BIG COTTONWOOD MARATHON- RACE RUN DOWN

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I’m finally getting around to writing about our big race. I’ve been in a bit of a running coma since then thanks to sore muscles, and kids who have suddenly decided that sleeping through the night is for the birds.  A week after the race I finally tried running again and let me tell you, I was still sore…

PRE RACE/EXPO 

The night before the race my friends Kristen, Kristy and I headed down to Salt Lake to pick up our racing packets. Prior to hitting the expo we stopped by at Mimi’s café for a pre-race dinner.   As instructed from our pre-race nutrition post I had carbo loaded the Thursday before the race and the night before the race I had some salmon and potato’s. Naturally, we were all a little nervous and the fact that the restraunt was incredibly slow with their service didn’t help as we were pushing closing time for the expo. Once our food came out we ate it up and high tailed it over to the expo.

 The expo is one of my favorite pre-race rituals. I appreciate walking around with my race bib and bag in hand and seeing so many nervous runners all gathered in the same place.

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 After that we headed to our hotel to get ready for bed. In our hotel room we pinned on our numbers and talked about our race plan as we all were running to get under 3:35 (Boston Qualifying). Later on that night our other training buddy Lida showed up and added to nervous energy. 

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 Here we are rubbing out well, everything.  I woke up with a stiff neck the day before the race (and so did Lida!). So we took turns giving neck rubs. I just got thinking, then we slept in the same bed. That’s a little weird right? I assure you we both stayed on our half of the bed. :)

 As we stretched and rolled out our muscles, we talkedabout our race plans. Our race plan was tentatively as follows:

RACE PLAN 

Miles 1-8: Enjoy the race atmosphere.

Miles 8-15: at the ‘S’ curve start paying attention to our stride, pace and form.
Miles 15-22: Come out of the canyon and head to the out and back section of the race. Be prepared for the mental aspect of the race
Miles: 22-26.2: Last 3 miles down hill- just hold on!

RACE RULES

We also decided to add some race rules:

                       1: If you take a bathroom break, we are not waiting for you.
                        2: If one of us is having a bad day, it’s okay if you leave them.

In hindsight these rules look ridiculous right? However, we had all worked too hard for someone elses bowel problems to eliminate the chances on a new PR (personal record)  and a BQ (Boston qualifying time).  Yes, it still sounds like we’re jerks. Okay, how about if we run a 5k and then we will wait at the out house for you.  Yea, we might not then either. :)

RACE DAY

The morning of the race I choked down my usual steel cut oats and hopped in a mini van as we cruised over to the finish line. When we got to the buses we found an unusually long line. Come to find out they were having a bus problem and there were a lot of us waiting at the bottom. We figured this was just as well because the top of the mountain was a good 15 degrees colder than where we were at (and it was about 50 degree’s where we were at.) We finally got on the bus at 6:30 with the race a mere half hour away. We arrived at the starting line at 7:10 (the race was now delayed) and as I was sitting on the porta potty I heard, “4 minutes to race time!” I totally panicked, burst through the door and started stripping off my 4 layers of clothes.

 The gun went off as I was trying to get my watch to turn on. Thanks to our late bus ride we were at the VERY BACK of the 1800 person crowd. So as we WALKED to the starting line we made a plan to go along the edge so as to make a quick getaway from the crowd. We ended up starting the race about 2 minutes after the gun went off (thank goodness for timing chips!)

 From here on out I’ll start talking in miles:

 Miles 1-4: We were passing as many people as we could to avoid the crowds. We were ‘off-roading’ and running in a line, taking turns being the leader to navigate. Our pace at this point was between 6:35-6:50

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Kristen brought her phone along and snapped this at mile 2. This is when we were happy…

Miles 4-9: At mile 4 Kristen had to take a bathroom break. NOOOOOOO! Remember the rules from before? She tried to run ahead of us so we wouldn’t leave her but we caught up. Among the chaos of waiting or not waiting for Kristen I somehow lost Kristy and Lida too. By mile 7 I was all alone. BOO HOO!

 At mile 8 I saw the BIGGEST bull moose ever. It had a huge rack and was just standing off to the side watching thousands of runners run by. At first I thought, “that moose is cheering me on!” then I thought, “if that moose is not spooked by this many people, he may not live through hunting season.” I promise I don’t think of bad omens for all my cheering sections.

 I also took this time to take in the beautiful canyon I was in. The leaves were barely changing and there was a mist over the river running down it. It was gorgeous. Maintaing 6:50 (ish) pace.

Mile 9: My stomach was in fits. It was absolutely killing me. I kept praying it would subside however it took 3 more miles tell it stopped cramping.

Mile 12: I hear someone yell my name and I turn around. It was Kristen!!! She had returned in all her glory and boy was I glad. We talked a little bit about how we were feeling and how glad we were to have each other again. Kristy and Lida were not too far behind at this point.

Mile 13.1: We came across the half marathon with a time of 1:30.10. We were in good position!

Mile 15: We came out of the canyon to a cheering crowd at the start of the out and back section. Kristen and I started yelling to the crowd. “Give us a cheer!” and with a hand to my ear I yelled, “let me hear you!” and they all started cheering louder!  I love people cheering for me. We also saw our old collegiate teammate Caroline here which was awesome. She came to cheer us on which was such a lift. We all fed off the crowd and headed for the slightly inclined out and back section.marathon

Mile 18 Kristen drops a drinking glass and I ended up leaving her again. Our pace had slowed to 7:20 ish and we were both just trying to hang on to the pace. I focused on chasing down the girls in front of me. This portion to mile 26.2 was incredibly hard for me. My body kept panicking and wanted to walk. I was trying not to hyperventilate and would count myself back down to a normal breathing pattern or 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4. The turn around point was right around mile 19.5 and was graced with people and JEDI characters. Why jedi?  I have no idea. I guess I should say, WHY NOT JEDI? I also saw another old teammate here who was running along the race route. I had just spit all over myself so I was slightly embarrassed, but as always I love anyone who will cheer me on!

Just before the turn around I passed the 3:10 pacer. After that my whole goal was to not let him catch me! At mile 21 I passed a former BYU competitor.  I love people who love track, however I also love beating all things that are associated with BYU (Note: I actually cheer for BYU in all other aspects, however, if it comes to running I do like to beat them. I guess it’s an old habit).  Anyway, I passed him as he stopped to take a drink from someones sprinkler. I was glad to see that he was hurting as bad as I was.

 Mile 21-22: I CAVE. Someone decided to put a 400 meter slight hill in the race at the most inopportune time. In complete exhaustion I said out loud, “oh S***”. “ At which point I tried to walk. However, my legs had been so used to the pace that it was actually more ackward to walk so I moved them back into my stride. I then thought, “ I should say a prayer to help me get up this evil hill!” Then I thought in exasperation, “I CAN’T PRAY, I JUST SWORE!!!!” Really I was a mess at this point. The wall was bigger than I thought. In the end I did say a prayer and I made it to the top…barely. I then turned the corner to finish the last 3 miles to the finish line.

 Miles 24-26: As I ran my way down a pretty steep hill I looked at my watch to see 7:35 pace. I thought, “how could you be running down a hill this steep at only 7:35 pace?”  Than I thought, “I don’t care, where is the finish line!!”

marathon2Here I am headed for the finish line. Do you see my face? It was a reflection of how I was feeling….awful.

 Mile 26-26.2: My body was in full depletion mode. I was hoping to be wiser with my nutrition but it didn’t work out that way and I was really paying for it. I saw the finish line and the last 200 meters lined with people. I seriously considered walking through the cheering crowd and across the line. Then I saw my whole family there cheering me on. I stopped for high fives, including high fives from all my kids and my 90 year old grandma. It was just enough to get me to the line and break down in tears. I had done it!

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 All the training of the last 6 months, all the early morning alarms, all the runs alone and with friends had finally come full circle and how sweet it was! My husband came over and gave me a hug in which I collapsed into tears. It was a feeling of deep accomplishment, exhaustion and love all wrapped into one and it was beautiful.

 Oh and did I mention that I ran a 3:08?!!!!? And I got 7th out of almost 800 women, 1st in my age group and 77th overall? Yes, I’m bragging. Yes, I’m okay with it today. Because you know what? I worked pretty hard for that!  The next day I wore my medal to my moms house for Sunday dinner. I could barely walk for 4 days and I was eating absolutely EVERYTHING that did not run away from me (I’m still nursing my 6 m baby so I was a hungry woman).

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Here is my loot from taking 1st in my age group. They are waterproof headphones. I can’t wait to use them for my next Tri!

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Here we are looking much better than we really felt. :)

I’ve had people tell me that running is too hard with kids, life etc. and to an extent I agree. But running for me is an outlet and an opportunity to grow.  It’s a time for me to collect my thoughts while staying in shape. Training has helped me realize my potential and what I can do. And not just in running. I’ve found that if I can be a good mom and work extra hard to be patient when I’m tired from a long run, than I can do the same things when times get tough. I’ve found that the potential of the body is only limited by the mind. We are only as strong as we think we are. There were plenty of times that I wanted to stop and quit but I knew that my past experience (training) had made me too strong to quit and I know that carries over to life. 

So when will my next marathon be you ask? maybe this will answer your question. :)
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See you in Boston!

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3 Responses to BIG COTTONWOOD MARATHON- RACE RUN DOWN

  1. Cristy Shields October 7, 2014 at 7:23 pm #

    Yippee! You are a rock star. I fully expect you to place in Boston too!

  2. Nidia October 8, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    Soooooooooooooooooooooo beautiful! I am a 50 years old runner, took me 5:20 hours to finish my 1St marathon but I did it!
    Thanks for your story!
    Love…Nidia

  3. Asher October 7, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

    I know this post is forever old and i have read it before, but i was just in the mood for a good running story and I may or may not be trying to get myself geared up to train for a marathon! 😘 I’m feeling it after reading your post! Wanna move to Ohio and get me trained! I love you Stace!

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