I can’t believe Boston is less than 3 weeks away. Time seems to speed by in the last few weeks of training for any marathon but to say I don’t know where time is going this time around would be an understatement. It’s CRAZY how fast each week is going by. With the race being so close I can’t help but think about the journey that got me to where I am. Everyone has a journey that includes highs and lows, struggles and victories, both on the road and in life. So much in life can affect how and when everything you’ve worked for comes to fruition. This is my story.
I’ve been running marathons since I was 18, but I never trained for any significant speed until a couple years ago when I got serious about training to compete. I was done just running races to run them and wanted to see what my body could do. I ran my qualifying times in 2013. I signed up for the Utah Grand Slam, which is a marathon race series where you run 4 marathons within the year, and enlisted Josse to be my coach. She gave me weekly workout schedules that got me to where I needed to be to qualify. The first marathon was at the end May and the last was at the beginning of October so they were relatively close together. Originally the plan was to run the first marathon easy and try to qualify for Boston in the second marathon. Part way through my training I decided it made more sense to try on the first one and if I didn’t make it I would try again in the last one.
Ogden Marathon, May 18, 2013
The first course I qualified on was the Ogden Marathon. Such a pretty marathon, especially with lots of rain and when you take the time to look around and see all the green along the course. Rainy, cold days are gorgeous, but running a marathon in heavy rain is not ideal and this was one of the hardest marathons I’ve ever run. It rained the entire race and my calves were tight and sore from mile 6 to the end. All I could do for the duration was try to stay positive and I made a huge effort to try and focus on my surroundings to take my mind off the pain. I really didn’t think it was possible to pull off a Boston qualifying time at this race but I never gave up. The course is a mix of downhill, rolling hills and flat. The last part of the race is pretty flat and feels really hard coming off a downhill section out of the Ogden Canyon. With 2 miles to go my legs were done and I didn’t think I had it in me but I still pushed. Even with a bathroom stop, and the struggle of pulling up and down soaked shorts, I pulled off a 3:31:09. With my qualifying time being 3:35:00 it was good enough. The picture above is the moment I saw my mom and sister cheering for me. The moment before I did not look so happy. Amazing what a friendly face can do for you. My 1st time really trying to qualify had netted me a personal win. Needless to say, I was pretty stoked… and I vowed to never run a marathon in Kinvaras in a marathon again.
Utah Valley Marathon, June 8, 2013
The 2nd marathon was 3 weeks later in Provo Utah. The Utah Valley Marathon is another downhill course through the mountains but it is by no means easy. It has some pretty big uphill sections and I was so glad I had no time goals. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be being so close to Ogden. This photo(and the Ogden Marathon photo) was taken by my step dad, Mel. He was a big part of my life for 10 years and he was a huge supporter. He was at every race he could be at with his camera ready to catch every moment. I cherish these photos and this one especially because a few weeks after this photo was taken he passed away tragically and unexpectedly.
I have never lost someone that I was so close to and going through the grieving process was especially hard. My body doesn’t handle emotion well and it physically drained me. Exercise is something I use as an outlet for many things, especially pain, so feeling so drained only made things harder. I had to allow myself to go through it though and when I was able to continue exercising it was definitely something I used to cope. After losing Mel, Josse suggested we dedicate our races for the rest of the year to him and wear blue ribbons in his memory. I loved the idea and he was in all of our thoughts when we were out on the course.
Park City Marathon, August 17, 2013
With everything that happened in the previous 2 month, Park City Marathon came at the perfect time. This is one of the hardest Utah marathons but worth every step. Using running and exercise as an outlet during this time was one of the most beneficial things I think I could have done for myself. This marathon is gorgeous and really shows what Utah is all about. You run next to the mountains, through fields that I was just amazed by, and watching the hot air balloon that was launched as we ran was perfect. It has quite a climb up to a ski resort and it was difficult but I could not have asked for a better experience during this time than running this race. I loved it.
St. George Marathon, October 5, 2013
This race was like a dream. It’s not often when a race comes together so perfectly and everything works out according to plan. For my last marathon of the season I was going to go all out. I trained hard for this one and I had a goal time of sub 3:20:00. Although I had a time goal I didn’t feel any pressure. I’d already qualified for Boston and that was my main goal for the year. This race was like the icing on the cake and I think that contributed to how epic it turned out. This course is aided but has some good hills in it too. I had a pace band to keep me on track and I just went for it. There were times I was going faster than my pace band said I should go, and I would freak out a little and think I should slow down, but I was always in control and decided to go with what felt good. The miles ticked by and by mile 18 I knew that I had my goal if I could just keep things in check until the finish line. I had a huge smile on my face from this point on. I felt fantastic and nothing could have wiped that smile off. It was surreal. Even with all the years behind me of running, I never imagined my legs could run that fast in a marathon. I did start to have a little knee pain around the mile 18 mark but I was able to control that. I did have to work for this, but I’d have to say this race was the best marathon experience of my life. If only they could all feel this good.
So there it is. 3:16:57 was my final qualifying time and I could not have asked for a better experience in achieving my goals. What a year. Looking back on everything that went on and everything I was able to accomplish brings up so much emotion. I’m so grateful to be able to run and to be able to go to Boston in a few weeks. I have been battling injury for almost a year and have worked my ass off to get my body back to where I can make it through a marathon again. I have so many people that have helped me get here and I can’t thank them enough. I have no time goal for this one. Just run and take it all in. The work is done, I’m ready to race and I can’t wait!