Saturday, May 21, 2011

Race Report: Ogden Marathon Relay and Half Marathon

Last year, Shane and I did our first relay race at the Ogden Marathon Relay.  We signed up on different teams so that we could run the leg, leg 3, which starts at same place as the half-marathon.  I had a ball doing the race, so I knew I wanted to sign up again this year.

Back in October, I paid for three relay teams.  I conned two of my work friends to be the captains for the other teams, but I still ended up managing two of the teams.  By February, I still had only three runners for one of my teams and two for the other.  I turned to the internet, and within days I found runners who wanted teams to fill my teams without runners.  The team I ran on today was made up of three people from the internet and another girl who was the daughter-in-law of a friend.  Five total strangers all trying to be a team.  Four of us connected through Facebook and came up with a way of identifying each other on the course - texting each other pictures of ourselves the morning of the race, and sending a text to the person down the line two spots when we finished our leg so they had a heads up that the lovely race baton was running down the canyon toward them.  All that was left to do was run the race.  Simple, right?

I was relieved when the rain stopped in time for this morning.  The sun was peeking over the mountains as our bus hurtled us toward our starting line.  The race organizers had camp fires lining the road toward the race beginning; me and Shane and our fellow leg 3 friend Linda tried to warm up next to them.  I don't know what was harder - keeping the smoke out of our faces or avoiding the mud that surrounded the fire pits. 

About 9:30 our team's runner two came across the line. I was aching to go and so I set off.  The leg I run begins in a town called Eden.  It curls around the west side of Pine View Reservoir, encountering the Ogden Marathon course's singular series of hills.  I took them all in stride; I'm awesome at running up hills.  But what I found at mile 3 was that I've neglected training on down hills.  My knee started to act up with some stiffness that I've felt before and don't quite know how to combat.  I was able to push through my relay leg of 5.3 miles with a decent time.  I handed the relay baton off to my teammate and I walked back to find Shane.  To my relief, he was a few yards behind me - we set off at once walking to ease my knee and both of our stomachs, which were reeling from all the energy gels we had taken in our pre-run excitement.

We ran most of the course.  My knee plagued me the entire time; the stiffness permeated the whole joint, making any terrain change hard (and hellish) to negotiate.  We walked through water stations to give ourselves a chance to rehydrate and my knee to regain some flexibility.  I was glad that we only walked at the water stations; I don't think I could have dealt with any other type of walking.  By the last mile I was dying to be done in so many ways.  I always, always encourage people that racing is (mostly) mental. I still believe that, but 10+ miles of painful running had it's way with my mind, and my mental state was shot.  I let my mind turn to dark places - comparing myself to others, despairing the time I had been on the course, hating my easily accessed "current pace" calculator (at the press of a button, my iPod tells me my exact speed; both a blessing and a curse.)  I turned the corner for the last .89 of a mile and wanted to cry for the misery I was feeling.  I let Shane go ahead of me - but only after I promised him I wouldn't give up and walk.  (Not because walking is bad, but he knew if I walked then it would feel too much like giving up, and he didn't want me to feel that.  What a great husband!)

I was relieved that he went on ahead.  I hate the feeling that I am holding him back from a faster time.  I could shed that feeling.  I watched the Angel Moroni slip closer and closer as that last mile faded away.  I wished with everything I was that it was fading faster, but I accepted my slow pace and pushed on.  I met the finish line with tears in my eyes.  I hated the negative place I had allowed myself to go to.  I still regret it, but I can't change it, and it makes me want to try again and do better.  I saw my sweet husband waiting for me in the chute with a bottle of water.  This incredibly kind race volunteer put her arm around me and asked if I was okay.  I let her walk with me like that for a few minutes; those moments of kindness are tender mercies from earthly angels.  We grabbed our medals and I found my sweet friend Pat, one of my friends from work who did the race.  Pat has never, ever done a race, nor really wanted to.  She made this incredible goal of doing a 5k almost a year ago.  It made me so happy to watch her realize this goal.  It put my frustrations over time and pace and injury in perspective a little - I have much to be grateful for.  I completed a half marathon today, something most people didn't do, nor ever will.  Comparing myself against others with faster times or more winning attitudes somehow cheapens not my accomplishment, but all those who finished around me. 

So I will accept this race as something to be (a little) proud of.  I especially will be grateful for a body.  It let me down today, but it still got me to the finish line.  I can trust it to get me home when I set off for a training run or a walk around my neighborhood with my kids and husband.  I'm walking around tonight with my knee a little tender, but I know that I haven't done anything to it that won't be fixed by some ice and rest and anti-inflammatories. A less-than-par day is all part of the game.  As a wise friend once told me (another time I was whining about running!) "Ebb and Flow, dear. It's just a cycle."  (Thanks, Lucy!)  Today was an ebb.

But next time, it will be a flow.

Driving to the race.  

I do have a few things to note just so I don't forget the little details that don't center around despair and mental and physical anguish:

  • I put my cell phone in my shirt right next to my skin.  It kept the phone safe from everything but my sweat.  My phone is now resting in a nice bag of rice in the hopes that the screen will one day do more than light up. 
  • I didn't mention that I just bought this phone on Thursday when my old one broke in two.  Not a good cell phone week.
  • I tried to do a random act of kindness and let a recently-finished relay runner use my phone only to take it out of her hand again  when my teammate came to my starting line.  So much for kindness.
  • The texture of Gu is...unique.  Ish.  And why do they think they need to flavor it with chocolate? Shudder.
  • I bought a really cute bandanna and put my hair in pigtails.  I think I'll repeat the look at Ragnar.  (Along with my Team Sparkle purple skirt.  Can't wait!)  Even if my run wasn't awesome, I did have a good outfit to run it in.  You have to accept all the positives, right?
  • The McDonald's quarter pounder I ate on the way home was probably the best hamburger I've ever eaten.
  • In a flurry of song downloads yesterday, my guilty-pleasure song for the race was Nine Inch Nails Get Down Make Love.  It reminds me of my days dancing at the Vortex when I was 19.  Nothing like reliving a little of your adolescence while running a race in your mid-30's.  I got a little red in the face listening to the...lyrics.  Glad I had headphones on!
That is all.  Thanks for sticking around to the end of this long post.


Melanie said...

I didn't realize that race was this weekend! You guys are awesome! I know how easy it is to beat yourself up and be disappointed, but I think you should be proud of yourself. You rock!

Amy Sorensen said...

Did you feel me rooting for you yesterday? I was running at about 9:45 and hoping we were at least running at the same time. I was also relieved it wasn't raining for you.

Oh how I know that slurry of emotion: proud you finished, disappointed in not doing it the way you had hoped. It's a little bit like childbirth in that regard. (Except for,you know, NO BABY.) You can only train and see what happens. And just think: You did it! You conquered your anti-half-marathon attitude! YOU carried your own body for thirteen miles. That is a long, long way!

I'm proud of you!!!!