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Monday, September 19, 2011

2011 Top of Utah Marathon

Brace yourselves- I don't want to forget anything so this post is pretty detailed.
Hey look!  I'm running a marathon!!!

Where do I even begin?  I'm flooded with emotion as I think about my marathon on Saturday.  It was grueling at times (although, not nearly as much as I thought it would be), exciting, joyful, and ultimately very fulfilling.  I am once again at a loss of words to accurately describe the event!

In the early morning hours before the race I was awake in my bed listening to the rain splatter against the windows.  I just kept thinking 8:15, 8:15, 8:15 over and over and over again in my head. I wasn't certain how my body would feel and I was hoping that by keeping it easy I would feel good by the end.

FINALLY it was 4 AM. Mindy and I got up to shower before the race.  I thought my nerves were under control until I put on my mascara- my hand was shaking like a leaf!  I had plenty of time to stretch a little, dress, and eat a bowl of oatmeal before heading out the door.

Mindy and I met up with Darcy at the start.  We just started walking towards the bus and before I knew it we were boarding!  The ride up was pretty peaceful.  After getting to the shuttles my nerves calmed down and I just kept thinking about how great my 23 mile run felt and I was excited to get the race started so I could have that feeling again.

We got to the start and got in the long line to use the port-a-potty.  Was it just me and my bursting bladder, or did anyone else feel like the line was soooo loooong?!  When I was in the potty the rain came- but never fear, I was prepared!  I pulled my poncho out of my pocket to open it.  I thought, 'I should close the lid so my poncho doesn't fall in there.' But, you guessed it, I didn't, and you guessed it again, I tore open the wrapper and my poncho flew right into the toilet!!!  So much for that idea.

At the start- huddling together to stay warm.
By the time we finished at the port-a-potties it was time to get to the start.  We took off our warm clothes, dropped our bags in the school bus windows, and lined up next to the 3:40 pacer.  We tried to stretch, but there wasn't room- and then it started pouring!!!  We ran into the heat tent to keep our clothes relatively dry, and when we were in there that is when we heard the start gun for the hand cyclists.  Rain or not, we had to get ready!  We lined back up by the 3:40 pacers and next thing I knew the gun was off and we were trotting along!

Darcy and I stayed by each other for the first 6 miles of the race.  The pacers ended up getting a little ahead of us because we had a hard time making it through the crowd, but our pace was well below a 3:40 marathon so I wasn't worried.  Those first 6 miles flew by!  My body was feeling great for the most part, and I just focused on light and easy steps.  I could feel every one's prayers during this time.  I felt so blessed by my Father in Heaven to be able to be running.

It was so easy to pace myself when I knew I just had to stick with the people with the yellow balloons.  It was awesome to have a visual of my goal staring me in the face.  After mile 6 Darcy and I started to settle into our own pace and I pulled a little bit ahead of her.  I wished I could run with her for the whole race, but I knew that a marathon was a solo event (running together is what a Ragnar is for!).

During mile 7 the clouds broke!  It started pouring rain, and then it started hailing.  Hail!  Really?  I wanted to yell out 'This is so awesome!' but I'm pretty sure everyone else would think I was nuts.  Maybe I was.  All I know is nothing could break my stride. I also noticed that between miles 7 and 8 there was a discrepancy between my Garmin and their mile markers.  Somehow it was off by three tenths of a mile within those 2 miles- before that they were all pretty much right on.  I started asking some other runners, and they noticed that they were off, too. 
I was so excited by the time I hit halfway because I knew that I was feeling good and that I probably wouldn't have any problems with my IT Band.  The canyon was the perfect downhill grade.  It wasn't so downhill that my legs felt beat up at all- it was just nice and slight so that I didn't feel like I had to work so hard.  I was right with the pacers at this point and was itching to move past them, but I didn't!  So proud of myself for not pushing too hard too soon in the game.

Mile 17 and pumped up!!!

Miles 14-20 were my favorite of the race.  I felt so great and having the family and friend support was fantastic.  The biggest problem were my tight and painful calves, and the blisters on my heels.  I tried to stop at miles 17 and 19 for band aids at the aid station, but they didn't have any!!!  My friends Kalie, Erin and Whitney surprised me by coming up to cheer for me and they gave me the biggest boost!  I wasn't expecting them and I got very emotional when I saw them.  My husband, kids, and brother in law Beau were also there at miles 17 and 19- I was super excited and still feeling great.  When I saw my friends is when I finally let myself pass the pacers.
Mile 18- Can you tell I'm emotional
Mile 19- I think I have the same face every time I see my family :)
I stopped to have my calves sprayed with icy hot at mile 23.  They were so painful at this point.  I noticed my bloody ankles from my blisters, but I was so grateful that I couldn't really feel them.  I guess the pain from my calves was bad enough that it blocked the rest of the pain out from other places.  I suppose that is a good thing?!

Then the goin' got tough.  I felt great until mile 23 and then after that I just kept trucking along.  I still had a big smile on my face, but I was definitely feeling it.  I pushed through and I was proud of myself.  Typically at the end of a race I get passed a lot because I gas out too soon- this time I was the one doing some passing!  I never got passed until about the last mile of the race.  I knew I had paced myself perfectly when I was in the last 3 miles.

Seeing my friends and family at the finish was surreal.  As I crossed the finish I saw on the big clock that I was coming in under Boston Qualifying time by a hair- 3:39 and some change for seconds.  I. DID. IT.  It all sunk in and then I couldn't stop crying.

I pushed through hail, rain, bleeding blisters for 10 miles, tight painful calves, an injury before race day, and I was able to pull a Boston Qualifying marathon!!!!!!!!!!!!

I owe it all to an incredible Physical Therapist, great advice from Rachelle after learning so much from mistakes she made during her first marathon, and those awesome pacers and sticking to my plan.

My official time ended up being 3:39:07 for the 26.56 miles that I clocked on my Garmin.  Know what makes me even happier though?  I looked at my time on my Garmin when I hit 26.2 miles, and my time was 3:36:39.  I was 10th in my age division!  My average pace was 8:15/mile- just like I had been envisioning.
Possibly one of my favorite pictures of all time.  Dallas is my number one fan and I know I couldn't do any of this without his support.

Darcy had quite a few troubles- a bruised and very painful foot, soaking clothes that chafed her to hamburger, and a cold.  She pushed through and finished in 4 hours exactly.
Darcy at the finish- smiling in spite of everything!

Mindy- the crazy girl hat decided to sign up to run a marathon only 5 weeks before the race- finished with a time of 4:17.  For a girl that had NO DESIRE to ever run a marathon, she rocked it!!!!  She says she will never do one again.  We'll see...  :)
Mindy is amazing!  I love this girl.

Marathoners!!!  Mindy, Me and Darcy
The texts and messages from people all day were so awesome.  Thank you to everyone for your support and excitement.  I'm so blessed to have such wonderful friends and family!

Will always thinks I win because I walk away with a medal :)
Erin, Kalie, Me and Whit- these are the best friends a girl could ever have.


Erin said...

I loved every word of this post. You would have never known your calves were killing you because of the huge smile on your face. Even Steve said, "She looks far too good to have just finished a marathon."

I LOVED being there and seeing you reach this goal. I will remember that day for a long time. Thanks for being inspirational. You are wonderful!

Trent and Whit said...

I am in complete awe. Amylee--the work you put into this and the drive you have are amazing! You inspire me (and so many others). I am so freaking proud of you!!! This post brought tears to my eyes. You are a true example of perseverance. Love your stinking guts.

Joy Boaz said...

You are so inspiring! Seeing the emotion in your face made me cry ( of course ) . Congratulations on a great race!!

Rachelle VDub said...

Congratulations! What an awesome accomplishment!

marciea casselman said...

Congratulations on your Top of Utah run. I have heard that it is a great marathon to run.

Andrea said...

WOW!!!!!! I'm seriously so impressed. I love watching the end of Marathon races. They make me cry and your post was no different. What an accomplishment- now all you need to do is get to Boston!

Nate, Cami and Crew said...

You are amazing sis! I can't believe how fast you can run. What a blessing that your IT band didn't act up. I love your post.

Andrea Wilson said...

AMAZING! So stinkin' proud of you! You better run the Boston. My very fast cousin qualified and then went to sign up and there was sooooo many people qualified that they had to shorten the time by 20 seconds and she just barely missed it for this coming spring. You are amazing and so inspiring and so FAST! Good job, Amy!