She Said, He Said

05.9.2012 | 10:26 am

A Note from Fatty: Last Saturday, The Hammer raced the Provo City Marathon; I rode my bike along the same route, leapfrogging her and cheering her along the way. Obviously, this resulted in two very different experiences.

Let’s start with The Hammer’s.

IMG_5103.jpgThe Hammer’s Story: The Best Cheering Section…And The Marathon Wasn’t Half Bad, Either

The day started bright and early, well, maybe not bright-it was 3:45 when the alarm went off. I rolled out of bed after a pretty good Ambien induced slumber. I was starting to get the obligatory pre race jitters and new I would be spending some quality time with “john” before we would head out the door at 4:30.

Yes, I did say “we.”

My sweet husband, Elden had volunteered to get up at this ungodly hour and drive me to the race start. I kept telling him that he didn’t have to do this; he could sleep in. He had had a really stressful work week and could surely use a few extra hours of sleep. I assured him multiple times that I was capable of getting myself to the starting line.

Elden would hear none of this and insisted he would drive me. Not only would he drive me to the starting line, but he was also insisting that he would ride his bike along the course and cheer me on the whole way. Wow, my own personal cheering section — how could I refuse?   

At 5:15, we arrived at the bus pickup in Provo where I met my good friend and coworker Ed. Ed was going to run the 1/2 marathon which started at the same location as the marathon and we would be able to ride the bus to the starting line together.

Ed is a remarkable person. A few years ago, Ed had gastric bypass surgery and has now lost at least a person in weight. He is the poster child for gastric bypass as he continues to keep the weight off. He has become quite the runner in the process and has participated in many 5K and half marathon races.

Way to go Ed, you are an inspiration!

2012-05-05 06.45.39.jpg
The Hammer and Ed before the race.

We said goodbye to Elden and boarded the buses at about 6:00am. Elden’s plan was to change clothes, jump on his bike and ride to the mouth of Provo Canyon where he would meet up with my son Blake (aka the IT guy). They would then ride to Vivian Park and wait for me to run by.

The race organizers did a great job at the starting line. There were fires set up for warming us, plenty of loud music, and a crowd taking their pre-race jitters out on a piñata. And — most importantly — there were plenty of potties.

There was a nice chill in the air and very little wind. South Fork Park was beautiful this early spring morning.

I was surprised as the marathon group lined up. I would guess there were only a couple hundred runners, and probably a thousand half-marathoners. Definitely a different size of crowd than the 23,000 runners at Boston!

The marathon race started promptly at 7:00 am, followed by the half marathon at 7:15. I started with the 3:25 pace group, running at 7:49 minutes per mile.

[Side note about pacers: For those of you unfamiliar with marathons, most marathons have "pacers" -- experienced runners who will carry a sign while they run the race in a specific time. If you need a 3:25 to qualify for Boston, for example, or you have a time goal of 3:25, then you can run with that pacer's group. The pacer does NOT stop at aid stations for drinks or outhouses for potty breaks. He just continually runs. Pace groups are great for people who have a time goal or who have a hard time pacing themselves.]

I started out with the 3:25 group, but had no intention of staying with them the whole race. I knew I could keep up with them for the first few miles because it’s all downhill. My plan worked out perfectly and I exited South Fork Canyon just as the 3:25 pace group passed me.

As I ran through Vivian Park — the first place Elden and Blake were supposed to be cheering for me — I quickly scanned the aid station and the ten people there cheering on the runners.

They weren’t there! Oh no. If they missed me here, would they ever find me as the thousand runners behind me exited the canyon?

But then, just as I was thinking this, I heard cowbells for the first of many times that day. Elden and Blake were just around the bend. They hadn’t calculated the time right and didn’t think they would make it to Vivian Park in time, so set up a little further down the path.

My cheering section had found me!

The Hammer discards the sweatshirt she wore for the first few miles.

The next 5 miles were down Provo Canyon on a great bike path. I know this path well; It was my training route for many years, back when I lived in Orem. I was feeling great and I was keeping the 3:25 pace group in sight.

The 3:25 pace group must have been sad as I drifted off the the back and they lost the perpetual cheering section of Elden and Blake.

Elden and Blake would ride about a mile ahead, get off their bikes, and start cheering and ringing their cowbells. I could hear the cowbells and know they were close by. What a great motivator! As I passed, I would high-five them and Elden would yell words of encouragement.

The Hammer puts her hand out for a high-five as she runs by.

At mile ten, my dad even came out and cheered me on! Thanks Dad!

The halfway point of the marathon is — naturally — the end of the half marathon, and is on center street in Provo. As I ran by the finish line, I felt a little sad that I wasn’t running across the finish line. It’s funny how much of running is mental. When I ran the Moab half-marathon a few weeks ago, I was exhausted when I crossed the finish line. I couldn’t imagine running another 13 miles!

But as I crossed the halfway point on this day, I felt great. I looked down at my watch: 1:43. Wow, not a bad time for a half marathon!

Elden had left me about a block before the finish line/half way mark so he wouldn’t get in the way of people finishing the race. He said he would catch up with me in a little while.

Blake, meanwhile, had gotten bored and left. He said he would find us at the finish line. I didn’t blame him; riding your bike at a runners pace for 26 miles does not sound like the way I want to spend my Saturday morning. I was grateful for his smiling face and expertise at ringing a cowbell! Thanks Blake!

The first six miles of this race had been downhill, but then it had leveled off and become flat by mile thirteen, and continues flat until the finish — relatively flat for a Utah marathon. Now, leaving the crowds at the finish line, the road went up over an overpass — the only “climbing” for the day.

As I descended the overpass, I realized my feet were killing me! The reason was simple: the last three or four miles had been on a concrete road. I couldn’t believe what a difference there is running on concrete vs pavement. We turned, and I was glad we were off the concrete and back on chipseal (chipseal may be terrible for road biking, but it’s fantastic for running).

The next 6 miles would be run through neighborhoods as we made our way toward Utah lake. Once we arrived at the lake we would get back on the Provo River Bike Path and head east back toward the finish line.

As I approached mile 15, the marathon blues started to descend upon me. My feet hurt, and my hamstrings and calves felt like they were on the verge of cramping up.

“What am I doing here,” I thought to myself. “Running marathons suck! Why does anybody run them?” I couldn’t figure out how in the world I was going to make it another 11 miles! I was just going to have to walk.

I was sure all those people behind me were going to start to pass me–how demoralizing that would be! Elden would see me walking when I was supposed to be having a great race! He would be so disappointed in me.

Thank heavens Blake wasn’t around- He thinks im tough, he’d be so disappoointed. And then I heard the cowbell in the distance! “Oh crap,” I thought. “Elden is back! What am I to do?”

“Hey Baby, you’re looking good!” said Elden.

“Clang, clang, clang” said the cow bell.

“You’re not being helpful,” said the grumpy runner.

That’s what I said to my darling husband who got up at 3:45 in the morning and who had been cheering me on for 2 hours! What a brat!

But I couldn’t really say anything else, I was physically exhausted and quite possibly dying!

“Is the bell too much? I’m sorry, I won’t ring it anymore,” chimed Elden.

And he proceeded to be happy and cheerful and tell me stories about people he had met on his bike…blah, blah, blah.

And the thought occurred to me that I must have sounded just like this to Elden when we were running Boston. I was happy and cheerful and talkative. Elden was not. Elden was feeling this same exhaustion and pain while we were running Boston that I was feeling now. I had a new found love and sympathy for what Elden was going through so he could be with me at Boston. What a wonderful guy!

“I’m bonking bad, Elden, I need a gel!”

“One gel coming right up!” and he produced a gel and some water and an “I love you.”

Gel may feel and taste disgusting going down, but its effect is magic. Within a few minutes, I was back. My feet stopped hurting and the blues were on their way out!

“Thanks Elden, but dont be mad if I can’t talk. I’m pretty tired.”

“I completely understand, Baby, You just keep running and I will just keep talking…if it’s helpful.”

Feel free to take a few moments to admire and envy The Hammer’s legs.

The next few miles flew by and soon I was back on the bike path headed toward the finish line–only six miles to go.

At one point I found myself alone. Well, I wasn’t completely alone. I could see one guy about 25 yards a head of me, but alone in the sense that Elden was a way behind me, talking to a different runner and I was out of cheering section for a moment. Then I heard a cowbell approaching. I thought it was the return of Elden, but was surprised to see Blake riding up to me.

Blake (The IT Guy) snaps a picture of his mom (The hammer) as she runs by.

“Mom, you look great!” Blake said.

“I do? I don’t really feel that great.”

“Well you look way better than the 200 people I just passed while I was looking for you. They all look like they are dying.”

It was sure a good thing that Blake didn’t see me 8 miles ago when I was the one about to die. My secret is still safe (I think). Blake still thinks I’m tough!

The last few miles I had a tailwind. It is amazing what a little wind on your rear can do for your momentum and spirits. Blake and Elden soon veered off the path and headed for the finish line. They wanted to be on the line when I crossed. I looked down at my watch–only one mile to go. I thought I had this in the bag until I rounded the last corner and saw the overpass!

“Crap,” I thought. “I have to go up and over that again.”

I slowed to a walk. How could I have forgotten about that? I passed a man who was walking on the sidewalk; he gave me a curious smile. At that moment, I interpreted his smile as a smirk. In my mind, the man was saying “Girl, you are almost at the finish line–it’s just over that incline and you are walking? What a wimp!”

That did it! I picked up the pace and finished strong! Elden was at the finish line greeting me with a giant hug and kiss! I collapsed in his arms–exhausted. 3 hours, 36 minutes. Not quite my fastest time, but pretty close to it! I couldn’t have done it without a fantastic cheering section!

Both glad the race is over: The IT Guy and The Hammer.

Thanks Elden and Blake, for pushing me and cheering me on during the highs and lows! I love you guys!

Fatty’s Story: Marathons Are Fun And Easy

I have little to add to The Hammer’s excellent narrative. And by “little,” I of course mean “a surprisingly large amount, due to the fact that I seem to be unable to ever shut up and let well enough alone.”

  1. It was fun to watch The Hammer actually hammer. It’s very strange that up until last Saturday, I had never watched The Hammer run a race. That’s because up to this point, she had always convinced me to run the race along with her, which meant that either she would be running way below her ability, or she’d be way ahead of me and I wouldn’t see her anyway. This time, though, I’d get to see her run, for more than the few moments it took for her to pull away from me at the starting line.
  2. I was excited to be at a running race, but on a bike. I anticipated that there would be something deliciously evil about being on a bike at a marathon. To be comfortably lollygagging along, leapfrogging the very fastest runners, without even breaking a sweat.
  3. Running makes you emotional. I’ve ridden my bike for 20 hours straight before. I was exhausted and hallucinating, but I still felt like myself — friendly, stable, and silly (the three characteristics I self-define with). Whenever I’ve gone on a long run, I’ve become much more emotional than usual. It was reassuring to see that The Hammer has to confront some bugaboos on hard runs, too.
  4. Cowbells are awesome. When The Hammer and I were in Boston, Philly Jen gave us a bunch of little Boston Marathon-branded cowbells. One of these easily fits in a jersey pocket, and Blake and I used them the whole day. Cowbells are awesome because they’re louder than clapping and yelling, and hurt way less when used for an extended period of time.
  5. Racers love spectators. Of course, I was at the race for The Hammer, but I cheered for — and occasionally rode alongside — everyone and anyone. And after the race, at least half a dozen racers came up to me and expressed gratitude for me bing there and cheering them on. It makes me think: anyone who has ever benefitted from cheering spectators needs to find time to be a cheering spectator sometimes, thus paying the good karma forward.
  6. Small races are great. Of course, the iconic marathons like NYC and Boston have their obvious appeal, but a tiny race like (fewer than 300 runners!) like the Provo City Marathon made it possible for me to — without difficulty — constantly leapfrog the runners, either by taking a different street to the next place I’d stop to cheer for them, or sometimes just riding ahead of — and even alongside — them.
  7. The Hammer is modest. The Hammer doesn’t mention in her story that she took a podium spot in her age group: third. She also doesn’t mention that her time across the line at the halfway spot for her marathon was fast enough that she would have taken first in her age group for the half marathon.
  8. Everyone has an interesting story. I sometimes stopped and cheered for people who were racing, and sometimes I would randomly pick a person racing and ride alongside her or him for a few minutes, just chatting. And you know what? There’s not a single person out there who doesn’t have an interesting story to tell. The world might be a better place if we all took the time to talk to more strangers (but don’t tell that to your kids, I guess).
  9. Riding 40 miles, slowly, over the course of four hours, is easy. Between riding from the finish line to where we first caught up with The Hammer to leapfrogging and riding along racers, I put in about 40 road miles on my mountain bike (mountain biking shoes are much better if you’re going to be getting off your bike and standing around a bunch) that morning. But it was such slow miles that I didn’t feel like I had gotten any kind of workout from it. So after I brought The Hammer home, I got back on my bike and went mountain biking for a couple hours.
  10. This item placed because people like lists of 10 better than lists of 9. Have you ever considered how much of our world is governed by the fact that most of us have ten fingers? How would the world be different if we had fourteen? Something to think about.

And in short, I look forward to spectating in the future, as The Hammer crushes other running events.

PS: I really like how my sister Jodi (Pistols and Popcorn) is helping a reader of hers (Amy) get treatment for MS. Check out Jodi’s post from yesterday, and then maybe go find $5 to help Amy too.


  1. Comment by Brandon Banks | 05.9.2012 | 10:51 am

    Great write up. Good job Lisa. My wife and I were running in that area that day and thought we saw you out there hammering away. Nicely done!

  2. Comment by Tommysmo | 05.9.2012 | 11:20 am

    Great report! I once did the same thing, by car though, for my sister’s first half-marathon. Since it went through the small city where we grew up, I knew it cold. I sprang up in places my bro-in-law (running with his wife) never expected.

    Fatty’s right. Try being a spectator and, if possible, a following one. It’s very cool! Though, when you’re doing it by car, you do occasionally get the nerves that you missed the person and start to have that internal debate about whether to just move on or not. Remember, more often than not, cars are indeed faster than people.

  3. Comment by BrewCityChris | 05.9.2012 | 11:23 am

    Nice job pushing through The Hammer.

    My knees would never take a marathon, but I like the idea of the encouraging ride along that Fatty did. We’ll see how my wife handles the cowbells next time she does a run.

    Awesome post too. There are definitely mad blogging skills in the Nelson household!

  4. Comment by Christina | 05.9.2012 | 11:27 am

    This post made me emotional. Remember when I said the other day I couldn’t relate to The Hammer? I think I’m tearing up because I realize that even the really fast people have the same thoughts going through their heads as I do. I needed this, so thank you…you’re are an inspiration.

    And way to go, Ed!

  5. Comment by AKChick55 | 05.9.2012 | 11:35 am

    Yahoo! A post from The Hammer and Fatty! Woot! I felt like that for almost every run I’ve ever done. I’ve done a few marathons and half marathons. For every good run I had, I’d have 9 that sucked. I never felt comfortable. Then I found the magic of the bike and even when battling 25mph+ headwinds I LOVE it. Biking is the most amazing thing ever to me. Even bad days are good days. I digress.

    I wanted to let everyone know that I started a Facebook page for the LIVESTRONG Davis Fatty Team. I want to figure out how to start a group page so others can leave comments. I think I’m the only one who can make new comments on the page since it’s associated with my personal page. The link is here!/pages/Team-Fatty-LIVESTRONG-Davis/271783436216181 I wanted a way to connect with other Fatty team members. I’m getting ready to buy my ticket and am trying to figure out a way to rent a Prius so I can save on gas money. Plus, I think they are super fun (yeah, I’m a geek). So please, if you are on Facebook, stop by and like the page. Maybe I can work with the folks who live down in Cali and are organizing things to relay information on dinners, pie, get togethers, beer, fun events, chocolate cake, etc. :) I’m excited that I’ll actually get to see and meet everyone soon! Also a bit freaked out cause I’ve just started riding my bike! Fortunately, I’ve heard the course is relatively flat (nothing is flat in Alaska), but it’s going to be wicked hot (again) for this Alaskan girl. Might have to rig up a mini water sprayer to help keep me cool. I have my hydration and nutrition nailed, but the intensity of the sun is what drains me. Anyway, I digress.

    Also, severe envy over The Hammers beautiful legs. Man oh man. I think I have a serious girl crush. Also, IT guy looks wicked fit this year! I see a Leadville finish in his future!

  6. Comment by AKChick55 | 05.9.2012 | 11:36 am

    Pfft, I don’t think the facebook link works. Going to try again with less text. I suffer from impulsive verbal diarrhea. :)!/pages/Team-Fatty-LIVESTRONG-Davis/271783436216181

    If the entire link doesn’t show, copy and paste into your browser.

  7. Comment by Clydesteve | 05.9.2012 | 12:15 pm

    Way to go, Lisa. You look tough and full of energy in these photos. And, I am very impressed by your split & finish times. Well done.

  8. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 05.9.2012 | 12:18 pm

    @AKChick Davis is FLAT and Cardiac Hill was just a ‘roller’, ask NYCCarlos.

    I hope everyone noticed that Fatty was holding the food tray in the picture above. Not only was he cheering the Hammer on, he was eating for her too!

    And those legs… I think we should be seeing the Hammer in an upcoming Marvel Comics Action Film. Avengers II? It goes without saying she would be one of the good guys!

  9. Comment by The Hamer | 05.9.2012 | 12:22 pm

    Great job Lisa. Be proud Eldon. It was fun to see you after the race.

  10. Comment by Ginger-Schminger | 05.9.2012 | 12:41 pm

    Way to go, Lisa! Awesome write-up.

    Cheering sections (and cheerful aid station volunteers) are the absolute BEST! I’ll never be able to thank all of the people who have cheered me along my way in various races over the years.

  11. Comment by Ginger-Schminger | 05.9.2012 | 12:42 pm

    Oh, and cowbells are the only way to go. We rang them at every single NICA race in Texas this year as each rider rode past us…but we splurged and went to the farm & ranch store and bought serious cowbells. =)

  12. Comment by berry | 05.9.2012 | 1:00 pm

    I always seem to pick up on the minutia in your posts – the Sumerians treated thumbs differently from fingers, and used finger joints to come up with base 12 – which is why we have 24 hours in a day and 60 minutes in an hour.

    No, I don’t work for symmetricom.

  13. Comment by Philly Jen | 05.9.2012 | 1:06 pm

    Yay, Lisa! Way to crush it!!! [rings virtual cowbell]

    Thanks again for those cowbells, Jen! A lot of people got a lot of good out of them Saturday! – FC

  14. Comment by SYJ | 05.9.2012 | 1:07 pm

    Congrats on a great run!

    So I gimped through the same race (as my first marathon, it was, less a race than a deathmarch for me), and was curious if the Hammer was indeed running it. My curiosity was piqued even further when I began to notice the chalk hammers drawn on the path every so often. But I’m still curious…were those the work of Fatty/IT Guy?

    I saw those too, but they weren’t drawn by Blake or me. I’m going to guess they were intended for The Other Hammer (Greg Schauerhamer), who also ran this race! – FC

  15. Comment by Jacob | 05.9.2012 | 1:14 pm

    Runners really do love spectators, or at least I do. It’s an awesome feeling, even when you don’t know the people and they’re just randomly cheering people on.

    I do have a soft spot for my near-5-year-old yelling “Go Daddy!” though. That’s hard to beat.

  16. Comment by Kukui | 05.9.2012 | 2:38 pm

    The Hammer is amazing! Way to go, Lisa! =)

  17. Comment by Kanyon Kris | 05.9.2012 | 3:06 pm

    Just a little more beard…


  18. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 05.9.2012 | 6:28 pm

    Bravo Kris!!!

    I always wondered if Fatty might be Bi-

    Religious that is.

  19. Comment by VA Biker | 05.9.2012 | 7:09 pm

    Great dual blog post! 3:36 is hammering for anyone at any age. Narrowing that to “40-something woman” puts it into the “awesome” category. I only wish I could run that fast for a marathon. (Though as a cyclist, I can’t say I’d really want to – 10K’s are about it!)

  20. Comment by LidsB2 | 05.9.2012 | 7:29 pm

    Well done The Hammer. Fun race report too. What bike did you ride, Fatty?

  21. Comment by Cyclin' Missy | 05.10.2012 | 5:45 am

    Awesome run, Hammer! Awesome support, Fatty and IT Guy. You guys rock!

  22. Comment by Bee | 05.10.2012 | 8:23 am

    I wanna be the Hammer when I grow up. A sub-8 mile. I could only dream.

  23. Comment by SaddleAmericana | 05.10.2012 | 9:26 am

    I was excited about The Hammer, and became absolutely thrilled by Puritan/Amish Fatty! it’s a good look, man!

  24. Comment by cece | 05.10.2012 | 9:40 am

    What a fantastic effort Lisa! I appreciate it when I hear about people suffering on the inside……it is wonderful to hear how you overcame the mind and the thoughts and the body. You ROCK!

    I hope I can do the same this weekend.

    It was good to hear about your friend’s weight loss. I have lost over 130 pounds and have 30-40 more to go. It is hard being this active and competitive and still carrying that much extra weight.

    But I hope to overcome my suffering the way you did.

  25. Comment by Ian | 05.10.2012 | 7:24 pm

    Your goatee is crooked

  26. Comment by sdcadbiker | 05.11.2012 | 8:34 am

    Great job Lisa! Way to suffer it out.
    I think Elden is going for the “Brigham Young” look, which didn’t work for BY either…

  27. Comment by Bee | 05.11.2012 | 10:03 am

    Re: Marathons on bikes… after watching the Boston Marathon and seeing bits of the Eugene Marathon in the paper, it has now become an item on my bucket list to bike pace a major marathon. It’s gotta be the best way to participate, don’t you think? You ride your favorite bike, and you get a radio, a nifty VOLUNTEER shirt, and sometimes even a reflective vest. Some of them pace from the front of the pack to the aid stations to tell the aid stations how close the various bits of the pack are so the stations can get ready. Some of them are assigned to the lead runners (last time, I saw Male 1, 2, and 3, and Female 1,2, and 3) and bike alongside them to confirm where the leaders actually are.

    Doesn’t that sound like the BEST WAY EVER to do a marathon? :-) My only question would be “which bike”.

  28. Comment by Don | 05.11.2012 | 12:14 pm

    Question: do they actually have age group podium presentations in these things? If so, that would be a nice photo to have.

  29. Comment by Panzon | 05.11.2012 | 6:38 pm

    An interesting article regarding item #10 above.

    An article where researchers hypothesize the impact of having an additional finger on each hand. Personally, I think the addition of a sixth finger would complicate my life. How would I be able to determine which middle finger to use when a person’s actions warrant a rating of #1 in my book.

  30. Comment by banana smoothie | 05.12.2012 | 10:03 am

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