Ogden Marathon 2013
Last year’s Ogden Marathon was a breakthrough race for me. Up till then, my PR was 3:12 and I ran that two years previous. All I wanted to do was break 3:10. That’s it. Not only did I meet my goal, I killed it. I ran a 3:03 and came in 3rd female overall. It set the tone for the rest of the race season as I ran course PR’s and set new PR’s at almost every race. I even ran my first sub-3 hour marathon to end the season.
As great as last year was, I knew this year would be tougher. I don’t feel as fresh or as fast. The effort it takes to hold the fast paces required to run like I did last year feel so much harder.
I ran a great Boston Marathon, but still toed the line in Ogden with a lot of fear and self-doubt. I’m not sure where the fear comes from. My family doesn’t care how fast I am. My friends will still return my calls if I’m the last runner in. I think most of my fear is fear of disappointing myself- of not living up to my own expectations.
Race morning was wet and muddy, but not too cold. I rather liked the forecast. Cloudy skies with a little drizzle make for a very comfortable run. No squinting into the sun. No rivers of sweat down my back. For me, running in the canyons on a cloudy day is like running in a cozy cocoon. But when the skies opened up and began their 4 hour deluge, I knew I was in trouble.
I found my friend Michelle who came in 4th overall at last year’s marathon (1st female master) and found that she, too, was fighting the same doubting demons I was. We decided to pace each other as far as we could. I can’t stress enough how important her companionship was to me. Sometimes we talked. Most times we just ran together. We encourged each other and helped each other through some dark, mental struggles. There were more of those than I care to recognize.
Mile 10 I needed to fuel. I meant to do it at mile 8, but was distracted. I took my gloves off to get into my pack for my Honey Stingers. When I tried to put my gloves back on, I found that they were too wet, so I threw them to the side. Huge mistake. After one mile, my right hand went numb. My hands swelled and by the end of the race I could hardly use them to grab water, fuel or anything else. I had arm warmers, but like everything else, they were soaking wet. My biggest fear was my wet feet. Two years before I’d run a wet race in Logan that left me with blistered feet all across the balls of my feet. I essentially lost the top layer of skin off the soles of both feet. It was one of the most painful injuries I’ve ever had. My shoes felt filled with water from the second mile. Miraculously, I never felt hot spots, nor ended with any blisters, but mentally it was a fear that ran with me the whole race, especially as we pounded our way down the canyon.
Michelle and I hit the halfway mark in 1:32. I was thrilled with the time, especially since I knew the second half would be easier than the first. The one and only big hill hit from mile 14-15. It’s really three hills and they have always taken a lot out of me. Michelle seemed to find strength while I lost it. I got quieter and quieter. I could tell she was feeling it more than I was. At mile 18.5 my old friend GI distress kicked in. I had to duck into a Honey Bucket and that’s when she pulled ahead.
By that point, I didn’t care. I knew there were a lot of girls in front of me. There was no chance I’d place in the top-5, much less the top-3. There was a sense of relief that I had no chance to place better. It took the pressure off. My goal was simply to finish. I was fairly certain I could run a sub-3:10 again, but even that didn’t matter at the moment.
I wish I could have taken advantage of the downhill more, but at some point you just have to do what you can, so I did. We came out of the canyon to finish the last 5K on a park trail. This is my least favorite part of the race as you’re running an open path dodging locals out for a nice Saturday stroll with their dogs, half-marathon walkers finishing their own race (usually with 4 other walkers walking side by side) and random kids out playing. At this point, all niceness I had inside was gone. I had no patience, no filter. We ran under a dark tunnel and immediately I was confronted with three half-marathon walkers. Yelling as loud as I could, “On your left”, I squeezed between them and the tunnel wall only to come out of the tunnel, take a sharp right and run into a half-marathon simply standing in the middle of the path. “Move!” I yelled. I knew she’d seen a female marathoner just seconds before. I don’t know why she stopped. I didn’t care. I kept going.
The last 5K is where I turn it on, no matter how crappy I feel. I just need to get done. I passed a blonde girl who had passed me at mile 6. She, too, was struggling. We yelled out some encouraging words to each other and kept plugging along.
Mile 24 was an aide station. Not stopping. At least that was the plan. But a walker in front of me had other plans. As I ran around on her left, she reached out her arm to high-five someone and I ran smack into her. At least she hit my chest and not my face.
Mile 25. Two turns and a straight away to the finish. I made my last left-hand turn and it was .70 to the finish line. You can see it forever. With only a half-mile to go, I passed another girl and my friend Chad who I had thought finished sub-3. As I passed, he gave me a little push. That’s all I needed. I took off. I could see Elfi and Rick to my left. With the little energy I had, I gave a weak wave. To my right was Christian, Kaitlynne and Ali. Again, a weak wave and then– the finish! 3:07!
Michelle had finished about 90 seconds before me- a reversal of last year’s finish. I saw my friend Julie who had dropped out due to injury. She came to congratulate me and introduce me to the girl I passed at the very end. Turns out she’s registered for the Grand Slam, so I have a 10-second lead. Something tells me she’ll make up for that!
It was cold and wet. I felt awful. Hands and feet swollen, I found my way to the Huntsman Hometown Heroes tent. For the first time, I was running for something bigger than myself. I was running to raise money for cancer research. Two days earlier my friend Shelly’s mom passed away after a 2-year battle with the disease. My aunt is losing her battle as I write this. I ran with their names on my back and their stories in my heart. As hard as this race was for me, their race is so much tougher.
I’m happy with how I did, if just a little disappointed. I have 4 more marathons this year. Rest, recover and run again, I say!