Monday, October 3, 2011

St. George Marathon Recap

**My apology for the long boring post and major lack of pictures.  I realize that my blog is becoming more of a journal and I am sorry for the monotony.

Now where to even begin?  I have had over 48 hours to try and wrap my head around this race and I am still struggling to digest it and not completely sure what really happened.  I will never blame a bad race on external factors but I cannot wait to review what I learned from this race and use it as fuel moving forward.  My training indicated that I was prepared to PR and I truly was confident in my abilities going into this race.

Week leading up to the race:  Abnormally stressful week for me.

Day before the race:  I went to pick up my sister and my nephew and found out they would not be making the trip because they were both incredibly ill.  I was sad because my sister is my biggest cheerleader and was planning to run me in.  Me and my Mom headed down alone and got into town around 6pm.  I was so glad my Mom was willing to come with me but I also felt guilty as they were in the process of moving out of they're house and it was a huge sacrifice for her to leave.

Expo:  Met up with Ken, Heather, and LeeAnna.  They had dinner and I sat and chatted with them.  I was demoralized when I learned there was no 3:20 pacer and instantly became obsessed with figuring out a new plan.  Should I shoot for the stars and go for 3:15, hold back and stay with 3:25, or pace myself for the 3:20 I wanted?


Race night:  Finally got checked into the hotel and settled for Subway at 8:30pm.  I got everything ready and was in bed by 10:30.  I slept pretty good and was actually awoken by my alarm at 3:45am.

Race morning:  Ready and out the door by 4:15.  I grabbed some breakfast on the go and my Mom dropped me off at the buses to meet up with Julia, Francis, and Candice.  The bus drive flew by.  I ate my granola bar, drank a full 32 oz power aid, chatted with Candice and before I knew it we were at the top.


Francis, Julia, Crazy face & Candice

Start line:  Wow!  It was exciting.  People were everywhere, music was blaring, flags from every country and state were waving and for a second I thought I was at a huge celebration.  My adrenaline was flowing and I was giddy.  Porta potty x2, took my sports leg pills (I decided to take 3 and should have only taken 2.  You are suppose to take one for every 50lbs.  I weigh 118 and about 20 minutes after taking the pills I started feeling light headed.)  I was so worried about dehydrating I drank a full water bottle and another Gatorade.  I felt weird but oh well it would all click once I got going right?  Nothing was going to ruin this day for me and I tuned out the negative thoughts.

And we're off:  I found my friend Merri at the start and lined up in between the 3:15 and 3:25 pacers.  I know I am terrible at self pacing but made an impulsive and stubborn decision that I would pace myself to a 3:20.  Huge mistake!  I work much better with a support system and should have stuck with the 3:25 pace group from the beginning.

Miles 1-3:  7:45, 7:42, 7:27----The beginning of the race was incredibly chaotic.  I had a huge rock stuck in my shoe and it was clinking loudly with every step.  I stopped to remove it and then just worked my way through the herds and tried to relax.  My breathing was incredibly calm as though I wasn't even moving and it felt like a slow warm up.  I felt "off" like I just wasn't present in the moment and I was watching and analyzing my moves as a spectator or something.  It was weird. 

Miles 4-7:  7:21, 7:42, 7:21, 7:24-----The only miles of the race that I actually felt good.  Not great but good.  I was in a good rhythm and felt comfortable.  Running into the cheering section at mile 7 was exciting and I was energized by the crowd.  I really wanted someone to talk to and to work with going up Veyo (I am a HUGE talker during races) but no one around me seemed very interested so I just buckled down and decided I would have to do this by myself.

Miles 8-10: 9:06, 8:17, 8:27-----I was literally eaten alive by the hills.  I told myself to just slow the pace, to not walk, I had trained for this!  But I couldn't push it.  My calves were already killing me and each step was so hard.  My mental strength was depleted.  I wanted to quit, ride the shuttle, or cover my face with a paper bag.  My brain was clouded with negativity and I was unable to focus.

Miles 11-13.1: 9:21, 8:42, 7:52-----  I hate to say I gave up but for a moment I did.  I completely stopped at the aid station at mile 11 huffing and puffing and drinking full cups of gatorade and water.  My legs felt like they weighed a thousand pounds and I was passed by the 3:25 pacer. I tried with every fiber of my being to hold on.  Why?  Why me?  Why today I kept asking myself.  I just could not get a grip on my emotions.  All of the extra gatorade I had drank was creating side stiches and I felt like there was a sea of fish or something swimming around my stomach.  I couldn't hold it in.  I ran to the side of the road and threw up.  I wanted to cry but I didn't.  I felt better and told myself you still have 13 miles to pull this together.

Miles 14-17:  7:54, 7:07, 7:19, 7:30------ I was behind on my goal but desperately trying to get back on track and pull myself together.  My mental toughness was back but rather than running a consistent effort I was trying to "make up for lost time" and my body was fatiguing rapidly.  What the heck?  I kept pushing with all I had but the effort began to feel harder and harder with every step.

Miles 18-21:  8:18, 9:07, 8:22, 7:33------ My calves started cramping at the end of mile 18.  It was painful and I knew I had to slowdown my pace or it would only get worse.  I felt like I was attached to a wire and it was fighting to pull me back with every step forward I took.  I was shuffling my feet and moving my arms but barely progressing.  Although I felt like crud the race had flown by to me and I could not believe I was almost done running a marathon.  It was weird!  Again almost like I was outside looking in.  Those sports leg pills must have done something weird to my brain because I seriously did not feel "with it" this entire race.

Miles 22-24:  10:05, 8:32, 8:24----  I was energized by the crowds but also realized I needed a porta potty quick.  I had to pee and all of the water/gatorade I had drank was definitely catching up to me.  I spotted a porta potty and bolted towards it.  I felt like I was as quick as possible but this completely ruined my pace.  Ahhh I was a mess and stopping helped me to realize just how rough of shape I was in and how hard it was to get going again.  This is also where there were tons of friends and family members waiting to run in they're runners and I was just wishing someone was waiting to run with me.  I needed some encouragement and support and I thought about my sister and how badly I wished she were there for me.

Miles 25-26.2:  9:08, 9:35, 6:54----- my calves were cramping so bad that it was ridiculous.  They were seizing up with every few steps and I would scream out loud whenever they would buckle.  I was sure I would fall but I somehow managed to stay upright.  I was feeling dehydrated and could not drink enough water.  At about 25.5 my friend Nikki was waiting for me and I am truly not sure I would have finished without her.  I was a complete mess!  My calves were cramping, I was dizzy and I just needed to get to that finish line.  When I hit mile 26 I somehow was able to sprint in to the finish.  I have no idea how this was possible but lets just say there was no way it was me that was putting in the effort.  I knew I had to cross that line before 3:35 and I am pretty sure Trevor picked me up on his shoulders and packed me across that line.

Seriously ridiculous quality pictures.  My sister is also my photographer and she was not there. :(

Official Results:  3:34:55, 8:12 average pace, 952/4748 overall, 23/259 age group.

As soon as I crossed the finish line I was picked up by the medics and taken to the water spritzers.  I told them I was okay and I thought that I was.  Somehow in a delirious state of mind I managed to get myself to the grass and I immediately fell to the ground.  As soon as I sat my right calve started cramping like crazy.  It felt like the worst charley horse I have ever had and I was screaming and stretching it to try and get the pain to go away.  I'm sure people were starring but the good thing about runners is they all understand.  I laid on the ground for a good 15 minutes before I even attempted to stand.  When I got up the courage to stand my vision was blurred and I was insanely dizzy.  I sat right back down and there I sat on the grass for 2 straight hours until I was able to function.  My friend Kelli brought me cups of diet coke, and when Julia finished she brought me bread and I was so grateful.  The food line was only 10 feet away but there was no way I could get there myself.  It was ridiculous!  I drank so many fluids throughout this race and I have no idea how I could have possibly been dehydrated.  But the temps were in the 80's and I did not pee again until 6pm that night so obviously I was.

Just a some more crappy pictures.  Sorry I was so out of it that pictures was the last thing on my mind.

Me, Julia, and Francis after the race.

 We finally got back to the hotel and I took an ice bath.  I also discovered my first official running blister and I felt initiated as a runner. :)

My Mom thought it was funny I was leaving all my clothes on and wanted a picture.

I promise there is one huge blister on each foot.  I can't believe this is my first time getting blisters.

This post is getting unreasonably long so I will save what I learned and what I think I did wrong for another post.  Although I did make mistakes I just really think that it wasn't my day and this was a very humbling experience for me.  I may not have set a new PR or had a great experience but I did still finish a marathon and I am just so thankful and grateful that my body allows me to run.  As I was running Saturday I kept trying to distract myself with music or thoughts and the only thing I kept coming back to was how symbolic running is to life.  Sometimes bad things happen that we have no control of  but what we do have control of is how we respond to these events.  I look forward to growing from this experience and becoming a better runner, a better example, and all around a better person.  I will also never forget how close I felt to my brother in that last .22 miles and how that experience completely reaffirmed the fact that he is always with me and watching over me.


Marathon #3 is in the record books and many exciting obstacles and opportunities lie ahead for me.


22 comments:

  1. i think your last couple of points are so true. sometimes we can't control what happens. but don't doubt how amazing you are!!! you still kicked major butt! what did the sports pills have in them?

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  2. I could tell when I saw you that you were struggling. I hate race days like that. I'm glad you were able to find inspiration in your brother. I'm sure he was the loudest cheerleader there. I remember one marathon feeling my grandma so close and like she pushed me to the end.
    I'm just kind of a crazy blog stalker and don't mean to intrude, but I have some suggestions on what may help for the future. Email me if you are interested.

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  3. ahhhh. friend. its weird how running has such lessons for life but i think that is what keeps us going...the desire to learn more and more. i love that about it though. i am so proud of you for overcoming everything in order to finish this race. so many times this past week i said to people how excited i was for YOU to run it since you grew up watching so many others cross the finish line. you are a great runner friend and this one race does NOT change that. there are so many more races and learning experiences to come...and SO many more GREAT days.

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  4. Oh man. What a bummer!!!!!! I can't believe how much you drank and still struggled with dehydration. I think the heat just took the HUGEST toll on people. The only person I know that had a good race was Julia! And I'm only guessing she had a good race because of her PR, but I haven't even read her recap yet. Anyway- you are still incredible. I can't believe you were able to run 8 more miles with cramping calves. BE PROUD. I am anxious for your "what I learned" post. I know you think posts like these are boring, but the reason I blog is for posts like these!!! We need to learn from each other so we all can become better runners.

    I loved what you said about the last .22 miles of the race. I bet Trevor has a huge smile on his face for you. You do him proud, my friend.

    Thanks for sharing this with all of us!

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  5. Awesome recap, although sorry to hear about the cramps. I got those my first year and it was the most excruciating thing I have ever felt. To be able to run as fast as you did despite cramping is an accomplishment and the heat was a killer.

    You are amazing! (And welcome to the blister club.)

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  6. Wow, you are a fighter! Glad that the dehydration wasn't worse. You look like you are feeling much better in the hotel pictures.

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  7. This was one of the best recaps ever. seriously. Wow, girl, I am so impressed with you...how you kept trying to pull back every time!! to run a 7 something mile at mile 21 after already being in pain?! Wow. You're so right about this being like life...we have good times and bad. I got a little choked up reading about how you felt your brother those last .22 miles. So wonderful! You are amazing indeed!

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  8. You are incredible, Rachelle. So many people would have stopped, but you kept going. And you're right... You ran a freaking marathon, and PR or not, that is amazing!

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  9. Amazing job! Even though you didn't feel with it, you pushed through it, and ran a great race - well done!!

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  10. Rachelle!!! Oh, friend!!! I am so sorry you didn't have a great race day. BUT...to be able to push through the hard times defines what kind of runner you are AND what kind of person you are! I absolutely believe that Trevor was there carrying you because when I was there running with you, all of a sudden you just took off so fast that I couldn't even keep up. Sometimes, there is no other explanation as to how we get to certain places other than an angel. I love that you had that special experience that last .22 miles. Love you Friend!! You are a great example to me!

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  11. Oh how I wish I had known you were there at the finish sick :(. I so would have come and helped you. My sister had a very similar race to you and it was tough to get her through it but we did it :). You are an inspiration and I love that you are able to gain perspective so quickly and that you are able to learn so much from your races. That is how we all become better runners and better people. Great job on pushing through when you felt like quitting. Proud of you!

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  12. Man, where to start ... sometimes when I read your blog I think you are the much younger, much faster, female version of me. I have had THIS race more than I care to admit. Like you said, we never "make excuses", but there are obviously external factors that affect us. During my first few marathons, I really didn't know how to pace myself. I knew I was capable of 3:15-3:20, but my times were like 3:45-3:50 ... I was devastated at the end. And I remember during the drives home thinking about all the things I needed to change.

    You are a GREAT runner and I really wouldn't over-analyze or change much in your training. You KNOW what your body is capable of and I think it was just a really - really unfortunate day. I think you have a great attitude and you're right, at the end of the day, you did complete a marathon!

    Hang in there and keep your head up! I know you're going to destroy your next race. Best wishes!

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  13. Hugs girl. Such a tough day out there. Every marathon is different and no matter how prepared we are you just never quite know until you're running, just how it's going to play out. Well you got this one out of your system. A lesser runner could not have finished, let alone in 3:34. I'm glad you're chalking it up to learning. That's truly what it's all about. Rest up!

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  14. Holy cow. I can't believe you finished with all that cramping going on. you are STRONG. I am so impressed with you!! What an amazing feat! Your time was still amazing, even if it wasn't what you were looking for!

    Also, I'm kinda glad the last part was so hard so that you could have your brother help you through the last stretch. I'm sure that's a memory that will last you forever, and you know he was definitely with you as you crossed that finish line. :)

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  15. You are SO fast! Proud of you for getting through and being so strong. :)

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  16. You really did so amazing especially considering all the conditions. I know you don't like to make excuses, but the heat was a killer that day. You still finished so fast, faster than I ever dream to, and that last .2 is a great story. Sometimes it's the .2 in a race that helps us to smile and look forward to the next journey. Great job!

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  17. fantastic recap, I love the mile breakdowns! I am so sorry the middle and end were so painful, but to pull off a 3:34 marathon, despite the pain and mental pressures, you are amazing my girl - amazing!

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  18. Way to stick with it. Thanks for sharing. We all have off days and they make us stronger in the long run. Congrats on still a great time!

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  19. First of all, I just have to say that I love that you always take any situation you're in and find some positive... You are so incredible that way. I really admire that about you, along with your determination, and obvious love for your family and your brother. I know I've only met you once, but there is just something different and great about you, Rachelle. Sorry, I think this comment is getting to cheesy... and for some reason I'm getting a little teary just writing it (hormones?) but I just really look up to you. You are a great inspiration. I'm sorry the marathon was a bummer. But if I know you, you'll just take this and let it build you into an even more amazing runner and person. :)

    Ps I never get tired of your posts... Keep them coming! :)

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  20. Your determination is incredible! To push through, even with all the things that didn't go right, you're amazing. I love the ice bath picture and that your blisters have helped you attain real runner status (yeah right, you were SO already a 100% real, completely legit and amazing runner!)

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  21. This post made my cry. I wish I could have been there so bad. I'm so proud of you. You are so strong and inspirational and I love you so much.

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Your comments make my day! :)