The 2017 St. George Half Marathon Race Recap

I don’t like the word can’t.

I don’t like it when I hear my sixth graders use it. 

I don’t like it when I hear my four year say it. 

Because that word doesn’t exist, not really. 

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I truly believe that the only limits in life are the ones that exist in our own minds.  And last month I had an extraordinary experience where I was fortunate enough to race with someone who reminded me to live beyond limits.

When my friend Amber invited me to join Team Elshanator and race the St. George Half Marathon, I was ecstatic!  I had seen Elsha at a few local races and had actually been too shy to introduce myself, but I was brave enough to reach out through Facebook, so I already knew how inspiring she is and I also knew that we shared a common love of running and U2 (Elsha has even met Bono a few times!). 

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This is a picture of Elsha at the 2017 Las Vegas Rock n’ Roll Marathon (Pictured: Aaron Metler/Other team members: Hayden Hawks and Clinton Rhoton). This amazing team took first place with a time of 2:33!

This year was the 35th annual St. George Half Marathon.  St. George is known for having fast races, but this might be the one exception.  This particular half is a challenging and hilly course, but it’s also one of my favorites.  Our 5 woman team consisted of my St. George Running Center teammates: Amber Green, Kristen Thorne, Sarah Skeem, myself, and of course Elsha. 

We all met about an hour before the race began to get in a little warm-up run, meet Elsha’s sweet parents, and formulate our race plan.  We decided to take turns and switch the driving responsibility every mile.  That would mean that each of us would have three 1 mile repeats hopefully giving us ample time to drop back a bit and recover if we needed to.  Our plan was to get Elsha across the finish line in 1:30.  We also decided that we would go in order of oldest to youngest, which meant I was the second driver, so I had miles 2, 6, and 10.   Instead of having one of us take the last mile, we decided we would split it into fourths. 

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Lining up at the start with Elsha was extra special. She’s pretty much a celebrity in Utah.

The race went off to a fun, and pretty fast start.  For the first mile our team was running with Hayden Hawk, a super-athlete and pro runner for Hoka, and Steve Hooper, also a super-athlete and the owner of the St. George Running Center.  Never in my life have I raced alongside either of them and I’m not going to let it bother me (at all) that while they were jogging, I had to RUN just to keep up with their “easy” pace.  It was a once in a lifetime, briefest of moments, but it made for a really fun memory. 

When I took over as the driver at mile two we were cruising along at a pace I wasn’t sure I could maintain.  To be completely honest, the “driving,” or pushing, is challenging.  Without the use of your arms for motion and balance, the work is centrally focused in your leg muscles and I was surprised how hard those miles felt.  That being said, I have never felt such joy in all the one mile sections of my life.  It was truly a pleasure to have it hurt for a few moments of my life, to feel something hard, and to embrace being uncomfortable for someone else.  In all of my races, nothing even compares to those precious moments shared with my team that day.  There was such a special energy, and it all came from Elsha. 

At the end of mile 6, right before we switched drivers again, Elsha let us know that she needed some adjustments, so we stopped and helped reposition her head a bit.  I was amazed at the concern from the runners around us.  Almost everyone stopped mid-race to see if we were okay, to ask if they could help, or to tell Elsha how inspiring she is.  I know runners are the best kind of people, but I was so touched by all the sincere support from everyone.  If for some reason the four of us couldn’t have been able to go on, there were a hundred other runners that day who would have gladly finished the race for us, and with Elsha. 

Rounding the final bend and crossing the finish line together was such a special moment.  Running is a great unifier, it allows us the chance to focus on our commonalities, and to celebrate those things that bring us together.  We were 5 women, bonding over a shared love of running.

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In Elsha’s own race recap she remembers turning on U2’s album Joshua Tree at around mile 7, and we basically rocked out to the whole thing.  Before every race, when I’m standing on the start line and I’m trying  to get my head together and calm my nerves, I always listen to U2’s song,  Where the Streets Have No Name. That first line, “I want to run” helps me remember what I’m doing out there.  I loved sharing that common interest with Elsha.  I will think of her every time I hear that song and hope that I can channel a few ounces of the kind of strength she possesses.

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Elsha has participated in over 110 events from 5K’s to relays.  I asked Elsha what she loves best about running, she said, “I love running because when I’m running, I feel like I’m really running.  When I hear people cheering it is really special, and I’m so proud of my pushers for doing such a great job for me to do something that would normally be impossible for me.”  While we weren’t able to secure a “break the tape finish” for Elsha like she deserved, we were able to cross the finish line in 1:33:52.  That qualified her for 8th place in her age group and first place in the assisted division.

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Katherine Switzer famously said, “If you are losing faith in the human race, go out and watch a marathon.”  It actually doesn’t even have to be a full, it can be a half, and it may be someone other than the runners who inspires you to live beyond limits, overcome “can’t” by focusing on what you CAN do, and chase whatever dreams bring you joy. Happy running friends!

Have you ever run the St. George Half?

Who Inspires you to overcome “Can’t”?

What’s your favorite U2 song?

Leave a comment

The Baker’s Dozen Half Marathon Race Recap

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and 13 reasons why it’s the most fun you’ll have at a race all year!

1. The rules:  A few days before the race, I was emailed the race guide with all of the critical race information: the where, the when, the whats.  It also included my favorite race directive ever.  It read: No whining or complaining. Grumpiness is illegal. The Baker’s Dozen is more of a fun run than a race. Fun is absolutely mandatory. Be sure to tell all the volunteers thanks for being so awesome.  With rules like this, I knew it would be a memorable race.

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2. The race director: When the legendary Cory Reese puts on a race, it is not to be missed. Especially when said race director dons a “Buddy the Elf” costume, complete with wig and yellow tights.  Catching Cory in a costume isn’t that unusual, he famously wore a cat leotard during his Badwater race to celebrate the Kickstarter campaign for his amazing book, “Nowhere Near First.” There is even photographic evidence floating around Facebook of Cory at previous races dressed as Little Debbie.  Cory’s energy and enthusiasm for the sport of distance running is so inspiring and infectious, it really is impossible to run this race and not love every minute.  

3. The course:  The race started and ended at Three Falls Park in Hurricane, Utah (pronounced her-i-kin).  The course was just over a 3 mile loop, run four times total.  Each time you completed a loop, you had to make a stop at the “Sugar Shack” and eat a “snack” which meant at least one bite of your chosen treat.  A volunteer was there to watch you and mark on your bib that you ate the required amount. You needed to have 3 marks on your bib to earn your medal.   

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4. The awards:  This was a fun run and true to form, the prizes were not for the fastest, they were instead for the best costume, the best jump caught on camera, and for the most sugar eaten.  Two lucky persons (male and female) earned themselves the venerable title of “Sugar Slayer” for being able to eat the most.  Rumor has it that the winning male had over 80 marks on his bib.  A feat in and of itself, but profoundly more so when you remember he had to keep running.  Yikes! 

This guy was in the running for "Sugar Slayer!" You can't see his bib, but it was covered in tally marks. He did admit to popping a few Tums at this point.

This guy was in the running for “Sugar Slayer!” You can’t see his bib, but it was covered in tally marks. He did admit to popping a few Tums at this point.

5. The pictures: The amazing photographer Alex Santiago was on hand to take FREE pictures along the course and a prize was given to the best jump caught on camera.  We did our best.   

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6. The costumes: I saw more donut print leggings, of which I was enormously jealous, hats that looked like cupcakes, elves, reindeer, and even Santa Claus himself made an appearance.  He was obviously enjoying a little R&R before the big day.  But my favorite costume was a group effort and an homage to the Christmas classic “A Christmas Story.”  I’m sure I wasn’t the only who wanted to shout, “You’ll shoot your eye out!”

Hey Santa!

Hey Santa!

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This was just too awesome! Fragile…I think that’s Italian.

7. The treats: Remember the “Sugar Shack” where you had to stop after each loop.  The treats on the table were piled high and spread out like a Hostess buffet.   There were so many sugary snacks, it was as if Willy Wonka and a sugar plum fairy had planned a Saturday brunch.  I happily tossed out my clean-eating, plant-based, no-gluten commitment for thirteen wonderful miles. 

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8. The friends: I got to run one lap with Cookie Monster (my cute friend Crystal).  I seriously could not get “C is for Cookie” out of my head until the race was over. And then because of the warmness of the day, my friend shed her sweatshirt for her second costume.  She was a gingersnap cookie runner rocking her tank and panties.  You can’t catch her!  Crystal I love you!

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9. The comments: There was a group of younger guys running behind us on the third loop.  It was clear that they were deep in the fight for the title of “Sugar Slayer.”  They were shuffling a bit and holding onto their sides (nothing like a dozen or so cookies to induce a wicked side ache). The last thing I heard one of them shout to another, who had made a quick beeline for a nearby field was, “Throw it up and keep running!”  I’m not sure if that was an official DQ, but man those guys were committed. 

8. The Grandma: I ran past a cute little grandma, who was totally in the zone.   She had her headphones on and was singing loud and proud for everyone to hear, it was something about taking you down and making love. It’s probably more like makin’ love.  No costume, no tacky Christmas sweater, but don’t let that sweet face fool you, grandma was in the groove.  I get it, on race day, everyone needs their fill of Jason Derulo, it’s all about the beat. 

10. The swag: I love hats, so I was thrilled to get a really cute trucker hat that I plan on putting a lot of miles on.  Cory’s sweet wife Melanie let me have a gray one from the previous year.  She understood, as knowing women do, that gray is a neutral color and it would go with more of my running outfits.  In addition, race entrants also received a super cute pink mug which my 4 year old confiscated and has claimed as her special mug just for hot chocolate.

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11. The medals:  When your non-running friends gush over the awesomeness of your medal, you know it’s a good one!

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12. The memories:  Every race presents a new opportunity to create memories: running with Cookie Monster, the singing grandma who made me blush, Buddy the Elf, and my new favorite hat.  It’s the “do it for the Insta” type of attitude that makes running fun and remember fun is the most important rule of this race, mandatory in fact.  This is the kind of race that leads to stories that begin with “Remember when we ran the Baker’s Dozen last year…

13.  Accolades from Runner’s World: Last and not even close to least, Runner’s World, the holy writ of all things running, has taken notice of this awesome race and will be featuring it in their 2017 Guide for Best Half Marathons in the Country.  The country!!!

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So don’t sleep in, don’t miss out, jump right in and have fun because these are the kind of memories that fill this running journey with joy.  I hope I see you there next year!  Happy running friends! 

What’s the most fun race you’ve done this year?

Have you ever run a race in a costume?  

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The Capstone 50K and Why I’m Still Afraid of the Dark

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It’s okay to be 36 and still be afraid of the dark, at least that’s what I’m telling myself anyway.  How do I know I suffer from nyctophobia?Because I ran the Capstone 50K.

When my friend Crystal and I decided we wanted to be ultra runners, we had both just finished listening to Scott Jurek’s book Eat and Run (reading that book will increase your desire to run an ultra by 2000%).   At the time we were running around Navajo Lake on top of Cedar Mountain on a bright, sunshiney, summer’s morn  Yes, morn, it was really that lovely.   The Navajo Lake “trail” is one of my favorite “trails,”  it’s shaded, and wooded, with a well-worn dirt path that is littered with a few pinecones, a stray stone here and there, and an occasional branch that forces you to side-step their encumbrance.  I hadn’t yet learned that there are “trails,” Trails, and TRAILS. I was used to running on “trails.”

After the Saint George marathon, I knew I wanted to make a little shift and I felt like farther not faster might be the right fit.  So when Crystal and I heard about the Capstone 50K it checked all of our boxes.

50 K.  Check.

Local.  Check.

An ultra for beginners.  Check.

So we did what brave girls do and clicked register and that was that for a few weeks.  I kept my miles up thinking that my treadmill running would translate well to the trails.  WRONG.  I also figured that most “trail” running looked the Navajo Trail.  WRONGER (That’s my best Trump impression).  So when I finally went out to explore the Zen Trail, one week before the race, I felt massively underprepared for what I was about to do, but I was still willing to give it a try.

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I did do a couple of smart things.  I went into the Saint George Running Center and got some trail shoes (I picked Brooks Pure Grit 5’s and they worked great) and while I was there I bumped into Hayden Hawkes, a truly gifted trail runner and pro runner for Hoka, he gave me some great advice and really helped assuage my fears.  The one thing I should have done was invest in a better headlamp…remember the fear of the dark…I’m getting there.

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Before I knew it, it was the night before the race, so I headed to the start for packet pickup.  I’m used to convention centers stuffed full of vendors, samples, and excitement.  I drive to the trailhead and there’s a guy, a nice guy, in a van with a little campfire going.  He looked up my number and asked me if I’d run an ultra before.  I said (shamefully), “Well, no but I race marathons a lot.”  He nodded but I could tell he wasn’t impressed.  “What’s your marathon time?” he asked.  “My PR is a 2:55.”  I waited for him to get impressed, he didn’t.  Then he replied, “This will probably take you twice as long.”  And he was close, it took 6 hours and 54 minutes.

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Because the race didn’t start until noon, I got to sleep in on race day.  I spent the morning putting together my gear.  I brought extras of everything and a lot of food options. My only race goal was to finish, and I really appreciated everyone’s advice from my Instagram post to walk the hills especially early  on.

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The course was a six mile plus loop that would be run washing machine style (in alternating directions) that way we would be meeting and greeting the other people still out on the trail.  For me, a trail neophyte, the course was very technical, and in parts even unrunable.  The first two loops were tough and slow and hot.  I forgot to bring my handheld water bottle for the first loop and I really regretted it, I needed water at mile three and didn’t get any until after mile 6. Each loop had over 1,000 feet of ascent so I really backed off early on in the race.  I was so thankful my friend Ashley, who was there cheering on her husband, ran the third loop with me.  I needed the distraction and the conversation.  She did say at least once, when we get to that next point we’re running.  I needed that push from her.

Mile 17

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I added Nuun tablets to my water and because of the drain from the heat of the day, I have never been more thankful for those little circles of hydrating magic.  All of my fuel sat really well throughout the race, but I had a harder time gauging my fueling.  I used both Honeystinger chews and waffles and they worked great.  Every time you completed a loop you had to run back to the start and do a quick check in.  I was able to grab fuel and water pretty quickly and then get going again before I had a chance to change my mind. I loved that the race director, Turd’l, a legend among trail runners in Southern Utah, looked me in the eye and asked my every time, are you okay? I truly felt like he cared how I was doing.

On the fourth loop I had a second wind and was so thankful that miles 24, 25, and 26 felt really strong.  I wondered if deep in my muscle memory my legs have been trained to find some speed at these points of distance.   One of the biggest challenges that I faced is that trail running requires so much attention and focus that you can never really get into the zone where things are clicking and grooving.  It made the pain cave longer, but less intense, and the fatigue crept up slower and then hit…hard.

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Loop 5, the last one.  I was officially an ultra runner!  I had stepped into the brave, new frontier outside of the marathon distance and I only had about 6 miles to go.  I really was feeling okay, but when I hit that first ascent (for the third time), I felt weary.  I walked.  At this point the beautiful pink sunset had faded and it was getting dark.  My headlamp which works fine out on already fairly lit streets was a complete fail out in nature.  When I bumped into the first dark silhouetted runners, they were friendly and told me my friend was way ahead (Crystal you really rocked it).  They must have sensed a little apprehension in my voice because they encouraged me to keep going.  I did and it got darker.  At this point, my headlamp was useless, it jostled so much on the dark trail that the beam made it even harder to see and the trail was so rocky that I was risking an injury.  I kept saying out loud, “I can’t see, I just can’t see.”  About halfway through the last loop I saw a light bobbing across a dark patch of rock, it was like a beacon of hope.  I was so happy to see another person you’d think I had been stranded on a desert island for months.

Me: Hi!  Hello!! Hi!  Hi!

Nice Runner: Hi!

Me: It’s like really dark! Can you see?

Nice Runner:  Yeah I invested in a really good headlamp because I’m smart (He didn’t say that, but he might have thought it).

Me: (Shaky voice) I really can’t see the trail.

Nice Runner:  Remember you scramble up the boulders, and then zig zag through the switchbacks until you get to the ridge.  Run along the ridge and then down the rocks until you get to the dirt road.

Me: (Voice breaking)  Umm okay.

Nice Runner:  Good luck!

As he ran off into the night, I almost shouted, “Wait!” and turned back to run with him, but I knew if I went back the wrong way it would be a DNF or I’d have to run this loop again and add on another 9 million miles.  If I wanted to finish then had to keep going.

Friends.  I cried.

I was scared of the dark, like really scared.  I was scared of falling and scared of being alone. However,  I didn’t quite let the panic take over.   I was still able to rationalize that my husband could come find me, my phone had location services and plenty of battery life, and I could even see the city lights of Saint George off in the distance.  However, the darkness did instill in me an irrational fear of being tracked by a mountain lion and an image of my last words being scratched into the dirt would have read: I SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT A BETTER HEADLAMP. So I prayed.  I prayed the same prayer over and over.  I just said, please get me off this mountain, please help me see the trail.  I’m not trying to be dramatic, but it was a lonely, long last few miles. But like all hard things, the only way out was through, so I just kept moving.

When my feet finally hit the dirt path, I was grateful, so grateful…and totally, emotionally wiped.  I ran the last mile back to the start, guided by the smell of a campfire and then eventually glow of headlights.

I was embraced by my friends Crystal and Ashley, and I was so tired that I couldn’t remember Ashley’s name for a minute.  Is ultra running induced amnesia a thing?  Then the race director Turd’l Miller came over with a huge smile and a trophy.  When he handed the trophy to me, he said, “Because you ran the Capstone 50K and I didn’t.”  I laughed but I didn’t “get” it until the next morning when I was able to read the inscription.  With some carbs and sleep, the humor and the feeling of inclusion in this amazing world of ultra runners, was not lost on me.

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Anytime we step outside of our comfort zones, anytime we do something hard, something that scares us, something that we are maybe even unprepared for, it is something to celebrate.  Don’t doubt yourself or those dreams, just jump in, sign up, and go for it.  This was an experience I’ll never forget and I’m pretty confident it won’t be my last one.

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The amazing Cory Reese took this jump shot at about mile 24. Cory’s inspiring book “Nowhere Near First” gave me the confidence to “jump in” and go for it.

Have you run an ultra?

Do you have a good headlamp recommendation?

What is a goal that you’ve set that’s a little scary?

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The Saint George Marathon Recap

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When my coach sent me my splits for the St. George marathon it was for three hours. Flat.  He added the following caveat, “I think you are capable of going under three hours if you stick to the pace for the first half, then adjust how you are feeling for the second half, but remain patient until around the 5K mark and go.”

He then encouraged me to set two goals for St. George.  The first one was one that I would be happy with for the day, but still challenged me.  Then the other goal is what he called an “out there” goal where everything is going better than expected and I could push myself hard and test my limits.

I think my coach offered me very realistic goals.  St. George is always a little tricky for me, I think it’s a course that requires you to be strategic and tests your patience, but I knew I wanted to sub three on that course.  It’s been one of my personal goals for a few years.

The expo was short and sweet for me, it’s always just like grab and go.  If I’m racing I don’t want anything to drain my mental energy because I know it will require every ounce I have to compete the next morning.  As much as I love race expos and taking in all things running, the noise and crowds can leave me feeling a little worn out.  I really try to keep the day before the marathon stress free and low key.  I almost feel like I’m putting up protective walls that day, like a mental cocoon of positivity.  I’d much rather put my feet up and listen to an inspiring book or podcast.

I was so excited to have new race shirts for the St. George Running Center Team.  I love the color and am so thankful for Kendra and Steve’s support. They really are the heart and soul of all things running in Southern Utah.

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I was so glad that the back pocket on these Lululemon Speed Shorts was large enough to hold my First Endurance liquid shot.  It was the only fuel I took during the race and it gave me good energy.

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I am always so grateful to my friend Amber’s dad who is willing to drive us up to the start.  It’s a minivan full of jittery nerves and laughter, but being with the girls that I’ve trained with all summer means so much to me.

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After submitting my runner’s resume last spring with my 2:55:16 from the Revel Mt. Charleston marathon, race officials selected me for the sub-elite category.  This meant that my race bib was green and that the porta-potty lines were slightly shorter.  I’m honestly not sure what rubric the officials use to gauge the elite and sub-elite qualifications.  As the St. George marathon continues to grow in popularity, they may need to clarify this more.  Although Boston is sometimes criticized for being too severe, at least they are consistent.  I’ve known more than one runner who earned an elite spot and didn’t receive it.  When it comes to rules, gray doesn’t help.

I used the bathroom about 17 times and then dropped my gear bag off and went to the start to warm up.  I was thankful to feel a little chilly, the weather forecast was for a pretty warm day and I was worried.  My coach had warned me that it’s not so much about cooling down, but staving off the heat all together.  He encouraged me to drink at least a few sips of water at all the water stops and dump a cup of water on my neck even before I felt hot.  I am so thankful I heeded this advice, even though I was sopping wet crossing the finish line, I didn’t overheat.

My splits were very conservative for the first 4 miles and that’s okay.  I had talked with some runner friends who said your whole St. George marathon can blow up if you take the first 4 too hard and I was determined not to make that mistake again.

My friend Sarah snapped this picture as I ran through the little town of Veyo, Utah.  I love seeing the crowd and all these sweet people who come out to cheer us on.  I had just put my music in and was about to get to work.  I think this is my “game-face.”

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My plan was to average 6:50’s for the first half and hit 13.1 miles in 1:31:07.  I ended up running Veyo hill quite a bit slower which put me behind, I was breathing pretty hard going up and I had the thought that it didn’t make any sense to trash my legs at this point in the race, so I backed off.  I was fairly confident that I could make up the time in the second half if everything was going well.

Miles 7-13 are not my favorite on the course.  This is usually the place where first time runners shout with rage, “I thought this was all downhill!?”  The only thing I try to focus on for these miles is my music and seeing my husband at Snow Canyon.  I tell him all the time, but he’ll never understand fully, how much it means to have someone who loves you waiting for you. It’s the best thing in world when you’re racing.  We had a quick handoff of coconut water that tasted like manna from heaven.

With the speed coming down from Snow Canyon, I was finally in that groove when the race begins to click. I was averaging about  6:30’s on the mile splits (10 seconds faster than my plan).  I had made up the time I had lost on Veyo hill and my legs still felt good.  Marathon racing requires constant management of energy, conserving it when you need to, so that you still have some left in reserve for those last 3 to 6 miles.  I was constantly checking in with myself and saying things like, “just hold here,” “I can keep running this pace,” “this pace will get me a sub three.”  I feel like this photo caught me doing runner math, so I looked like I’m “mean mugging” the poor photographer.  I love running, I really do.

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With three miles to go I had about 24 minutes to make it under three hours. Even though I felt fairly confident that I could, I still wanted to give this race everything I had, so I picked up my pace.  With two miles to go I just ran.  I didn’t want to look at my watch, I just focused on the landmarks.  This section of the course that I’d run a hundred times is a road so familiar to me that I know every divot and pot-hole.  I passed the Washington County School District building where I applied to be a teacher 9 years ago and it changed my life.  Then I wound past the Tabernacle where I had said goodbye to my parents when they left last spring and sat in my car and cried.  Past the splash pad where my daughter first dipped her baby toes before she could walk.  Down on past the church where I listened to my friend Mauri’s son speak before he left on a mission.  Then past the pilates studio where I went before I had my daughter and I didn’t really appreciate what free time or Saturday afternoons to yourself truly meant.

And I felt it.  All these moments.  All these memories.  This wondrous connection to a place I love so much, to a sport I love so much, to friends and family I love so much, and to have it all come together in that one moment just leaves my heart filled with gratitude.  I was able to come across the finish line as the 18th female with a time of 2:57:09.

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It is never lost on me how the stars have to align to make race day successful.  I am so thankful to my family, my teammates, the other runners, and to all of you.  Thank you for the prayers and good energy sent my way, it means so much to me.

Although I ran smart, I didn’t go for the “out there” goal, and even though that number in my head scares me a little, it’s always good to have something else to chase.  Happy running friends!

Did you run St. George?

What’s your “out there” goal?

Have you tried coconut water in a race?

What’s your favorite race fuel?

 

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Mental Preparation and St. George Marathon Goals 2016

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“The only thing that replaces fear is faith.”-Rich Roll

I was listening to Rich Roll’s book, Finding Ultra, it’s one of those titles I like to play on repeat especially when I’m gearing up for a race.  As I listened, this was one of the quotes that really struck me. There are always a lot of fears going into a marathon and most of them we can’t control or change.

Here are a few of mine:

It will be hot.

I will be sick.

It will be an off day.

I won’t be brave.

I won’t sub three on the St. George course.

I won’t PR.

I’ll disappoint myself.

Whew, okay.  It actually feels so good to air those all out, writing truly is a cathartic act.

So the flip side…faith.

Believe in your training: All those tempo runs, long runs, and speed workouts.  Remind yourself, you did the hard work.

Trust the process: The first 6-8 miles never click for me, they feel uncomfortable as I settle in, but I know I’ll get into a groove.

Know that the people who love you, family and friends, are sending good energy and prayers your way: I can actually feel that good energy coming my way leading up to and during a race.  Take the pressure off yourself and let the people who love you most do the worrying for you.

Commit to the hurt, the hard, the work, and the sweat: There will be race panics I’ll have to talk myself through.  There will be sections of the race that will leave me wondering if I can get through it.  Just breathe and commit over and over again that you are capable.

Have confidence in your experience: Remind yourself, I’ve done this before, I can do it again.  If it’s your first marathon then just focus on getting through it, I love to look around and see other runners, you’re not alone.

Feel the love of the run: I like to remind myself that I am so grateful to get to do this, to have the health and strength that affords me this joy.

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My coach shared some really great advice heading into the marathon, and it has to do with self talk, a critical component in dealing with the stress of a race. The first thing to do is to recognize your own self-talk.  Think about what kind of inner dialogue you have with yourself during a race.  Positive self-talk has been proven to improve your race by helping you control your concentration and focus while negative self-talk will only work against you by draining your energy reserves.  My sister calls negative self-talk “TNT” (toxic negative thoughts) and they cannot only blow up a race, but your happiness too.

In the beginning of a long race, you need self-talk to help you monitor your pace and help you conserve energy.  I’ve found that phrases like: nice and easy, slow and steady, or let them go out hard, I’ll catch up later  help me feel calm, relaxed, and in control the first few miles.

By the middle of the race, when you’re facing energy slumps and sometimes concentration issues, the self-talk should sound like this hold strong, or keep up the pace.  It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed if you’re thinking about how much farther you still have to go.  Try to avoid things like I’m only halfway, or I have to run this distance again?” Instead focus on your running form, think about getting yourself to the next water stop, or take in all the spectators out cheering for you.

Late in the race is when self-talk is critical.  Your body, because of energy depletion, will be signaling you that it wants to stop.  Self-talk can help you stay with a competitor or even begin to push.  Phrases like, just stay with him/her, get to the finish, or I live in this mile have helped me when it’s time to go hard.

Interestingly, disassociation and association tactics work well for different parts of the marathon because it’s an “energy management event.” Meaning you have to conserve energy in the beginning to be able to have energy in the end.  Early in a race, disassociation tactics are beneficial, thinking about things that will help take your mind off what you’re doing. For example taking in the scenery, planning what you’ll do when you’re home (or in my case what I’ll eat when this is over), and trying to relax as much as possible.  However, by the end of the race you need to be employing an association tactic.   Your concentration must narrowly focus to the simple task of holding your pace even though it hurts. “Just run” is often a phrase I repeat for the last three miles, because at that point it’s all my mind can focus on.

Concentration can be practiced.  Usually for long runs, my friends and I will chat the first few miles (disassociation) and then when it’s time to get down to work whether that’s a few tempo miles or some speed work, the headphones go in, the music gets turned up, and we’re focused on the run (association).  Doing some pre-race planning with imagery and visualization on how your concentration will feel can help turn a race day into a PR day.

Now to the race at hand, based on my training and how I’ve performed on the St. George marathon course previously (it’s never been my strongest race) my coach is hoping that I run around a 3 hour marathon. However, I’m hoping that the stars will all align and I’ll be able to see a two something (2:59-2:55). I’m also praying for no humidity and a nice little tailwind, I do believe in running miracles, but if that doesn’t happen I will simply do my best.  My mantra this time is: race smart, run strong, dare greatly. I’m sending love and luck to all the runners out running the marathon on Saturday.  You ALL inspire me.

While there is no easy marathon, we can train ourselves to embrace the journey we are on, surrender to the hurt of it, find peace with how it turns out, and ultimately love it for what it teaches us.  Happy running friends!

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First Time Marathon Questions

My friend Danni is running her very first marathon at St. George this year and I may be a tad responsible for peer pressuring her into registering.
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Yep, this pretty much sums it up.
I reached out to Danni last week to see if there were any questions she had going into the big day that I could help her with. She had great questions and I thought I’d share them with you too!
1. In your opinion, what is the best way to fuel during a run?
The best advice I have for fueling is to not use anything new leading up to race day.  When your stomach is already jittery from nerves and adrenaline it’s best not to test out any new products.  Also, stay on top of fueling during the race, don’t let your body get depleted, this goes for hydration as well. Don’t wait for hunger and thirst as signs to to start replenishing your stores because by then it could be too late and you’ll feel like you’re running out of gas.  I take in calories every 4-5 miles in a marathon or half marathon.  I primarily use EFS liquid shot from 1st Endurance (I like being able to control the intake, but I have to hold the bottle the entire race), Honeystinger gels are great, or Honeystinger chews (2-3 at a time).
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2. Is carb-loading necessary and how is this done properly?
Carb loading is necessary because of the glycogen depletion your body goes through over the course of 26 miles.  Read a great article about it here.
Carb loading won’t make you faster on race day, but it will hopefully help you mitigate “hitting the wall” which is essentially your body  running out of energy.
Where it gets tricky for me is finding foods that are carb heavy, but not so high in fiber content.  The weeks leading up to a big race, I am carb conscious, in the sense that I pay extra attention to making sure I am adding  those carbs that my body will need on race day.
3. Is there a specific training schedule you to follow or is there one for beginners that seems to work well?
My training plans comes from my coach Iain Hunter.  After my bonk at last year’s St. George marathon I knew I needed professional help to reach my specific time goals.  I already knew my legs could go the distance, I just wanted them to go faster.  He really helped me focus on tempo (a pace slightly faster than marathon goal pace) and it was a key change to helping me reach my goal.
For my first marathon I had the one goal that all first time marathoners should have…just finish.  That’s it.  And that is a huge thing!
After that, assess and see if you want to do it again (you will) and if you think you could do it a little faster (you can) and that’s when it is a good time to reach out to a coach or do some research into a training plan that will help you get to your new goals.
 4. If there was one thing you could tell me or any first time marathoner, what would it be?
Don’t give up.  You will think you won’t be able to finish the marathon about a million times during the race, but you can.  When it gets hard, and it will get hard, just focus on taking it a mile a time, or even a step at a time if you have to.
5. I’ve heard and kind of experienced chafing during my training runs. Any recommendations or anything you’ve found that works to avoid this?
Yes!  Isn’t chafing one of the worst running words ever?  It’s also one of the most painful because it’s sneaky.  You don’t always know you’ve chaffed until you get in the shower and then you scream bloody murder when the water hits those parts that we can’t believe just got chafed.
I use Body Glide to stop the chafing, prevent blisters, and end the shower screams.
6. This one is kind of gross, I am so stinky after long runs which I know is expected but is there a deodorant you like or use that helps?
There’s no such thing as too gross between runners.  With running friends you don’t even need the disclaimer, “Okay this might be TMI but, ” you just launch right in.  Runners get it.  I actually think I’m stinkier (my lit teachers at UW just rolled their eyes at that sentence starter) on race day because of the nerves.  I use Secret Clinical Strength deodorant (yep and now my mom is extra proud that her baby’s armpits need clinical strength deodorant) and it works really well.
 7. I have read on your blog about the “pain cave.” What is this exactly? When you are in this, what keeps you going?
I remember hearing that phrase “pain cave” when I listened to Rich Roll’s book and thinking that it was a really good way  to describe the feeling because the suffering can feel deep, dark, and lonely.  It can be caused by different issues like fatigue, exposure, burning lungs, or a specific ache or pain that you’re running through.   I think living in the pain cave or being deep in the pain cave means that mentally you are forcing the pain stimulus away and deciding that no matter what is hurting you will keep running.  It is really forcing your will to keep your body moving past the point where it wants to stop.

Do buy your race photos if there is no one to take your picture. These are moments that are worth celebrating.

One thing I like to do is set goals and intentions for each race and mentally prepare my mind for the battle it will have to undertake on race day. Having a mantra or quote really helps me stay strong mentally when I’m in the pain cave.

8. How do you pace yourself so you’re not dead by mile 19? 
Great question!  First, make sure that you’ve hydrated and fueled correctly throughout the race.  Then, to save your legs on the St. George Marathon course you need to try and run a negative split.  That means that the first half is SLOWER than the second half.  The first 6 miles of the course have a lot of downhill assist and if you go out too hard, the whole race can blow up.  Even if you’ve slowed 10-15 seconds per mile it will help your legs feel strong the rest of the way.  You will have to slow down on Veyo hill, I don’t even look at my watch, I just get up it nice and easy.  For your first marathon, just continually gauge your energy reserves.  Check in with and assess how you are feeling constantly.  Once you’re past the Ledges on the course, it’s a pretty safe place to start to pick up the pace if you’re feeling good.  If you’re struggling, then back off and let the downhill portions carry you to the end. Remember that there is no shame in walking, I walk through every water stop.  There is no shame in stopping and getting more water and fuel.  Your number one goal, the first time, is just go the distance.
9.  What does tapering look like? 
Tapering looks like moodiness, crankiness, and a super clean house, it’s the only time you’ll see me cleaning baseboards and reorganizing closets during the school year.
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A typical taper for me is three weeks long. My coach bases my taper off my highest weekly mileage.  For week 1,  I reduce my overall miles to 80% of my highest total, so for this training session I ran 80 miles that week down from 110.  I still do tempo work and finish out with one last 20 mile run. On week 2, I drop my mileage down by 55% of my highest total which puts me around 60 miles for the week and one last shorter tempo run.  For week three I average 40 miles total which includes the 26.2 marathon distance.  It’s a very light week with no strength training.  You don’t want to feel sore on the starting line.
That being said, there’s nothing like a taper to make you question everything.  Pains start cropping up, your appetite increases even though you’re running less, and it typically feels like an “off” week.  Trust the taper though, you have to invest in rest and recovery leading up to race day.
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Danni and all other first time marathoners inspire me so much, sometimes the bravest thing we can do is have the courage to try, and I promise a marathon will change your life in a really powerful way.  Happy running friends!
Visions of Snow Canyon at mile 16 on the St. George Marathon course.

Visions of Snow Canyon at mile 16 on the St. George Marathon course.

Add your two cents to any of these questions! Lets help first time marathoners have a great first race.

What’s your best advice for finishing your first marathon?  

When and where was your first marathon? 

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My Interview with “Badwater” Finisher: Cory Reese

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Let’s just say my interest in ultra running is officially piqued and Cory Reese is one of the reasons why.   Although I might not be ready to bite off training for an ultra distance quite yet, I jumped at the chance to sit down with a local ultra runner, who had just completed Badwater.

The first time I heard about Badwater, known as the world’s toughest foot race, I was listening to the book Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall. The second time I heard about Badwater, was in Scott Jurek’s book Eat and Run, as he described the 135 mile journey from Death Valley to Mount Whitney as one of the most difficult races he ever completed. The third time, I heard about Badwater, I was sitting at a McDonalds in Washington, Utah listening to Cory’s first person account of this grueling race.  (You can watch a documentary about the race here, it’s called “Running on the Sun,” and it will redefine what the words hard and tough actually mean.)

That’s Cory Reese on the cover of UltraRunning Magazine.  Cory is known for his jump shots and amazing photography that captures spectacular moments like this.  Cory has become a local running celebrity, even though he’s much too kind and humble to take notice of praise like that. Here are a few other exploits that, in my book,  launch Cory to legend status.  Last year during the St. George marathon, Cory ran the course 4 times (up and down and then up and down again) for a total of 104.8 miles.  But that’s not even close to his distance record.  Cory also ran the “Across the Years” race in Arizona, logging over 200 miles in 72 hours.  Anyone who has run these kinds of miles and has battled their way through these kinds of distances has figured out some things about running, and I wanted to know what.

I asked Cory a lot about his training, here are some of the nuggets of wisdom he shared with me.  Even if you don’t run ultras, these tips will help your training:

*Cory averages between 70 and 80 miles a week, and his longest training run will be anywhere from 30 to 50 miles, but most days he runs about 10 miles.  I honestly thought his miles would be higher, but it’s reassuring to know training for the ultra distance doesn’t necessarily mean training to that distance.

*Cory treats each of his long runs as a “science experiment.”  I thought this was genius.  He explained that he uses his long runs to not only test out and try new products, but to test his limits with fueling and try to gauge how far can he fill or deplete his body to find that sweet spot of feeling fueled but not stuffed.

*Cory has trained his body to run, if need be, on liquid calories alone.  Explaining that in each ultra there will come a point where the body will not be able to tolerate actual food, so it must be able to “run” on liquid calories.  He admits that sometimes it’s better to feel a little hungry than sick on a run.  Cory credits Tailwind (which he uses in all training runs and races) for saving his Badwater experience when his stomach could no longer tolerate food.

*Cory saves music for the end of his races, you know just a mere seventy miles in, because it’s something that gives him an extra mental boost.

*Cory chose not run Badwater with his Garmin.  He explained that when he was deep in the pain cave, he didn’t want to look at the number on his watch and feel discouraged at how slow the race was progressing.  I thought this was such a great reminder about the journey that any race represents, especially in a 135 mile one.  All you can do sometimes is focus on the step you’re taking or the mile you’re running, because you’re still headed in the right direction.

*In describing the emotions you face when running an ultra distance, Cory has said, “the high’s are high, and the low’s are low.”

*Cory credits his family as one of the reasons he is able to accomplish these challenging races. He admitted that it’s easier to balance running now that his kids are older.   His family often accompany him on races and are an integral part of his crew for these events.  When you read his recap of Badwater, he writes about walking the last mile with his wife Mel while she reads him letters from their kids, be sure to grab a tissue.  It’s one of the most moving stories of a beautiful partnership, and a testament that with the right support behind you, anything is possible.  Read about it here. 

*Cory, a self-described ‘non-athlete’ in high school, has taken on and accomplished some of the most difficult races in the world which left me wondering how he chose the ultra distance and more importantly why. Cory’s answer was that running challenged him to think bigger, and his running philosophy was engrained in a willingness to try.  Because somehow within that desire to seek out and discover what your physical limits are lies ones of life’s greatest rewards.  It is a truth that all runners know, whether it comes with a medal or a belt buckle, there is nothing like the satisfaction of knowing you gave it everything you had.

Cory running Badwater

Badwater

In his spare time, when he’s not working full time, training for ultras, or working on his blog, Cory wrote a book.  I love this title so much, it’s exactly the type of honest and witty running truisms you’ll find on his blog.  I can’t wait to dive into this read, I have a feeling I’ll finish it in one setting.  You can order your copy on Amazon today!

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Since Cory is the jump master, I asked him for a bit of a jump intervention. He said to keep the camera lower to the ground and to lift your legs, not just your arms.  My bad (insert “monkey covering his eyes” emoji.).

This one is a blooper.

After take 5, I was laughing so hard I was crying. Cory kept nailing the jumps and mine well...mine speak for themselves. I think my hip flexors are too tight to get liftoff.

Finally, we nailed it!

Katie

What’s the farthest you’ve ever run?

Would you consider running a 50K, 50 miler, or 100 mile race?

What question would you ask Cory?

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The Parowan Half Marathon 2016

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The thunder shook my house, in fact, it woke me up just before my alarm was set to go off at 3:15 am.  My sleepy and slow senses began to calculate the impact of the torrential downpour that accompanied the rumbling.  Pouring rain on a race day always reminds me that there are worse things than being simply tired.  I had planned on heat, but not a storm.

I drove what felt like a snail’s pace of 30 miles per hour on I-15 with my hazard lights flashing to meet up with friends, jump in their van, and drive about an hour to Parowan, Utah. It was a prayer filled drive and thankfully we made it safely.  We had just enough time to grab our packets, jump on the buses, and catch a ride up to the start.   It began to rain again as the buses pulled into the parking lot next to the Yankee Meadows Reservoir and I began to worry this would not be a day to attempt a personal best.

My friend captured this gorgeous sunrise. I could not believe how pink the sky and the reservoir looked!

The rain finally cleared and my friend captured this gorgeous sunrise. I could not believe how pink the sky and the reservoir looked!

I always head into a race with specific goals. I like to have an A goal and B goal, that way I’m able to make adjustments if the conditions don’t merit my hopes.  I had missed a key workout the previous week of an 8 mile, all-out, 6 minute pace tempo run, so my A goal was to complete that workout and use this race as a training run, but my B goal was to continue the momentum and fight for a strong finish.

The Parowan Half has all the charms of a small race including the “Okay runners…GO!” start.  No gun, no horn, just go!  The first 3 miles felt forced, almost stiff, like the effort I was giving was not reflected in my mile splits and I really thought about quitting.  Not like dropping out quitting, but I thought about slowing down, turning around, and just running with my friend.  I’m so glad I didn’t.  Sometimes it’s good to just let yourself think it through.  I thought about how I would feel if I gave up the fight and just ran this one for fun, and that feeling of disappointing myself was enough of a kick to get my legs moving and refocus on the work I needed to do.

As soon as my mindset changed, the miles started to click. This course has some serious downhill assist and my splits ranged from my fastest at 5:40 to 6:10.  Once we were out of the canyon I knew even the flatter parts of the course would feel like an uphill, so I banked a little time with those extra seconds on the downhill portions.  I was running as third female and I could have stayed there, but by mile eleven I wanted to dig deeper and see what happened.  The last mile is an incline and with my quads gassed from all the downhill pounding and my lungs burning with the elevation I felt like my legs were just dragging.  I was able to stay focused on ticking off that last mile one tenth at a time and even moved from third  to second female.  I was surprised to go back and see on my Garmin that the last mile was actually a 6:49, even though it felt like a 9:49.  It was one of those good reminder to press on.  Sometimes it feels like we’re not making any progress, but really, we’re doing so much better than we think.

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After the finish line, I sampled some of the fare and I loved that they had freshly popped popcorn popcorn, the salty snack really hit the spot for me and I helped myself to two big red cups.  I also saw this genius idea, why is this the first time I’ve even seen hand sanitizer wipes?  They need to be at every race.  The teacher in me wanted to begin handing them out.

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When I got home that afternoon my husband asked me what I ran this race in last year.  I had to go back and look it up.  Last year, I completed this race in 1:24:48, one year later, I finished it in 1:21:29 (Garmin shows me coming up a little short on the distance).  That difference was larger than I was thinking and it struck me that despite those time differences, each time I ran this race I had given  it my all.  Our “all” or our “very bests” won’t always be the same.  I love the quote from Don Miguel Ruiz, he says, “Your best is going to change from moment to moment.”  That is so true.  We grow, sometimes we slow down to enjoy the journey, we change, life changes, even our motivation changes.  But that’s what I love about races, we all get the same medal for doing the most important thing and that’s to do our very best in that moment.  That sense of self satisfaction is the real reward of racing.  Happy running friends!

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What do you like better?  Halfs or fulls?

What is your favorite post race treat?

Have you ever seen hand sanitizer wipes at a race food table?

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Summer Running Essentials

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Sweating

Definition:  To exude sweat

As in “She was sweating profusely.”

Oh thank you Merriam Webster for that succinct and yet somehow pungently descriptive sentence.

Yes, it’s summer and I don’t know about you, but we are sweating our way through July.  Our high here in St. George?  It’s about 110.  Our low?  80.  My garage, where I keep my treadmill, it’s like a million degrees.

Summer running can be challenging as we battle the sun, the heat, and the humidity, so I wanted to not only share my summer running essentials with you but give you the chance to win them ALL with my SUMMER RUNNING ESSENTIALS GIVEAWAY.  To be entered to win you need to be 18 years or older, a resident of the United States or Canada, and enter your email address on the “Keep in Touch” button right here on my website.  Super easy, right?

My SUMMER ESSENTIALS GIVEAWAY! Valued at over $80! It includes: 1 Camelback Quick Grip Chill, 1 Body Glide Stick, 2 Nuun Electrolyte Tablets, and 1 North Face "Better than Naked" hat.

My SUMMER RUNNING ESSENTIALS GIVEAWAY! Valued at over $80! It includes: 1 CamelBak Quick Grip Chill, 1 Body Glide Stick, 2 Nuun Electrolyte Tablets, and 1 North Face “Better than Naked” hat.

Okay let’s get to the good stuff!

First, hydration.  I traded in my small Nathan handheld for this Camelbak one after a disastrous run in Zion National Park.  My Nathan handheld doesn’t have an open/close valve so each time I filled it up, the water shook out all over my shorts as I ran.  Now I like small pretty, pink things too, but I had to upgrade to a better handheld water bottle.  This Camelbak is bigger, but it’s not any harder to hold with it’s adjustable strap.  I love that it’s insulated, so it keeps my water colder and of course with the valve top, it’s not splashing or wasting that precious water.

Trails, treadmill, or road this is the best handheld water bottle I've ever used. I love it!

Trails, treadmill, or road this is the best handheld water bottle I’ve ever used. I love it!

Here’s another fun summer running word-chafing: underneath my arms, my lower back, and my inner thighs, just to name a few.  The worst thing about chafing is that you don’t always know it’s there until you shower and then have to scream so loudly your whole family knows it really hurts.  I bought this Body Glide at the St. George Running Center and I love it.  I just put it on those trouble spots before I get dressed and somehow it magically protects my skin.

It works like magic!

It works like magic!

Another summer run lifesaver is a good hat.  I love this one from The North Face, it’s called the “Better than Naked” hat. It’s an ultralight hat with a low profile brim that helps combat those bright summer rays.  It’s super breathable with mesh vents and has quick wicking fabric to help moisture evaporate faster.  I also love that I can just toss it in the washer with the rest of my running clothes and it comes out just fine.

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With all that sweating it’s so important to be replenishing those lost electrolytes.  In the past I’ve used SmartWater and coconut water, but I began adding Nuun tablets to my water and I can really feel a difference.  I especially love the new Nuun Energy tablets with the added green tea extract and B vitamins.  Plus the flavors are really delicious like Cherry Limeade, so it tastes like a treat with no sugary after taste.

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Summer running takes a few more products and a little more planning to pull off, but like all hard things each time we conquer them, we’re better for it.  Happy running friends!

Don’t forget to subscribe by putting your email address in the “Keep in Touch” box for a chance to enter to WIN all my SUMMER RUNNING ESSENTIALS.

What helps get you through the summer heat?

What is your favorite Nuun flavor?

Do you prefer a hat, visor, or headband?

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The Kindness of Strangers

I have the coolest running story to share with you!

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My friend Crystal is the one in the middle with the cute pink shorts (Lululemon).  When I first read about this experience on her Facebook page I was amazed and even got a little choked up. One of her friends commented that is was a real life “Good Samaritan” running story.  First, let me give you a little background information.

We’ve all had that race.  You know the one that leaves you slightly traumatized for weeks after, like you’re battling a little PTRSD (Post Traumatic Running Stress Disorder), and the pain is only made  more heartbreaking when you’ve trained for a personal record or a Boston qualifying time.  And here’s the gut wrenching truth all runners know, the one thing we can’t control on race day is the weather.

My friend Crystal had trained harder than ever to get a  Boston qualifying time at the Ogden, Utah marathon this past May.  Ogden was one of my sub 3 backup plans if Boston didn’t go my way, but at the last minute I heard about the  Mt. Charleston Revel Marathon in Las Vegas and ended up running that instead.  Unfortunately, the spring weather in Northern Utah is almost as notorious and mercurial as it can be in Boston; to say it rained is a gross understatement. Participants described the monsoon like weather as atrocious with rain piercing my skin and I guess it could have been worse, there wasn’t any lightning this year or the wind was brutal, with up to 40 MPH gusts.

Here’s how my friend described the day:

“This was my 2nd and last attempt at the Ogden marathon.  Less than half of the participants finished.  A few of my friends dropped out due to hypothermia and I should have done the same. The whole time I really couldn’t believe people were running in 40 mph winds with freezing rain and hail.  My hands stopped working at mile 6, so fueling for the race was out since I couldn’t even open the gels.  My face was so numb I felt like I’d been to the dentist. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, my hips started to cramp.  I kept running but I had to slow down. By mile 22 the weather actually cleared up a little but by then my legs, from my calves to my hips, were completely cramped. I walked and ran the last 3 miles and finished.  I was starving, shivering, and before I knew it crying.  My husband took this picture about 10 seconds before I finished and my face is pretty accurate.”

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My heart just broke for my friend because I know that pain.  I lived it during the 2015 Boston Marathon and it also left me in tears.

Here is where the story gets really good.  A few weeks later Crystal’s Ogden Marathon race bib surprisingly arrived in the mail, it had blown off somewhere along the course.  Here is what the accompanying note said:

Dear Crystal,

I hope this race bib finds you.  I was cheering the Ogden Marathon runners from the Pineview Dam when I saw your bib fall off.  I know it is tattered but thought it would serve as a reminder of running the Ogden Marathon with the worst storm ever.  The wind and rain on the course were awful.  I think you guys were awesome to push on and finish the race.  Nice job!

-Darren

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I am so moved by this gesture.  I know the sacrifices it takes to prepare for race day and I know the disappointment when the race doesn’t go the way you train for, and hope for, and pray for. Race bibs are special, they are tangible evidence of grit, determination, and courage.  The more torn, the more tattered, the more they were earned.  I’m so glad that Crystal was reunited with a race bib that proves she’s made up of all those qualities. The marathon is a humbling sport, but so is the kindness of strangers.  It’s a small reminder that in this imperfect and sometimes dark world, there are still people spreading goodness and light, and that is a very big thing.  Happy running friends!

 

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