Saturday, March 29, 2008

Our race before the race....

This morning I awoke to the "bring" sound from my cell phone indicating I had a text message. I kept my eyes closed, and tried to feel around on the floor for my phone. I opened it, and through squinting eyes I read "Did you see that it's raining outside?" It was Kimmie. I wrote back that I was still very much in bed. She then wrote back "What should we do?" I knew this was my chance.... the chance to make up some excuse why we shouldn't run 20 miles today, but that angel on my shoulder just wouldn't let me give into the temptation of sleep and ache-free muscles. "Let's just do it," I wrote back. The "bring" sounded again, and I read the words "I'm in." And so was I.

I next got a phone call from Kristi-- a very nervous sounding Kristi who said "How are you feeling?" "Good!" I replied. "Why do you sound so chipper, aren't you nervous?" she said. "Yeah, I'm nervous, but I just have a good feeling about today, Kris," I said. Today was do-or-die-day for Kristi, and I knew it would be scary for her. Kristi was training for the St. George marathon last year, and got all the way through her big 22 miler, only to injure her knee, and be too hurt to complete the marathon. I remember listening in horror to her telling me how she broke down in the doctor's office, and that's when I said "Kris, it will be fine! We can run the Salt Lake Marathon together in the spring-- it will be great!" And that leads us back to this moment, in the dark, wee hours of this Saturday morning, and I once again was telling my best friend how everything would work out, because this time we had each other. "I know today is a big day for you, but we're going to do it!" I said, as convincingly as I could. But the truth is, I was pretty scared too.

I got ready in a flash, and grabbed a Zone Perfect bar on my way out the door. PS, those things have the grainiest texture that is far from "perfect," but I choked it down nonetheless. I knew I would need the fuel for the very long road ahead.

I set out to drop off drinks at my designated fuel stations. Kris, Kimmie and I had decided the night before we needed 4 stops along the way. I then booked it out to meet Kristi at the finish point, so she could park her car to give us all a ride back up when we were done. We were not going to have a repeat of Immigration Canyon, for those who remember our wonderful "group think" decision:)

I picked up Kristi, and we headed up to the Legacy Bridge at the University of Utah. This would be the starting line for the marathon on April 19th, and our starting line today. We were going to run 20 of the 26.2 miles along the route.

After a group prayer, (Kristi, great idea! We definitely needed the Lord on our side!) we started our long decent into the valley. We turned onto Foothill, and we were all feeling great! Next turn was 21st South. All I could think was, "what's going on?!?!? Why doesn't anything hurt? I feel great!" Apparently, the rest of the group was feeling the same way-- we all looked at each other in bewilderment at the ease of our run thus far. We headed down the 21st hill, and toward Sugarhouse Park. And, that's when we hit our first snag of the day.

We ran across a street, and everyone suddenly stopped. Kimmie was starting to cry. Her knee had been bothering her for a couple of weeks, and this run was just too much for her. She wasn't going to make it. We all gave her our best encouraging words, and hugs, and told her to go to the doctor and chiropractor immediately. There's still time to heal up, Kimmie! Take it easy and you'll be fine! It was heartbreaking, but once we reached the park and our first fueling station, we said goodbye to our Skinny Kimmie, and kept on truckin'.

At Sugarhouse is where we ran (I'm punny) into other future SLC Marathoners who were doing the same thing-- running 20 of the 26.2 of the route. Kristi started to chat with a man who said this would be his 20th, yes, 20th marathon, and that he had completed 5 ultra marathons, but that this was his daughter's first. Wowza, people like that are superheros to me.

We kept on going, and soon, we were running up our first hill of the course, and it really wasn't that bad! I found myself smiling along the way, envisioning the cheering crowds, the children with signs that read "Mom, you're my hero!" and my own cheering section, my aunt, cousin, and darling nephews. I can't wait for the big day!

At about mile 12, I started to feel it a bit, but nothing too terrible. I am currently working through two injuries: my right it band, and I have plantar fascitis in my left foot. But, it appears all the balls/cream/inserts I recently aquired at Wasatch Running are working, because I really was feeling great!

We hit another fuel station, and choked back some Power Gel. Kristi said "I like this kind!" "Like is a strong word," I replied. I hate gels of any kind. And everytime I throw one back, I battle the gag reflex. Just then, Kera said "I LOVE this chocolate one! It's fudgy!" Then Kera, it's all yours. I'll take some real fudge, thankyouverymuch.

We worked our way through Holladay, down to 62nd South, toward Van Winkle, and beyond. That's when something really hilarious started to happen. Kristi creeped ahead of me a bit, and I noticed that she was waving and smiling at every car that passed. Most of the drivers would wave, smile, and honk back. I can only imagine that it made their day as much as it did mine to see a beautiful Baywatch looking babe running, waving and smiling at complete strangers, then throwing them a thumbs up! This continued through the rest of our run. I love this girl.

With only two miles left to go, I was on fire: feeling good, and like I really could keep going all the way to Gateway, the real race finish line. And soon, we reached Fitts Park, our 20 mile mark. Kristi and I sprinted the last little bit.

We did it-- we made it through our roughest run. This was the hurdle we needed to get over before race day, because every experienced runner I've talked to has said if I can run 20, I can run 26.2. I'm counting on that advice!

Here's to the last few weeks ahead. We're almost there, girls! Go WRFDJ!


melissa said...

I'm so proud of ya'll! I wish I could of been there

M&M said...

I LOVED this post! Thanks for sharing your journey with us. It is so cool that the 5 of you are doing this together. I love my running friends but the bummer of our training has been that we run it "together", but we are not always right next to each other. You girls have inspired me! 20 miles is such a HUGE accomplishment! Enjoy your taper. :-)

Thanks for all the details on the course. I would love even more. I will email you, if you don't mind! Can't wait to meet you. Are you girls coming to the Marathon Mommies party the night before? We would love to have you!

foxontherun said...

So how was running in the rain? Try coming to our neck of the woods and running. Nothing like a good downpour.

Thanks for sharing your journey with us. It's been great reading.

Ang said...

Yay! You made it! I had a great 20 mile run too. It's so nice to able to go into the marathon with confidence! (SLC is my first marathon too!) Hopefully we'll see you at the marathon mommies party!

I've loved reading about your journey to the marathon.

BarzeeFam said...

YOU GO GIRL!!! WAHOO for WRFDJ!!! Jen, (and the rest of you) you continue to be such an inspiration! I will be cheering you on! Angie B