Logistics. It’s tricky, tricky business when both you and your spouse are running a race and you are away from home and you have to be to the buses that take you to the start line at 4:00am. And you have three children, including one that tends to cry when her mom leaves.
So, first, props to my sister and her husband who not only let us take over their living room for a night, but also got up at 3:45 to take my crying baby off my hands so Micah and I could get to the start line. (Last year my brother’s secret fiancee allowed us to pick her up at 6:30 in the morning so she could watch our kids during the race. It wasn’t until after the race that my brother officially announced their engagement.)
But after we managed to sneak out the door, leaving Little Miss in the capable and patient hands of my sister and brother-in-law, all went well. Micah, another sister, and two of my brothers drove to the bus pick-up and boarded buses that took us up the canyon to the start. Once we got there we warmed ourselves by the fire pits because, as you might imagine, the mountains of Utah are not a warm place to be at 5:00 in the morning, no matter what time of year.
It was on our way up to the start line and as we stood around the fire that we really talked about our race goals. This was maybe not the best move, but it seems to be the way I roll these days. Up until then my goal had been to get to the start line pain-free. And with my IT band feeling better, it was time to think about the finish line. Having hardly run in the past couple of weeks, and having just come off an injury, I was hesitant to think that I could even get close to a PR – which was 1:36:05. It wasn’t on my radar at all. But 1:40 seemed like a reasonable time to try to beat – for both me and Micah, who is less injured than before but not entirely healed – so in the minutes leading up to the start time, we found the 1:40 pacer and kept close to him. My brother – who was running his first half – also didn’t really have any idea what he was capable of, but thought 2 hours was a good goal. He didn’t want to get beat by any speedy marathoners.
At promptly 6:00am – if there’s one thing this race does really well, it’s start on time – the air horn blew and we were off. The pacer went out really fast, but Micah and I decided to give our bodies time to warm up, which was a good idea because we were both really cold. And for the first few miles I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to push myself at all. The bottoms of my feet were a little numb and I had a bit of a side stitch. But by mile 5 we were warm and feeling good, and at about the half-way point we pushed past the pacer and never looked back.
It wasn’t until around mile 9 that we finally felt the sun, and at that point I was no longer worried about my knee but I was a little worried about poor fueling, so I took some Powerade gel (I think it was Powerade . . .) and continued to take a little bit at a time for the last few miles. It seemed to keep me from getting too fatigued.
Now, if there’s another thing this race does really well, it’s taunt you with the finish line. You can see it from more than a mile away. And once we hit the 12 mile mark, Micah turned to me and said, “We’re in 5K mode now. It’s not supposed to feel good.” We tried to crank it up a notch. This was much harder for me than for him. I was already pushing myself pretty hard, and while I could see the finish line, I knew it still wasn’t all that close. I tried to keep up with Micah for that last mile, but at one point I did actually stop and shake out because I needed to loosen up. It was just for a second, and it really helped.
Near mile 13 was when I first realized how close we were to our PR. I couldn’t remember exactly what our PR was, just that it was 1:36ish. The clock read 1:37:15 (ish) when we crossed the line, but I knew that depending on how long it took us to cross the start line, it could have been a PR. This was, of course, way better than I expected and I was totally thrilled about it – we both were. And then, as we were getting pictures taken in the finish line area we heard my brother’s name announced as he was coming across the line. We’d only been there a few minutes and hadn’t expected him for 20 more. But there he was! Finished at 1:41! Even more thrilling than getting so close to a PR!
We met up with my family and started the long wait for my brother and sister who were running the marathon. Just before the finish clock read 4:18, my brother came running down the chute. Official time: 4:14. And from then until my sister came in we stood and cheered the runners as they came in. The clock said 5:02 when Abby crossed the line, but her official time was 4:59:56. She crossed just ahead of the 5:00 pacer for a PR.
And then it was time to go to the Kids 1K, which both Manchild and Squish were super excited to run. I ran with Manchild, keeping up with him as he weaved his way through so many strollers and holding his hand to help him keep going when he got tired. Micah ran with Squish, who was similarly determined to run the whole thing. They both finished the race red-faced and sweaty and so happy to have done it.