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Mid Mountain Marathon

Mid Mountain Marathon - Finisher Medal
I FINISHED!  That was the goal and that is how I've responded the last 10 days to "How did the race go?"  I'm very proud of the accomplishment and glad I can now say I've run a marathon, but at this point I don't know if I'll ever do another one.  I've started this blog a few times, but am finding it hard to put the experience into words. It was tough!

I pushed myself mentally and physically harder than any other sporting event in my life.  I didn't dedicate my summer to the race, but I did follow a training program and put cycling on hold the last month to make sure I would be able to give my best effort.  As the race approached, I reviewed my training times and decided to shoot for a finish under 6 hrs.  This is where I remind everyone that trail running is not a natural sport for me and I wasn't going for any records.  The top female finisher was 3hr22min and the slowest racer came in just under 7hr.  I wanted to give it my all, stay injury free, and try to enjoy the experience.

Race Gear
The days leading up to the race were stressful.  I had a poor training run on Sunday with allergy issues and a near fall that resulted in an extremely tight left quad.  I focused on stretching and did a couple short runs hoping that my leg would start loosening up.  On Friday night, I got a big dose of inspiration by watching Emily come thru Lambs Canyon on her way to a PR in the Wasatch 100.  Thankfully, Christian had picked up all of our bibs earlier, so I was able to go straight home, set out my gear for the race, and put my feet up.

I slept well and woke up in plenty of time to eat, stretch, and go to the bathroom several times.  At 6:45a, Terry and I left home and went to the Finish at The Canyons to pick up Emily S and Brent.  Brent had flown in just a few hours earlier from Florida, but he was fired up.  Emily was calm and collected as always and we all knew she would smoke the course.  We picked up Joe and then headed to the Start at Deer Valley.  Joe was also ready to tear up the course and was aiming for a strong finish and a spot on both the Marathon and Triple Trail Challenge podium.

We parked and joined close to 300 other nervous runners stretching inside the lodge in order to stay warm and close to the fancy Deer Valley bathrooms.  Corrie, Christian, and the girls arrived and joined our group. This was also Corrie's 1st marathon, but unlike me, she is built to run and excels at it.  Kristin, another experienced ultra runner, arrived and we all chatted as we waited for the 8a start.  Finally, we got word to line up, so we wished each other luck, said goodbye to Terry and Christian, and headed out into the cold.
Marathon Friends - Jenny, Corrie, Emily S, Brent, Joe
I was actually enjoying all the excitement and the nerves had gone, I just wanted to start the day.  Everyone was extremely supportive and I knew that I probably wouldn't see anyone after the Start, but they would be at the Finish.  We joked around with Terry as they gave us final instructions and when Joe came back to tell us that we weren't going down Holly's, I was ecstatic!  Holly's had given me trouble on all my training runs with the steep downhill and mountain bike obstacles. Another reminder that not only is trail running not natural for me, but I'm clumsy.  I hadn't gone down hard running since my accident 2 years ago and subsequent shoulder surgery, but I'm still challenged in the roots and rocks even when I'm cautious.  I knew the alternate route of Ambush, Rob's, and Rosebud and stopped dreading the last 6 miles and actually looking forward to it.
Relaxed and Ready for our 1st Marathon!
Corrie and Joe joking around before he joined Emily and Brent at the front
One last strategy discussion
Jenny - I really think I need to move back
Corrie - No, you need to be up here with me
Without much fanfare, we were off and running.  I got settled in as we did a mile loop around Deer Valley and felt good as we officially entered the Mid Mountain single track.  Terry was there to cheer us on and take a few more pictures.  It was great to see him and know I would see him at the Finish in less than 6 hours... hopefully.
Feeling good - 25 miles to go
I knew the trail would be busy, but the first miles flew by as people jostled for position.  I grabbed a banana and drink at the Mile 5 aid station and quickly squatted behind a bush to take care of business.  I always have to pee around the 45min mark.  I was glad to get that out of the way and also have the 2 guys running behind me the last 2 miles bragging about their triathlon abilities go ahead.  Although they were entertaining, they were too close and too annoying.  I was feeling strong and my mile times were on track for a sub 6 hr finish so I kept on trucking.

Things were obviously going too well because out of nowhere around Mile 7 - I tripped, hit both palms to the ground, and somersaulted off the trail. I landed on my butt on the side of the trail and my feet downhill.  A runner behind me saw it, retrieved my sunglasses which were further down the trail, and made sure I was ok before continuing on.  I took stock and realized the only known injury was a scabbed knee and some scrapes on my lower right leg.  The knee was bad enough that I rinsed it with water and used my emergency neosporin and band aid.  A couple others ran by in the meantime, including Kristin.  I gave them all a thumbs up and started running again.  Adrenaline kept me going strong thru the Mile 8 aid station where I grabbed a drink and tried a gummy bear but quickly spit it out.  Still feeling okay and hoping my knee was only a surface injury, I found myself in a group of 10 runners as we ran thru the aspens toward the top of Armstrong.  I didn't like running so close to others and eventually gave myself some breathing room.  As I approached the Mile 10 aid station, I decided to refill my hydration pack and also had another gel.  There was quite a bit of discussion about all the earlier runners getting bee stings in this area and to keep an eye out, but I guess I was slow enough they had their fill by the time I came by.

The next section, I started to feel like I was running a marathon and also felt pain in my neck and shoulders from the somersault.  My pace slowed, but I enjoyed the slight downhill and the great views over Park City.  I rounded the corner and could finally see The Canyons.  I was at the halfway mark and could see the end, so I got a slight mental boost and pushed on.  I focused on eating, drinking, and moving.  I finally reached Mile 16 aid station and took my time refilling my pack, had several drinks, and grabbed a few more gels.  The best news was that I had made the cut-off with almost an hour to spare.  I was going to do this.

I continued to struggle as I ran toward Red Pine and the next aid station. The sun was starting to beat down and my stomach wasn't excited about more gels or anything I tried to eat.  The volunteers at Mile 18 were awesome and I dumped cold water on my head and neck and ate some orange slices before moving on.  I started climbing and surviving.  I grabbed pretzels, blocks, and a drink at Mile 20 aid station before walking up the big climb.  A short downhill and another aid station (Mile 22) at the Ambush/Rob's intersection where several of us compared pains but convinced each other that it was almost over and to just keep moving.

This was the section I was looking forward to since the route change announced at the Start.  I was getting tired, but watched the downhill carefully and tried to let gravity help me get to the Finish.  I turned the corner from Rob's to Rosebud and all of a sudden I was on the ground.  I hadn't picked up my feet on a rocky section and fell forward and to the right into a rocky slope. I was alone at the time, so nobody was there to pick up my glasses or spirits.  I sat for awhile and gave myself a pep talk then assessed the situation.  Dirt in mouth, band aid ripped off, more dirt in the scabbed knee, more scrapes on the leg, and a sore ankle.  There was nothing left to do but finish this thing.  I ran with several others down Rosebud to the final aid station and confirmed that all we had to do was run another 1/2 mile down the main road to the Finish.  I was really, really going to do this and unless something major happened, I would beat 6 hours.
Right Leg on Sunday Morning after 2 Falls
I took my time approaching the Finish Line, enjoying the crowd and trying to see where Terry was standing.  I was pretty sure I would cross the line and need him to hold me up - physically and mentally.  I heard him and all my other friends before I saw them and gave a final push and smile for the Finish.
Marathon Finisher - 5hr39min56sec - 21st in Age Group (not last)
I couldn't believe everyone had stayed to watch me finish.  It was very emotional.  Especially once I learned how well they did and that they had finished hours earlier.  Emily was even there after running 100 miles and finishing that morning.  Terry grabbed my stuff and took me to the medical tent to get cleaned up.  As I dealt with the burning astringent, more friends came by to congratulate me.  Thanks to everyone for the support!

Going Home a Winner!
Terry and I walked around some and then headed home.  I was cooked but I FINISHED!

Friend's Finishing times:
Joe - 3hr31min47sec - 3rd age group & 2nd age group Triple Trail Challenge
Emily S - 3hr38min30sec - 1st age group, tied for 2nd overall female
Corrie - 4hr15min09sec - 4th age group
Brent - 4hr32min03sec
Kristin - 5hr09min51sec

Injury Update: 10 days later and my leg is still healing with only a couple scabs and scrapes left.  My left quad did loosen up during the race and hasn't bothered me since.  My right calf cramped up a few days after the race and didn't get better so did a couple Physical Therapy sessions (minor soleus muscle tear) and it is healing.

Workout Update: I haven't run since the race and don't miss it.  I'm sure I'll get the itch in a few weeks for a short run.  I've been out on the road bike and spent the past weekend mountain biking - which I definitely missed and am happy to be back in the saddle.

Comments

  1. Congratulations, Jenny, on a fantastic marathon finish. I'm so proud of you. I admire your strong, steady pursuit of your goals!

    ReplyDelete

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