Saturday, November 3, 2012


run a marathon
officially crossed off the bucket list.

I dont know how to start this post. do i tell about the day in narrative form? do I give all the background leading up to the actual race? do I tell about my emotions? my fears? lessons learned? I have no clue. so meet me word vomiting onto blank page staring back at me...

the week leading up.

monday and tuesday were great days as far as the marathon was concerned. I went to a friends house for dinner and her roommate had just run a marathon. She told me everything, and got me as excited as could be for the race. She told me things she had done which made the race more meaningful, such as dedicating each mile to a different person and then thinking about that person for that mile and why they are important to you. I was excited and feeling good.

The list.
Whole Race: Heavenly Father
1. Mary
2. Cathy (Mom)
3.  Bill (Dad)
4. Matt
5. Keri
6. Michael and Rachel
7. Jonathan and Chelsea
8. Becca and Jeff
9. Matt and Keri's Kids
10. Michael and Rachel's Kids
11. Jonathan and Chelsea's Kids
12. Kayla
13. Jenna
14. Cali
15. Diana
16. Grandparents
17. Extended Family
18. Student Services
19. EFY Youth
20. EFY 2011 Team
21. EFY 2012 Team
22. Past Roommates
23. Past Relationships
24. Future Kids
25. Future Husband
26. Me
* I could write a novel about why each of these people are so important to me but that would take this post from the size of China to the size of Russia
Then Wednesday came, I looked up information about packet pick-up, and other details of the actual race and suddenly was filled with the feeling of "oh crud, what did I sign up for!" I was scared. terrified. nervous. And what accompanies those emotions- nausea. So I felt sick to my stomach, and had no appetite which then made me more emotional inside and more nervous because if I didn't eat I would die on Saturday. (talk about a bad cycle to be in). I went to institute. turned down ice cream. (shocking I know). and then went to support our kickball team. skinny jeans and a cardigan- i had no thoughts of playing based on the track record for injuries on our team- who knew you could pull a muscle in kickball. So I went to cheer and build team morale. They won the first game in the tournament. the next game? right after. they only had 7 players and somehow convinced me to play. I felt emotionally unstable, and my normal excited self was replaced with oscar the grouch. I played- after borrowing a random girls shoes. The extent of me playing was kicking the ball (and not running to first) and standing at home plate, and pretending to play catcher. I went home, called my home teachers, and got a blessing that I would stop freaking out and be able to eat.

the shoes Josh found for me. shiny. and 2 sizes too big.

the next day was better. I was able to eat, but still was apprehensive about the upcoming race. I scrambled that night to get everything set. I ran to runner's corner and stocked up on gu for the race, and got some last minute tips from the worker man. I washed all my clothes, packed, and loaded my phone with music. What I thought would take 15 minutes took 2 hours because of "updates" so rather than getting to bed at 10, it was after midnight.

I have the bestest hometeachers- who know the way to my heart. They stopped by on thursday with a "naked" protein drink for "pre-marathon" and double stuff oreos for "post-marathon"

friday morning was full of excitement. my parents were on the plane, everyone at work was wishing me luck. Jessica (the sweetest girl in the whole wide world) had gotten me some marathon necessities including icy hot. and it felt real. 5 hours of work and one class later, I was home packing the car and doing some last minute cleaning. And then we were off. We swung by Matt and Keri's to pick up the rents, gave some hugs, jumped in the back and started the 4 hour drive down to St. George.

St George. the day before.

The drive was good. Mary and I slept, and talked. Bill told his injury stories, which always bring entertainment. Mary and I discussed how the race was going to work. She had kidney stones and wasnt sure if she would do it, but made me promise if she did I would be honest and leave her if she was holding me back. I told her that she wasn't allowed to say "you can leave me" until she absolutely meant it. honesty. the best policy.

we got to st george and made our way to the Dixie Convention Center to pick up our packets. bib number 8087.

 the expo was huge, and I could have wandered around all the different booths all night. We stopped by the cliff bar stand for Bill, and I grabbed a pacing wristband. coolest thing ever. I loved it. and then we were off to carbo-load at the pasta factory with the hostetters.

The wait was long, and the longer I stood there the more nervous I felt for the next day, and the more I just wanted to be in bed. Luck had it that a family they called was no longer there, so we got to go earlier than expected. We pushed the tables together and all gathered around ready for some delicious food. Mary and I sat there in shock as the others talked about there excitement and hopeful times. I just wanted to finish. False, I just wanted to go back to May and not sign up. What had I done? Mary and I split the pesto pasta (My boss' advice was to not eat more than you usually do so you dont feel sick, and considering we didn't have much of an appetite it was perfect). We ate quickly, made the "we need to go" face to the parental units and headed towards home. We made a pit stop at the finish line before making it to the Ryther's. We parked, got out, walked the last .1 miles of the race, visualized finishing, wanted to die, and then got back in the car. We made it to the Ryther's, had blessings (I needed all the help I could get), and then curled up in bed to give my body the last bit of rest it could get before the next morning.

race day.

the alarm went off early. I woke up excited. excited to put on my running gear. excited to get on the buses. and excited for the race. it was so different from the feelings of the day before.

writing out the "dedication list" before leaving for the race
about to load the buses. still scared as could be.
we made our way to the bus pick-up along with hundreds of other runners. we waited. loaded. and made the 26.2 mile journey to the starting line. I slept. that was the advice I had gotten from people. sleep on the bus, that way you don't mentally psych yourself out. That was always my least favorite part of our Saturday early morning runs. Making the drive and thinking of how I was going to run, it seemed to take forever, and my heart would sink. Sleeping was the best thing. Before I knew it we were at the start and I had no idea how long it had taken.

I LOVE start lines. there is such an energy. an excitement. The St. George Marathon has been voted one of the most organized races and you could tell. It was an amazing starting line complete with music, first aid, bon fires, and porta potties. I still love the line waiting for the bathroom before a race- weird, i know. but it was great. we waited among the crowds- went to the bathroom- and then it was time to start.
my favorite part is waiting in line for the porta pottys. weird? i know.
getting more excited
It was just another training run. that's what we kept telling ourselves. just take it easy. don't get too excited, don't pass people. just run. the first seven miles seemed to fly by as we talked about the people we had dedicated each mile to (an idea from Amanda Garlock's roommate). We told stories, and why we loved them. We talked about our own lives, and laughed at the signs along the road.

Mile 7 is when the hill started. it seemed to go on forever. 4 miles of uphill. it wasn't awful. we stayed on track to finish in under 5, even though we took a few walking breaks. Mary was an absolute trooper with her Kidney stones... i have no idea how she did it.

We stuck with what we had done training. "gu"s every 45 minutes. taking it easy. and just having fun. we made it to the half way point and Mary wasn't feeling so great. She had heard the idea of run five and walk one, and decided she wanted to try it. We had prepared for this. The moment where we would split. I knew I would go crazy walking- I was feeling great, but could I mentally do it alone? We talked about it for a little bit, and decided the time had come. She started walking and I kept pace. Immediately it was a battle of the mind. I felt overwhelmed thinking of the next hours by myself. I needed Mary- she distracted me... "no, I can do this. you've run a half alone, you can do this" it was a battle. I said a prayer that I would be able to have the strength and will power to finish without Mary. Suddenly she was next to me. Literally. She had the same thoughts, and decided she wasn't ready to break. The next few moments were filled with very cheesy sentences coming out of my mouth like "I missed you" "I couldn't do it without you" etc... we ran the next mile together, and then it was time. We hugged, and separated.

I was okay on my own. I people watched, and thought about life, and what I was accomplishing. I was lost in my thoughts when I heard someone say, "you were an efy counselor." I turned and a girl was talking to me. She had been in Ohio for the last few years and had recognized me. We talked for a bit, updating each other on our lives, and getting to know each other better, and then she stopped to walk. She was a tender mercy, and made that mile seem to fly by.

Mile 16. I got to see my parents. I had called my mom a mile before letting her know I was almost there and to make sure I was on the correct side of the road. She told me where they were, and I tried to talk to her while extremely winded. I was running down a hill, seeing the crowds of families below when I saw a man holding a sign, "may the course be with you" with a picture of yoda. It made me chuckle and I was going to tell him I liked his sign when I realized the man holding the sign was my dad. I have never been so happy to see him. I ran up and gave him a huge hug, before continuing to my mom waiting below. A family friend came and met me, and ran with me the rest of the way. All I wanted was a hug from my mom. She gave words of encouragement and I continued to run. 10 more miles to go. I was feeling good.
the hill before getting to where the parentals were
running in for the hug- gross and sweaty
Mile 17. not feeling so great anymore. my right quad was starting to bother me, it had never done this before and was the weirdest. the mental tricks started. trying to distract myself wasn't working. i could only focus on the weird pain in my leg. thinking about the person mile seventeen was dedicated worked for a few seconds. its funny how telling mary about them, and telling her stories seemed to take up the whole mile but I could recount all of my memories and emotions tied with that person to myself in a matter of seconds. I came up to the next aid station and they had biofreeze at the first aid station. I decided it was worth it to stop, and jogged over to them, lifted my running capris and had them apply it to my knees. The biofreeze seemed to seep up into my quads and it was absolute heaven.

Mile 19. Someone at the aid station was broadcasting conference. It was like an added boost of energy and the spirit and exactly what I needed. I felt rejuvenated, even if I only was able to hear 15 seconds of it broadcasted, it was a reminder that I wasn't running this race alone. We had never been alone, we had had the help of our Heavenly Father in training, and he was there with us on this race. I also renewed my love of orange slices. For some reason they taste heavenly during races and I can't get enough of them.

Mile 22. the biofreeze had rubbed off and the pain was back. this aid station had bengay rubs. I ran over, decided it was worth it and hiked my pants as high as I could so they could get to my quads. My black running capris now had some nice white smears, but it was well worth it. My legs felt great, and odd. Where the biofreeze had just numbed, I could feel this go from icy to hot. My legs just felt so warm, but it was good enough (it helped win the mental battle). I finally decided to break out my music. I had my playlist of songs with the word "run" in the title and it was amazing the energy it gave me. "Run Run Run" by Natasha Bedingfield... love. love. love.

Mile 24. They were handing out bags of ice. I grabbed one just to hold. The St. George heat was starting to kick in and i just wanted to be done with the race and in an ice bath. I held the ice in my hands and it did nothing but make my hands cold... it was worth a try

Mile 25. They handed out cold wash clothes. HEAVEN! they felt so wonderful. Also I got to see my parents again. I might have gotten a little teary eyed as I saw my mom. I was so close and I loved her so much.

Mile 26. .2 miles to go. I could see the finish line. the thought that crossed my mind "I could just stop right now. That is a valid option. I don't have to finish. I am done, I don't want to keep going." I kept going. but seriously... who thinks that when they see the finish line. dumb dumb dumb.

Mile 26.2. I finished. wanted to throw up when they gave me a popsicle and just wanted to lay down and pass out.

the finisher medals were the coolest

after the race.

cathy is the best and came and talked to me over the fence for what seemed like forever. she told me she was proud of me (probably the best words a daughter can hear). i told her i wanted to pass out. she told me I wasn't allowed to, but that I could lay down. I did. It made life ten times better. I ate food. great harvest bread equals perfection. the "runner's zone" was amazing with the most post raceness that I had ever seen. after waiting a while we decided to try to find mary. we walked back, saw Bill, kept walking and eventually found Mary and Cami Jo walking in. Mary was amazing. She had finished even though she felt awful. She had wanted to quit, but didn't know how to get the shuttles or "wagons of shame" to stop and pick her up so she just kept going. We walked the last 1.5 miles with her, and ran in with her.

mary still going strong.
she looked beautiful! but for real!

how we really feel after running. our half is on the left, and our full on the right.

The rest of the trip included an ice bath and an uncomfortable ride back to provo. My legs HATED me for making them sit in a car for four hours. That night we celebrated with Bangkok Grill take-out and seeing family.

all in all, it was a great experience. and it's true what they say- you catch a bug. I am ready to run another one. I thought there would be an amazing sense of accomplishment that came when I crossed the finish line. An instantaneous change in how I felt, and who I was. Its the same feeling that I thought would come when I turned 16, or when I stepped off the plane in Europe. It never comes. It is gradual. The change didn't come when I crossed the finish line, but when I woke up at 5 every saturday to train, when we signed up, when it seemed impossible after EFY, when we would go to bed early on friday nights after spending the evening driving the canyon to make sure it would be okay to run. It came slowly over time. It reminds me of the talk my dad gave at Arielle's baptism. He talked about how she probably wouldn't feel different after she got baptized because the change came as she learned to love the gospel. I still don't feel much different than before- it didn't feel like that great of an accomplishment (my mom said not to say that because it negates others who have run marathons... don't get me wrong it is hard and an amazing thing, but when I crossed the finish line it didn't seem like it was that hard... the reason? i trained, with Heavenly Father's help.)

I was sore that night, and the next day, but by Monday I felt back to normal. I could walk up and down stairs with minimal pain, and the only residual pain were my feet which took a beating. Luckily for me I have a doctor cousin, scotty, who performed surgery on my toe (aka drained a blister).

I feel this sense of needing a "lessons learned" section. but this blog post is already the size of china. so in short. all things are possible with the Lord, and you can do hard things if you put your mind to it. and I have the most amazing parents in the world. and friends and running buddies are essential.

1 comment:

  1. Ellie I am so proud of you!!! You are amazing! xoxo