Back in March my best friend and valiant running partner, Annie Bringhurst, decided we wanted to train for the Utah Valley Marathon together. We had done the same race last year and were excited to do it again. It's beautiful race down the canyon. There is always lots of energy and it's one of the biggest races in Utah. What we didn't realize, though, is that training for a marathon is actually a lot of work! Ya...after 3 marathons I still didn't understand that. We also didn't realize that our training would be hard to schedule with Brad and I going to Mexico and then Annie getting married. We have created a complex in each other and can't do our long runs without the other. It was a problem. But we pushed through the training, got the miles in we needed to, and were ready to just put the race behind us.
The race began at 6 am on Saturday morning up past Deer Creek Reservoir up the Provo Canyon. There is no parking at the start so they have to bus all the runners to the start. The last bus left Provo at 4:15. That means waking up REAL early. And after going to bed too late (12:45) due to pre-race jitters, a 3:45 alarm doesn't sound so good. But I got up and was actually feeling really good. Once I made it to the buses and was with all the other runners I started to get excited. I ate a power bar, banana and drank lots of water on the way up to the start. We made it there around 5 just as the sun was starting the rise. It was cold outside, but they had little bonfires set up to keep us warm and happy.
At 5:45 Annie and I went to the bathroom, dropped off our bags, and headed to the start line. We put ourselves near the 3:50 pacer. Exactly at 6 (since when do races actually start on time??) we started moving. The first 7 miles are a pretty steep downhill on a country road that leads you into the canyon and past Deer Creek. Those first miles were so good. We were running around an 8:30 pace and just enjoyed the views. We hit mile 8 and had a pretty good uphill but nothing too bad. I actually like running hills after going downhill for so long because it gives your legs a break. We ate before the water at mile 9 and were still going strong.
Around mile 12 my legs got a little tight, but I just shook it off and tried to ignore it. Fast forward to mile 14 and there was no ignoring it. Here's the thing about marathons. I'm a strong believer that about 70% of being able to finish is mental. If you keep your head in the game you're set to go. Here's the other thing. Cramping at mile 14 doesn't really help your mental state very well. I told Annie how I was feeling and she told me to take it easy, but there's just not much you can do. At mile 18 we were keeping with the 3:55 pacer and I was hurting really bad. Annie was doing so good and didn't even look like she had run 5 miles so I told her to take off and keep with that pacer. I just knew I couldn't keep up and I didn't want to keep her from getting a PR. Brad and Annie's husband Shaylor were planning to meet us with their bikes at the mouth of the canyon at 20 miles so I just kept telling myself just to get there.
I turned the corner at mile 20 and saw Brad on his bike and instantly broke down. I was so dissapointed in myself and my pace. I told him what was happening and he just told me to keep going. It's hard to run while you are sobbing so I quickly put myself together and kept going. I don't know what I would have done without Brad there with me. Anyone who has run a marathon and has experienced the joys of cramping at early miles knows exactly what I am talking about. Literally with every step yours legs send shooting pain like your body is telling you "you're an idiot, STOP RUNNING!" And every inch of you wants to stop, but you just can't.
I told Brad to take off at mile 24 so he could be at the finish. I finally felt like the goal was in site and I might actually make it. I almost cried again when at mile 25 the water station had Otter Pops. I grabbed two, one for each hand, and ate my delicious treat on the run. That distracted me for a good .3 miles of pain. Then I saw Tressa:). She was waiting on the corner with her rollerblades strapped on and ready to do. I told her to just talk and keep me distracted. Thank goodness for so much support! At the 26 mile mark she took off and I ran in the .2 miles. It was finally over.
My chip time was 4:12 which is about a 9:30 pace. It's not something I am proud of but I know I need to be. Previously my slowest time was my first race at 4:09. Looking back it was honestly a really really REALLY crappy experience, but I know it was good for me. Sometimes it is good for us to be pushed beyond our physical capabilities. It makes us realize we are stronger than we thought. Freak, if I can run 13 miles on cramped quads I feel like there's nothing I can't do.
As for Annie, she rocked it. She finished with the 3:55 pace and set a PR. Atta babe.