Ooh. Ooh. Ooh. Ooh.
That's the sound I make as I grasp the bannister and try and maneuver my way down the stairs from my bedroom to the living room. I am walking gingerly, big curbs are a problem, and when I tried to nap yesterday, I kept waking because my joints would ache and my muscles would spasm in pain.
The price you pay for a downhill marathon? I guess. Was it worth it? Yes. And the biggie. Did I qualify for Boston?
Provo Canyon was the backdrop for this year's Utah Valley Marathon. Though the course begins in Wallsburg, six miles to the East of the main canyon, most of those first miles were run in the dark amidst dreamy bucolic farmlands. Horses seemed to call for our attention as they playfully kicked up their heels and craned their necks for a better view. Cows mooed in the pastures like spectators cheering us on. Could the animals feel our excitement? Did they know what we were getting ourselves into?
When we turned the tight corner at Deer Creek reservoir and runners began to fill the expanse of the canyon road, the darkness faded from black to heavenly blue. The morning sun was still behind the clouds, but the muted sky seemed to electrify the green canyon walls of Aspens, fir trees and scrub oak. We got a little rain during the first half of the run but we were feeling great and the slope of the highway seemed to pull us toward the finish line.
And the beat played on.
For me, the first 20 miles the marathon were a success. My pace was good and I had even banked some time toward my BQ. The ultimate test was the last 10k when I turned my body toward University Avenue and I looked toward the dead straight blacktop ahead of me. Ten K. Doable. Now it counts. But at this point my pace began to drop and in the back of my mind I questioned the "feel" of my speed. Would it get me there?
Amy, my running partner and pacer, now began to push me. She would run a few steps in front of me and wave her arm back to lasso me in. "Come On. Let's go!" Automatically she would hand me water or rip the tops off the Hammer Gels. An angel. I tried to match her stride for stride, but her foot strike seemed weightless and her body language was light and flighty. I was anything but that as I ticked off the last five miles.
I've heard it before and now I resoundingly can agree, that last "point two" is what gets ya. We turned into the Provo Mall parking lot and like out of a special effects camera the trail to the finish line suddenly stretched like a rubber band into oblivion. I had picked up my stride, put my mind into a sprinting mode and tried to push my engine into it's next gear. But I rounded the corner and saw the digital clock glaring one minute past my goal time.
I crossed the line a little like Bambi on his new legs and grabbed the arms of my friends who helped me to the medical cots for a quick stretch and a rubdown. No, this is not my first rodeo, those medical tents are the best thing going after an endurance event. As I lay down and looked up into the faces of my smiling friends and family, I realized they were genuinely happy for me. Boston, off by one minute. But in the big picture, I had smashed my previous marathon by 17 minutes. A victory however bittersweet.
Two days later I question how I could've found that sixty seconds. Change my training plan? Walk the aid stations to utilize different muscles? Held back more at at the start? Heck, I don't know. Today I am happy for my race results and thankful for a body that will allow me to run a marathon and participate in an Ironman. I appreciate my friends, my husband, my kids and my family. I cherish the memories of finish lines with fellow racers and athletes and their own personal victories.
And I resolve, more than ever, to run Boston in 2011.
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