Friday, June 20, 2014

Marathon Days

I don't know how it is at your house, but life at our house is a crazy rat race. To make our schedules work this week, I've had to rely on my mother to babysit daily during Spanish camp, assume my role as a Spanish camp volunteer so that I could take Annika to the ENT, shuttle the kids to swim lessons, bring Eli to meet his new preschool teacher, put the kids to bed while I helped out at church (meanwhile Papa K and Jason were at the College World Series), plus help drive us back from Utah on Monday. Whew! How did we ever manage without family close by?

Given this exhausting pace, it's no wonder I end most days feeling like I've run a marathon. Last Saturday, however, Jason and I literally ran 26.2 miles in the Utah Valley Marathon.  It was long.  It was hard.  And it was GREAT.

Here we are shortly before our 6:00 am start.  We had to load the buses at 3:45, so if we look kind of sleepy, you can understand why.

I promise we don't try to be all matchy-matchy.  These snuggly fleece sweatshirts just happen to be both of our favorites, and we invariably end up choosing the same gear.  There were lots of bonfires to help keep the runners warm, but the alpine air was still chilly.

Fast forward four hours and here we all are, approaching the finish line near the Provo Tabernacle.

Jason had finished his race 25 minutes earlier, but still helped me through the final stretch.  It was so delightful to run through the chute with my family by my side.
An awful lot happened in the space between those two photos.  There were moments of elation, like the first seven miles where I couldn't wipe the silly grin off my face or slow down my legs because it just felt so GOOD to run.  There were moments of serenity and contentment as I enjoyed the beautiful scenery of Provo Canyon.  And there were moments of deeply intense inner turmoil and struggle as I battled through the final six miles, trudging on despite all the pain and fatigue.  As hard as it was to keep going physically, it was equally challenging to persevere mentally, particularly as runners all around me slowed to a walk.  Just about the only thing that kept me moving was the knowledge that my children were waiting for me.  After all their love and support during training, I didn't want to disappoint them by walking on the job, so I kept on fighting.

Proudly ringing the PR bell.
After what seemed like an eternity, triumph!  I astonished myself by finishing the race in 3 hours and 49 minutes, cutting nearly thirteen minutes off my previous marathon finish for a new Personal Record.  Who knew my short little legs could go so quick?

Jason smiles widely after a terrific finish.

This amazing man ran the course in a mind-boggling 3 hours and 25 minutes.  It may not have been his fastest time ever (hard to achieve when you've run so many marathons), but he finished strong and had FUN, cheering on the crowds as much as they cheered him.  Jason, we're so proud of you! 

If you want the splits, you'll have to read the fine print.  For me, racing is much more about the process and experience as opposed to any specific finish time.  Even so, it's nice to keep track, even if just for bragging rights since I may never run that fast again.

8:46 overall pace, 8:28 for the first 13.1; mile splits of 7:49 (squee!), 8:03, 8:13, 8:12, 8:20, 8:24, 8:39, 8:45, 9:21 (big hill here), 7:56 (cruising back down), 9:07, 8:17, 8:34, 8:51, 8:57, 9:13, 9:09, 9:00, 8:44, 9:04, 8:50, 9:00, 9:04, 9:25, 10:08 (including a long pause at the water station for a stern mental you-got-this pep talk), 10:23 (don't forget that includes the last .2--my legs certainly didn't!)

Here's my number one supporter!
Gosh golly gee, I'll do anything for a kiss!

So for a woman my age to qualify for the Boston Marathon, she would need to finish the course in 3:40.  While I may not have qualified, I'm positively elated (and stupefied) that I came within ten minutes of that lofty goal.  Here's what I think I did right:

1)  I trained.
2)  I trained.
3)  I trained.  Call it consistent, call it compulsive, but I never missed a run.  Sure, I swapped days occasionally and got creative with my running locations, such as when I ran during lunch in Cheyenne during our car ride out to Utah.  At the end of each week, however, I made sure that I'd gone the whole distance.

At least at this moment, I really don't see myself ever trying to beat my marathon record.  However looking back, there are a few things that I suppose could go better, should I ever want to improve my time.

1)  Eat healthy foods.  I discipline myself to run--why can't I discipline myself to cut down on sugar?
2)  Don't race with a virus.  The week before the marathon, each of our kids came down with a strange fever/nausea.  It wasn't until my "runner's tummy" lasted for two days after the race that I figured out that my pre-race stomach queezies were probably the first symptoms of a bug instead of nerves.
3)  Wear all parts of my shoes. 
Notice anything missing?  I didn't...
A couple days before the race, my shoes got soaked during a trip to Lagoon.  After returning home, Susie very kindly removed the inserts to help them dry.  It never occurred to me that anyone would willing touch my stinky running shoes, so I failed to make sure they were inside before packing them up.  I ran the entire race without even noticing they were gone!  Pretty funny, huh. 

Even though it's not advisable to race in new shoes, I had to get a new pair ten days before the marathon because my cheapies were falling to pieces (sigh).  I was initially feeling rather disgruntled that my new racers gave me blisters; now I'm hopeful that they will be fine as long as I wear the shoe in its entirety.
Believe it or not, this never hurt. Wish I could say the same for my quads!
And a few more photos:

The family at the finish line.
The kids' medals are from their 1K Fun run.
Grandma Susie and Grandpa Charles join the photo.

A proud mother-daughter moment with NomiAnn and Kara.

Talia and Brooklyn, cutest girls on the block.

Eli, Kara, and Talia relaxing at the finish line.

Happy Daddy.

Proud kids.

Many thanks to everyone for all of your support in helping us through these marathon days, both big and small.  You all deserve a medal!


Anonymous said...

Despite my jokes about the insanity of it all, I absolutely admire the discipline you and Jason have demonstrated to successfully complete another marathon. Congratulations to each of you, and by extension your immediate family who made this worthy goal a priority. Keep smiling!

The Favorite said...

WOW!!!! You 2 are amazing! You inspire me to be better. Really I feel happy about the 5 K's I run and you both are doing marathons. Well done :)

Julie L said...

Just can't say enough how impressed I am! Wow!

Erin said...

Congrats on your marathon PR!!!

Jason said...

Kara, you truly amaze and inspire me--just goes to show that diligent and steady training can pay off in the most incredible ways. I don't know how many times I was ready to stop and walk, but I knew you wouldn't be too far behind me and that kept me going! Nicely played.

Chou said...

Love it. A belated congrats!

Susie said...

You both are awesome and inspiring--not quite enough to get me to run a marathon--but enough to recognize that with determination, stick-to-it-iveness, and setting goals one can accomplish hard things in life! Those times are fantastic and it was so fun to be there to cheer you on. Sorry about the missing inserts, but it DOES make for a good story :)