Friday, May 24, 2013

First Marathon Recap Ogden

Tell me about your bowel movements.

Sometimes doctors ask that.  It is awkward, but they need to know.
Chefs don't ask this.  Chefs don't ask this in front of the entire restaurant as they are chopping cilantro and yelling across the bar.

One chef did.  He is awesome.

He also asked me about my cycles, my intended finish time (I bold faced lied and told him I was hoping for a 3:45 even though I knew I would be lucky to go under 4 hours).  He listened intently to my answers and then made me the most delicious custom meal I have ever had.  After eating the most delicious salmon and risotto I have ever had I told Chris "I don't even care what happens tomorrow because I just ate the best food of my life." I also don't care that I used 'delicious' about 85 times in the same paragraph.  Because it was.  It was delicious.
Remember how I love food?
Seriously.  This guy is amazing.  You have to go to Thyme and Seasons in Bountiful.  Tell the chef what you want your meal to do for your body (seriously, he asks this) and be prepared to be nourished (and engage in some awkward personal information or offer a stool sample).

Enough about food (there is never enough about food) let's get to the race.

3:15 would have been an early wake-up call but I couldn't sleep so 2:55 seemed just fine.  I got out of bed, got in the shower (I always take a hot shower before a long run, sometimes even a bath, to loosen up the hinges).
Then, I ate half a sweet potato and some smoothie I had made the night before.  I covered my entire body (not the bottom of my feet. . .sense the foreshadowing. . .) with Body Glide and suited up for my race.
Shelly, my amazing friend, running buddy, coach and trainer picked me up at 4 am.  Lily woke up just before that so I got to say goodbye to her.  Silly girl was going to be TIRED (more forshadowing. . .).  We drove up to Ogden, Shelly had to drop $20 in the parking pay thingy because it was the smallest (and only) bill any of us had.  You're welcome, Ogden City!  And we were on a bus, in the dark, in the rain, rolling up the canyon just to run back down it.
It was cold.  It was wet.  I was so glad Shelly told me to bring plastic bags for my shoes and one to wear.  There was a lot of mud and we had to wait for almost 2 hours for the start of the race.  I loved seeing what everyone was eating before the start.  PB&J, sweet potato (hey sister!), coconut water, cliff bars, bananas, weird smoothies that a random guy who became our friend later sarcastically described as 'delightful' (chia seed is a miracle, don't even mock!). . .
Finally it was time to line up.  I ditched the plastic (lots, like most, kept running in plastic. . .that would have been a good idea, but it had stopped raining and didn't start up again until about .0000000034 seconds after my bags hit the trash can, at which point it was a downpour) and donned my make-shift arm-warmers (Lily's soccer socks with finger holes cut in them. . .check back later for a detailed tutorial).
I was so cold.  I was trying not to shiver and waste energy and I totally needed to pee.  I was getting ticked off at all the guys who took 2 steps off the road to pee in the bushes.  I joked about running over to them and dropping my drawers (thus mooning the 8000 marathoners behind me) to pee and prove a point for equality.  Even if I did dare to that (I had, afterall, just detailed my monthly cycle and BM habits to a full restaurant less than 12 hours prior) it would have been impossible.  My hands were frozen and there was no way I could have taken off my hydration belt and my pants AND gotten them back on by myself.

Now to the running!
The first 3 miles were just so cold.  The first 3 miles of every run are hard for me.  It takes me FOREVER to warm up.  I asked Shelly what our pace was.  I thought we were going out too fast.  It was a 9 minute mile.  Ha!  It felt like a 7:30.  Not bad, just a lot of effort.
But then, what?  What does that sign say?  Mile FIVE?  Nice!  I was feeling good.  Wet, but good.  I drank some smoothie from the belt and lost Shelly.  I never did see her again.  I didn't know if she was ahead of me or behind.  It was so hard to see with all the rain, all the plastic, and all the people.
I really had to pee.  I didn't want to stop so I decided to hold it.  It turns out that 'hold it' may be a generous term for what I did for the next 12 miles, but I was soaked so it is hard to say really.  No one can prove anything.

Mile 6:
Baby horse running with Mama!  So cute!  They are running with us!  I am feeling good.  Hey, I am almost a quarter of the way done.  My feet are freezing.  I cannot feel them.  Maybe that is good?
Mile 7:
I ate an orang slice as I cruised through the aid station.  Just bite and throw.  I still need to pee.  WHY OH WHY did I not stop?  Stupid pride!
Mile 8:  I started calculating how many miles until I would see my cute husband and my dad and girls who were to be at the half way point.  Then, I started to worry about how I might feel if they ended up not being able to come because of the rain.  I would totally understand, but I would be bummed.  I just hoped it wouldn't totally throw me.
I talked to a few people and then I started to feel a blister forming on the ball of my foot.  Darn rain.  Nothing I could do.  I tried wiggling my toes to shift the weight or something but the damage was done.  I had a blister.  I had a blister at mile 8.  Nothing to be done, I would just have to deal with it and hope that it doesn't break.  I decided that running on the blister would be better than altering my gait and damaging my joints.
Mile 9 I ate some of my pumpkin-seed butter bar (so good!) and it gave me a great push!  By mile 10 I felt great (except I had to pee) and I could feel myself accelerate up a couple of very small hills.  I actually looked ahead and thought "these were not on the map!" but they didn't feel like anything. . .which is probably why.  Then, I did something stupid.  I took off my awesome arm warmers.  They were soaked so I thought they were doing nothing but adding weight.  I regretted it instantly.  They were still keeping me warm.  The rain on my bare arms was freezing.  I did lose about 2 pounds, though, by ditching the soaked arm socks.  Thus begins the frozen forearm section of the race.
Mile 13, I slowed a little through the huge aid station (because everyone was walking and I had to dodge people).  I saw my FAMILY!  I threw my arms up!  I was so happy to see them!!!  Noli cried as I ran past.  I guess that would be pretty confusing.  Hey, let's wait here in the rain and cold for your mother to run right past us.  See ya!
I felt awesome and I knew that the hills were next.  I like hills.  Running uphill is easier on my knees and I ran a lot of uphill during my prep for this race.  I went into this section totally mentally prepared and excited.
The next 2 miles had a series of small hills.  I past people on the hills, which felt great!  I ran with an older guy who I had ran with at mile 5.  He said that he was going to try to keep up with me on the hill.  He didn't.  But he caught me again at mile 17.
I started feeling pretty tired at mile 15 and promised myself I would stop at the aid station at 17 and walk through it, stop to pee, and take some tylenol.  The foot to blister ratio had sadly shifted in favor of the latter at this point.  I was in quite a bit of pain, and was just praying it wouldn't pop before the end of the race.
I jogged up to the Honey Bucket at Mile 17 ready for a quick pee and then back out to it.  What I did not anticipate was the shivering.  The second I stopped running I started shaking so bad I couldn't figure out how to get my belt off, how to stand without hitting the walls, how to do anything.  It took me a full minute to strategize my pee stop.  This next part is a little TMI. . .I really had to pee.  I mean, more than I even thought.  I was amazed at my bladder capacity.  It was unreal.  I felt so so so so so much better, so much lighter, so ready that I was kicking myself for not stopping sooner!  I jumped out, adjusted the fuel belt and pulled out my tylenol.  I had to stop completely to try to open it with my frozen fingers.  The guy from the hill caught up and said something like "keep it strong!" but I knew I was golden now.  I didn't have to pee!!!!
I ran across the dam and heard someone yell "MEG!  YOU ARE A ROCKSTAR!" and looked around wildly to see my friend, Jill, who was screaming her face off.  She was here to watch her sister and we were pacing right by each other.  That call out with my new, empty bladder and the hopes that the fire brewing on the bottom of my feet would be abated a bit by the pill sent a surge through me and I started flying (relative) down the canyon.  I don't run with a watch so I never know what my pace is or my splits but I could tell I was going a lot faster than I had been.  I thought 'I should probably slow down, I don't know if I can keep this up for the next 9 miles' but I didn't.  I also thought 'I should be more careful on these steep downhill sections' so I was.  I slowed when it got steeper.  My knees do not like running downhill.
I felt amazing all the way down the canyon.  It warmed up a little at this point and that helped a lot.  I looked up and was caught off guard by the huge waterfall at the mouth of the canyon.  We jumped onto the parkway trail and I started passing people.  People who had gone out too fast were slowing down but still felt great.
At the end of mile 23 I started feeling a little tired.  Then, I looked ahead and hello!!!  Family!!  Noli, Lily, Chris and Dad were waving and cheering like wet little puppies.  Noli then cried, again and tried to reach out to me as I jogged past (really starting to feel it!)  It was great to see them!  The gal running beside me at this time (she had my same shoes on, and she gave me a flat tire at mile .009) said "that is enough to make me cry" as if the last 24 miles in a freezing downpour weren't enough to bring tears.
The next two miles were. . .tough.   As.  Nails.  Seriously.  I have never hit 'the wall' until then.  I was hurting.  Everywhere.  I was cold.  My legs felt like they had weights and my quads were starting to speak to me in colorful tones.  My feet hurt, my legs hurt, my arms hurt (??) my head hurt, my hair hurt.  two miles seemed like an impossible feat.  I tried to talk myself down by saying that two miles is shorter than i ever run at a time.  You can slow down a little bit, just keep moving.  I knew enough to know that walking would be a horrible, horrible decision at this point.  I would start shaking again like at Mile 17 and I would probably just fall down.  Plus, it would take longer.  I kept thinking about how wonderful it was to feel pain for a reason.  To feel pain that meant something, that would go away.  I thought of all the people that had helped me get to this point and tried dedicating small efforts to them.  My parents, Dr. Vonk, Shelly, Chris, my kids, my friends, etc.  I thought about Ali (, a girl I have never met but have formed a (perhaps unhealthy?) connection with through her blog about running and Crohn's disease.  She has been very sick for a couple of months and I thought about how she would give anything to have a (now clearly popped) blister, sore quads and to be hobbling through the last 1.2 miles of a marathon.  Those thoughts did help.  It still was an indescribable mental battle, but they did help.   I still had a lot of dark thoughts like "this is stupid.  we are all stupid.  This is the stupidest, most selfish, childish activity I have done in a long time.  I am never, ever doing this again.  Who does this???"
As the runners turn onto Grant Street we could see the finish line, which is kind of rude, because it looked so so so far away.  I tried looking down and just "running" and then looking up after a while.  It did not appear any closer.  I played that game for about 3 hours.
Finally, I got close enough to see the clock:  4 hours 15 minutes.  Not my sub-4 but who cares?  It was so cold and so wet!  Not bad, I thought, not bad!  I was satisfied with my time and ready to find my family and move on.
As I stepped across the finish line I looked over to my right and saw another clock.  This one said 3:46. What is that?  I wondered.  Hmmm. . .that is weird.  A volunteer rushed up to me and grabbed me around the shoulders.  She walked with/carried/kept me upright as we past through the finish to get my medal, some chocolate milk, etc.  I was sort of delirious.  I didn't know what to do or where to go.  I wanted to be warm.  I was shaking uncontrollably.  I was so cold.  I heard Chris call out from behind the fence and while I knew how to get to him, I wandered around a bit longer trying to find a foil blanket and also because I was a little out of it.  He called out to me again a few minutes later and I walked around and out to him.  He took off his sweater and gave it to me and made me stand under a canopy.  My dad had gone to get the van.  The girls were crying.  It was pretty miserable.  It was not a happy, music-filled, let's-go-eat-free-stuff reunion.  It was survival.  I clearly was going into a hypothermic state, the girls were wet and cold, it was bad.
Then, I heard the announcer say "we have 3 more minutes for these runners to get their sub-4! Let's give it a big cheer for 3 more minutes!!"  Wait. . .what?  Sub-4?  I had come in at 4:16, right?  Then I realized I had looked at the half-marathon timer.  The half-marathon started 30 minutes before the full.  My time was actually more like 3:45 (chip time)!  What?????
I learned a lot from this race.  Not the least of which was if a chef gets personal and creates a meal for you under the assumption you are planning on a 3:45, you will run a 3:45 and it will be because of that magical, amazing salmon.  Rain or no rain.  Assuming your bowel habits are normal.  Thanks, Chef Hai.

I finished.  More importantly I finished the way I wanted to.  I didn't want to suffer through half the race but I also didn't want to leave anything in the tank.  I wanted it all out on the course.  I wanted to give it everything I had and stumble across the line.  That is what I did and even when I thought my time was 31 minutes slower than it actually was, I was totally happy with it because I knew I could not have run even 1 second faster.  There is not one part of the race I could have pushed harder.

I do have one regret and that is the finish party.  Everyone always told me the best part of a race (vs. just going by yourself to run a ridiculously and stupidly long way) is the after events.  Talking with the other racers, getting a massage, feeling like a rockstar. . .etc.  There was none of that.  People were cold and grouchy and went straight home.  I feel like missed out on the 'race' part.

Ali says on her blog that she hates recaps that don't have splits and don't talk about the numbers.  Sorry!  I don't run with a watch but here are my chip timed splits for anyone who cares (which is no one, Ali doesn't read my blog).

To 7 miles  1:01:05   Pace 8:43
To Half      1:53:47   Pace  8:37
To 18 mile 2:37:23   Pace  8:54
To 23.1     3:18:09   Pace   7:59
To finish   3:45:45    Pace  8:50

Would I do this again?


What would I do next time?

 I would carry less food.  I waaaaay overpacked!  Carrying extra weight for nothing?  Not a good racing strategy.  I just didn't want to rely on nasty Gu or Powerade.    


Julia said...

This was probably the best opening line for a blog post I've ever seen. You made me laugh out loud several times (which I don't do super often reading), and you are AMAZING. I can't even . . . you are rad. And inspiring. And crazy.

Meg said...

Thanks, Julia! You are the funniest writer I know so that is a great accomplishment to make you laugh!!

Claudia said...

Meg you are so amazing. I loved reading this. I'm so glad you wrote this down. You ARE a rock star. Good job! AMAZING job!

Ashley said...

Way to go Meg! You are a rock star! Chad always talks about when he stops to pee, and runs into the walls of port a potty because his legs won't stop moving. So funny! I want to meet this chef.

Nikki S said...

I want Chef Hai to make me a magical meal that will help me lose 20 lbs in one week. I totally believe in him now. I will bring a stool and urine sample if it will help. I am so proud of you! Is it weird that I kind of want to see what happened with your blister/foot?

Meg said...

Nicole, I believe in him too! Really.

I do not think it is weird that you want to see what happened to my blister foot. I have taken pictures with my phone of every blister I get from running (because I still can't really get over that I am running far enough to get a blister and because blisters fall into that gross/cool category for me) but have never really showed anyone because I think maybe they will think I am disgusting.

I am SO VALIDATED now that you asked me that. Now, if I can figure out how to get pics off of my phone I will show you. Or you can see at Aspen Grove.

Also, weird blister update. I do not really go for the essential oil thing (I think they smell good, but cure cancer??? I don't know) but someone told me to put melaluca (tea tree oil) on my blister and I happened to have some someone had given me years ago. I put it on my huge, nasty, oozing blister (which totally popped during the run) and the next day I could barely feel it. The day after that. . .gone. Hmmm. . .rainwater or tea tree oil? We will never know. . .

Erin said...

Proud of you! My one question is why were you so shy about mooning the other runners when I distinctly remember helping you (and having a picture of us) moon all of Red Cliffs State Park? And don't say there were only a few people there, because there were about 15 of us and we knew most of them...How do I get the food without having a public discussion about my bodily functions with a chef? Does he ask those questions all the time?