Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ogden Marathon Race Recap

It was a pleasant enough evening when I arrived in Ogden to pick up my race packet. There was even some sunshine, trying to convince us that perhaps the day to come would be pleasant as well. Silly, silly, sunshine. I didn't believe your lies.

When I awoke Saturday morning, the weather was still deceiving. It was almost warm as I got on the bus to head to the start line.
I could see the dark clouds massing, but I continued to pretend that they meant nothing.
I quickly found Jamie at the start and got comfy by the fire. Everything was still pleasant. We could see the sun come up and if we faced east, we could pretend that those pink hues and blue skies were going to stick around.
Sunshine! Photo courtesy of Jamie Eckles.
Little did we know that that was the last sunshine we would see until Sunday. We lined up and the countdown began. As we crossed the start line, the rain started to trickle down. Just a bit of a drizzle at first, not enough to make me doubt any of my gear choices.

I thought my jacket was much more rain proof than it was. Oops. I thought that tights would be good to keep my legs warm. Oops. I thought my gloves would help. Oops. I packed a clean, dry shirt and some arm sleeves in a ziplock bag in my hydration pack. That was smart. Too bad I got to the point where I didn't dare take off my pack because it was keeping my back dry and slightly warm.

The rain went from drizzle to a steady downpour before I was even to the first aid station. I was thoroughly soaked by mile 5. My jacket was clinging to my freezing, wet arms. My tights just held the cold rain to my freezing, wet legs. My feet were getting pruney and it felt weird to run on them. I was still moving along at a decent pace though, mostly to try and keep my body temperature up.
How I was feeling by the second hour.
I was starting to feel pretty miserable by mile 8 and was happy to take a bathroom break, if only to get out of the rain for just a couple of minutes. But a couple of minutes of inactivity made me very cold. Trying to get some of my warmth back was proving to be difficult. I was starting to wonder if I was going to make it through the race. I began to entertain ideas of dropping out of the race. That seemed preferable to ending up in the hospital and all... But if you drop out, you don't get a medal. So I started scanning the sides of the road for any discarded items that I could use to keep the rain off. At mile 11.5, I lucked out and came across a Mylar blanket, lying there in a heap, but shining like a beacon of hope. I grabbed it up, shook it off and wrapped my shivering body in its heavenly embrace.

The trouble is, it's difficult to run and keep all wrapped up in a flimsy sheet that the wind keeps trying to rip from your fragile frame. So I developed quite a back ache from the way I had to run to try and keep dry. My legs were numb, but the muscles felt alright, so I pushed on.
It was so much wetter than it looks.
I tried to take some pictures along the way. The trouble with a touch screen phone is that pickled, pruney fingers cannot operate it. It took ages to get the screen unlocked and snap a couple of shots.
But I just had to have a picture of the sneaky T-Rex lurking behind the fence.
I was actually on track to beat last year's time on this course, but something in me snapped around mile 23. I just lost my will. The rain and cold had beaten it out of me. So the trudging began. I walked and walked and walked some more, constantly adjusting the Mylar blanket around me. I would only run when I started to shiver. The time and the miles crept by but I finally made it around the corner to the finish mile. I picked up the pace as much as I could. I just couldn't wait to be done and get warm and dry. It felt like I would never be warm again...
I'll never let go, Mylar. I'll never let go.
I refused to take my blanket off as I came into the finish. There was no way I was letting it go until I was well and truly done with the race.
As soon as I stopped running, I just wanted to get out of everything wet. But I had to trek across sopping wet grass that was so saturated, every step brought a new flood of water into my already soaked shoes. I grabbed up my drop bag that had my hoodie and sweat pants in it, thankfully, they were mostly dry. My mom and I headed over to Rovali's, which is one of my all time favorite places to eat. And thankfully, they have a large restroom that made it convenient for me to stumble around whilst trying to pry myself out of my wet tights. I eventually got all the wetness off of me and the dry clothes on. When I made it back to the table, my mom had a cup of hot chocolate waiting for me. Finally, the day was looking up.

As my feet started to dry out and the blisters that I hadn't realized were there made themselves known. I got sharp pains springing up all over the ball of my left foot. Because my feet had gotten so wet and wrinkly, blisters had formed between the wrinkles. It was weird looking and awful feeling. I should have taken a picture for posterity... Oh well. But at least I was getting some warm, amazing food in my body and I wasn't getting wet anymore.
Marathon #10 was tough, but worth it.
So there you have it. I survived. Apparently, there were a lot of people that dropped out of the race. But I have no idea how many because they didn't list the DNFs in the race results. I managed to finish only 7 minutes slower than last year's time, which isn't too terrible, considering. I will have to go back next year to see what I can really do on this course, since last year is when my pants split at mile 10, leaving me with raw, bloody thighs by the end, and this year was a battle against hypothermia. Let's all hope we get ideal conditions for next year's race, mmmkay?

I get a week off from racing this weekend, and then it's the Jordan River marathon with some bonus miles afterwards to make my last long run before the 50 miler in June (which I'm having minor meltdowns about every so often). My training has really been going well though, so let's hope that means something.

Until next time, happy running!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

New Half Marathoners and Dinosaurs.

May has more than a few races in it, so y'all will be getting bombarded by race reports for a bit, mmmkay? Just over a week ago was the Provo City Half Marathon, which was also the first half marathon for a couple of friends of mine, Russell and Matt. 

The day went perfectly well for everyone involved. The weather was lovely; the course was pleasant. My friends finished strong (and beat me, of course). I did run well, though, finishing with my fastest time for a half marathon this year. With smiles on our faces and medals around our necks, we were able to watch the rest of the runners come through and the kids race. It's always so fun to watch those little kids run like crazy to the finish line. After a nice recovery lunch, everyone thinks it's a grand idea to run some more of these races. 
Half marathon #63 was a good one.
Yesterday was one of my most favorite races, the Dino Half marathon. It didn't take much convincing to get my friend Jamie to come down to run this one with me. In my excitement for the race, and with the weather always being cooperative before, I hadn't really bothered to check the forecast. It was a good thing Jamie informed me of the rainy weather prediction for the weekend before we headed out so that I could throw some rain gear in my suitcase. 

It was a pleasant drive down over to Vernal and since packet pick up was at our hotel, the whole evening was very convenient. We perused the Vernal dining guide and chose the Quarry Brew Pub for dinner. It was a good choice for a pre-race meal. Getting in to the restaurant involved dodging giant raindrops and cowering from the booming thunder and lightning. That did not give us good feelings for race morning. We obsessively checked the weather reports all night and then first thing in the morning. 

As it turns out, the weather gods decided to be somewhat merciful. The worst of it passed during the night, and left wet conditions behind.
Snowy peaks awaited.
It was a chilly morning, and there was some mist that fell on us as we began the race. 
Not far from the snow.

Heading to the start line, mist falling.
Just before the start, I decided that my plan would be to stay with the 2:40 pace group, since my finish time for this race is usually between 2:37 and 2:42. I didn't want to let myself get too caught up in the downhill of the race. Having a marathon this coming weekend means I should try to be a little conservative or something, right? Sticking with the 2:40 pacers was a good choice. Matt and Cevan made the miles fly by and it was nice to get to run with company. I even got to hold the pacing sign, and I have to say, I kind of enjoyed that part. I should look into pacing some races in my future. 
Having a pace party! Photo credit Cevan Skinner.
The skies stayed cloudy, but the temperatures stayed down and made for a nice race overall. For some reason, around mile 11, I had to let the pace party go on without me. It was like I got hit with a wave of fatigue and it took me a bit to recover from it. I could always see the pacers just ahead of me, so I knew I wouldn't be too far off the finish time I had planned on. I felt a little bit stronger and narrowed the gap just before mile 13 and came into the finish at 2:40:18. 
Running to my ever patient pacers.

 A solid finish line hug and medal bestowing, 
My mom drove down Saturday morning to see me finish and to hang out for some post race adventures. We snapped some sassy finish line pictures with Mr. Mittens, the T-Rex. 
We are loving this whole running thing.

Sweet victory and dinosaurs. 
The medal this year was a T-Rex, so it seemed appropriate for Mr. Mittens to join in the festivities. He was very popular and well received at the finish line. 
Meant to be.

You guys, dinosaurs are my favorite. FAVORITE.
Obviously, I adore this race. You can tell from the copious amount of photos. I was so pleased with the way it all played out, from the weather working out, to the finish time being what I was shooting for, to spending time with friends and family. I will run this race every year that it exists, which better be as long as I exist. 

Stay tuned for the next race report, which will hopefully recap an amazing finish at the Ogden Marathon. Until next time, happy running!