For better or worse, in seventy-two hours the Ogden Marathon will be a thing of the past (although sore muscles and achy joints will certainly be very present.)
During these final days of taper before the actual race, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the journey. After all, marathon training is more about the process than the final result. While Jason has high aspirations (and an awesome likelihood) to qualify for Boston, I'm simply not in that league. My motto for this race is an unusual one: "Non nocere"--Latin for, to do no harm. While I certainly don't wish to damage my body physically, that's not really what I'm talking about. The training process for a marathon is intense. Despite the rigorous schedule, I've wanted to keep life in balance for both myself and my family. I've done my best to schedule long runs during spaces when they are least disruptive. While this marathon is definitely a major focus, I hope it hasn't become an obsession. After all, my primary purpose in running is to improve my emotional and physical health. Marathon training has the potential to help with both, but only if you keep things in perspective.
Come Saturday, I'm hoping to keep "non nocere" in mind. While I certainly want to do my best, there's no real purpose in pushing myself so hard that I am left shredded and physically ill. There are some photos from the end of my last Utah Valley marathon where you can see my leg muscles twitching uncontrollably and out of sync from such extreme exhaustion. That can't be healthy. While I'm proud of that 3:50 personal record, I'm certainly not planning to beat it. Instead, I plan on setting a new Personal Record for the longest time I've ever endured on the race course. Lately I've been running a pretty consistent 10 minute mile. If I finish any time shy of four hours and thirty minutes, I should be tickled pink for having run a great race. While there are no guarantees, I'm hopeful that a slower finish will result in a little less suffering after.
In the meantime, it's time to celebrate the journey. After all, over the last eighteen weeks I've progressed from an eight-mile long-run to a twenty miler. I've logged 467 miles over 72 training runs without missing a single one. Add in the 26 mile marathon, plus the extra tidbits here and there and we can call it an even 500. Wow! That's something to celebrate.
Here is a bucket list of runs to remember, in no particular order:
- Winter runs in the slush and snow. I recall wishing that I had ski goggles as I ran through Federal Heights in a snowstorm. I remember giggling like crazy when Jason actually wore ski goggles during one of his runs. I recall wading through a snow bank up to my thigh during a run through the cemetery, and boy do I ever remember drenching my foot in icy water as I sunk through a snow-covered rivulet.
- Running through a downpour up City Creek Canyon until the rain turned into snow. The trail was a veritable worm massacre, plus my leggings got so soaked that they kept falling down. Even so, this was one of my favorite runs. As the snow fell in big fat flakes, everything grew still and peaceful, blanketed in white.
- Running in the Washington rain. Were it not drizzling, I might have seen Mount Rainier in the distance. Instead, I felt grateful for the raincoat Callie lent me and did my best not to drip blood on it after I re-opened a small wound caused by my clumsiness with a kitchen knife. The good news about all this running in the rain and snow is that I should be well-prepared for Ogden, which has a reputation for awful weather.
- Toilet Texts. My stomach has an unfortunate tendency to give me trouble when I run, so I've made a variety of unexpected pit stops, ranging from the grocery store and the rec center to Les Madeleines and the visitor's center at Temple Square. Jason has received a wide assortment of toilet texts, all letting him know that I will be later than expected getting home.
- Potty Emergencies. Speaking of tummy troubles, there have been those few unspeakable moments when waiting until I found a restroom simply wasn't an option. I'm embarrassed to admit that I have graced a few unwitting bushes from Washington to Salt Lake. There was even a time during my twenty miler when I looked at the shrubbery in the middle of a downtown parking lot and wondered if it would provide sufficient cover. (You'll be glad to know that I ultimately decided no.) Talk about desperate!
- Gorgeous spring blossoms on Temple Square
- Tripping in front of the courthouse and getting a bloody knee just a mile into a long run. Proud to say I stuck with it.
- Running wounds, ranging from bra line welts to the embarrassing hiney chafe.
- Discovering this man blowing giant bubbles in Memory Grove.
- Exploring downtown and discovering new places like the Urban gardens and Gallivan Center.
- Water breaks at ASSIST and the Joseph Smith Memorial Building
- Miles of flat along the Jordan River Trail, accompanied by some beautiful sections of marsh.
- Discovering the Harvard Yale Neighborhood
- Running around Liberty Park with its natural spring that gives water all year round.
- Indoor runs on the treadmill (dreadmill) or else on the short indoor track where fifteen laps equal a mile
- Sunset views of the Capitol building
- Lots of wildlife, ranging from deer and birds in the cemeteries to the occasional carcass.
- Crossing paths with wild turkeys during long runs around Lake Zorinsky on Omaha's West Papio trail
- Running through City Creek and having a woman stop to tell me that the run was even more beautiful than the trails in her hometown of Denver.
- Running with Talia, whether up Federal Heights to the medical center or past President's Circle to the Olympic Torch. She is without a doubt my favorite running partner.
- Trail running through Memory Grove and City Creek, jumping puddles when it got too muddy.
- Running an impromptu Law Day 5K at the U of U when a woman offered me her bib since she was withdrawing. I finished the race, then kept on trekking for another nine miles or so. My only regret is that I accidentally placed third after assuring her that I was so slow that I wouldn't place at all. Little did I know she was registered for the stroller division!
- Super challenging runs on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. One "easy" run up Dry Wash turned out to be miles longer than anticipated when my fitbit didn't accurately track my mileage. Another run through the trails behind Red Butte Gardens and the Natural History Museum was so rugged that I had to walk sections and ultimately cut it a bit short. At least it was beautiful.
All in all, I’m extremely grateful for this positive marathon training experience. Not only have I been injury-free, but it’s encouraged me to get out in nature and fully experience our lovely neighborhood in the foothills. There are moments when it’s difficult to get started because no matter which way I head, I will face hills on the way out or back. When I run diagonally, it somehow feels like I run uphill both ways! Challenging as all these hills are, I know I am stronger because of them.
And thanks to my family for being so supportive through this long process. Brooklyn has been particularly amazing, regularly babysitting on Saturday mornings so that Jason and I can run together. Peanut Butter, thank you for your faith and encouragement. I love you and know you'll rock this race!