Friday, October 9, 2015

I BQ'd! * I PR'd! * I'm Going to Boston! *St. George Marathon Recap

SOMEBODY PINCH ME!!!

I really am...
 Oh. My. Gosh!
 I QUALIFIED FOR BOSTON!!!
It has been quite the journey to get to where I am now.  Running the Boston Marathon was always a pipe dream of mine.  When I first imagined it, I honestly never thought I would be one of those who could possibly ever qualify to run it.  Boston is like the Super Bowl for runners.  The Holy Grail of running achievements. To me, the people that ran Boston were the super humans of running.  The fastest of the fast.  The unreachable speedsters. Those who were born to run.  Not the ones who struggled like I did.  In my head, those people got there pretty effortlessly.  You either had it or you didn't.  But, I always envied those who did get there.  I secretly wanted to be one of them.  I think most runners do.  I mean running the Boston Marathon?  Come on!  What could be more exciting than that?!  

I ran my first marathon (HERE) in September of 2010 — The Top of Utah Marathon in Logan, Utah. I went in not knowing that it was one of the toughest marathon courses in the state.  I did great until mile 21.5 when my calves cramped up on me so severely I could barely move them.  There were tears.  And pain.  And I had to dig deeper than I ever have to cross that finish line.  I maintained a pace of around 10:00 until mile 21.5 when my legs decided to take a hiatus. I finished with the time of 4:44.  My goal was to just finish, but I'm a little more competitive than that and I was really hoping for anything under 5:00 but secretly I wanted a 4:30. It was definitely one of the most difficult things I had ever done (and that's coming from a woman who's given birth five times with only a partial epidural!).  I couldn't contain the tears when I crossed that finish line and the medal was placed around my neck.  Crossing the finish line after a marathon is one of the most emotional moments in life.  It's impossible to describe to someone that hasn't done it.  It was such a glorious moment knowing I was officially a "marathoner!"  But, I remember telling my husband Dave to never let me do that again!  I was happy with the one and done thing.  But... about a week later, I wanted to sign up for the Ogden Marathon. Kind of like having a baby.  You tend to forget all the pain and only remember the feeling of the joy.  I knew it was crazy, but I really thought I could do the next one faster.  I just knew I could beat my time.  And I wanted to try out a different course that wasn't as brutal at the end. That is one thing that seems to drive us runners of the world — we love to challenge ourselves and push ourselves harder until we reach our goals.  And once we achieve those, we set new ones and go after them too.  I must say however, that running the Boston Marathon was the farthest thing from my mind at that time.

But...then marathon #2. (no blog post on this one - that was during my blogging sabbatical)  I signed up for the Ogden Marathon for the following spring in 2011 but had an injury and had to run the half instead.  Same thing in 2012.  But in 2013 I was injury free (well almost - I have had some kind injury in the first five marathons I ran) and conquered my greatest fear of running a full marathon in the RAIN!  A downpour!  It rained the full 26.2 miles!  I finished with a 4:38.  This one was a much better experience than my first even with the rain.  Surviving that gave me a lot of confidence and I was now thinking maybe I will do another one. 

I have a friend that lives in Maine and she told me to come and run Boston and she would come and cheer me on.  I told her that you don't just run Boston. You have to earn Boston and it's hard.  REALLY hard!  I explained that you must run a marathon on a USA Track and Field certified course in a qualifying time (based on your gender and age).  But that was incentive enough for me to try even harder because I would love to run that and have her cheering me on.  Then the BAA decided to change the qualifying standards making them even harder!  My BQ (runners term meaning Boston Qualify) time went from 4:05:59 to 4:00:00.  SIX MINUTES faster!  But, I was not discouraged, just more determined!  Six minutes is quite a big chunk of time when it comes to running.  When it comes to BQ-ing even seconds count.  It was a lofty goal (and nearly impossible in my mind) but I decided it would still be fun trying to reach it.  And if I reached for the Boston stars and only landed on the moon, at least I got to the moon while reaching for the stars!
I'm not actually in this picture, but it shows the rain...

Marathon #3 (HERE) was Ogden again in the spring of 2014.  This time the weather was much too hot and I woke up with the flu!  My second greatest fear when running a marathon!  But, I got a PR and I finished with a 4:14!  Cutting almost 24 minutes off my last one!  I was thinking maybe Boston really is a possibility now. And I was more determined to try even harder.


Marathon #4  (HERE) and (HERE) was Big Cottonwood in the fall of 2014.  I was very hopeful for this one to get a BQ.  I trained very hard and was excited about the downhill course...right up until they decided to change it and make it much harder with an 8 mile out and back.  Oh man.  It was brutal!  And hot!  I was told (when I was at mile 15) that I could BQ for two different age divisions on that race.  I needed a 4:00 for 2015 or a 4:10 for 2016 because I would be 55 when the race occurred in 2016 even I BQ at age 53.  The out and back beat me up and I was feeling pretty sick by the time I crossed that finish line.  I finished seven minutes shy of a BQ but with another PR of 4:17.  I later found out my information was wrong and I needed a 4:00. I was pretty let down.  But I KNEW I could run it in 4:10.  I KNEW I could!  I just needed to train harder and smarter.  And get older.

Marathon #5 (HERE) was Ogden in spring of 2015.  I was prepared for rain or brutal heat this time. I trained hard.  I did lots of speed work and tempo runs and planking like a fool. I knew I could do it.  But unfortunatley I had trained the entire time thinking I got the extra 10 minutes because I would be 55 in 2016.  Small problem.  I have to be 55 in APRIL of 2016 when the race is!  I won't be until August.  I learned this the week before.  Oh well. Once again another downpour. Only this time it was heavier rain and much colder.  It was a tough run.  My hands were so cold I couldn't even move them to get out my GU's.  I finished in 4:13.  A new PR but no BQ.  I could have easily finished with a sub 4:10 but when I knew the 4:00 was out the window, I didn't really worry about my time.  But it was the best marathon to date as far as comfort.  I really didn't feel like throwing in the towel at any point...(just my handheld water bottle in the porta potty - long story) and I was even feeling good from mile 18-23.  I guess after five fulls (even in a downpour) you should have learned a few things by then.


Marathon #6 - ST. GEORGE MARATHON ~ October 3, 2015

And here's the LOOOOOOOOONG...MARATHON...post on that!  

On your marks, get set....
GO!

***For those of you that read my Monday Memos (St. George Edition) the rest of this post is a repeat of that.  So you only had a 5K post to read instead of a marathon!

Morning came way too soon, but I was also ready to get this show on the road!  My back was bothering me when I woke up and so I did something I never do.  I took a Celebrex before the race!  On Marathon day I usually only take drugs from strangers.  (Marathon #2, I took a caffeine pill from a guy I just met because I was so not wanting to feel like I did at the end of Marathon #1 - it has now become a family joke!)  Robin and Grant picked me up at my hotel at 4:45 a.m. (much later than we have to leave for most marathons because we were so close to the buses this time).  We got in line for the buses and then took the long ride up.  I was pretty nervous, but doing okay.  I did wish I had taken my granola bar.  I ate a piece of bread with peanut butter and yogurt (courtesy of the hotel breakfast) and then a banana on the way up.  Once we got to the starting line it was porta potty priority!  (Twice!) The lines weren't bad at all.  The bonfires were blazing and I saw lots of peeps I knew.  We didn't really have much time up there when they announced it was time to line up.  NERVES!   Robin was as calm as a cucumber.  I chalked it up to inexperience of running a full when things go wrong. Her only other full was a perfect race.  I hoped this one would be for her as well, but my nerves were raging because I have a few more under my belt and I know so many things can go wrong in that distance.  You must always respect that distance.  It is a long way!
It was dark!
Hard to see but that's me and Marci at the start.  The second photo is of the wheelchair racers.  They are so inspiring! 
With Robin and Grant near the bonfires.
With Clark and Sam and Robin and Grant right before race start!
We ran into Clark and Sam right before the start. This was Clark's 21st time running this race. They announced it was time to line up.  Oh the nerves!  Robin was searching for her son Andrew when I ran into Marci and while we were chatting I lost Robin in the chaos.  I was madly trying to locate the 4:00 pacers and was having a hard time finding them.  I finally found them but as I crossed the starting line I saw they had crossed way before me. I have never been to a race start with so many people just trying to cross that line.  It was pretty cool!  Speaking of cool, it was a little chilly which was a good sign!  The high was expected to be in the mid 80's which is perfect!  That means I should cross the finish line when it's about 75.  My fears of high temps were for nothing!  We all joked that it's because 7800 people were praying for it to be cooler than the forecast had predicted all week. 

I crossed and it was so dark that I couldn't see my Garmin.  I panicked a little because I had NO idea what my pace was and I knew I had to be diligent in pacing if I had any chance of a BQ.  That's why I needed to start with the pacers.  I finally got my phone out and held it in my hand so I could see on my running app what pace I was going.  My phone had a light and my Garmin didn't.  It probably does but I have no idea how to turn it on.   When I saw I had been running an 8:30 pace I slowed down.  But then I could see the 4:00 pacers way ahead of me and so I stepped up my pace to try and catch them.  I was running an 8:30-ish pace and they were supposed to be running even 9:10 splits, but I still didn't catch up with them even after three miles.  I figured they were running way under their pace.  I was just flying and I knew I needed to slow down so I wouldn't bonk at the end.  It's always easy to go out fast in the beginning but you pay for it at the end. 

I was running with a guy named Chubba for quite a long time.  He was very nice and told me to not let him hold me back.  I was afraid I was doing the same to him and I finally looked at my watch and knew I was going way too fast and tried to slow it down to a 9:10 minute mile.  I was surprised how hard that was for me. I couldn't do it.  I finally just forced myself.  He ran ahead.  Then I ran the rest of the race alone.  There was continuous chatter for the first seven miles but once we hit Veyo Hill things quieted down fast.  You can't talk while you run up that thing or you will die!  I was wondering how I would do.  It was as brutal as they have said, but I actually did really well.  I didn't walk one step and just kept pushing and pushing.  I didn't think it would ever end, but it eventually did.  After five miles!  I am not kidding!  Veyo ended around mile 8, but then there were four more miles of uphill!  Wow!  That was a lot of uphill with no break.  I was sure I was going so slow but every time I looked at my time, I was in the 8's and 9's.  It was great!  But that was the slowest part of my race. My slowest split for the entire 26.2 was the mile of Veyo and it was 10:31. My only 10.
Photo on left you can see us approaching Veyo Hill.  Photo on right is fun to see the sunrise in the distance and all the cups everywhere. 
Our first spectators were at Veyo.  They were all very nice and it was fun to have cheering crowds along the course.  The next group was Damaron Valley and they were handing out licorice, gum, jolly ranchers, etc.  Bubble gum sounded good to me and so I grabbed some and made that lady's day because I guess no one was taking her stuff.  haha   Then Diamond Valley was next. I had been looking forward to Diamond Valley because Dave's Uncle Bob and Aunt Moira live there and told us they were coming back from their trip so they could be there to cheer me on!  I heard Bob yell out my name.  I was excited to see them!  I gave them high fives and told them I was doing well and right on my pace and then off I went.  I still wasn't convinced I was way under my pace even though I was!  That was around mile 14.5 and right after that is where the downhill comes!  It was great!  I was more than ready!  But then once again, another hill!  I'm talking large hills.  Not Veyo large, but significant enough that I was wondering where the talk comes that this was a downhill course.  It was a rolling hills course!  The elevation does drop a lot but you run up a lot to do that!   When I saw that hill, I said, "Another hill!?" and the guy next to me said, "That's nothing, wait until mile 18!"  I was not thrilled to hear that.  He also said that hill doesn't show up on the elevation charts but it's a killer.  He was right.  But once I got up it, there was some sweet downhill!  But once again, more hills interspersed. I was really shocking myself how fast I was taking all these hills!  I usually suck at hills!

Around mile 16-17 my IT Band started to hurt.  I was not expecting that.  I haven't had issues with it for quite a while.  I was pretty discouraged because it was really painful.  I was wishing I had thrown in my knee band.  I really didn't want to have to run the next 10 miles with it hurting like that.  So I did the only thing I could do.  I prayed.  I was running this race in memory of my friend Davaleen and I said a little prayer to her asking if she could possibly help me find a way to ease some of the pain so it wouldn't slow me down too much.  About mile 19-20, just as we were getting into the aid station and I saw all the volunteers rubbing Icy Hot on people I asked the girl next to me if she knew if Icy Hot would help IT Bands?  She said she didn't know, but a guy behind us said to me, "Do it!"  I asked him if he was sure it would help or make it worse, but he once again said very convincingly, "Do it!"  I had to wait until the next aid station, but I thought, "What the heck?" and had them rub it on my knee where the pain was.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but about a half mile later, the pain was bearable!  Thanks Davaleen!  I knew she was up there cheering me on and helping me out.  

Then the fun miles hit.  Fun is a relative term mind you!  Fun meaning that there was only six more miles left!  In most marathons I've ran, that seems formidable! And is the hardest part hands down.  But this one, it felt so doable!  I was feeling pretty good.  I felt like I had fueled well.  I took a gel on mile 6, mile 13, mile 19, and around mile 23.  At least that's what I think I did.  There is a chance the last one was at mile 21 instead of 19 and I only did three.  Things get a little lost in my head at that point in the race.  I was tired.  I wanted to see that finish line, but I was also feeling really good about my time.  At mile 23 I knew I would BQ and I was beginning to wonder if I could do a sub 4.  
We were in the town now and there were many more spectators.  It's amazing how complete strangers can help you so much!  I heard one yell my name and tell me I was doing great.  It helps to have your name on your bib for that reason!  Then about mile 24 my friend Tracy yelled my name so loud and started jumping up and down and yelling my name again over and over.  I think she was the most excited spectator of the race!  She was so sweet and jumped in and ran beside me for a good quarter of a mile at least.  She had much more energy than I and though I tried to keep up with her pace, I couldn't.  I was still running an 8:30 at that point and so I didn't feel one bit bad she was going faster.  I was really questioning if my Garmin was working right because I have NEVER maintained my pace in a full like I did in this one.  I expected to be doing a 9:30 something at this point.  I was seriously in shock at my pace!  I knew I would be running a negative split!  First time for that!  For non runners that is when you run the second half faster than the first half.  Tracy told me good bye and good luck and that ice chips were up ahead and that sounded so very good!  I grabbed a bag and just sucked on a few at a time for the next half mile or so.  It took too much energy to carry them or worry about them so I chucked them.  Right after that I saw the people handing out Popsicles. I had heard about them from so many people and as I grabbed one I said, "I have been waiting for these the entire race!  Thank you!"  They were really happy to hear that.  I grabbed a blue one and it was so good.  I couldn't eat the whole thing, but those few bites were perfect. 
Love that sign!  People handing out Popsicles on top right! 
As I turned a corner around mile 25, I heard my friend Susan yell out my name.  She was there cheering on her husband Clark and son.  It was nice to have people you know to cheer you on.  It really does help.  Then we kept making turns here and there and I was so wanting to see that finish line.  Then... I saw it.  It was way too far away.  But it always is.  I have never ran a marathon when the finish line seemed right there and reachable.  At that point in the race, it's always just too far and it seems like it takes forever to get there.  

Oh my, the crowds were the loudest I have ever experienced!  They were yelling SO loud and it was so exciting.  I felt like I was running in the Olympics! I had enough left in me to sprint to that line.  I finished strong and happy and was soooo relieved.  
Getting close!
Almost there!
I can taste it now!!!
DONE!  I did it!!!
TIME: 3:58:45!!!!
Oh my gosh!  I finally did it!  What a great feeling!  It wasn't really sinking in though.  

As I grabbed my chocolate milk, I got a call from my niece Natalie.  She had come from Cedar City to cheer me on!  She is going to school there.  I was so happy to see her!  Then Dave came over.  They wouldn't let them inside the runner area and so I stood there and chatted with them for a long time.  I kept getting light headed and so I went and got some water and that helped. 
 I saw my one of my runner friends (from our city) finish and he didn't look too well.  Then I saw Adrian come in, he also didn't look too well.  He was also trying to BQ, but had a bad race.  Bishop Tucker came in and looked great but wished for a better time.  Then Clark and Sam came in.  They looked pretty good and were happy with their time.  It was Sam's first and when I asked him how he liked it he said, "Wow, those last six miles!"  I didn't tell him that those were the best last six in any marathon I've ever ran.  haha  I'll let him figure that out for himself.  :) Dave later told me that he watched at the finish line for about an hour and saw three people literally collapse right before the finish line.  He said it was very touching and inspiring. Other runners had to help them up and across the finish line. He said it was crazy watching everyone at that point in the race. He said so many were in such bad shape.  He said you could tell the ones who trained hard and the ones who didn't.  I told him sometimes even hard training isn't a guarantee for a strong finish.  26.2 miles is a very long distance and anything can happen.   
I kept waiting and waiting for Robin to come in, but she never did.  Finally, I headed over to grab my clothing bag and get some bread.  I'm never really hungry right after a marathon, but I knew my body needed some fuel.  I wandered around trying to find Dave.  He didn't meet me at the tree we had designated as our meeting place if we lost each other.  I finally had to call him.  I talked to my running friend Rendi and then Tasha.  It was nice to see so many familiar faces.  But still no Robin.  I went back in the runner coral to look for her.  I finally found her.  She didn't have a good run.  In fact she said she had never been so miserable in her life.  She had issues with her hamstring and IT Band and a few other things.  I felt so bad for her.  But she finished!  She got a 4:40.  Grant finished in 3:33 so he got his BQ! 
My training buddies!

DID I REALLY QUALIFY FOR BOSTON?!!!

Yes, I think I did!!!


It's true!  I really am going to run the Boston Marathon!  My pipe dream is now a reality!  I am not sure it has sunk in yet, and I am still a little bit in unbelief! Somebody pinch me!!!  

I qualified for BOTH 2016 AND 2017.  In both age divisions!  A 4:00 (or under) for age 50-54 and 4:10 (or under) for 55-59. I was under in BOTH!  The only catch is I can't run it until April of 2017 because registration for the 2016 race is already closed. (Excuse the following repeats in this paragraph — I copied and pasted from another post that didn't have it in the beginning)  In case you aren't aware, you don't just run Boston just because you want to...you have to earn it.  In order to qualify you must run a full marathon that has been approved by the USA Track and Field Association as a Boston Qualifying race and run it with a time that is within the rigid standards set by the Boston Athletic Association.  Running the Boston Marathon is like the Super Bowl for runners.  The Holy Grail.  To me it always seemed completely unreachable and one of those pipe dreams, but now here I am a BOSTON QUALIFIER!  During my attempt of reaching this goal, they set the standard even higher in 2013 by six full minutes.  I have been trying for many years to get a BQ (runner term for Boston Qualifying time) and I finally did it.  It has taken a lot of hard work and training, but now I can say it was all worth it!  Every step, every hill, every sore muscle, every ache and pain, every Yasso 800, every tempo run, every freezing cold run, every scorching hot run, every trip down Sardine canyon and up airplane hill, every rising before the sun to run, every going to bed early on the weekends, every injury, every plank, every. single. mile was worth it.



My time for the St. George Marathon was:
3:58:45!!!
A sub 4:00! 
I honestly NEVER thought I would run a sub 4:00!  
I... was... ecstatic!  
Stats and my Garmin at the end. Looks like I ran even more than a 26.2.
My splits
The pace band I wore (on the right) that I trained to run it in.  The one one on the left is more like what I ran it in.
The best thing is now I have almost 12 minutes in the bank which is really good because just qualifying within your time standard does not guarantee entrance into the race.  They take the fastest of each age division and accept until it is full.  They will start registering those who ran it 20 minutes faster, then 10 minutes, then 5 and then everyone else.  For 2016 you had to be about 2:30 faster than your BQ time.  If not, you got turned away.  How sad is that?  I think if you actually qualify, you should get to run it.  But it's becoming too competitive and so now only the fastest of the fast get in.  And it keeps getting harder each year.  Next year, they say you will most likely need to be closer to four minutes faster, maybe even five. So I am very happy I am almost 12!!!!!!!!!  Now I can relax!  Well, relatively speaking that is!  I still have to train hard for the next year and a half if I want to do well at Boston!  
This guy is my biggest fan and greatest athletic supporter...(sorry couldn't resist!).  He was so proud of me.  He is one of the reasons I was able to do this because he doesn't complain when I spend four plus hours on Saturdays doing long runs and he is the one that gets up at the crack of insanity to drive us there! 

Anyway, it was a great race.  When I finished I was thinking, "WHY is that course everyone's favorite?"  It was tough!  It was loaded with so. many. hills!  MOST of which you can't even see on the elevation chart!  
But after thinking it through, even though it is a tough course, for whatever reason, I did my best time ever and I felt the best at the end of it than at any other marathon so far!  I was a little bit light headed after crossing the finish line and stopping and a volunteer did have to hold me up for a few seconds while I attempted to turn off my phone app.  I think I was just a little dehydrated.  I am still trying to figure out how I did so well on such a hilly course because I truly suck at hills.  I am not sure if it was my training or if maybe the altitude had something to do with it, or if I was just getting lots of help from the other side.  Whatever it was...I am grateful!  And...


I'm going to BOSTON!!!



Here is the .2 of the post (like in a marathon just when you thought you were done...this is supposed to be the MOST painful and longest part and always seems totally useless so skip it if you want!) 

Dave got permission for me to shower at the hotel if we were there by noon.  We rushed back and when we got there someone else was in our room!  So they gave us another one that had been cleaned already.  I hurried and as we were leaving a housekeeper showed up and was not happy because they said the room was already cleaned.  We explained.  Neither of us had any cash or we would have tipped them.
I got a blister!  And it's heart shaped! How cool is that!??  After this picture, it grew to 4 X this size.  This is actually my first ever marathon blister!  I am kind of proud of it!  It's like a badge of honor! 
And then we were off!  We stopped at Jimmy Johns :o) for a #12 (turkey and avocado) and I inhaled half of it.  I was starving by then.  We drove for about 3 hours and I had to stop and walk around because my legs were screaming.  It started to just pour and we saw the most incredible rainbow!   We listened to General Conference and I heard them announce that Gary Stevenson was one of the new apostles!  WHAT!!!  I was stunned!  I am good friends with Lesa his wife.  He has been serving as the Presiding Bishop, but an apostle!  WOW!  I can't even imagine what she must be going through!  I love her to death and she will be great, but the poor woman!

We arrived home in five hours.  It was good to be home.  I was not walking too well.  Rigor mortis had set in on the drive home.  I walked (hobbled) in my house with my medal around my neck!  I always wear it for the entire day.  I earned that baby and so I am going to wear it!
This medal will mean a little bit more to me than most of my medals.  It represents achieving a dream I truly never thought would come to pass.  It means hope and faith and overcoming.  It means hard work and perseverance and sticking it out when wanting to give up.  It means another year and half of pushing myself to stay trained for the Boston Marathon.  Did you just read that?  

THE. BOSTON. MARATHON!!!  

I am really going to run Boston!  Seriously somebody pinch me!
I added some arrows in this photo because the looks on those two ladies faces are priceless!  I about died laughing when I zoomed in.  The one on the right looks like she's ready to cry and can't believe I would be jumping after that.  The one on the left looks like she is stunned.  Funny stuff!
So, if you are dreaming of Boston and it seems like an impossible dream, I want to encourage you to never lose hope! I went from a 4:44 marathoner to a 3:58 one.  Running has taught me many things.  Some of my life's greatest lessons have come from running.  One thing it has taught me is that anything is possible if you are willing to believe in yourself, work really hard and keep on trying!  It's going to be tough but if you are willing to put in the effort and hard work then you can achieve anything you truly want if you don't give up!  It's worth every sacrifice and every ounce of effort it takes to get there.  Set your goals high and go for them!!!  You can do it!!!
My miles this training

Okay, you finally crossed the finish line! No DNF for you!  I think reading ALL of this had to be more painful than a marathon. GOOD JOB!!!  You deserve a medal!  Or at least some chocolate!  I owe you!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Professional PROOF photos!  I now have PROOF I ran it!

A few photos from the trip...  
If you want to read about the expo and rest of the trip go HERE and scroll down to "dear trip to st. george".  There are some great photos on that post.

3 comments:

Dawn said...

Wonderful Wonderful!!! YOU DID IT!!! So Happy for YOU!

Nancy Mc said...

Congratulations!!!That is just so awesome. You are a wonder woman. I love reading all the details about the race. (makes me sad I can no longer run!)
Great Job! You are inspiring.

Jodi Wilding said...

Thank you so much everyone! It has been a crazy road to get here, but I am so happy I did!!! I appreciate your support!

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