Thursday, September 25, 2008

Top of Utah Marathon - Delivered

I did it. I ran a marathon Saturday. 4 hrs. 38 min of exhilaration. Here are the details - probably more than you want to hear.

Friday, Shon and I drove up to Salt Lake with 4 of our 5 kiddos. (The fifth gladly stayed to play soccer.) We dropped the kids off with Shon's mom (Thank you, Debbie) and headed up to Logan. It's been a long time since I've been to Logan. It is beautiful. But the first thing I remember thinking as we drove out of Sardine Canyon was how far I would have to go. I could see the Blacksmith Canyon and I could see Logan and they looked really far apart. It doesn't seem to matter how far I can run, a mile is still a mile. A mile is a long way to go. I did 26.2.

We checked into our hotel and went to the expo to get my number and chip. This is where it got exciting. Everyone was so happy and enthusiastic and healthy?! Seriously, I don't think I've ever been in a room with such healthy people.

We got back to our room just in time to meet my sister, Becki for dinner. We went to a really great Italian spot called Le Nonne. It was a cute old house converted into a restaurant. The food was fabulous and the live jazz made for a great atmosphere. I love carb loading, but I was getting pretty sick of pasta - a week of it is a little much for a girl who prefers chips and salsa. But this pasta was great. Mmmmm.

My mom met us at our hotel and I hit the sack. I knew I'd be getting up early. Surprisingly, I had no problem getting to sleep - it was staying asleep that got me. I kept waking up thinking it was time to go. Suddenly, it was 4:30 -time to go. I didn't feel like eating but ate anyway - my standard running meal, a bagel and a banana. My heart sank when I realized that it was raining outside, but it looked worse than it was. I threw in a big plastic bag anyway, just in case. Shon drove me to the park where I caught the bus.

I sat next to a nurse from Ogden and a lady named Kathy from Park City. They were both so great. They were so encouraging. I knew I could do it after talking to them. We got up to the ranch at the top of Blacksmith Canyon and waited in line for the bathrooms. I've never seen so many port a potties. It was cold and dark and everyone huddled around the fires they had set up. Everyone was so friendly. I met people from Idaho, Massachusetts, other New Mexicans, and even a lady from Twin Falls (who had just gotten her contacts replaced by my brother-in-law!).

Someone asked me if I cried during my marathon. I did - 3 times. The first time I cried was, surprisingly, when the gun went off and we started down the hill. I was so excited and happy - I have no idea where the tears came from.

The canyon was beautiful. The leaves were changing color and a stream followed the road. I brought my ipod (which is permitted in the TOU) but I didn't listen to it. I chatted with people near me. Ester from Heber city. The guy who was doing 1 in each of the 50 states (crazy!). My training partner, Stephanie. The first 14 were down hill. I "gu"ed at mile 13. Yuck. I hate the stuff. It took me a while but I have learned that I can take the strawberry banana flavor without losing my lunch. Bananas are slimy, after all. I knew my family (including my dad who was in Idaho) would be getting text messages when I finished 13 and 20. It made me feel like they were doing this with me. I finished the first 13 faster than I did the Moab half - probably because it was down hill.

The course was closed to spectators until mile 14. I started to look for a familiar face. There they were at mile 15 - my cheerleaders. Becki and Mom had signs that said "Run like the Wind! Go Juli!", "Ya Juli! Run! Run! Run!" and Shon had a sign that said "Run Hot Mama! We love you." Call me egotistical, but I love having people cheering for me. A high Five and a quick kiss from Shon and I was on my way.

That's me in pink at mile 15.

The first 20 miles flew by. We wound through Millville and Providence and then on to Logan. At about mile 20 I started getting tired. I ran with a man from Oregon (65-ish but doing his 23d marathon!). He was very encouraging and we had the same pace. I saw him off an on until the end. I started to look for familiar faces again. And there they were, cheering me on. I almost cried, I was so happy to see them. I saw Shon was wearing his running shoes, so I asked him if he would run with me. Shon is a non-runner, thanks to a couple of bad knees. It's too slow and he would much rather cycle anyway - a bit of a thrill seeker. I know he didn't want to do it, but it was our anniversary - Happy 12 years to us! It was the most romantic thing he's ever done. I was tired and having him there next to me made all of the difference. I thought he would hang around for a mile and drop off, but he ended up running most of the last 6 miles with me.

We hit mile 21 and that's where crying #2 came. I realized I had 5 miles to go. I run 5 miles 3 times a week. I started to say "I'll just do a little morning run" and broke down. I thought of Debbie and Annie at home doing their run. I cried for about 10 sec., because a guy with a camera was standing there and I wanted to look like the whole thing was fun and games. It wasn't. I never wanted to stop running, but my body wanted me to stop. My right foot hurt, like it usually does after 15 miles, and I knew I had blisters brewing. It was raining a bit and there was a rainbow. The weather was actually perfect. The air was cool and breezy.

Shon left me at mile 25. I knew I could do the last 1.2, but I was sad to have him go. It was so fun to run with him. The last mile was the longest of my life. I know I'm not the only one who felt that way. A man had passed out with half a mile to go. The medical team was there, so I didn't stop, but still, he wasn't getting up of his own accord. So close. I kept running.

I thought of a friend of the family who had been in an airplane crash recently and is now in a burn unit and how hard her life is. People do hard things every day. I knew I could keep moving forward. And besides, there was a guy race walking in front of me. No way was I going to say that someone had walked it faster than me. So I passed him.

Almost there.

I knew the finish line had to be around somewhere because I could hear the music, but I couldn't tell how much farther I had to go. Then I saw a man standing on the corner. He had his yellow number on and a finisher's medal around his neck. He looked at me and said "You're almost there, it's just around the corner." I said "Nothing is stopping me now" and I rounded the corner. I can't tell you how much it helped to have someone tell me how close I was and hear the crowd cheering me on. I cried. (#3) And smiled. At the same time. There was the end. The announcer said my name and where I was from. I don't know why, but it surprised me. There was my family on the left. They had flowers for me. I gave them a hug, even though I was sweaty (you better believe it) and I heard someone yell "go Juli" from the right. I figured out later that it was the girl from Ogden I had met on the bus.

This picture makes me laugh. I'm almost there. Thanks for the flowers, mom.

And I was crossing the finish line. There were volunteers (in rubber gloves) to help if I couldn't walk properly, which I could. Someone took my chip, and someone was draping a medal around my neck. And the Nesquick bunny was handing me chocolate milk. (Chocolate milk?! Yep. Apparently, it's good for you. Kuddos to the guy in the suit who ran the 5 K and won his age group - in a bunny suit.)

Here's me and Shon at the finish. Don't I look cute! I couldn't see in my left contact that morning so I had to wear my glasses.

I wanted to take off my shoes, but I knew it wouldn't be pretty. It wasn't. I'm going to lose a toe nail or two. (I expected that - I stubbed one of my toes when I was a kid and it doesn't bend the same as the others, so it took the brunt of the down hill.)

I went to the hotel and took a shower and ate a little lunch (very little - I was definitely not hungry), took a nap while Shon watched football, and we drove back down main street to go to the Anniversary Inn (it is our anniversary after all.) There were people still running. I cried again. It made me feel very emotional to know there were still people out there working on their goal. I wanted to give them a wind at their back or run along side telling them they could do it - it's just around the corner. Instead I rolled down my window and cheered them on. The greatest thing about a marathon is that everyone who finishes wins. We all have different paces. I think that time is something very personal (like your weight). When Bryce asked me if I won my race, I said yes.

Shon and I went to the Logan temple - we don't live near a temple, so we take advantage of every opportunity we can. I was tired, but surprisingly alert. Super alert. I think all of those endorphins were kicking in.

As we sat in the temple, I thought about how life is like a marathon. We have a goal we're working toward - to finish. People are there to encourage us on the side lines, telling us to keep moving forward, and others to run the race with us. We're all going at a different pace, just for us. When we get closer to the finish line, those who have already finished come to cheer us on. It's just around the corner.

We went out to dinner at an Indian place and I don't think I've ever enjoyed eating so much. Overall, I think it was one of my favorite anniversaries ever.

Some of my favorite things about running a marathon:

The volunteers at the aid stations are so great.
Telling the cops stopping the traffic "thanks".
Giving the kids on the side a high five.
Watching the man pushing his brother with cerebral palsy in a wheel chair.
Taking a nap afterward. Best nap ever!
Saying I did it.
Advil. No, make that Aleve.
Sleeping in on Monday - no running for me, thank you. But I woke up at 5:30 anyway.
Laughing at myself as I try to walk down stairs. Seriously funny.

Sorry it took me so long to post results, but I was hoping to find some better pictures - they're not out yet. I will up date later. Thanks for all of your encouragement. I needed that.


Lisa Kearl said...

Way to go Julie!! You are so awesome, seriously such an inspiration. I teared up a little just reading about your experience. Congratulations.

rebecca said...

It was so fun to watch you. I think it's important to do hard things in life whenever we can. It just adds texture to life. (Or something.)

Like I said, thanks for being awesome.

Becky said...

Wow Juli! You make me want to run a marathon. Maybe after this baby, I'll try one.
Becky Brouwer

Emily said...

Wow, Juli! I cried 3 times reading this post! Thanks for writing all the details down. I feel cooler because I married into YOUR family. Check the first one off your life-list, eh?

Anthony and Kristie said...

I didn't even run the marathon and I cried. You are amazing.

The White Wash said...

Funny that we are all crying, but that is really amazing!! You truly inspire me. Too bad it will have to wait until next year. I want to start now. Congratulations!!!! Missy

Kendra said...

Juli, you make me want to go set a goal to do something really hard. I, like all of us, need to feel like I've done something hard every once in a while (national registry exams, childbirth, cleaning my house from top to bottom...)

Sharolyn said...

Julie, you rock!
I only wish you had got onto your running kick while we still lived in the same city. You would have been an awesome running buddy. Maybe someday we'll get to run together, I would really like that. I love that Shon ran with you for so long. What a great hubby! You must be so happy. Your blog is great, I enjoyed reading it. You inspired me to go get something done. I guess I'll start with my bathroom! Love ya' and miss ya', Sharolyn

Julie said...

WOW! That was great. I am totally impressed at you and others who do that. I have to admit-- I like my bike and I don't think I could run that far, but that is all I can say! Great job! said...

juli, way to go i loved reading this