What a gorgeous day for a race! Not a cloud over the sky, unlike last year, weather was a bit cool but not too bad for a race. Better to start off cool that way hot.
Hubby and I headed down to load the bus in his little green bug car, it is small enough so it fits anywhere and makes parking a breeze. We loaded up with no trouble and on our way we went. Thankfully, we got a bus that wasn't too loud. I don't like it when you have that one loud guy in the back who "knows it all" and continues either scaring the newbies or trying to impress everyone around. I take my "bus time" really seriously, it is the time I have to catch a few more zzz's or the time to look deep inside me and see what my heart is telling me for the day.
We got up to Hardware Ranch safe and sound and we made our way to the Honey-pots. Gosh, each year I think to myself that they are going to get more Johnnny's but they never do. There is never enough honeypots for everyone, it is a ridiculous long way, ridiculous as in 30 minutes long wait-in-line-hold-your-pee/poop! One of these days, I hope they realize that they don't have enough honeypots up there and double the number. Or maybe, it is a strategy to keep the runner's minds away from the upcoming ordeal and focus on other matters.
After waiting what seemed an eternity at the honeypots, we made our way to the start line. We had about 10 minutes til the gun went off so we shed our clothes and went to line up at the start line. We met some friends/neighbors there and we made some casual conversation. We waited for the gun to go off but it didn't come, 7 rolled around, 7:05 and nothing, finally around 7:15 the gun went off and off down the canyon we went.
Hubby left me in his dust right away and I found my pace and slowly made my way down the canyon. I decided to carry my on water this time around to avoid the traffic congestion at each aid station, glad I did as I was able to save some time by having my own water.
I was very surprised about how great I was feeling during the race. My legs felt strong, my hips felt good, unlike Ogden Marathon where my hips were not cooperating and made me stop each mile to stretch and agonize about the pain. I was in a good spot!
At the halfway point, I realized that I was doing great timewise and in a little while I would be able to see my friends/cheering squad. I was looking forward to seeing them :). As I passed mile 14, I saw them up ahead, 4 of my friends-Bianca, Josh, Gloria and Holly. They were all cheering for me and there just for me, to give me energy, to support me. Thank you guys!
The next few miles went by okay, I was getting tired by this point. The road flattens out after mile 14 and from there is pure heart that gets you through, heart and training. As I told you in my previous post, I have had very little training, so for me it was all heart.
I knew before-hand that I would need some help at mile 18 and thankfully my friend Josh volunteered to help me. He joined me at mile 18 and he is like Tiger, bouncy, positive and full of energy--exactly what I needed at this point. Miles 18-20 are usually my "doom miles" in a marathon. I was very glad he was there to pull me out of my gloom. He was cheerful and supportive yet understanding of my slowness, a great coach for sure. Thank you Josh for being there for me.
Throughout this entire time, hubby was just a few hundred meters ahead of me, I could see him, but by golly I couldn't catch him. Another good friend showed up at this point to cheer me, my friend Lee, she pointed out that Sam was just right there that I could definitely catch him. I wanted to catch him, I wanted so badly but I couldn't at this point. Lee, my friend, I love her to pieces, she is an amazing runner and a superb role model all around.
As we entered mile 19, one of the hardest miles for me, the small uphill almost killed me. Josh kept telling me that I had it, if I just kept moving I would be done with it and I could catch Sam. Sam was getting closer and closer and it wasn't because I was speeding up. I knew he was in trouble, he usually starts cramping up around miles 18-20. Thanks to Josh's coaching, I made it up the hill and onto the flats of Millville. I know this road, I run it all the time. I felt at home and I felt that I could do it. We kept running, I wish I could remember all the coaching Josh was doing, but all I know is that his words kept my legs moving forward.
Almost to mile 20, we caught up to Sam. He had stopped. The cramps were pounding his calves and he couldn't go on. Josh looked at me and I told him to go, go to Sam. He had done his part in helping me. He probably will never know how much his coaching meant to me that day. He helped me PR on this course. His words of encouragement and his quiet yet assuring way of believing in me helped me through my darkest miles in this marathon. As they stayed behind, I continued on, pounding the pavement, feeling my heart rejoice as I knew that the next 6 miles were the last. I knew that even if I walked, I only had about 1 hour left in the marathon, even less if I kept running.
The next few miles went by swiftly, my cheering squad following me around, dancing to Zumba music on the streets. Each time I thought I was done for, they would be there, laughing and cheering me. What awesome friends I have!
Mile 23 showed me even more support, my FB friends, the NERCs, had an aid station there and as soon as they saw me, they started cheering for me. My friend Ann was there and ran with me for a little bit, cheering me on, telling me I had it in the bag.
Mile 24 went by in a blur, I was passing people, again, I didn't stop at the aid station as I had my own stuff with me, and as other runners stopped, I just kept going.
Mile 25, one of the hardest ones in this course, uphill, you just want to stop and just finish it already but no, you still have to keep going and the cruel joke is that you have to pass right in front of a Burger King. Yes! I am always hungry in a race.
To the end...have you ever realized how long a mile really is. A mile for a runner doesn't seem that much really. We are used to talking in terms of double digits most of the time, when we say singles we use usually preface it with "only". Not when it comes to a marathon, that last mile is monumental, especially when you are so close to a PR. I looked at my Garmin and saw that I was pretty much PRing if I didn't walk at all. I ran, I ran and I ran. I looked at my Garmin and it said 26.2 and yet I was nowhere close to the finish, I still had more than a block to go. Crap! The course was longer. I finally turned on the last corner and looked one last time at my Garmin, if I gave it all I had, I could come in under 3:33. I ran like I was being chased a dog and I crossed the Finish mat at 3:32:12. I had set a new PR by 2 minutes and 33 seconds. I was 8th in my age group and 34th in gender placing overall.
Finishers corral: I went in and right away I was congratulated by a few running friends. Our running community is tight up here and we know one another from all the different events. I got some food and stretched for a bit then I headed out to wait with my cheering squad and cheer for my hubby.
I was so proud of him as I saw him come in. I know how much it costs him to run those last few miles. It pains me to see that he is behind because of those darn cramps. He is so talented and yet those set him back a good 30-40 minutes. Yet, he still came in with a big smile on his face. I love that man! He finished in 4:02:47, not bad for walking the last 6 miles of the marathon.