The anxiety started to set in when I first checked the forecasts. It was bleak - high of 65 with a 40% chance of rain. I kept a vigilant watch on weather.com, desperately hoping for a turnaround, but the prognosis kept getting worse and worse. I watched as the high temp dropped from 65 to 57, with the 40% chance of rain holding strong. I braced myself for a long run in a Bear Lake downpour.
Krista and I set off for Garden City around 3pm on Friday, with her 3-year-old daughter in tow. The drive was lengthy and my anxiety was deepening. All the preparation I had put into this weekend, and I felt as though I had done nothing.
We pulled into the Bear Lake KOA just before dinner time and set up our digs in cabin 18. I counted myself lucky I wouldn't be sleeping in a tent in the rain that night. Krista was the most fabulous travel agent making all the travel arrangements. She developed a stress fracture late in her training and was unable to run the race with me, but was bound and determined to come and support me (for which I was extremely grateful)! We did some carbo-loading at the Bear Lake Motor Lodge (a fancy meal of fettucini alfredo, garlic bread, and cheese sticks) and went back to our humble abode for the night. After attempting to watch He's Just Not That Into You, we realized we were far too tired and were able to turn in around 10:30.
I reported to the shuttle bright and early around 6am and hopped on, trying to mentally prepare myself for the challenge that lay ahead of me. I shoveled a banana and a vitamin water down my throat, hoping it would be enough. In my training, my longest run was only 10.25 miles, so I was a little worried about actually getting to the 13.1. I said a quick prayer and started to talk to a couple of the girls on the bus. I got to know a couple of girls from Logan, Traci and Katie, and we waited for the start of the race together.
We waited....and waited...and waited. There was no actual start time posted on the website, nor at packet pickup, but there were rumors that we would start at 7:00 am. 7 came and went, as did 7:30. It was drizzling rain, which was definitely not good for morale. I was thinking about how far I could be along the beaten path, but realized there was no good to that. The runners started to get anxious and started congregating behind the sorry excuse for a "start line" around 7:35. Fortunately the rain let up and we could see patches of sunlight on the west side of the lake. The race director gave a few instructions, letting us know that we would be sharing the road with traffic and that we should be cognizant of what is going on around us, and sent us off with a bang at about 7:40.
I was determined to maintain my pace throughout the race, only stopping to walk if I really needed to. I kept reciting to myself the mantra "pain is inevitable, suffering is optional." I was not going to allow myself to suffer (at least until the end of the race). The adrenaline was pulling me through quite nicely. In fact, Traci's husband managed to snap a shot of me around mile 7 or 8 (as we were going uphill for what seemed like forever - doesn't my leg look AWESOME?!). It was also raining again at this point, but surprisingly, I wasn't bothered by it.
I was feeling my energy plummet as I got to the rest stop at the sign that read 3 miles to go. I knew I had reached the furthest I had ever run before, and decided to have a half a banana to take me to the finish line. I walked for a minute or so while I ate my banana and had a little self-talk. I mentally calculated the time it would take me to reach the end and again convinced my brain (and my legs) that I could make it. I took off again, and to my delight, John Mayer came on the Shuffle. My Stupid Mouth is not one of my favorites of John's, but I figured, if he would take the time to run with me, I would accept whatever he would give me. It was a very pleasant 4 minutes on the route.
The last 2 miles felt like 6 as my legs quit cooperating. I was sending every shred of positive energy to keep my legs moving in forward propulsion. Both of my achilles began to ache at this point, making it very difficult to maintain any kind of technique. I didn't really care, as my only "real" goal was finishing. My secondary goal was 2:30:00. As I got closer and closer to the finish, people began lining up along the route to cheer us on. It was truly appreciated (and motivating - as long as there were people watching, I couldn't stop to walk). I got to the final yards of the route and I was coached to expose my number (which I had pinned under my jacket, assuming I would have removed it by the end of the race). In a "flashing" maneuver, I lifted my jacket and showed the crowd my number, and held the position as I began my sprint to the finish. I crossed the finish line with flair and felt a huge sense of accomplishment as I slowed to a walk. Krista and Savannah were there to greet me with hugs and compliments, proving to me that I needed a "fan club" at the finish line. I'm so grateful that Krista still came to support me!
I made my way up to the pavilion where they had posted the official times and was completely overcome when I saw that I had finished in 2:15:09. I was so shocked that I had to double and triple check in case of error. That was a full 15 minutes faster than my goal - a 10m 30s per-mile pace. I was beaming. I was overcome with a sense of pride in an accomplishment I had worked so hard to achieve. Again, I have to sing Krista's praises for convincing me to run in the first place. I had a really great time, and I think that the experience was a good one - and I definitely haven't ruled out running another half. You won't be hearing me say "I want to do 26.2" anytime soon (or ever), but I'm sure there's another 13.1 in my future. I now comprehend the old adage, "The greater the pain, the sweeter the victory."