Sunday, June 13, 2010
Flying in the Rain
I ripped the huge irritating tags off my travel pillow, prepping for a nice midflight snooze. Tiny white moshi beads, appearing as white powder on a commercial flight, erupted out of the hole. And kept coming. Try as I might to stanch their flow, I only succeeded in causing more to come out. I rang my call button for the flight stewardess, "Um...."
So started my trip to the Utah Valley marathon. Rushing off the flight I headed straight to the Expo in Provo to retrieve mine and Mark's race bib and timing chip. I turned on the rental car radio as I entered the ramp to I-15. "Stop and go traffic from 33rd south to 103rd south, due to an accident causing a two lane blockage". I could have ran it faster. It really was stop and go, mostly stop. The hour trip turned into a two hour trip, but I got there, showed off Mark's ID, and procured the proper appendages for our race. I then stuffed myself with the "pasta grand slam", consisting of a piece of pizza, rigatoni with Alfredo sauce, and a tomato red onion salad. Then I headed out, staring longingly at the gels, trying to figure out what I could ingest that would cause me to fly for 26.2. I was tapped on the shoulder and I turned, looking into the face of Debbie, a girl I went to nursing school with. She has apparently followed me on Facebook and knew all about my running tales and woes. "I'm just doing the half", she said, "I hope I finish before you."
I went to Stephen's house and went directly to bed, on top of a double air mattress. It was like sleeping on air. Seriously, it was great, as long as I stayed still, which staying still helped me sleep. It felt like I was on a surfboard on a still sea; as long as I didn't move, it wouldn't buck me off. I awoke at 2:48 am and went flying out of bed, remembering my ice packs take longer. I still did not plan enough time, however, and arrived at the buses late, at 4:15 am...which proved to be a huge mistake.
The buses somehow got lost going up the canyon, taking extra time to get there. Once we had disengorged, we were promptly told the port-a-potty lines were shorter up at the starting line and we needed to make our way there. There were nine. And there were more than 900 trying to get in. Above the port-a-potties we could see runners on the hillside, not waiting. We thought, no big deal, we have a timing chip on our shoe, we don't have to start at the gun. When I finally got inside, I heard the announcer say, "we are going to roll up the mats in 30 seconds. All runners who want to have their times recorded must cross the mats now." Then I heard loud booing. Small concessions were made, however, Mark and I ended up having to cross the mat, not ready to go. We crossed the mat for the marathon, the clock was started, and we took our first "rest' before our third step so Mark could get his stuff into his belongings bag. His hands were frozen, so we immediately lost a couple of minutes right off the bat.
I was very soon short of breath but not Mark. I hung with him anyway for five or six miles, stopping to tie my shoe and then catch up. My pack of techni-ice, pinned to my compression shorts, was very heavy and cumbersome. I also had two 10 oz Fuel Belt bottles weighing me down. I also wore my Boston marathon jacket because it was raining and I had forgotten my black plastic trash bag. I am also fat. I was heavy and I was short of breath and my morale evaporated, but not the rain. By 7:00 it was a downpour and everything we were wearing became very heavy; apparently my jacket was NOT waterproof.
But. It. Was. Gorgeous!~ And. I still got to mile 13 under two hours, thanks to trying to keep up with Speedy Mark. However, it had taken its toll; I had gone out way too hard and it felt faster than it was. It felt like 8 minute miles or faster to me, but they were in the 8:20s. Altitude? More weight? No sleep? I could make excuses all day. Stephen called me and my RunKeeper app on my iPhone failed so I had no idea of my pace. I called him back and told him I had changed it to a training run, that I was walking at mile 13. Basically I was regrouping. I envisioned my first 5-6 hour marathon. After a few minutes I dumped my Fuel Belt bottles, soaked knit hat, and soaked gloves. I was slightly lighter, and did I mention it was gorgeous?
I started jogging again, ever so slowly when I realized I was going downhill. And there was a tailwind, I'm not kidding. And soon I was flying, even blssfully flying. Still pretty tired, but I had trained long and hard doing fast downhill miles with encyclopedias propped under my treadmill, and it was paying off, big time. I promised myself I would walk through the aid stations and for five minutes at the end of every hour. That helped a lot with the uphills. I jogged up the hills and flew down the backsides, thinking I was doing a training run, that all hope of a PR was lost.
My hips started to really hurt (not the hernia, mind you, it was frozen and I was paying the cost in extra weight), so I popped two Excedrin and a gel as I entered the aid station at mile 17. Beautiful sheer cliffs up the sides. You can't beat Utah for gorgeousness and the rain was starting to let up. However, as I walked out of the aid station and finished the gel, I desperately needed water to wash down a too concentrated gel. I debated as I walked, finally turning around a quarter mile later, heading back to the aid station for water. I walked backwards, adding a half mile of walking! I then stopped, pulled off my sock that was causing a blister, retied my shoes, and redid my ice packs because the safety pins were poking into me.
I guess during all that time the Excedrin started to kick in because it helped a lot with the hip pain and I was off again...until about mile 18, when I slowed somewhat. I didn't do enough runs over 18. Stephen was a welcome sight at mile 20+, with a fresh ice pack, which he pinned on for me. What are brothers for, anyway? Mine are amaYYzing!
He tried hard to give me a sweatshirt, assuming I must be freezing in the cold rain, but I gave him my soaked Boston marathon jacket and my wallet instead. I felt so light after that, especially after I repinned the ice pack, discarding half of it. I determined to jog the last six miles in and it really was easy.
I had no idea of my time, assuming I was 4:15+. If I had known I was close to four hours I would have sped up. I saw my wonderful Tim at mile 24.5. He looked so good I jumped off the course onto the curb and gave him a big hug. He said, "Mom! Get going! Hurry up!" So I did, just for him, just a little.
At 1/4 of a mile to go, they threw in a steep hill. What the....!!!I jogged up it anyway. I can do anything with a quarter mile to go. I couldn't see the finish line but knew it was close. Basically they had us run zig-zags around the mall area. I didn't like that as I like to kick it in the finish line and it was hard to tell where it was, up until about 40 yards to go.
That was when I saw the clock. It said 4:34:52. I knew I had started 30 minutes late, so that meant I could still get a 4:05. So I picked it up and I think I went under right at about 4:35. I immediately called Mark but he didn't answer. I was a little disoriented....I couldn't get out of the chute to go to the car and the race officials were not very helpful. Everything was gone, as thought I had finished in 6+ hours. However, I managed to get my belongings bag and make it back to the car and back to Stephen and Karen's house. They were GREAT, getting me water and in a hot shower followed by a 17 minute ice bath, and then letting me try to rest.
How many minutes of delay did my equipment failure cost? The walking the wrong direction back to the aid station? The first few feet of fiasco? Walking and regrouping when I should have been jogging and regrouping? Who knows. Maybe I could have PR'd. Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda. I got experience, much needed experience, and I had a great time. Really!
And I will never forget the tailwind and the flying. Never.
Posted by elaine at 3:13 PM