 20 more miles to go was just a terrible terrible thought. I was exerting the same amount of energy and my miles were getting slower and slower.

Mile 4: 8:04
Mile 5: 8:08

"Try to look like you're not dying"
Mile 6: 8:11
Mile 7: 8:08

It was on the series of three hills from mile 8-9 that I realized I was in big trouble. I was panting trying to keep up any semblance of a pace that would keep me within qualifying range. Also, this is when the 3:35 pacer passed me. AND by this point my legs hurt as bad as they did at mile 22 last year. AND the wind was being ridiculous. After the 3:35 pacer passed me I was upset and pretty sure I didn't have this marathon in me today, but also didn't want to give up before I even reached the halfway mark.

Mile 8: 8:28
Mile 9: 8:32

Mile 10-11 consisted of me literally chasing the pacer while simultaneously convincing myself to drop out. I do not encourage sprinting during a marathon -- it will never turn out well. After mulling it over I decided that dropping out at the half would be acceptable. I would at least have a good half finish time and make jokes about it. I had it all planned in my head! But I still had the pacer in my sights and the logistics of getting out of the canyon were too complicated so I kept going.

Mile 10: 7:50
Mile 11: 8:06
Mile 12: 8:19
Mile 13: 8:29
Half Time: 1:47 

Halfway point
 By now I just wanted to cry. Straight up go off to the side of the road, curl up into the fetal position and sob. My legs wouldn't move the way I wanted them to. The faster I went the more my legs hurt. The slower I went the further the 3:35 pacer disappeared into the distance.

Mile 14: 8:27
Mile 15: 8:35

It was at this point I decided I was going to lie. I was going to call Ben and have him come meet me at the mouth of the canyon (I'd walk the remaining miles to get there) and tell everyone my ITBS acted up and I couldn't possibly finish. Everyone would be so understanding! Of COURSE it was a smart idea to drop out! It was so mature of me to stop instead of risking making my IT band worse again. No one would second guess my decision! I started looking for a runner holding a cell phone that I could borrow. I decided I would wait until I got to the aid station at mile 17 and ask a volunteer.

Luckily I was far enough away to talk myself out of lying or quitting, but I did still call Ben  to let him know my finish time would be different and to let his parents know to not to make the trip down. I burst into tears when he asks if I'm okay and if it's my knee that is bothering me. I almost took the opportunity to lie like I had planned, but instead stuck with the truth saying, "its just not my day." I tell Ben I am walking the rest of the way and I'll be done in two hours. Thank you random volunteer for your allowing me to sob into your phone.

Mile 16: 9:04
Mile 17: 9:36

Its sort of hard to get a decent mile time after a three minute phone call. But as soon as I hung up I found myself running again instead of walking. I was having a hard time backing down. I remembered from running this course before the last big hill was during mile 17 so I turned my music on and let the downhill carry me (even though it hurt so so soooo bad to run at all, even slowly)

Mile 18: 10:59

Soon I realized if I could keep up 10 minute miles I'd have a comfortable buffer to finish under 4 hours so that became my new goal. I started running for 2 minutes and walking for 1 minute. The 1 minute of relief made the 2 minutes of excruciating pain more tolerable. Sometimes I could push myself longer and run for 3 or 4 minutes, but I always tried to never walk for longer than a minute.

Mile 19: 9:02
Mile 20: 9:18
Mile 21: 9:52

Mile 22 is when the spectators really start to pick up and is my favorite part of this marathon. For a brief moment I regretted not having Ben come pick me up here, but I was getting SO CLOSE to finishing I knew it was going to happen. I checked my watch again and saw that as long as I kept up my run/walk method I was set to finish under 4 hours.

Mile 22: 9:03
Mile 23: 9:06
Mile 24: 9:38
Mile 25: 9:42

I decided I needed to run the whole last mile. Even though I knew I was safe to finish under 4 hours I wanted to run it for myself. I hadn't run a full mile since I reached the halfway point and I wanted to celebrate making it through. I was pretty sure that Ben wouldn't be at the finish line since I told him I'd be walking, but I scanned the crowd for him anyways.

Mile 26: 9:01
Pace for .2: 8:37

I was happy with my time. People work so hard to get a 3:50 (including myself 2 years ago) and I was not going to stick my nose up at it. I was also proud of myself for finishing. Maybe it was stupid of me to push myself that hard when I was in so much pain, but I was proud! 

I had to play the "borrow someone's cell phone" game again in order to reach Ben. I wasn't able to reach him and left a message about where I'd meet him and hope he found me.

Then I made the terrible decision of sitting down. It took him about 20 minutes, but he did eventually find me. He had been parking while I was finishing. I feel bad he didn't get to be there. He didn't see me finish St. George either because it was too crowded. He has actually only seen me finish once -- my first marathon exactly two years ago.

Seeing Ben really cemented that I felt good about my performance. He gave me the biggest hug and I think he thought I would collapse into a puddle of tears (re: the earlier phone call). But I was legitimately doing okay. Once he saw I wasn't going to have a meltdown he reminded me I should take a picture to document my achievement and we were off. We still had to check out of our hotel.

The rest of the day was perfect. Ben's sister let us hang out at her place near Provo since we had a wedding nearby that evening. We watched netflix, I took a nap, ate the biggest sandwich from Gandolfos and just had a relaxing afternoon. Ben's cousins wedding was that evening and they had a s'more bar, which is EXACTLY what you want after running a marathon.

I learned a lot from the marathon. I don't know what my next plans are. I really had my heart set on Boston 2015, but I don't think I have another race in me this summer -- especially not a qualifying one. In all likelihood you'll probably see met toeing the line at the 2015 Utah Valley Marathon trying again for a sub-3:35!