Saturday, September 29, 2012

My Exclusive Marathon Tell-All

My original title was "Slow and Steady", but "My Exclusive Marathon Tell-All" felt more exciting.  Let's begin with the obvious--I was slow and steady and yes, I finished the race!!  And now I will tell you every nitty-gritty little detail you could possibly want to know and then some.  Brace yourself, this post is not Short and Sweet.
This is not me at the finish.  This is me at the park in Layton, where several hours later, I will finish the race.  I got on my bus at 4:50 AM.  I took the longest 50 minute bus ride way the heck out onto Antelope Island.  Finishing a marathon is not such an unusual feat, so I knew it was possible.  And I'd done the training, so on one level I knew I'd make it back to that park.  But as each mile passed outside the darkened window of the school bus, I was having trouble understanding how this was to be done.
Let me take a moment to pay homage to the really nice jacket I'm wearing.  It was a $55 dollar jacket that I got last night at Kohl's for $15 thanks to some fabulous coupons.  It was a good jacket.
And I'll never see it again because I dropped it at an aid station along the course and it was nowhere to be found at the finish line.  I hope someone get's really good use out of that jacket, but I'm afraid it won't be me.  It was labeled with my name and phone number, so I'll hope it was an accident and some honest person will contact me. 

Back to the bus ride.  I had a most interesting seat mate.  I was pretty nervous and I said a silent prayer for a kind, understanding seat mate.  Many of my prayers for the day were answered and I suppose this one was too in a rather humorous way.  I'm just going to give you the conversation with my thoughts in parenthesis.

Me:  Good morning (well, if we're going to sit by each other for the next 50 minutes I think we should speak.)

Tall Skinny Athletic Looking Guy:  Good morning. (He acted very startled, but I don't think it was so shocking for me to say good morning).

Me:  Have you run this race before?

Him: No

Me:  Have you run any marathon before? 

Him:  Yes, I ran the Ogden Marathon in 2007.  And I've run 12 or 13 others, so not too many. (show-off)

Me:  Well, this is my first so that seems like a lot to me.

Him:  This is just something to do this weekend to fill my time.  (Wow, just something to fill your time, huh?  That makes me feel great.  Yeah, this is the capstone of a year of serious hard work for me.)

Me:  Which marathon was your favorite?

Him:  Top of Utah.  Even though it wasn't my fastest.  It's not as fast as St. George.

Me: So what is your fastest time? (He's the one who brought time up).

Him:  2:25 (as in 2 hours and 25 minutes) I'll be lucky to break 2:50 today.

Me:  Wow!  That is crazy fast!

Him:  Yeah, I hesitate to tell that to people.  It kind of puts them off. (No, that is impressive.  It's your arrogance that puts people off)

Me:  I hope to finish the race in under six hours, that's when they'll close the aid stations.

Him:  There's a fast girl from Farmington.  She might give me a little trouble today.  (Wow!  He's planning to win the whole thing!)

Me:  So 2:25, huh?  That must be Olympic level racing?

Him:  Three minutes off.  But I just got tired of all the athlete's egos. (Really? Fascinating!)

Me:  Oh, is that right?  I guess that's par for the course. (There's a double meaning in that:) but he didn't get my intended meaning).

I found it to be a most entertaining conversation which took my mind off my nerves, which was an answer to my prayer after all.

I also noticed a man get on the bus who sat across the isle from me.  He looked familiar.  I racked my brain and realized he looked similar to a guy I knew at BYU.  We had friends in common and ended up in a social dance class (beginning ballroom) together.  We enjoyed dancing together, so for extra credit we did a ballroom competition dancing the cha-cha-cha.  We did pretty well.  I knew him as "Aaron from Ohio" because that's how he always introduced himself to people.  

As we got off the bus I asked him, "Do you by chance have a brother named Aaron?"  He said no, but his name was Aaron.
A-HA! It was in fact Aaron from Ohio.  Small world!  We chatted while waiting for the race to begin and that calmed my nerves some more.  We started the race together but he was much faster then me from the start.  

Which was rather the theme of the day.  Run faster than Betsy.

And I'm okay with that.  I really didn't want to be dead last (and I wasn't) but I knew what I could do  and I knew it was going to be slow and steady.  Ten miles of rolling hills on Antelope Island.  Seven miles of sameness on the causeway and 9 miles of challenge through rural farmland to get to the finish line.
When I came off the Causeway at mile 17 Abe and the kids were there cheering for me.  I cried.  They were the only tears of the day, but I was already pretty tired and I knew I had many more miles  in front of me.  
Should you ever be in need of a group of people to cheer for you for anything, call Abe and my children.  They were magnificent!  And they didn't cheer just one time.  They cheered for me at one location and then went ahead a couple of miles and waited to cheer for me again.  I looked forward to the water stations and the cheering stations!
 I blew a kiss to my people.
And I grabbed a kiss from Georgie and was on my way again with a lightened heart.
And the loyal and faithful went on ahead to the next cheering station.  For the record, Clark is loyal and faithful as well, but he had to stay home for a football game.
And my girlies came out to run a bit with me.  But unfortunately this was just before mile 20 and I hit the proverbial "wall".  I started to hurt.  Not so much my feet, legs, joints, muscles-- rather my tummy.  Nowhere near the horror of the Hobblecreek Half Marathon, but I was uncomfortable for a couple of miles.  
A bright spot near this same rough patch was seeing our good friends the Butterfields.  They had gone to Layton to enjoy a pumpkin patch with their kids and incredibly they happened to see Abe and he told them where I was and they drove by to cheer for me. 
The kiddos were happy with the animal life to entertain them during the intervals between their cheering duties.
By the next cheering station I was feeling better and Abe got in on the running action for a moment.  I see a future running partner-- yes?
And then the cheer squad grew.  My dad came for the next stop and then my sister and her kids came and I was feeling very loved.
Very much in pain, but very loved.
Here I am enjoying the ONLY shade patch of the entire course.  I suppose if I finished in 2:25 then the heat wouldn't have been a problem.  But the heat was more oppressive than I had anticipated.  I'm nearing the finish line and a wonderful thing happened just a short while before this picture was taken.  I came close to tears.  

That's not the interesting part.

At about mile 23.5 I was uncomfortable-- big time.  It wasn't fun and I didn't feel very well.  I wanted the race to be done.  I was worn down.  
Yet suddenly I was overcome with gratitude for the opportunity to do this race, to have this experience, for the last year and what I've been able to do, for my family, for the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I was at my humblest point and yet blessed to be able to enjoy it and most fully feel gratitude for the many good things in my life.  More prayers answered.
I am in the home stretch.  .2 miles left to go.  Abe is a camera-fiend, bless his heart.  I am forced to turn the husband-paparazzi away.  "ENOUGH PICTURES!"  

Abe tells me, "Sweetie, you've got three minutes to finish in under six hours! You got this!  You can do it!"
I'm telling you he is a great cheerleader.  And I needed it.  Was I going to make it?
Well, if you take a little looksie at the clocksie you will see that I did indeed make it!!!!  And because the race was chip timed, my official time was 5:59:42.  Shoot, I had more than 15 seconds to spare!  I killed the 6-hour goal!!!!
My little nephew Brigham asked me if I won.
"Why yes, Brigham, I did win the race!"

And as far as I'm concerned I did win the marathon.  I did a marathon!  I never have to do it again, but I'll always know that I conquered it.  It is shocking to me that I actually did it!  It is shocking that it was as hard as it was and it is shocking to me that it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it might be.  It was the best of times it was the worst of times...
No, wait.... that was book club this week.
Perhaps it is applicable.

My toenails hurt.  I'm sore all over, but my toenails hurt and I didn't expect that. 


Unknown said...

We are in tears. Thank you for your example. We are proud of you we love you.
Mom and Dad Fox

Abe Fox said...

You are just too much....I can't take the sheer magnitude of your AWESOMENESS (and your ATTRACTIVENESS)!!!


Mothership said...

I'm with Jim and Kathleen. I am also in tears. I can't believe you did this amazingly hard thing. You are inspiring and, at the risk of sounding too maternal, I AM PROUD OF YOU!!

The time . . . that is epic. Did you find out where you seat-mate placed?

Now, when you use that phrase "I feel like I ran a marathon," you'll actually know what that means!

Abe Fox said...

Oh, and not to brag or anything (but yes, I'm bragging)....the "Faithful and Loyal" Cheering Squad did 5.....count 'em FIVE cheering stops!!

And again, Bets, you totally killed that 6-hour marathon time!!

Ali said...

Betsy I am so proud of you! What an inspiration you are. You show how determination and hard work pay off! You rock!

Kim said...

I'm so proud of you Betsy! You did so great! What an awesome accomplishment, you and your family will always remember this day!

Schramm Family said...

So amazing!! You are such an example. Yes, I cried. You are such an inspiration. :) We are so blessed to know you and your family!

Gabrielle Kim said...

Well done, well done! You are amazing Betsy and I feel blessed to have you as a friend, not because you ran a marathon (which is commendable) but because you live life to the fullest! What an inspiration!

Andrea said...

You are awesome & inspiring Betsy! Way to go!

Nathan Fox said...

My eyes are watery too :)
I was thinking about you all day. Part of me was wishing I was you, and part of me was glad I wasn't you. I'm so proud of you. And so impressed. And so happy for you. I think you're great Betsy. And I think your husband and kids are darling. When I finally do a marathon, I hope your family is there to cheer me on ;)

christini yogini said...

Betsy, this is such a sweet post! Congratulations to you, you did it! You are so strong and so inspiring: body, mind, and spirit! And you have fabulous cheerleaders!!!!

Becci said...

Betsy, I think you are amazing, and not just because you can run marathons. That's just a bonus. I pretty darn impressive bonus, I must say, but only one of the reasons I think you're great!

Bonita said...

Way to go!! To have your family there when you hit your wall is a great blessing. You are so inspiring! thank you for sharing!