I talked to an old friend after last year's St. George Marathon, and she had just run the Huntsville Marathon the week before, trying to BQ. I had heard or read a few things about it and after we had that conversation I was sold. I wanted to do it this year. And heck, why not try to qualify? Was it possible? I can't remember exactly when I decided to make that my goal, but it became a goal.
My parents planned to come up after work to support me. We all got hotel rooms and Zach, the babe, and I headed to Ogden for packet pick up and dinner. In the past I have checked the weather all week before the race, but this time I didn't. I looked the day before and realized it was supposed to be storming! I wasn't exactly mentally prepared for that, but I had a whole day to think about it and get ready.
We spent a little bit too much time walking to/from packet pick up and trying to find a place to eat. I was really hungry and knew I shouldn't have walked as much. But, we got in a good meal and finally got to the hotel to get ready for bed.
I ended up staying up a little later then planned and then I woke up at 3 a.m. and couldn't sleep, so I lied there and listened to the rain and thunder and watched the lightening. I did some stretches and got ready. Dad, Mom, and Scott all came to our room as we were getting ready to go. They were doing the 10k and were there to support me. We headed out, with the plan to have Zach meet up with them in a little while, but as it was raining on the drive up, we had the thought to have him take Terran home, because what were they really going to do in the rain for four hours? Of course that stunk, but was a better option.
The bus ride up was fine. I sat with a lady who gave me some tips and pointers. Turns out she is the one who won for the women! That was cool. It was also cool to see how humble she was...she didn't tell me anything about her time or history or pace. I overheard some people exclaim about how fast she was then saw her name and city on the results.
We ended up driving through fog, which was very cool, but it looked pretty chilly. At the start, there was some wind and a pretty constant drizzle of rain. I chatted with people, met some trying to run the same as me, and then we headed off. It started raining pretty hard and by mile four I had water running down my face and could hardly see. I kept a pretty steady pace, trying really hard not to go faster than 7:40 to try and save myself for the end of the race. I felt great for the first couple hours. The rain let up around that time, but I was getting a little tired. I had opted to wear a cold weather running sweatshirt, and I was glad I did, but by the halfway point it was heavy and I was warm. I tied it around my waist, and as it rained more, it got heavier, and after the race I had to wonder if it ended up slowing me down some.
Also around the halfway point, people were really spread out. There were only a few people even in my sight, a ton different than the entire race at St. George! I was on track for a 3:24 finish, but I knew I would probably slow a little more on the last flat six miles, but the cushion was comforting. I had planned out my nutrition and had Ibuprofen that I had been planning to take at mile 17. When I got there, I couldn't find it in my belt anywhere! I couldn't believe that I had forgotten to put it in, and it was disheartening because my hamstring had been flaring up for about two months and about six miles in I had started to feel it. It stunk but I knew there was nothing I could do. The course started to flatten out and the rain started to come down harder. My pace had slowed to hover in between 8:00-8:30 for the last few miles. My legs were getting very tired, and I was a little worried about the end because it was through the town with lots of turns and I knew that would be a mental struggle for me. I still was right on to qualify for Boston and it kept me going. I got into town and the rain was really coming down and everything was getting so much harder. My headphones kept slipping and were soaking, my shoes were filled with water, and I still had 5-6 miles to go. I saw my parents and Scott, standing out in the rain, right when I was starting to slow down. Dad asked my time and I said I was good with at least five minutes.
It just got worse from there. My muscles were tense, the turns were mentally rough, they rain was relentless and my pace kept getting slower. About mile 23 I couldn't believe I wasn't at 25, and those last few miles were extremely difficult. It was almost impossible for me to move any faster, and I had started to alternate walking. I had ran with two ladies for about ten miles, and we had kept keeping each other going, and they helped me a ton the last few miles. Dad, Mom, and Scott found me a few more times, and it helped me keep going, even though I thought about how sweet it would be to get in the car with them and be done! I knew around mile 23 that I was not going to get 3:35. My legs just weren't cooperating enough and the conditions were wearing me down. That realization obviously made it all mentally harder, but I knew I had done what I could and those last few miles were rough! I couldn't see the finish line, but I could hear the announcer and I was just looking for that last turn. At mile 25.85 my time hit 3:35 and I was okay with it because I had given all that I could! Now I just couldn't wait to finish. My breathing sounded like I was crying and I almost was because I had given so much over the last few months and that day and it was emotional! That last finishing stretch was overly long, according to my Garmin more than a tenth of a mile too long, and I had wobbly legs as I crossed the finish line. Mom, Dad and Scott were waiting with hugs and tears. Dad just held me for a few long moments and I was able to let my exhaustion go and have him support me. I know it had to have been hard for them to see me like that, struggling so much those last few miles and then be completely exhausted at the end. I look a little starved in some of the pictures Mom took, and I felt starved! Not hungry, but starved in my body had used all of its resources. I had one of those space blankets on, and it felt so good because I was shivering from the rain and emotion. I made my way to the food and found a chair. I was a little bit delirious, struggling to walk a little and having a hard time focusing on things visually and mentally. I had really dug deep to finish as close to my goal as possible. We were leaving and Dad took off his sweatshirt and helped me put it on. Scott gave me his beanie. They helped me change into dry sweats at the car, with Mom helping me take my actual clothes off and get dressed again. I was so thankful to have them there!!
As I sat in the car, I was able to think about what I had accomplished and be so proud! I did not qualify, and my time was several minutes slower than I knew I was capable of, but the conditions were out of my control and I was very happy with my performance through the constant rain and unexpected circumstances. I did not have an ounce of regret or sadness because I had done everything I could to perform. Yes, "what if's" came later, but in those moments and that day, I was exceptionally happy and proud of my accomplishment.
I had been trying different things with nutrition and fuel and I did not get sick after this race! After St. George I had to go to the bathroom five times within an hour of finishing. That didn't happen this time! I used sport beans and a nut roll. The nut roll makes a ton of difference for some reason (I also used it on the half Ironman). I had a great recovery after the race. I was able to chase Terran up a hill the next day!