April 21, 2013

Blame it on the Weatherman


The. 2nd Marathon. Post.
(AKA - 26.2 miles + some TREACHEROUS stories, so get ready for another doozie of a post.)

Today I received my favorite medal, by finishing the Salt Lake Marathon.

It was the hardest to earn.

It's beautiful, both in aesthetic and what it stands for.

After months of training, I woke up yesterday morning at 4:55am to run the Salt Lake City Marathon. I've done the half before. A flat course. Easy peasy. I had my training in. I had improved my pace. During my training long runs, I was in reach of Boston Qualifying (BQ) time for the full marathon. I was banking on one factor pushing me into BQ, that race day I almost always run faster. There was a glimmer of hope I could actually do this... on my 2nd marathon.

I woke up feeling great. Excited. It was cloudy and drizzling outside, but rain was not forecasted between 7am and 10am... thus, creating an expectation of workable weather for the race period. I bundled up: sports bra, green tank (for Boston support), long-sleeve shirt, wind breaker, UA cold gear running tights, gloves, hat, socks, and shoes. I was prepared for 40 degree temps.

My mom picked me up and we drove to the start. Getting out of the vehicle, the rain hadn't ceased. We had grabbed garbage bags [faux ponchos] and hoodies to keep us warm and dry while we waited out the pre-race events. [In line for the restroom (pic to the right), I ran into my high school friend Richard (orange arrow). Fun time. Totally brought me back.]

As 7am neared my mom and I split up to find our pacers (my mom was shooting for sub 2:45 in the half distance and I for sub 3:30 in the marathon). There wasn't a 3:30 pacer team, so I debated between the 3:35 and pushing it at the end or 3:25 and having room to drop back. I made the executive decision to give myself some room and lined up behind the 3:25ers - Steve and Steve. Because of the Boston bombings, the organizers led a moment of silence for Boston and then started up "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond. Having gone to multiple Red Sox games in Fenway, I immediately got chills thinking about my surrogate home, Massachusetts. This has all been so close to my heart, with having lived there and then recently preparing to qualify to run in the Boston Marathon. My thoughts have been directed back to the tragic events of Monday over the course of the week. I felt blessed to get to participate in this race and these moments of seeing the running community continue to run and not fear, but support. Boston, I love you. "B" strong.

I signed right inside the N in "Remembering"
The race gun went off and as we ran we sang to Sweet Caroline, pumping our fists as we sang out, "Sweet Caronline....bum, bum, bum." I kept up behind the Steves until the crowd broke up and then carried a conversation with them about pacing, traveling, work, and some random topics, for the first 7 miles. During which time I beat my 1 mile, 5k, and 10k PRs:

6 seconds faster
11 seconds faster
1 minute and 39 seconds faster
As we passed the 7 mile marker, the rain started to come down -- hard. I decided to drop back, considering I had gained some time during the first 7 miles. The rain would make things more challenging, so I decided to conserve some energy and keep between 8-8:30 pace. At the half mark, I made my fourth PR of the day:

2 minutes and 13 seconds faster
And then things started to go downhill, but not literally...because this race was mostly a gradual incline with spurts of quick downhill. Not a good mix. But my temperature dropped, my attitude dropped, my energy, and speed.

At mile 17, I was exhausted. I ran into a previous co-worker and friend, Oscar, who ran with me for .25-.5 of a mile. It was a nice distraction from the wet, cold, exhaustion I was going through physically. We caught up on life and I told him I had left the place we had both worked, ListMarketer. But after, he left to go back to his spectating, I moved forward and my body was begging me to give it a break. 

At mile 18, I knew BQ was out of the picture. I couldn't keep up this pace. So my next goal was sub-4 hours. I made the decision to pull out my old Jeff Galloway run-walk-run method and walk 1 minute every mile. Giving my quads a break -- because they were hurting and frozen. The walking was enjoyable. Refreshing. But picking back up to run was torture. But, I did it. Until mile 23 hit. And when my minute was up, I kept walking. My legs were heavy. My clothes soaked through. My feet sloshing around in my shoes. My hands were shaking through the drenched gloves. And my hat had rain pooling off the bill. I was done. I pulled out my phone to call KC to pick me up. I was going to get my first DNF (did not finish). 

As I held my phone in my hands, during mile 23, I debated about not having to feel failure or getting into a warm bath. Which was more important to me? By mile 24 and with the 4 hour mark approaching, I dialed the number. 

KC: "Vieve! We are all at the finish line...we didn't miss you, did we?"
Me: "No, I am walking. I've bonked. Can you please come walk with me or send someone else to come walk with me?"
KC: "Where are you?"
Me: "I am at mile 24. I am just going to walk the last 2 miles. But, I need someone here to get me through it."
KC: "I will come right now."

And that was it. I wasn't quitting. I was going to take the humbling shuffle to the finish line.

I kept walking. My phone rang, still in my hand. It was my dad... expecting that I had finished and calling to wish me congrats. He asked about the race and laughing I told him I was still working on it. That I was currently walking. I had to laugh at the fact that, who takes a phone call during a race? My step-mom chimed in (also on the call), "Sweetie, are you okay?" It was the golden question. I guess I was. I mean I hurt, both mentally and physically. But I was okay. I told them a brief explanation of what had happened and then we closed the call.

Halfway into the 25th mile, I saw KC and his dad coming my direction. KC cheered out, "Vieve! You are so close!" His positive attitude was just the ticket. There was no disappointment in his voice. None of the thoughts running around in my head saying that it was shameful to walk, that I could have made 4 hours, that laid out all the things I had done wrong. He just assured me that I was going to make it. And that finishing was enough -- even more so, that it was great.

He peeled my wind breaker and gloves off me and gave me his coat. I want to say that I became immediately warm. Unfortunately, I was frozen to the core. But, it was still better than having the wet layer on top of 3 other wet layers. Now at least something was dry. And it was an extremely sweet gesture from Kase. He was good to me.

About one block further, my pregnant sister, Krick, and KC's mom joined us. Immediately when I saw Krick tears started to flow. This is the sister that ran my first marathon with me. It was the person that I knew could most empathize with me. And she said through her tears, as we hugged, "I am so proud of you! You've done so well. You are doing great!" I wish I had the words to explain what that meant to me. I don't. All I have is tears. For having such an amazing sister. It just overwhelmes me. I love you, Krick. 

Together, the five of us walked the remaining 1.5 miles [taking 23 minutes to do so]. For my sake, as I kept tearing up, Krick thanked me for walking so that she could participate in this race with me. She had wanted to run a portion with me, but being 8 mos pregnant, that wasn't feasible. But, even though she said she was getting joy out of being part of that run with me, I am pretty sure she did more for me. 

KC and I "running" to the finish
With the finish line in sight and being too proud, I switch back into my windbreaker -- dawning my race bib and ran to the finish. KC at my side. I didn't BQ. I didn't sub-4. But, I did finish. And I even finished with a PR. Ending at 4:34:05.

The downward spiral...

After the race, I hugged my mom and cried more. She had beat her 2:45 goal. I am so proud of her. 

My mom and I; Half and Full Marathon Finishers
Me, Krick, and Mom
KC and I
We didn't stick around for any post-race festivities, but got in the car and went straight home for a long, HOT bath.

One last story. I laid in that HOT bath that I had been dreaming about [and that almost made me quit]. The phone rang, it was my sister Hilary. I relayed the events of the race. At this point in the day, I had beaten myself up for 2 hours over what a pathetic failure I was. She said something so profound, to me. "Gen, why did you want to qualify for Boston? Why do you want to run Boston? It's because you want that experience. That's all running is about -- experiences. And you got some amazing experiences today. Experiences that also show what kind of a person you are. Experiences that bonded you with KC and Krick." She is spot on. I am lucky for that. So my take away is positive:

I finished. I was strong. So strong that I asked for help when I needed it, rather than quitting.  And, I have amazing people in my life that were there to help and support me.


  1. Vieve, that was an amazing story. I totally have tears in my eyes! I think you are amazing no matter what. And it may not be your favorite story but I think Hilary is so right that it was an experience you'll never forget!

    We are so proud of you!!!

    1. Kylie, thanks. You and Joff are part of that amazing support team. You may have not been there physically at the race, but you guys get credit for being amazing supporters. Thank you for that!

  2. Anonymous11:22:00 AM

    Vieve, I just want you to know how proud I am of you! Like Kylie, your story brought me to tears. You should be so proud of your accomplishment!

    Your Bonus Aunt Cherri

    1. Bonus Aunt Cherri! Did you do the half or marathon this year? I'd love to hear your story. And if not this year's race...what was the worst/best race experience you've had?

  3. Gen, I LOVE this post. It's so wonderfully written and you took me through the story with you - I had tears in my eyes! It's beautiful, and I am so proud of you. I'm so glad you have a support network that pulled you through. Believe every one of them with your heart. <3

    1. Jenni, thank you for the sweet comment. I've been meaning to check in on you. How's LM? You surviving?

  4. Hilz is totally right, in the end it isn't about the run it's about the experience. Thanks for letting me be a part of your marathon experience! PS You did AWESOME! I told the guys at work today you ran a 1:40 1/2. They were all AMAZED. You accomplished so much on Saturday and not quitting, seriously with what you had gone through, is a huge accomplishment. I love you, Vieve! Now don't go running anymore races without me.

    1. Ya, I think my lesson was learned. Running with Krick = Fun. Running without Krick = NOT fun. Not at all. (But thanks again for walking with me.)

  5. You are awesome! I can't even imagine how tough that must have been. Just seeing all the runners come in, soaking wet with their feet sloshing around in their shoes...you guys all had my deepest sympathies and respect. I wish we would have seen you! I think we barely missed you. I was thinking the other day that I really need to start running again, but am lacking the motivation because it's really hard to start up running again. I really admire your dedication. When you put your mind to something, you go for it and give it your all. So I'm going to try and be more like you. I'm making it a goal to run a half by the end of this year!

  6. Phew... FINALLY got through it. Gen, this has to be my favorite post; I still have tears in my eyes. What an amazing experience (your sis is right). I'm proud and honored to call you my friend and admire your hard work and dedication. You have been such a great example to me. Can't wait to see what's next! Love you.