This race was supposed to be the second part of a recovery experiment I had been working on for a few years, but since I had to drop out of Ogden, all that went out the window. The initial plan was to race Ogden at a hard effort, follow a planned recovery regimen and then two weeks later race Utah Valley at another hard effort and see if I could produce the same finish times. In other words, could I plateau my fitness to hold hard efforts that close together. The courses looked similar enough (and they are), and the marathons were both local for low expenses. I couldn’t do this in training because I don’t have the funds to set up race “simulations” and I needed verifiable results, so these particular races back to back were my best option.
I dropped out of Ogden at the halfway point because I had been vomiting and felt something was really wrong. I made the decision a little before the mile 11 marker, but needed to get somewhere where I could find a ride back. Long story short, I had irritated my stomach ulcer. It sounds worse than it is, but there are levels and having pushed too far in the past I knew I made the right decision to drop out. That being said, I was really disappointed and frustrated that my experiment was ruined. I didn’t know if the opportunity would come up again, and even if it did, I wanted to be done racing so often. I wasn’t sure if I should even bother doing Utah Valley anymore. Even if I healed enough physically to be able to run it, I knew racing it was almost assuredly out. It took me about 20 minutes to decide what I was going to do, because what if…
It was – racing was definitely out of the question. But I didn’t know that for sure until race morning. No matter what the odds are, I will always hope for the best possible outcome.
The two weeks in between Ogden and Utah Valley were a little rough as far as my running life went. I was frustrated, sad, and unmotivated (and it wasn’t just because I couldn’t have coffee). But I knew I had to get those runs and workouts in, give Utah Valley a go, and move on with Chicago training or else I was going to spiral into a funk. I was reminded of Scott Jurek’s book when he would say, “Sometimes you just do things!” This was one of those times.
My alarm went of at 2:45 a.m. because the buses to the start started leaving at 3:15 (GEEZ!). Everything was pretty typical of a race morning, and the organization of the event seemed pretty good. I decided this marathon was all going to be about effort and I wouldn’t pay attention to the splits. My stomach had been feeling fine, but given the distance I wasn’t 100% sure it would be okay. There were definitely improvements made in the last two weeks, but I didn’t want to backtrack or run myself into the ground.
At 6:00 a.m. we were off and as I said, I simply went by effort. Rolled with the downhill for the first seven miles, tried to relax for the uphills in the middle, and did my best to focus on forward motion for the last six. Because it was a small marathon, the hardest part was not racing. I happened to be third until mile 18, but I couldn’t push to keep it. My stomach was okay, but I still felt it.
You read and are told that the gut is the core to your energy source, but reading and knowing is different than feeling. These past two weeks I could really feel that. My legs felt ready, and I realize that’s why I still thought I could maybe race, but the endurance and energy required for your body to perform at it’s best wasn’t there.
When I was able to see the finish line, I felt so grateful that everything went relatively well and it was almost over. I was reminded of why I love the marathon so much. Whether you finish in two hours or six, it’s hard. It will always be hard. I was advised not to do this marathon. It wouldn’t accomplish anything or help me achieve my running goals, and would reflect poorly on my “resume.” My response to that doesn’t need to be said here, but you can imagine. I will drop out or remove myself from the starting line if I am seriously ill or injured, but I will not throw in the towel because of a poor performance probability. Respect the distance. There’s no cherry picking and no guaranteed goal getting. If you’re not willing to be humbled, then the marathon is not for you. This one gave me my focus and motivation back.
Time – 3:03:45
42nd of 889 overall
5th of 375 female
1st of 54 in age group