Friday, October 8, 2010

I Actually PAID To Do This??!!!! Top of Utah Marathon











First words:

I DID IT!!! I REALLY DID IT!!!

Second words:

AND I DIDN'T DIE!!! (completely anyway!)
I am happy to report that I ran and survived 26.2 miles! And without the need of a stretcher or ambulance.

I ran the Top of Utah Marathon on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2010. The course begins at Hardware Ranch in Cache Valley and ends in the city of Logan. I decided to do this in June just before the Ragnar Relay, but after many marathon runners told me it was not a good one to do for my first because the last six miles are tougher than other Utah marathons and the first 14 miles really hammer your legs because of the downhill, I decided against it after all. I respect and FEAR the distance of 26.2 and I didn't want anything but a wonderful course to do for my first. First? Listen to me! This was to be my ONE AND ONLY! Either way, I decided to wait until next year and do the Ogden or the Utah Valley Marathon because everyone really loves those.

BUT... I just kept toying with the idea because I felt like I was really in good training shape after the Ragnar and I prefer to run (train) in the summer vs the winter and if I didn't do this one then I would have to train in the winter freezing my buns on my long runs. That just didn't appeal to me. I would rather do a 20 mile training run in 85° than 25° any day! So, I decided to just bite the bullet and go for it! Then when I heard my friend Heather was going to do it also, I knew it was the right choice. So I jumped in with both feet (literally) and began to train for three long months!

WARNING: This post is long. 26.2 miles is long too. Enough said.

I started to get nervous on the Monday before, and started to stress about every little detail. I was worried what miles to GU (gel) and which GU to use and how much and what I should eat the morning of and the night before. I was obsessed with the weather forecast and prayed hard for a beautiful WARM day. And most important of all → WHAT TO WEAR! ☺ Packet pick ups were the night before and I also had to get to my son's varsity football game where he was starting, so I couldn't be late. It was also our 28th wedding Anniversary. I knew I had to be up by 3:15 a.m. and I didn't want to be eating after the game, so I went to Rumbi Grill to carb load on some brown rice and veggies after the expo on my way to the game. How romantic to eat dinner in the car, by yourself on your anniversary! We decided to celebrate another night. Have I mentioned running a marathon consumes you? Well, it does!


















I was finally starting to get excited about this ordeal and so got everything ready to go early in the day, but I ended staying up until almost midnight with so many details to worry and think about. I was pretty sure I wouldn't be sleeping a wink anyway because of the nerves.


D-day arrived and I once again went over in my head everything I would need to remember, like what miles to GU on and the reason WHY I WAS DOING THIS. I wrote Tyson's name on my hand so when things started to get tough (which I knew they would) I would remember that I was dedicating this to him in his memory because when things got tough for him, he didn't quit or give up. Nor could I. I am healthy and physically able to run a marathon, whereas he was not. I CAN do it and so I wanted to do it for him in honor of his amazing courage and dignity that he so overly possessed when things got hard.





































Rob and Heather showed up at 4:30 a.m. Dave was up with me and so I asked him to come along for the ride to help calm my nerves. I used the travel time to write on my hand the miles I needed to GU because when those long miles start to set in, it's hard to even remember your name, let alone anything else important! We arrived at Merlin Olsen Park in Logan and bid our farewells. I told Dave it might be the last time he sees me alive and so maybe he should start preparing my funeral on the ride back.
Click to enlarge photos






























We loaded the buses at the finish line and traveled to the starting line. It seemed like that ride took forever. Once there, the first item on our list was to hit the porta potties! There was already a line, but we had to do what we had to do. The temperature felt like it was around 40°; much warmer than I had anticipated thankfully! We walked down to the warming tents. YES, warming tents! They were awesome. We were packed inside like sardines, but it was so warm and cozy no one seemed to mind. Some people were even sleeping inside.

WHO could sleep at a time like this!?
About 6:45 a.m. me and Heather headed outside to drop off our clothing bag in the bus. I took off my cute DI jacket that I bought so I could toss it on the side of the road when I no longer needed it, knowing I would never see it again, but I really liked it and decided to keep it. So in the bag it went and I put on another one that I didn't care about.















You could feel the tension and excitement start to build. Everyone started to line up behind the starting line according to their predicted finishing times. Elites in the front - slow pokes in the back, with everyone else in between. Me and Heather noticed we were standing in the 3:30 pace group (pretty elite) and started to laugh. We thought we probably faked some of them out and made them think we were elite runners. We eased back to the 4:30 sign. Then the five minute warning gun went off and the chatter noise level escalated and everyone started to get excited. Right then, I realized I needed to make another trip to the porta potty! It was quite a hike and I knew I'd never be back in time and so I just danced around and hoped the feeling was just from nerves and the cold and would go away once I started running.














THE GUN WENT OFF
and so did we! It took us almost a minute to cross the pad that reads your chip and records your exact time. Not too bad considering there was almost 2500 runners.

Oh you could feel the excitement in the air. Everyone was chatting and glad to finally be starting on this long journey. There was a couple we talked to that said they were from Florida and just decided on Wed. that they were going to run it. They were worried about the altitude's effect on them. Ya think?

The next thing I know we are at mile ONE! I didn't believe it because it didn't feel like we had already ran a mile. Then mile TWO! And THREE! They were just sailing by. It was a great feeling. And the best part was my injury hadn't flared up once. I wasn't feeling as good cardiovascular wise as I usually do and that started to worry me a bit. Nothing like I did at the half marathon. I knew it was from the lack of running for those two weeks before to heal my injury AND.... I STILL needed to visit the Porta Potty! At each mile marker they had a couple of them but there was always a line and I did not want to have to wait in line so I kept running. Finally about mile seven or eight, I decided to follow suite of the others that also didn't want to wait and ran into the bushes! The worst part of that was coming out of the bushes with everyone watching me knowing full well what I had been doing! I ran back in and tried to catch up to Heather, but of course it was now UPHILL! I pushed it hard and finally caught up.































There were many medics on bikes and a lot of campers down the canyon. I was looking forward to mile 14 where spectators were finally allowed. It was amazing to me how fast it came. We were still feeling strong and had kept up our pace perfectly. I looked for Dave in the crowd but couldn't see him, but Jen, Julie, and Abby were there cheering us on with a poster! It helps so much to see someone you know that came just to cheer you on. It gives you that boost that you so desperately need!
















We were now out of the canyon and on normal streets. At about mile 16 one of our fellow runners we were chatting with said that we were almost to the single digits. I realized she meant the miles that were now left were no longer double digits. The countdown was on and we only had 9 more to go! Only NINE? Actually that sounded really encouraging at that point. The run was going great and I was feeling pretty good but starting to feel it at MILE 17. My hamstrings were getting really tight and my calves were starting to cramp. That's when I saw Dave. He was just arriving at the point where we were passing and so we didn't get to really talk to him. At the aid station at mile 17, Jen caught up to us with some Advil for Heather. I did a half GU and took some Tylenol and some Advil as well.

Bad idea.




















I had been pleasantly surprised that my injury did not flare up once at this point, but I was so nervous it would that I decided to take the meds BEFORE to catch it before it did. My "doc" advised me to only take three Advil, but I decided that the way I was feeling would just get worse and that four would be much better for when it did. Next time I will listen to my doc. I basically took them on an empty stomach (other than a little Gatorade and a half a GU gel) and I started to feel my stomach protest. I took out the pretzel sticks I had brought and started to eat a few of those to help curb things. I knew the salt would also help with the calf cramps as well. Another bad idea. They didn't sit well in my stomach. But it was still all good... for now.


We kept running and at aid station 19 the only thing I could do was water. I was still feeling good, though not great, and was grateful my injury was not flaring up. I didn't have one single problem with it during the race or after. That was a miracle! Those two weeks of not running must have helped it heal as well as the blessing Dave gave me that morning. Me and Heather both did some heavy duty stretching at that station. The hams and calves were even tighter and so I did whatever stretches I could to try and loosen things up. Then we took off once again. At mile 21 Dave finally caught up to us and it was so good to see him. He told us we were looking great. I was still feeling good but noticed my pace was starting to slow down a bit. Heather said the song "Highway to Hell" just came on her Ipod; talk about perfect timing. The calves were really starting to cramp hard now and my stomach was feeling the effects of the Advil and becoming very queasy and unsettled.









At about mile 21 1/2 just as we turned a corner to go up a hill my calves got even worse and felt like knives were slicing through them. I knew I was going to have to actually walk for a bit or collapse. I told Heather to go ahead and I would catch up. We had previously decided that if one or the other had any problems that the other was to just go and not stop. That was very smart of us. We knew there would be plenty of assistance along the way if we really needed it but we also needed to run our own races.
The calf cramping was becoming very intense - almost debilitating, but the nausea was the worst. It was very difficult to see her running ahead and that's when I knew it was becoming all mental. The body did not want to go on, just the mind. The mind was becoming unsure as well. Then the frustration and despair hit me so fast! I was becoming very emotional, a tell-tale sign the blood gluose levels were getting low. As I watched Heather keep running and knowing how I was feeling, and knowing I still had four and half more miles to go, and knowing that the pain was not likely to ease up but only get much worse, I wanted to give up.

I wanted to quit!
I wanted it to be over right then. I immediately called Dave and as soon as I heard his voice the tears started to flow. I told him that I couldn't do it. That I was not going to make it. That it was just too hard. I remember he kind of chuckled and said, "I just saw you half a mile ago and you looked great! You can do it." He then told me that he would meet me at mile 22. I told him that I didn't think I could go that far. Looking back now, I realize how humorous that must have sounded since it was just a half a mile! Though at the time I was dead serious. Everything inside of me wanted to quit. The pain was too much. The thought of running four more miles feeling like I was at the moment was too overwhelming.

But I pushed on.

Mile 22 had another aid station and as I approached it I knew I needed to drink some gatorade if I even stood a chance at finishing, but my stomach wouldn't even tolerate much more than a tiny sip of water. I don't remember much about that aid station and I don't even remember being let down that Dave wasn't there. I just kept running through the pain and hoped I would see him soon. I needed some encouragement big time. The tears started to flow again. I had on sunglasses so I was hoping it wasn't real noticable. I tried so hard to stay positive; to repeat the many running mantras I had memorized for this moment. It was all futile because all I could think about was when is this going to be over? Most of the runners at this point were in their own world now trying with all they had to keep moving. All I wanted at that point was for another runner to pat me on the back and tell me I could do it. But no one did.

Then I saw Dave!
He was with Heather's husband Rob at about mile 23 and he yelled out at me or I doubt I would have seen him. I could tell I was not functioning on full brain power at this point. There was a fork in the road and even though the runners ahead of me were turning right, I didn't really notice and when I got there I honestly did not know which way to go. I yelled at Dave, "Which way do I go?" He yelled back, "Choose the right!". After seeing him I was feeling a little stronger but still feeling thrashed. I was so grateful he would come and support me. It made such a huge difference. Three more miles to go. One of the girls I had talked to earlier was now by my side and struggling too. She gave me that much needed pat on the back and told me I was doing great. She was angel #1.



















Then there was another hill! Oh glory! There were so many stinkin' hills those last six miles I was going to scream if I saw another one. Well probably not scream. I didn't have enough left in me to do that! Not huge hills but inclined enough to cause excruciating pain with each step. I was now seeing why people don't recommend this one as a first marathon. Then a sweet girl named Katie ran by me and told me I was doing great. She then asked me if I wanted her to cheer me on at the finish line and all I could say was, "I don't think I am going to make it to the finish line." She encouraged me on and ran off. About 3o seconds later she turned around and came running back to me and asked me if I wanted her to run with me. I said, "YES!" with as much enthusiasm as was possible in my state. We chatted about how this was her third time running this marathon and she was a returned missionary. I asked her what her previous times were and she said around 4:30. I immediately told her to please go ahead because that was my goal time and I knew that I wasn't going to quite reach it. She was sweet and told me that it was okay and that she felt inspired to come back and run with me. She was angel #2. Interestingly after about a half mile she said she was cramping and was going to have to stop. Then she ran ahead of me and I didn't see her again.

As I approached mile 24, I saw the first aid help and ran over to get some numbing spray on my calves. I did that at mile 23 as well and even though it didn't help much, the cool spray at least made it feel better for a second or two. The EMT asked me if I wanted to sit down but I told him if I did I would never get back up.
We were on Main Street now and I was hoping all the spectators and traffic would help keep my mind off the torture of each step. I was wrong. The pain was bad. Really bad. I was hurting in places I had never even given thought to before. Then a girl I had been chatting with about mile 16 ran up along side me. We started to chat and she was struggling to keep going as well. Just the little bit we talked was helpful to keep my mind off the steps even if it was not for long. We saw the hill on Main and she said, "There is no way I am running that one." I agreed. But she did. And because she did so did I. I knew if I stopped running, that I might not be able to start again at that point. Angel #3


The next aid station was at mile 25. I have no recall of much of mile 24. It is a blur. I am not sure how I got through other than all the distractions on Main. There were people here and there waiting for their runner to cheer them on, but I wish more would have cheered us all on while they waited. The ones that did helped more than they know. Once again I just ran past the volunteers holding out cups of water with tears streaming down my face. I still couldn't even drink anything. They were great at cheering us on as we passed. There were several runners along side of the aid stations and side of the road in tears at this point. I was getting more hopeful just knowing that the finish line was so close... yet so far.

I turned off Main on another hill and was cursing the race organizers for yet another hill when I turned to see a long straight away ahead. I was done. So done. I just wanted to cross that finish line and I knew I was going to have to push myself so far beyond my limits to get there. But I knew the only way to feel better, to end this insanity, to stop, to rest, was to push hard because stopping before the finish was not an option. Just then an arm was around me and a voice saying, "Mom, you are doing great! You are almost there!" It was my son McKay! Angel #4. All I could say to him was, "HOW MUCH FARTHER?" He ran along side of me for almost a mile though I didn't know it because he was off the side following me. Then I turned another corner and saw the mile marker 26!!! I had never been so happy to see anything in my life! But then a huge let down because there was NO FINISH LINE!!! I knew I must be in a bad dream! This had to be a nightmare! Then another runner yelled out, "Point two! Just point two!" I had forgotten about the stinkin' POINT TWO!!! I remember feeling sick that I had to run another point two. Just then McKay once again came up to me when I needed it most and told me I was doing great.



















I was so ready to be done. I was pretty sure they measured that last mile wrong because it felt like it was seven miles, not one! Then Jen came running out to me and told me that I was almost there. Once again all I could say was, "How much farther?" She said, "About two blocks." That about did me in. I didn't think I could run two more steps let alone two more blocks!


















We turned the corner and I saw the finish line. That should have been one of the greatest sights in my life, but it was more like seeing a mirage knowing it is there but I will never reach it. It seemed so far away that I didn't think I could make it. Then another runner we had been chatting with earlier ran up to me and said, "We're almost there. This is where we turn it on and sprint!" All I could say back to her was, "I am not going to make it that far." It is so comical now to go back and realize how silly and ridiculous that sounds but at the time it was my reality. Those last steps seemed longer than the entire marathon put together.



















As I got closer, a wave of excitement began to rush over me and I allowed myself to think how amazing it will be when that medal is placed around my neck. I wanted it so badly. I dug as deep as I have ever dug to find every last ounce of energy and gave it all I had.





















The announcer said,"Now finishing- Jodi ______ from (and my city)!" Those words didn't even phase me. I didn't care. All I cared about was that I CROSSED THAT LINE and now I could STOP RUNNING!!!!


















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Once my feet crossed that line, the tears began flowing again only this time they were tears of INTENSE RELIEF. Ugly tears, but a beautiful moment! It didn't hit me right off that I had just completed a MARATHON! I just wanted to find my family and friends and rest. But I was amazed... relieved... and decided it was all worth it!






























I was a bit disappointed that I hadn't reached my goal of 4:30, but with the way I was feeling those last four miles, I am now just grateful I finished and 4:44 which isn't that far off is still a respectable time. Heck after running that thing...I am here to say, ANY time is respectable! I do have to agree with other runners that say, "The marathon doesn't even begin until mile 20." I was secretly hoping that wasn't true, but now I am here to say it is! Or mile 21 and 1/2 in my case.







































I was so happy all my boys came (except Taylor- he was on a day date for the Homecoming Dance) and of course my parents were there as always to support me, as well as Jen, Julie, Abby, and Kristen. I felt so blessed to have such amazing support. I was surprised how light headed I became about 30 minutes after. I nearly went down a couple of times and so decided it was time to sit. Not sure if that was a good idea or not. It felt like rigamortis was beginning to set in! Standing up and getting the muscles to work was even worse. But I had plenty of help to assist me as I began to walk again. I felt like a 90 year old. Dave and my Dad brought me some chocolate milk. That tasted so good, but I couldn't drink much. I heard the massage line was moving fast and so I hustled over. As fast as a 90 year old can hustle with people assisting her. The massages were only supposed to last about 10 minutes but the guy I got gave me at least a 3o minute one. It hurt so good. He was the Weber State Football team's sports therapist. If I could have, I would have stayed there all day while he massaged my screaming muscles.





































The recovery was slow. I felt like I had been run over by a steamroller; hit by a semi or a locamotive. Stairs... Oh the stairs! For the first couple of days I actually slid down the bannister because it was easier than bending my knees. The only muscles I had to support me in the process were my hand and arm muscles. It was probably a good way to end up really injured. A video of that would have given a good laugh to future grandchildren someday.


I have always said running a marathon is a lot like having a baby. One of my first thoughts when I crossed that finish line was, "WHY oh WHY would anyone EVER do this more than once?!!!" I think I recall thinking those same thoughts after delivering my first son. We had only been home from the marathon for 30 minutes when I looked Dave straight in the eye and told him to NEVER EVER under any circumstances let me do this again! Words that I'm sure have been spoken in more than one labor and delivery room. But as I look at the long journey as a whole and remember the pride and joy, and the overall amazing experience...I've been thinking to myself, "Well, maybe just one more..." It has barely been two weeks and I just registered and paid today for the Ogden Marathon in May!

Yep, it's true. As they say, "Running is a mental sport - and we're all insane!" This pretty much confirms that.

It was definitely a life changing experience for me. I guess the best way to describe it is a feeling of empowerment. I feel empowered now knowing that because I was able to endure this, there is nothing I can not endure. I feel like I have accomplished one of the most challenging tests not only physically, but maybe even more so mentally, that I will ever have. I have already noticed that when things get hard either physically (like trying to run five miles the other day while still feeling the painful after effects of the marathon), or mentally (like tackling a huge mess -aka flooded basement last week), that I have more strength to carry on. I am sure it will carry over into all aspects of my life. I am definitely not the same woman that started the race. I now know deep down that I am able to keep going even when I want to quit more than anything. I may have to dig deep - really deep as I have so often in the past when I have dealt with hard things- to find the courage and strength to keep going forward, but it's there when I reach for it. It is a great feeling of security to know I have that inside me.


I CAN DO HARD THINGS!

That is what we are trying to teach the youth in our church. We can all do hard things. There is more inside each of us than we even realize. And the good news is, we don't even have to run a marathon to discover it. Life has a way of bringing that out in each of us when we least expect it.


Running a marathon is loaded with life lessons. Maybe someday I will write a post on just a few of them. The analogies are endless. But the one I will take with me forever is that no matter how hard things seem...how painful they become... there is always something left inside to make it through. And you don't have to do it alone. There will be angels sent to help you on your journey, no matter how long or how hard. You are never alone.

One last thing...
This will be the POINT TWO of the post. Yep, just when you thought it was finally over...there's more! If you've read it this far, you also deserve a medal! As most of you know, whenever I see a penny or coin laying somewhere, I always pick it up knowing it is a hello from Tyson. I wrote a post about it HERE if you are interested. Knowing that I dedicated this marathon to Tyson and ran it in his memory, I fully expected to find at least ONE penny or coin. I was a bit disappointed when I didn't. I am however very grateful I didn't see one during those last four miles because if I had reached down to pick it up, I am pretty sure I would have stayed in that position permanently! I mentioned it to Dave one night and the very next day, I was reading some status updates on Facebook and one person wrote how she kept seeing the numbers 444 everywhere lately and asked if anyone knew if it meant something. One of the comments someone left was that those numbers mean. I immediately got chills when I read that because my time was 4:44. Of course I googled it and read more about how those numbers mean angels are near and that three fours always represent angels.

♪♫*Enter Twilight Zone music* ♫♪

I am not one to believe in a lot of that superstitious stuff or get into the realm of weirdness associated with it, BUT the feeling I had when I read that confirmed to me that it was Tyson's way of letting me know he was there by my side the whole way. And especially when I crossed that finish line. Did I mention this was a life changing experience?










For you bud...











I just ran 26.2 miles and all I got was this thermo-nuclear glowing shirt!!!




















































I THINK NOT!!! ↓

















A MUST see!


It will feel better when it quits hurting!
If the video won't open go HERE








"ONLY THOSE WHO RISK GOING TOO FAR CAN POSSIBLY FIND OUT FAR ONE CAN GO." -TS Eliot


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