Saturday, June 12, 2010


Marathon to Marathon, Storm Lake to Marathon Iowa, June 12 2010

As my blog description says and I have fulfilled this again today: I'm setting goals I never thought imaginable, achieving goals I always thought others were crazy for setting!

The day began at 3AM for me. I feel asleep at about 8:30 last night and my body was confused about all the sleep so I think I just woke up and felt very rested. I wasn't sure if I was nervous, excited, or truly rested. I heard some distant thunder and knew a storm would be coming through around 5AM. At 3:30 I just got up, went to the bathroom, and then ate a bagel that I brought along. At 4 I got out of bed and started my routine. I was glad I brought my foam roller along because I had that great pain that works out the tight muscles. I stuffed every pocket and crevice with gels and got my garbage bag on. By 4:50 it was raining so hard we could hardly see across the parking lot! At 5:15 we left for Storm Lake High School.

We got there and people were standing around. About 5:30 they announced that they would be delaying the start. They had been watching radar, in communication with Highway Patrol Division and all things looked nasty to be running: thunder, lightening, and wall cloud from the start of the storm that is indicative of tornadic activity! WHAT?!?! They were discussing various options, some of which included canceling and having the marathoners run only 1/2 marathon but give them marathon medals at the end, etc. I felt really bad for all the double marathoners and the 50 staters. There were some really upset people in the cafeteria of that high school! Long story short - we waited about 90 minutes before starting the race.

I was a bit concerned at the start as I had developed a mild GI problem and was unsure how that would play out. I knew there were portapotties at 5, 10, somewhere else along the route so I thought I could always stop if I needed to. The anxious anticipation at the start was like any other race I've had. This was a small event, only about 200 marathoners, some 1/2 marathoners who were bussed out to the 1/2 way mark, and then some marathon relays. I had never been a part of a race with a relay so this was going to be interesting. I felt like I was the only "virgin runner" at the start line, but I was determined nonetheless. "Slow and steady" I kept repeating to myself. "10-min mile is the goal." If I could do that I could finish in 4:20, but knew I would probably slow down toward the end at best. 4:30 was my goal, but I would be ok with 5 hrs. I didn't want to walk, but I would be ok if I did. As long as I don't hit the wall it will be successful. I know the book says to only have a goal of finishing and yes, this was ultimately my goal, but a general time in mind was good. My real goal was definitely to finish.

BANG! The gun went off and Kori and I started running our slow pace. Around the HS block, about .75 miles before heading out of town. I was concerned because my shins starting hurting almost immediately. It was that burning pain that I was worried would stop me dead in my tracks at some point. After a mile or so I didn't feel it anymore. Good! Kori wanted to start a 10:30 pace. I was ok with that, but felt so good I was going to try a 10-min pace. I totally missed the one-mile mark and 17 minutes had gone by. I knew I wasn't THAT slow today. I finally saw the 2-mile mark. Ok, I was a little fast. I slowed a bit. I started running with a guy that seemed to be going my pace. He was an older guy and he told me about running his first marathon at age 50. He shared some other stories with me too. after about 3 miles I realized he was going about a 9:30 min pace and I knew for sure that I couldn't sustain that so hung back a bit and let him go ahead.

About mile 5 or so a group of about 4 people come up. A mother and her boy were running together as well as another couple behind them. I ran with them and their time was dead on 10-min mile. Perfect! I'm going to run with these guys as long as I can. This boy looked young enough to be in cross country. I didn't want to insult him if he wasn't so we just started talking. He mentioned this was his 4th marathon this month!! He was going to do Grandma's next week also to complete 5 marathons in 5 weeks. WOW! His mother then looked at me and said, "Ask him how old he is!" He was 15! Amazing. I have met so many incredible athletes during this experience. I found during this run that I bought their good friend's old house. Small world.

I was able to run with them until somewhere in mile 14. They decided to run a little faster and do the run/walk thing. That was fine; I encouraged them to run ahead. Oh man, that means I have to do this all by myself! OK, I knew J would be coming around mile 15 so all I had to do was make it to the corner where we turned north. There was a water break at mile 15ish. I called Bill and told him to call J and tell her that because I really really needed someone. I had my ipod to distract me, but no headphones. She was bringing them for me. He said she was driving the route looking for me. I'm right here...come and get me! In the meantime I had a LOT of inner voice going on. I was running the race for my Grandma Smith, my godmother. I prayed to her asking for strength to get me through the last half of this thing. I've run 18 miles before. I can do this!

Miles 16-23 were a lot of work! Mile 18 came and I was just exhausted. I crossed the line on the road, thinking this was my record. Anything beyond this point was record-setting for me. J's words from last fall rung in my head, "The first half of the marathon is 18 miles; the last half is 8 miles!" I was alone. I thought J was waiting to meet me at mile 20 so I had 2 more miles to go. I just couldn't. There was a big hill that looked mountainous. I stopped. Dang. I got to the crest of the hill and went again. It was a good break, just what I needed to keep going.

J finally saw me somewhere on mile 20. I was soooo glad to see her I screamed and raised my arms in joy. I knew she would keep me going! I miss her chatter and snot rockets! She has always given me strength I never knew I had. I keep going when I'm with her; it's great running with her. She would help me for sure! She immediately stopped her van and jumped out ran with me! wow! I didn't think it would be so immediate. I thought she'd wait for the end of a mile and park on a side road or something. Nope. Here we go... We ran for about a mile and she turned around went back to the van. She met me a mile or two down the road and we did it again. In between I kept thinking of our shorter runs. Only 6 more miles, ok, that's like running to the end of the school road and then around Ethanol. Only 3 more miles, ok we're at the Ethanol corner and have to run home.

I was so exhausted that I started stopping at the water stations, walking for about 5 min and then running to next station. I did not realize how hard these last 6 miles would be! ugh. I felt bad walking, but it was the needed rest I was looking for to be able to continue on. I was SO! determined not to hit the wall this time. I had 7 gels during the run and stopped at every water station. I didn't take any food except for a jolly rancher that J had to unwrap for me at mile 21 and an icie at mile 24.

That icie was just what I needed! At mile 25 I looked at my watch and I was 4:13. Only 17 min to run ~1.5 miles! I can do it! I rounded the corner and starting sprinting (as much as virgin runner can sprint after 25 miles!) A 10-min mile would put me at the finish line in 15 minutes. I can do it! I have to do it! ugh...a hill... I pushed on. It was like my second wind. I was so determined to finish a marathon by 4:30 I kept going. I started hurting. A lot! This is it. This is the finish. Empty the tank. Hit the wall at the finish line. No regrets. Keep going. Push through the pain. It's almost there. The path had taken an unexpected turn. I didn't realize we were running on this road. I have to run all the way through town now to get to the Community Center. I thought we were running straight and then left into town, not this way! Oh nuts, I'm not going to make it. I stepped it up a bit more. I was passing people like crazy. At the last turn in town there were a couple people watching the runners come in, they were reading bib numbers, "woman, red, number 132". Jackpot! They're going to find my name and announce when I cross! I looked ahead. The finish line! I can do it. I ran as fast I possibly could at that point. I felt I was slowing. I looked at my watch. 4:28. I can do it!! It's right there! J said she would meet me at the finish line. Someone was taking pictures at the finish line. I had to smile as I finished my first marathon! 4:29 time on my watch. Can't wait for the final results to be mailed!

I was spent. That was everything I had in me. I staggered through the shoot as someone pulled off my race ticket and another woman put the medal on me. She was rather short and I had to bend down to get the medal on. ugh. I'm exhausted. Can't she lift it a little higher? Oh what a GREAT feeling! It was so exciting. I finally saw J as I staggered to the end of the shoot. She had her camera going, "So, tell me how it feels to finish a marathon!" "IT FEELS GREAT!" We laughed. It was awesome to have her there. My running buddy helped me through yet another long run. I staggered over to the food and got a banana. I had to hold on to the box so I wouldn't fall over. I just stood there eating. J got me a water and my bag. It kinda felt like Drake. She was taking care of me again. It was over. It was amazing. It was all worth it. I ran a marathon!! Yes, me, a 40-yr-old mother of 4. wow. That was GREAT!

Once I caught my breath and was able to walk again. I thought about Kori, how she was doing, and if she found someone to run with. I felt bad running ahead, but really wanted a 10-min pace. We walked back down a block or two before the finish line to cheer her on. She is a great person and has had great challenges in her running. She needed someone to cheer for her. About 1/2 hr later we finally saw her and I clapped and yelled for her. She did, indeed, find someone to run with. YEAH! She was able to finish! She will be so excited! It was her 6th attempt and her 3rd finish. Good for her! She did it!

26 miles 365 feet run; 40 min walk; RPE - 5.5; cool factor - off the chart! I'll be smiling for a loooooooong time. :)

Official time:
87th/171 runner
age group: 7th/18 runners


  1. OK, that bar none one the most exciting things I've ever done, perhaps one of my biggest accomplishments, too!

    Now for the "side effects"...

    After the run, I went to get showered and took off my shoes. I felt a tingling of blisters around mile 17, but thought they would be ok. The bottom of my toes were perhaps the most concerning. When I took off my shoes I was going to examen my fee... WOAH! Those are HUGE blisters! I had a nasty blood blister on the left middle toe. Glad I brought sandals to put on after.

    I realized after my rinse-off shower that I forgot to pack an extra bra in my bag! oops. I really didn't care at that point.

    Somewhere between mile 16-18 I started getting some chaffing under my arm again so I ran with my arm out to the side a bit. Guess I needed more Body Glide on that!

    I was pleasantly surprised how good I felt after. My legs were achy, but nothing serious. It was the right amount of achiness, what I was expecting I guess. The ride home, however, stiffened me up.

    We got a free lunch with a voucher that was provided in the packet. I went through the line and the man serving said, "Are you really hungry or a little hungry". Without thinking, I said, "I just burned up 5000 calories, I'm STARVING!" He smiled and looked for the biggest chunk of turkey to put on my sandwich. Thanks buddy!

    On the way back to Storm Lake to pick up Kori's car it seemed like forever to get there. Kori and I just looked at each other and said, "...and we RAN that!!"

    I rode back with J to Jewell so Kori didn't have to make an extra stop. Things were settling down a bit and I looked at her and said, "I just ran a marathon!!" I still don't think it has totally set in.

    When I got home later my back was irritating me. I took my shirt off and realized I got burned pretty badly out there! I will be recovering from a lot this week I think.

    J also sent me some photos of the last 1/2 mile, the finish line, and my reaction afterward. I never even saw her in town! Wow, I must have been really focused on that finish line and beating 4:30!! Thanks J!

  2. WAY TO GO!! I am so proud of you!! It is absolutely amazing what your body can do when you put your mind to it!!

    Crossing that finish line is like nothing else I have ever experienced!! Every time is like a new experience that never replicates itself. I am so glad you were able to experience this feeling!!

    Once you cross over to join the crazies and you know what it feels won't want to go back:)

  3. Congrats!! I was going to run this race but transportation and logistics fell through...maybe next year. Neat to see how it went! Way to persevere and get your first marathon!

    Sounds like the weather was quite uncertain at the start...the organizers did a good job.

    Way to go!!