A Note from Fatty: Thanks to Joaquim at Zazoosh Photography for letting me use the photos in this post! If you’re in Utah, Arizona, Nevada or the surrounding area and considering putting on a bike event of your own, you ought to get ahold of Zazoosh; they’re good guys.
My life’s bucket list has kept me very busy the last few years. As many of you know, doing an IronMan was on the list…Running the Boston marathon is also there. Many of my friends of have done it, reporting to me how neat and rewarding it is.
I have qualified for Boston a couple of times without trying to, but actually getting to Boston and running the marathon has never been a possibility. This year, I had mentioned to Elden that I would really like to try and qualify and hopefully run the race in 2012. I thought I could try and qualify at the Odgen Marathon and if it weren’t meant to be, I would have a 2nd chance at the St George marathon at the end of the summer.
Well, I was disappointed to find out that I would be out of town during the St George marathon (I have a date with an Alpe named de Huez), so my one and only chance to qualify for Boston would be in Ogden.
The pressure was on! I had been running strong after healing from a hip injury that I somehow sustained running the NY marathon.
My 10k pace was the fastest I had ever run. My marathon training schedule had me running the Canyonlands Half Marathon. My friends and I (a girls-only trip) had gone to Moab in March to eat good food and run the race. I had hopes I would have a PR at the race. Unfortunately, there was a hard headwind and I finished a little slower than my previous fastest time. I felt like I ran strong and I felt great the whole race (which is extremely odd when racing)!
Then, a few days after the race, my right hip started to hurt (My left hip was the one I hurt after the NY marathon). I was frustrated! I rested it for more than two weeks, but the pain didn’t change much. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I was on a schedule to get ready for the marathon and this was not in the agenda!
I tentatively started running again and discovered that I could run on it. The pain never left, but it never escalated either. I was faithful with the ice baths after my long runs. Elden still can’t believe that I can sit in ice-cold water and soak my legs. Icing your legs after a run is a great way to bring down inflammation, which helps aid recovery and decreases stiffness!
Because of my injury, I was now behind in my training schedule. My longest run was 20 miles; I had hoped I’d be able to do run two 20-milers and one 22-miler. One 20-mile run would have to do, hopefully. Oh well, at least I was able to run with only mild discomfort. There would be plenty of time after the race to rest and hopefully heal my hip completely after the race.
Elden did a good job describing the early morning hours before the race. I would like to say that he was acting a little strange…he was very quiet. Usually Elden can talk and talk and talk, thus I knew he wasn’t feeling real great.
I made Elden line up at the start with me and the 3:30 pace group. To qualify for Boston, I would need to run a 3:50. I figured that I could start with this fast group, but I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be finishing with them.
In the 3:30 group, I found my good friend Jilene Mecham. Jilene and I have been friends since the 5th grade. Jilene is crazy. By which I mean she acts crazy and she is crazy-fast! I rarely go on training runs with Jilene because, honestly, I can’t keep up. If I try and stay with her, I can’t carry on a conversation because I have no extra oxygen to use for talking.
Jilene has run many, many marathons, done a high-altitude Xterra IronMan in Park City, and will be doing the Leadville100 mountain bike race this year for the seventh time. Oh, I forgot to mention that Jilene won the women’s division at Leadville a few years ago-not just her age group, but the whole women’s division! It is safe to say, Jilene is fast (and crazy).
I was surprised to see her at the starting line dressed in normal running clothes, no thick eye makeup or bright-red lipstick, like usual. When she rides Leadville, she mounts pom-poms on her helmet and is frequently known to loudly sing songs while climbing up steep trails. (There is a clip of her in the film Race across the Sky doing just that!). This morning she seemed a little mellow….If she stayed that way maybe I could run a little bit with her!
The First 7 Miles
Elden and I stuck together for the first 1/2 mile, dodging in and out of people, trying to find the right place for us in the pack. Elden has learned that I turn into a different person when I’m running, a little more aggressive and very focused!
Pretty soon, someone came up behind us and was commenting loudly about how attractive our “biking” legs were. There was no need to turn around; we knew Jilene had caught up with us. Oh, I forget to mention that Jilene is also very loud and is missing a filter on her mouth! She basically says exactly what is on her mind. It does not matter if she knows you or not. You’re never bored when Jilene is around.
I think we picked up the pace a bit when Jilene arrived, Elden couldn’t hang on and he silently fell off the back. Or maybe he said goodbye, but I just couldn’t hear him over Jilene.
As we ran, Jilene would comment on people’s well-defined, muscular bodies-both men’s and women’s. She also was on a quest to recruit a few people to run on her ultra RAGNAR team. So if you looked like you qualified to be on her team–muscular (or crazy)–she would strike up a conversation.
We ran a lot of the first 7 miles with a man with neon green hair, green tie and green socks (yes, he did have shorts and a shirt on, I just don’t remember what color they were). He was fit (and crazy), but unavailable for RAGNAR. We also met Paul Hudson–a Fatty Fan who runs too. Paul said he was interested in doing RAGNAR, so Paul, if you want to do it please email Elden, so Jilene will stop hassling me about doing it!
But I am opening it up to any Friend of Fatty, if you are crazy and fast, and would like to spend 24 hours running and hanging out in the car with Jilene and some of her crazy, fast friends, let Elden know and I’ll pass the info along to Jilene. Jilene did invite Elden and I to be on her team, She must think we are crazy, because we aren’t fast, but it’s on Elden’s birthday and he would prefer celebrating his birthday by not running!
The first 7 miles sailed by! The raging Weber River was mesmerizing, the steep incline of the canyon was making my pace seem effortless and, of course, the conversation was entertaining! We were cruising at a 7:45min/mile. That is way fast for me! We crossed the 7 mile split banner and I felt great. I was 2 minutes faster than the last time I ran this race and we had successfully stayed ahead of the 3:30 pace group.
This was gonna be a good race.
Jilene left me soon after the 7 mile split. She said she felt good and took off. I felt good too, but not that good. For a while I kept Jilene in my sight; that made me feel a little better.
Miles 7-18 run along the edge of Pineview Reservoir. The road is basically flat (one slight incline), and the views are breathtaking. Pineview Reservoir was like glass, the sun was just peaking over the mountains, and there was no wind–it doesn’t get much better than that!
As I crossed the half marathon split, I realized I had just completed my fastest 1/2 marathon ever: 1:44! I was doing great.
Then something happened.
The 3:30 pace group went by me. They didn’t come up alongside me and hang with me; they just blew by me! What had happened? I had been feeling great, but seeing the group blow by me must have taken a physical and psychological toll on me. Plus, the only incline of the race also arrived.
My pace dropped almost 2 minutes per mile over the next several miles. I didn’t know how much I had slowed, but I did realize something wasn’t right.
One thought kept running through my mind: “Just make it to mile 20.” That is when we enter Ogden canyon and the road starts dropping elevation again. Up until mile 18, I felt pretty good. Sure I hurt, but I was running a marathon, that is to be expected.
The last 10K
When I finally entered the canyon, something was wrong. The downhill was not at all rewarding like I had anticipated it would be. Every step hurt. My quads were on fire.
I kept telling myself that I only had 6 miles left. I have a 6 mile route at home that I run frequently; I know by heart where every mile starts and ends. I tried to imagine myself running that route.
The first mile (mile 20-21) lasted forever. Elden and I both discussed this afterward. We think the race directors were playing a sick joke on us and moved the mile marker!
I will admit that although every mile I endured in the canyon was excruciatingly painful, it was also beautiful. Ogden canyon was spectacular. The Ogden river with its spring runoff was rushing down the canyon. Then, as I exited the canyon, I was greeted by a spectacular cascade of water rushing off the edge of the canyon wall.
For the next 3 miles you run along a river bike path. The path continually turns right and then left, then goes up and comes down…pure agony on the quads. Many times the thought crossed my mind to just stop and walk…but that would only prolong the agony!
It’s funny how your mind works. Several times, I had to fight back hysterics. I didn’t know if I was ever going to finish this mile, let alone the race! I had to mentally slap myself in the face and tell me to get control of myself. After all, I told myself, I only had 2 miles–20 minutes tops-left in the race. I could finish this!
It’s funny that Elden mentioned how he focused on his Ipod and his music as he ran the last couple of miles. Elden said that every mile took about 3 songs. I had never mentioned this to Elden, but I play this game all the time when I run, except for me one mile takes about 2 1/2 songs.
So I flipped to this mindset: block out the pain and agony and focus on the music. This brought me to the chute before the finish line. I actually even picked up the pace a bit, as the crowd yelled and cheered me on.
I crossed the finish line in 3:41:44.
I had done it.
Not my fastest qualifying time, but a qualifying time nonetheless.
Whenever I run fast in a race, my body responds pretty well while I’m running Afterwards, it is a different story! My bowels keep quiet the whole time I’m running, but as soon as I stop for an extended period of time and drink a large amount of fluid, they begin to rebel. They knot up in a ball, they don’t know what they want to do.
They are not happy.
So for the next 25 minutes, I paced around the finishers area, drinking water and using the bathroom. I was supposed to meet Elden at the VIP tent, but in my delirious, bowel-knotted stupor, I couldn’t find the VIP tent. (I later found out that I was walking around and around and around it!)
Finally I bumped into Jilene, still looking happy, mellow and fresh. She stated she kept ahead of the 3:30 pace group (which was her secret goal) and finished in 3:29. Not her fastest time, but damn respectable!
She also said Elden was looking for me.
For a minute I was confused. Elden? What is he doing here? He is still supposed to be somewhere in Ogden Canyon in misery, not here at the finish line looking for me! When I came back to my senses, I found Elden in the VIP looking very happy–almost giddy! I was very surprised and proud of his time! Not many people can pull off a marathon with a sub 4 without training! He continually surprises and impresses me!
When Elden asked me to write my story about the marathon, I said, “There is no story…I felt great at the first, fair in the middle and miserable at the end, it’s the most excruciating, painful experience anyone can imagine!”
I guess the gift of gab that Elden has must have rubbed off a little on me.
Now Elden, when can we sign up for the next one?
PS from Fatty: This photo (me giving it all I have in the final 100 yards of the course to finish sub-4-hours) doesn’t have anything to do with The Runner’s story, but when I saw it on Zazoosh I asked them if I could use it anyways, because I believe it is the best picture that has ever been taken of me.