On Saturday, Sept 22, hubby and I had the chance to participate in the newest half marathon/marathon in Utah. We were a bit skeptical at first about the entire thing, it was completely new so we had our doubts that it would run smoothly. However, we were proven completely wrong! It was one of the best organized events we have been to. I just found one thing that was odd but I am sure they will get it under control-there was no water or any type of nutrition (bananas) at the start of the race, usually there is at least water/gatorade along with some first aid stuff-vaseline. Everything else was top notch! Packet pick up was a breeze, bus load up-the easiest ever, volunteers at aid stations-the best (all running events have the best volunteers ever!), post race nutrition-sandwiches, medals-bling, bling, free photos from Zazoosh.com (what race does that, none, ever, this was my ultimate fav part!), and an awesome/fun announcer at the end :).
On to the race report: the race was scheduled to start at 6:30am which called for an extra early wake up time. The alarm sounded at 4:30am, a total insult to my ears and my little eyes. Seriously, the only reason I would ever back out from a race is the early wake up times--can't I just get my beauty sleep, promise that I am a much agreeable person if I sleep at least 8 hours. We got up and got ready for the race. I was concerned about my back as I threw it out on Wednesday doing "regular" stuff at work. I had gone to the chiropractor both Wednesday and Thursday and even took 2 days off from crossfit to allow my back to heal. Saturday morning, it was still bugging me, especially my right side on my lower back. I took 2 ibuprofen and hoped for the best.
Bus load up was smooth, one of the smoothest bus load ups ever. Usually, we have to wait forever to load up, not this time. We got out of our car, parked about 100 meters away from bus load up, and were almost instantly loaded onto a bus! Nice! The ride up was alright. There are always people talking loudly, either from excitement or fear. It is a bit annoying at times as I have a different way of preparing for the race, I like to meditate and go into "my quiet" spot and prepare mentally for the race to come. We arrived to the start line in about 30 minutes and quickly made our way to the porta-johny, another ritual, better go before you have to go-go. Hubby always seems to need it so we just automatically make our way there. After doing the business, we moved down to where all the space blankets were located, I was trying to find water for my little handheld bottle, but like I mentioned above, no water was found :/, sad, thankfully, my friend Bianca had water with her and she shared with me.
I have to mention though that the race did go out of their way to provide us with space blankets and gloves for the start of the race. Never have I seen this, at least not for everyone in the race. It was quite outstanding of them to do that for us. Thank you! It means the world to us, being pampered is the number one way to get us, runners, into your good graces ;).
We made our way to the start line, I had a dream goal for this race, didn't know if I could achieve it with my hurt back but I still made my way to the front, next to the 1:30 pacers. Hubby wanted to come in in about 1:25 so he also went to the front. I had no chance of running that fast so I wished him good luck and let him be at the front.
The gun went off at exactly 6:30am. The sky was still lit by stars and the ground was still dark, the shadows from the runners played tricks on my head, putting potholes where there were none and making me run like an idiot, raising my feet high off the ground. As we took off, I saw hubby take off and silently wished him the best. I love this man of mine. He wants to qualify for Boston so badly and the only thing holding him back are cramp issues with his calves. He is fast and he is usually ahead of me on all the races, until we reach mile 18-20, then the cramps come and he has to walk the rest of the race. I secretly wish every marathon race that he will finish in the 3:05 that he needs, eventhough, I know that a 3:05 will put me 30 minutes behind, but he deserves it. He does so much for me and our family. Anways, I am getting all sappy on ya, we took off and off we went down the canyon.
My first mile was super speedy, despite the darkness, my garmin says I did a 6:12, that is super fast for me. I paid for it on the next two miles as my back reminded me that it was out. The pain was harsh, from a 1-10, it was about a 7. I wanted to stop and just cry. It reminded me of the Ogden Marathon in May when my hip was out and it made my entire left leg hurt. I gave myself a pep-talk and addressed my pain level. As I talked myself into continuing with the race, I was being passed by a bunch of girls and guys, I kept saying, there goes 2nd place, there goes 3rd, there goes 1st in AG, there goes 2nd in AG, etc. I was feeling low, I wanted to quit, I considered it for about a minute, until I saw my kids' faces in my mind, especially my boy, I imagined myself telling him that I had quit and I imagined his disappointment. I couldn't. I couldn't do it. I put on my big girl panties and on I went. I wasn't going to quit. I had already ran 3 miles, I only had 10 left. I had suffered more pain in my life before than what I was going through at that moment, I could endure 10 more miles, if I ran fast enough, it would be even a shorter period of time to endure.
The sky started to light up and making the race a bit easier to do as I could actually see the road ahead of me and I could run more normal. My back also warmed up and my lower back muscles loosened up enough to almost take the pain away. As I ran down, I kept my nose down and looked at the ground the whole time, I wanted to come in under 1:30 but my back pain had made me slow down so much that I had decided that 1:35 was good enough too.
However, something happened after mile 6, my body decided to finally show up to the race. My legs started going faster, and as other runners were slowing their pace, mine was picking up. My hubby always says that I am nice and steady and if a race is long enough, I can be one of the first ones to finish as I am a consistent runner, when others are falling off, I seem to just keep going.
My second half of the marathon was in one word: stellar! I was cranking out sub 7 minute miles. I passed a few people who had passed me on miles 2-4. I was feeling good, tired, but good. I kept telling myself to keep going, I was almost there.
At mile 11, there were a few spectators there and it was exactly what I needed. My legs wanted to just stop and my tummy wanted some real food, but the spectators smiles and applause kept me going. They would never know how much their support means to runners, it is as if with each cheer, energy is passed from their bodies to ours. Thank you, thank you for cheering for us, even if you don't know us.
At mile 12, I caught up to the 1:30 pacers, my heart was rejoicing, they even stopped and allowed me to go in front of them. In my head, I had 1 mile left. I can do 1 mile. I can crank out 1 mile in 7:30 even when I am tired, so I dug in for all I had in me. I told myself--Isela, this is a WOD, a 1 mile WOD. Show me what you got in that heart. Little did I know that the downhill was over, we were going into this small trail that looked pretty much flat and felt uphill. But, the heart can do wonderful things. I imagined myself back at the box (crossfit), and my competitive self came out, I ran, I ran as fast as I could with my tired legs, I passed 3 gals and 1 guy in this stretch. As I kept running, I wanted to look behind and see how far ahead I was from the closest gal behind me. Why? Because I was tired and I wanted to slow down, but I didn't do it. I couldn't afford to look back. Every second counted. I wanted to come in under 1:30 and at the pace I was going, I could do it, if I didn't slow down.
I reached the 13 mile marker and I could see the Finish Line, just a little longer heart, just a little longer legs, hold on. I ran. I ran with my heart. I ran for my kids. I ran for myself. Then, as I reached the finish line and saw my husband's face, smiling and yelling my name, I ran for him too. I ran for him, for him to feel proud of me, of us. I crossed that Finish Line at exactly 1:28:54. A dream had come a reality in that very second.
As I stopped on the other side of the Finish Line and collected my medal (awesome medal by the way!), I wanted to collapse, my back complained as I bent over. My little legs were tired, I was tired, but my heart was pounding from happiness at my achievement. Hubby came right over and we kissed, just a little kiss, too sweaty and smelly for a real kiss, hahahaha. He told me that he had reached his goal too 1:25:15. A new PR for him too.
To our great surprise, well, at least to me, we both placed in our age groups (30-34). We both got 1st place :). We came home with two little ribbons. Yay!
We made our way to the tents, expecting your regular post race "food", which typically means some fruit and bread. Not at this place, we were treated to some Jimmy Johns sandwiches, delicious raspberry bars, recovery drinks, fruit, and to top it all off massages for the half marathoners as well as the full. Heaven!!! I, of course, got a massage. I am not going to turn down a good body rub, especially when I have just finished a race.
After my little massage, we made our way to the Finish Line again to wait for our friends, Gloria, Bianca, Angie and Jason. We made it just in time to see Angie fly by through the Finish and shortly after Bianca. We missed seeing speedy Gloria come in, I was probably getting my hammy worked on when she crossed. Jason came in shortly after, Bianca. All of them PRed and we all looked so happy :). A PR is a runner's "hope" each time we cross that start line.
I have to say that I left my heart and soul on that canyon on Saturday. There are days where you show up to a race and you know that you will perform well, however this Saturday wasn't it. I was afraid of the pain, I was afraid of quitting, but the heart is more powerful than we ever give it credit. I have achieved one of my greatest goals in running, to finish a half marathon in under 1:30. With my new PR, I have now qualified to participate in the ING New York City Marathon--one of my dreams, to run a marathon in my hometown.
Big Cottonwood Half--I will see you again, hopefully in 2013 :).