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“Twas the Night Before Race Day”

Twas the night before the race, when all through the house

No one was sleeping, not even my spouse.

My race clothes were laid out on the chair with care,

In hopes that the temperatures provided cool racing air.

 

The alarm clock was set, and an extra just in case

While I reviewed my splits and figured out my pace.

With my tummy full of pasta and snuggled in my bed

I closed my eyes, visions of PR’s dancing in my head.

 

When suddenly I was there, at the crowded starting line

Surrounded by runners whose shoes looked fancier than mine.

When what to my wandering eyes should appear

But Bart Yasso and friends, laughing at me.  Oh, dear.

 

Lively and quick, the crowd appeared

Much quicker than me.  I’d be trampled, I feared.

My stomach in knots, my palms getting sweaty

The start gun went off, but I didn’t feel ready.

 

The masses surged forward with a spring in their step

But I stumbled forward.  I just had no pep.

Mile 1.  Mile 2.  They passed in a blur.

Suddenly the pasta within me began to stir.

 

I searched high and low for Honey Bucket relief

Before my stomach could give me more grief.

A brief pit stop and I was back on the course

Charging ahead like a Thoroughbred horse.

 

I passed by each aid station with volunteers so nice

Grabbing water and fuel and, if lucky, some ice.

They gave me high-fives. “Looking great,” they said.

I wondered if they were lying or just sick in the head.

 

Mile 12.  Mile 13.  I’m halfway there.

My stomach was calm.  My legs felt fair.

I started to dream.  I started to believe.

Maybe it’s possible, that PR to achieve.

 

The crowd had thinned out, but one runner remained.

He’d been with me from the start, but his pace started to wane.

He grunted, he spit, he shook out his hands.

With a grimace, he quit.  But I had other plans.

 

Mile 17,  18.  “You’re almost there!”

If I’d had the strength I would have thrown a chair.

I’m not almost there.  I have eight miles to go.

The fatigue in my face was starting to show.

 

I took a deep breath and ate another chew.

This distance is too much.  I think I’m through.

I’ll never run again.  I’ll find another hobby.

Knitting or swimming or maybe karate.

 

Mile 22,  23.  Only 5K to go.

I’m too close to quit.  I can do this, I know.

My family is waiting and I want to go home

With my head held high and a medal to show.

 

Mile 24,  25.  My victory lap!

One more mile and I can take a nap.

One step at a time, I’ll get there soon.

When I cross the finish line, I’ll feel over-the-moon.

 

Then suddenly what to my bleary eyes did appear?

The finish line and my sweet family, so dear.

Off in the distance, it seemed a mirage.

Just a few more steps and I’ll get my massage.

 

The crowds cheered me in as I sprinted ahead.

I’d made it!  I did it!  I wasn’t dead!

My feet crossed the mat with my hands to the sky.

I am a runner!  I am! My joy amplified.

 

With my medal around my neck, chocolate milk I sought.

This feeling I feel simply can’t be bought.

I did something hard.  I did something tough.

I did my best and it was more than enough.

 

As we walked to the car and headed home to shower

I felt grateful and happy that my legs had the power.

I waved to my friends as we drove out of sight.

Happy race day to all, and to all a good night.

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Posted by on December 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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2013 Park City Marathon Recap

ImageSix years ago I ran the Park City Half Marathon.  It was my first half and I believed it almost killed me.  The incline and elevation was something I’d never experienced or prepared for.  While I finished feeling accomplished and proud, I couldn’t help but wonder what crazy person would ever attempt to run the full marathon.

Fast forward to August 2013 and I’m still asking the same question, but I think I have my own answers.

The day before my 4th PCM, I was surprisingly calm.  We are currently living in a tiny apartment with only the bare essentials while our new home is being built.  It’s taking much longer than we anticipated and we’re feeling a little too close as a family.  So the thought of spending more than three hours running through Park City and Deer Valley on trails and alongside creeks and some of the most gorgeous mountain country seemed blissful.

It’s become a tradition for our family to make a weekend out of this race and we’ve come to look forward to it all year.  We arrived Friday night and checked into the Newpark Hotel.  One of the best parts of this race is that the start line is located just outside the hotel lobby.  It’s a loop course so the finish line is also just outside our room.  No bus to the start.  No ridiculous wake up call.  In fact, with a 6:30 am start, I would get to sleep in later than a typical Saturday.

At 5:30 am the alarm went off and any calm I’d felt before was gone.  I’d never experienced nerves like this.  My hands and legs were shaking.  My heart rate seemed to soar.  I couldn’t explain why I was suffering from severe pre-race jitters, but there they were.  I choked down a bagel, dressed and made my way downstairs to the start.  Just moments before we began, I saw my good friend Sue Mantyla.  Notcing my nerves, she reminded me that I wasn’t racing against anyone but myself.  Normally advice like that goes in one ear and out the other, but this time it stuck and became a working mantra throughout the race.

Miles 1-6-  The best way for me to handle this race is do divide and conquer four sections.  This first section is tough, but with fresh legs it’s manageable and gives me a chance to work out my nerves.  We climbed up and around neighborhood streets, past Trailside Elementary and the soccer fields where we watched my nephew play just two weeks before.  Not a mile into the race I was passed by a woman who looked familiar.  I would later find out she was the woman from Illinois who won the female division last year and passed me at the same spot at the beginning of the race.  My only goal was to keep a steady, strong pace and calm my nerves, so I watched her pull away in admiration.

Miles 7-13-  On the rail trail.  This section seemed so long the first time I ran the marathon.  There’s only one turn which can make it feel farther than it is.  Around mile 8 I found myself gaining ground on a guy in a white shirt who’d flown by me at mile 3.  As I moved right to pass him he suddenly sprinted ahead.  This has happened before.  Some guys just can’t stand being passed by a girl.  Fine.  A guy in orange passed both of us and White Shirt Guy didn’t challenge him.  Interesting.  Not five minutes later I had gained on him again.  Just as I started to pass again, he sprinted AGAIN!  Come on.  He was wasting a lot of energy trying to keep me behind him.  Maybe he finally realized that because a minute later I did pass him.  He muttered something about my pace.  I didn’t catch what he said, but I’m going to assume it was a compliment.  I never saw him again.

Somewhere around mile 11 I passed a girl in green who’d been in second place since the beginning of the race.  She had slowed quite a bit, but I was surprised to have caught up with her.  Suddenly I found myself in second place.  Deja vu.

Usually my husband, Christian, runs the half while I run the full but for some reason this year he didn’t register.  I had jokingly suggested that since he was free he could come cheer me on at mile 13 just before the big hills start.  In all honesty, I didn’t expect him to do that.  I don’t need a lot of cheering while I race.  I rather like the quiet solitude, especially among beautiful surroundings.  But as I neared White Pine Touring where the mile 13 aide station was located, I could see in the distance two little girls jumping and yelling and a curly-haired red head waving his arms.  I couldn’t believe the joy I felt at seeing them!  I didn’t stop, but I yelled out, “ I love you!” and Ali tried to chase me.  I couldn’t wait to see them again at the finish.

I used this moment to mentally reset.  Half of the race was over.  The first four miles of the marathon are tough.  So are the middle four.  I used the energy my family gave me and headed for the hills.

Miles 14-17-  This is the toughest part of the race.  Running up through Deer Valley, it’s a brutal 2-mile climb with some very steep sections.  My method is to remind myself that the hardest part is over in just a few minutes.  I don’t think about mileage.  I don’t look ahead.  I remind myself that we all have to face these hills and this is what I signed up for.  I try to imagine I’m just running a half.  My legs are fresh.  I’m feeling good.  At least that’s what I say.

Coming around Deer Valley there’s a sense of relief.  Not only are we heading downhill, but we’re heading home.  Each footstep takes us closer, nor farther, from the finish. I found a little extra speed on the downhill and let gravity pull me.  I flew past the aide stations and waved to the runners just heading up the hills.  I took a left where a kindly volunteer guided me and was in the zone.

I was so much in the zone that I just kept running straight when I should have turned right.  I wasn’t alone.  Orange shirt guy who’d passed me on the trail, and whom I passed on the hills, was right behind me.  Something wasn’t right.  We stopped.  Pretty sure we both cursed.  And suddenly we saw a runner dart in another direction.  We’d taken a wrong turn.  As we sprinted to get back on course I noticed the girl now in 3rd place was right behind me.  I ran like I was being chased by a bear!  Upset with myself for making such a dumb mistake, I used that anger to fuel my legs over the next couple miles.  I would later find out that many runners made the same mistake.  Poor markings and tired runners are not a good combo.

Mile 18-26.2-  Mile 18 greets you with a wall.  Not the metaphorical wall, but a climb so steep it’s impossible, and foolish, to run.  I pulled myself up and over and then began making my way past the golf course (and all the happy golfers who, I swear, were laughing at us) toward the famous McPolin Barn.  Mile 20 is also the turn around for the half marathoners.  I know the last 6 miles as well as I know my own neighborhood.  Knowing the route is a mental advantage for me.

We passed the barn, crossed the street through the tunnel and hit the last section of the course which is mostly trail again.  I’ve run this trail hundreds of times.  I love it.  It feels like home.  As tired as I was, I tried to enjoy and be grateful for where I was and what I was doing.  It was all I could do to keep my legs moving, but I knew I was almost done.

Mile 24 I came up behind a soccer team out for a leisurely stroll.  Exhaustion wipes away most of my politeness, but also leaves me with little energy to yell.  I managed to squeak out “On your left,” and was greeted with confused stares.  Too tired to veer left any farther, I pushed my way through the crowd of smelly, adolescent bodies.  After my escape I could hear one soccer player say, “What?  Is there like a race or something?”

Mile 25 is rough.  It’s a windy path through condos and townhomes.  Every turn tricks you into thinking the finish is near, yet remains elusive.  It’s not until you are at mile 26.15 that you actually see it.  I rounded the last corner and saw my kids, husband and parents are cheering as loud as they could.  I’m sure it wasn’t pretty, but I did what I could to sprint and crossed the finish line in 3:16:50, only seconds slower than last year and 2nd female once again!  The woman from Illinois beat me again with almost the same time she ran last year.   At the moment, though, none of it mattered.  I was just so relieved to be done.  The last few miles were hot.  I felt a bit sick and had nothing left.  But I was so proud.  Without that wrong turn, I would have had course PR.  I don’t really care what the official result says.  I’m satisfied knowing that I did, in fact, run stronger than I did last year.

So what did I win for coming in 2nd in the hardest marathon in Utah?  A giant cardboard medal.  Yep. That’s it.  Of course, I don’t race for the medals.

So what’s the answer?  Why do I continue to run PCM when it’s so difficult and there’s no monetary reward?  Simple.  I love a challenge. I love the confidence I earn with every climb.  I love the satisfaction and pride of knowing that I did battle with the mountains and my mind and I came out on top.  I love Park City.  PCM has taught me how to mentally handle hard tasks both on the course and in life.  I don’t have to tackle a challenge all at once.  Just take it a mile at a time.  And after all that hard work, that reunion with family at the finish is all the sweeter.

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2013 in Race Reports

 

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