Sidebar…my shift key quit working….if it looks like there should be more punctuation then is there, that’s why…all English teachers, Jamie, please forgive me…..
I knew going into the marathon it was going to be an experience. I knew it was going to be physically demanding. I knew it was going to be quite possibly the most mentally challenging thing I had ever done in my life. I knew it was going to me emotional, um, hi…I was tearing up at the standing in line to get on the bus. I knew there would be highs and lows and pain and elation and, and, and……
It was all of that and more.
Seriously, we drove up to Scottsbluff in a torrential downpour. I mean, we couldn’t see anything. I have learned being the ranchers wife, not to cuss the rain, so I didn’t, but I really, really hoped it would quite before 8am the following morning.
We rolled into town, checked into the hotel and went to the expo to pick up my packet. It’s a small race, so there isn’t much for an expo but I was happy to see there were a few more booths there then they had last year. The word is spreading, YAY.
Anyway, we ran into Rachel and Katie while there, and Ainslie had already gone and picked up here stuff. She, Ainslie, texted me earlier to pick up cowbells for the boys…I thought that was an awesome idea….give away cowbells at the expo for family and friends to shake along the route. Really, Dayle and the staff at MM don’t miss much when it comes to the little details that make the difference in a race experience.
Anyway, picked up my bib, grabbed some free stuff, and went to meet Ainslie for pre-race dinner at Whiskey Creek. I always have a steak before my race…always. Good thing I love steak because I’m to afraid to change things up, lol
The weather report for Saturday had changed slightly….as in 36 at 7am, with the dreaded W word making an appearance.
Wind – 25 to 30mph with gusts to 45-50.
Soooo, Ainslie and I talked about our clothing options…which were not much but both of us got smart and over-packed, yet determined we wouldn’t really know what we were going to show up in till the following morning. True story…I changed my mind 57 times.
We left the hotel at 623….after wanting to leave at 615 but we did not plan on scraping ice off the windshield.
WAAAAA……ICE. Yes, ice. I.C.E. Ice.
Oh lord, this was the time my nerves started to kick in.
pre-misery, oops I mean race.
We pulled in right after Ainslie, who had the same feeling regarding the ice as I did, and stood around, waiting to get on the bus to the marathon start at Wildcat Hills Nature Center. We got on the bus at 645, bus left at 7am but not before race director Dayle came on to give us a course update. With the rain the day before, they had to remove 1 water station back in the canal portion of the course because of the mud and mess that was caused. It was safer for the runners to move some stations around and remove one because of the ruts and mess that would be caused by the vehicles driving back there to get set up. We did not have a water problem…we still had water every 3 miles….they just moved a few around and honestly, while I could see where the station that was supposed to be there was located, I couldn’t really tell that anything was missing. PROPS to the crew for taking care of us in every situation.
We were also warned about the bike marshals not being on the back half of the course, the muddy canal part, because, again, of the ruts the bikes would make. Really, the warning was more for the lead marathoners because the bike marshals were going to veer off the course….do don’t follow them, was the moral of the story. I’m not a lead marathoner so I just had to follow the person in front of me…I could do that.
Anyway, the race started about 5 minutes late….I’m not sure why, just that something was going on down at the half marathon start so we had to wait. No biggie…National Anthem was performed and off we went….down, down, down….hill. The first 5 miles is a steady decline….which was not my most favorite part as I was worried about controlling my pace. I knew, from Deadwood that I had to control my downhill pace or my quads would quit on me. I didn’t need it to happen that early in the race, especially knowing that the last ½ was the hilly portion. Thankfully, momma to be Ainslie and baby marathon had the same plan, so we managed to pace each other to a bit faster pace than we wanted to be at, but we were able to slow down and settle in at Mile 2.
Everything cruised along well, easy paced average of 1035, which was exactly where I wanted to be. Ainslie and I hung together for the first 7 miles, when I lost her at a water station….running a marathon while pregnant means you stop at every potta-potty.
The first 12 miles went by at a nice pace…despite the wind. It was moving, but it was sunny, not a cloud in the sky and perfect temps….about 50 degrees by the time the craziness of the second half started.
At mile 12, we jumped onto the course where the half marathon started….which is Mitchell Pass. This is where we start the climb to the monument….and where on both sides of the road are massive rock formations that, which beautiful, do nothing for a runner but create a wind tunnel. I knew I was going to struggle, which is why I had the plan to just get.up.the.hill. I didn’t care how fast/slow it was…just to get up and get it over with. I checked my watch a few times and found my running pace to be a 5.1 and my walking pace at 4.9. I made the decision to switch to intervals of 4 to 1 interval to save some of my energy for the downhill…and coming up hill…and downhill….and coming up hill.
The start of Mitchell Pass.
Ill spare you the nasty details, but by this time, things were starting to ache when I saw Shawn at the top of the second hill, which is mile 16, I told him EVERYTHING HURTS.
The top of the second hill.
And it did…my ankle, my knee, my back and shoulders. Everything. And I had 10.2 miles to go..uhhh…so much for hitting the wall at 20 miles. But what could I do….put on a smile, tell myself I’m never doing this again and carry on…..which I did.
smile through the pain
I saw Shawn again at the next water station, which was at the start of the mud road that goes into the canal. By this time, the marathoners were spaced waaaaay out. I didn’t see anyone in front or behind me…..and I didn’t like it. This was the one part I really didn’t like….this was as solitary of running as there possibly can get. There is something about being there, on a dirt road, being totally alone and having your head tell you what a F’n moron you are because your body is telling your head you’re a F’n moron and having to keep pushing through. That moment, those 5 miles were 5 of the most painful miles of my life. 18-23 by.myself. It was then that mind over miles became painfully real to me. I stress the painful part.
The pain in my knee was terrible. I would run as much as I could, till a sharp, stabbing pain would kick in, then walk a bit till it felt a little better aka less sharp stabbing, and then run a bit. I was walking more than running by this time. I felt so defeated. I wanted to cry. I wanted to lay down in the path and wait for the slack van to come get it. Which was when I remember I was on a closed path so it could be awhile before the vehicle came to scoop me up off the ground.
It was around 22 that I had a moment. It was a bit surreal and will probably sound insane to most of you, but if you have run a pain filled full, then maybe you will get it…but I was standing in front of this beautiful rock formation. It was tall and framed in the sun and it was perfection. It was intimidating and rough but beautiful at the same time….much like my race. I realized where I was standing….I was on the Oregon Trail. THE OREGON TRAIL. I was standing where covered wagons and settlers had traveled, also facing pain and agony and pushing through. Pushing through to a new life. To change and opportunity and the chance to say they were someplace else. If they could do it, so could I. I could push on to new things. I could push past the pain and agony and finish this damn race under my own power. It hurt, it didn’t want to take another step but more than that, I didn’t want to quit. I started to think about all the people who told me they knew I could do it. The people who said you got this. Get it done, get after it. You have trained for this, you are ready.
I know you can do it.
I am proud of you.
You are inspiring.
I didn’t think I could do it for myself, but I damn sure wasn’t going to let anyone else down. And while I am the first person to say run for yourself and no one else, I now know that sometimes you need to hold on to something bigger than yourself when you need a push and don’t think you have it within yourself to do. I don’t know if I had it….at that time, if I did have it, I don’t think I knew I did….I needed something to help push me on and it was looking at where I was standing and listening to all the voices in my head telling me to keep moving.
I kept moving, the emotions were just about out of control…I passed a water station at 23 which put me on a sidewalk and back towards civilization, and asked them if they had any spare legs in the cooler…specifically the right one but I would take the left if I had it….they told me they were fresh out, and one lady told me I might be struggling but I still look cute and that was all that mattered. I kinda love that woman.
At mile 24, just as we were about to get onto the highway and to yet ANOTHER hill, I saw Shawn standing on the corner, cheering for me….and I lost it. I saw him and started to cry. I walked a bit and he put his arm around me and said, no you don’t, keep going…it sucks, it hurts but it’s almost done…and he ran with me for a bit. I loved him so much at that time….and I wanted him to stay and finish it off with me, but I also knew I was NOT running back to get the car so I pulled myself together, told him I was ok and to go back and get the car. Whatever happened, get that damn car to the finish line…as close to it as possible.
We wound our way through a subdivision, which had several people outside cheering us on….it was nice. Every corner had a friendly face telling me I was doing great and more importantly, I was close to the end.
We moved out of the subdivision and went down a beautiful tree lined road, which was also lined with American flags. Thanks to the wind, all unfurled and blowing in the wind. Definitely a sight. I turned past the cemetery, went to the goofy last hill….yes, this course is nothing but hills I cant make this shit up, and heard the faint drumming of native American drums. I thought I was imagining as I love the sound of a drum. I grew up listening to drums in my house as my mother was very active in the native American studies in our school system. Very peaceful and relaxing to me and again, an emotional moment. Add that in with the fact that once I turned the corner where they were sitting, I could see.the.finishline.
I could see it. I was there…..I got a final push and I don’t know where it came from and really, in all honestly, it wasn’t going to break the sound barrier but I had something to give and I gave it. I sprinted to the finish line, saw the clock 5;05 and some change and checked my watch and was at 4;59;38 unofficial…thank goodness for auto pause Dayle, who I had emailed with multiple times during the preparations but had never met in person, jumped out from behind the banner and screamed
TARA, FINISHED HER FIRST FULL MARATHON
I got my medal, saw friends and Shawn and started to cry. It was over. IT WAS OVER AND I WAS A MARATHONER. I’m pretty sure the first thing I said was never again. I sat down on the grass and didn’t want to move….but it hit me. I was a marathoner. I had finished the damn thing…all of it. I might have walked, cried, begged and hoped for a mountain lion to come out and drag me to the finish line as that seemed like the better of my options….mountain lion or own power…I was all about the mountain lion….however I got it done, it was done.
Husband of the year.
Both saying NEVER AGAIN
Ainslie and baby marathon came in about 10 minutes after me…Rachel and Katie were about an hour ahead of me and Kelly, another Platte River Fitness Series competitor who was also running her first full came in at an amazing 3;54, for 4th woman overall and 1st in her age group…woot woot.
It’s been a week and I’m still not positive I will ever do another one but I have removed the never part from my vocabulary. If, IF, I do it again will be a very long time, and when the boys are in school so it doesn’t take away as much time from them as it did this time around.
It was everything I wanted it to be. It was everything I was afraid it would be. I left everything I had on the road….I couldn’t have done anything else….It was my pace. My race. My run.