Sunday, September 22, 2013

Left, Right, Left, Right repeat for 26.2 miles

 One of my best friends in the whole world loves me so much. She registered to run the Big Cottonwood Marathon with me on September 14th. Training was very hard to do over the summer. Thankfully we both have supportive husbands that let us run our crazy training runs and watched our kids. Katie lives in Spokane, Washington, but we ran together often when we lived by each other in Owings Mills, Maryland for 2 years while our husbands went to dental school together at the University of Maryland. Katie and I ran our first half marathon together 9 years ago in October of 2004. I've come a long way since then. I ran in cotton shorts and Salomon hiking shoes. I quickly learned and purchased running shoes. I have so many fun memories of running with these ladies. This was prekids for myself and Emily.
Katie, Me, and Emily
Katie and I have remained close friends since graduation, and she even took me on a girls trip last summer to San Francisco with another of our dental friends. It was a much needed break away from my new cancer reality. When I mentioned that I wanted to run a marathon she didn't even hesitate. She told me to tell her which one and she would register to. Little did we know what we were getting ourselves into. We've both run lots of halves, but never a full. I choose the Big Cottonwood marathon because of it's proximity to my home and how beautiful the colors could be and it wasn't on a Sunday. 

Katie flew in Thursday night and spent the night at our house in Midway. We went out to lunch on Friday (to celebrate my upcoming birthday) and then picked my kids up after school. We drove down to Sandy to go pick up our race packets at the expo. I drove Katie down the canyon so she could get a feel for the race course. 17 miles down the canyon and the last 9 miles winding it's way around Cottonwood Heights and Holladay and ending at Cottonwood High School.
I was looking forward to the race for a few reasons. One, it has been on my bucket list since I found out about my brain cancer. I submitted my story to the race and ABC 4 contacted me to do an interview with me. It aired on tv a few days before the race. If you haven't seen it, you should be able to view it here.

After we picked up our race packets we went out to dinner at Rock Creek Pizza with my entire family. My sister and her family came into town for the weekend and so we had a fun celebration together. Rose and Dede spoiled us with our favorite foods. Afterward Katie went to her hotel to wait for her husband to fly in. I left my kiddos with my Mom and drove to my Grandpa Foster's house to sleep there. My Mom's house was going to be full with Heather's family and my kids and my Grandpa knew I needed to get some sleep. The basement room was perfect. I set all 3 alarms I had and caught about 4.5 hours of sleep before waking up by myself at 3:30. My alarms all went off at 3:45 and I ate my breakfast of a bagel and banana and headed to the bus pickup area.

Katie's husband dropped her off with me so we could take the bus up the mountain together.
Cody's cousin from Idaho also signed up for the race and I met her at the start too. Her name is Melanie. We saw each other earlier in the summer at a family reunion. She's a rock star too for undertaking a marathon. She's done triathlons, but not a full. All 3 of us rode the bus up together. There were about 15 school buses that took the marathoners to the top. About 3/4's of the way there we came to a halt. the 1/2 marathoners were driven up in a different location on nice Le Buses. Well, one of them thought they could make the sharp turn up to Guardsman Pass. Wrong. The bus became high centered and we were all stuck behind it. It was going to take an hour for help to come, so we were finally told to start walking to the starting line. About 3.5 miles up the canyon. Not what you want to hear, but it was the only way. We had walked about 1/2 a mile when a bus finally made its way around. It picked us up and drove us to the top. Mayhem is a great word to describe the chaos at the beginning of a race. 30 porta potties with lines and runners everywhere. Katie and I thought we'd be unique in our new matching bright yellow shirts, but no, that was a predominant color on the course. Even Melanie got the memo!

Because of the bus delay, the race started 30 minutes late. 7:10am. Thankfully I had my cell phone with me and texted my parents and let them know. We had a general meeting time scheduled for when I assumed I would cross (noon) and didn't want them standing around for extra time if it could be helped.

The first part of the marathon was very steep downhill. I did a couple downhill training runs, and my muscles hurt - a lot. I think they finally stopped hurting only a couple days before the race. It wasn't too bad though. Before mile 6 you come upon Silver Fork Lodge. My Reid cousins have a cabin by there and Heidi told me that she might come to the curb to cheer me on. As we got closer I saw a bunch of people. Then I realized that it was all the Reids. My aunt and uncle, cousins, spouses. It was awesome! Just the pick up I needed. I gave my aunt Ruth a hug and Heidi and Loren snapped some photos as Katie and I continued our run.
Can you tell I'm happy to see them!

Britney started a high five line.

High fiving Loren.
And we're off again.

There were professional photographers placed along the race course. Katie and I were together for the majority of the canyon ones. We are still happy...
And then Katie got hurt. Her calf was really bothering her, but not just bothering, but killing her. The pain was horrible and she knew she had a blister that had popped. I walked with her for awhile hoping that she'd be able to run again. We were in this together. When we reached the bottom of the canyon, Katie begged me to keep going. I refused at first. There was no way I was going to leave my best friend on the course. We were supposed to finish together. She told me that if I went ahead it would help motivate her to keep pushing through the pain. I did not want to leave her, but knew all the support I had waiting for me at the finish line. I couldn't stop. She promised me she would finish and to watch for her and we could run across the finish line together.
I pushed on, but hit a really big wall. I mentally and physically was exhausted. My body hurt and I didn't see how I could finish 6 more miles. 1 more hour. I walked/slow jogged the last 5 miles. I was so slow, but had to keep going. 
You can see in my face that it was getting harder and hotter.
The sun finally warmed up about 10:30 and once out of the canyon it began to get hot. Thank goodness for water/Gatorade stops every mile or two. I walked through the water stops, drinking and occasionally texting my family with updates of where I was. 4 miles left, 3, so close.

Right before mile 26, I could see my Dad and Aubrey standing next to the mile marker flag. I was so happy to see them, but couldn't muster up enough energy to sprint to them. I slowly made it to them and Aubrey was geared up to finish the race with  me. 
She took off and I had to ask her to slow down and walk for a little bit. It's only .2 miles to the finish line, but my body just wasn't moving. Once we got into the chute to the finish I saw my Mom and kids. I smiled, and gave it everything I had. I grabbed Aubrey's hand and rushed to the finish line. My fan club was larger than I knew. All my grandparents were there, Heather's family and my parents and kids. (It also happened to be my parents 35th wedding anniversary). Cody was hunting and Tucker was with Grandma Calderwood at a soccer game and birthday party.
You can see my Mom, Heather, Grandma G and Grandpa F in the back left corner of the picture.
Love this picture with my running girl.

Heather and Ethan

Grandpa Foster, Ethan, Grandma Grant, Blake and Cole. They all made Katie and I posters.
 Once I was finished I grabbed the nearest water, received my medal and was so happy to be done. But worried about Katie. Melanie finished a long time before me, so I'm glad she didn't wait and run with me throughout the race. My official chip time was 5:25. Super slow, about a 12:26 mile, but I did it!
 Post family pow wow. Probably telling them what happened to Katie.
 I'm glad there were banners around to take pictures in front of. Everyone was in this one except for Cole and Dan. Dan took the picture and Cole wasn't cooperating. Blake decided to be a stinker too. You can see how my Grandparents are looking at him. I bought the little boys t shirts from Old Navy that say "Mom's #1 fan!) But, they wanted nothing to do with pictures, so no shot of it.

I tried calling Katie multiple times after I finished. She had sent me a text that her leg had completely seized up in a charlie horse. I didn't know what to do. I thought maybe she was in a medical tent somewhere. I was about to get in my Mom's car when I looked back at the finish area and there was Katie, finishing the race with her husband, Rob. I was so happy to see her. I screamed her name and hobbled over to see her. She had gotten her leg rubbed down with salt and massaged out her muscles. She did it and finished the race in under 6 hours. I was completely amazed at her determination. We did it! We ran a marathon!

 I read this quote a day after the race and it completely shows the friendship Katie and I have.

After the race I drove back to my Grandpa's house to take a shower. My Mom schedule a post marathon massage for me. I took my shoe off and saw this lovely blood blister on my foot. I knew it was forming about half way through the race and I'm so grateful it didn't pop while running. I had several people tell me to pop it and let it drain, but after googling it I decided not to. Blood blisters are supposed to heal on their own. I wore sandals for a week and it is still healing. The blood doesn't squish around anymore and I'm sure it'll be gone in another week.

Now a week after the race I am still sure I don't want to run a marathon again. A half, sure! The Big Cottonwood half would be a great race, probably one to get a personal record at. Maybe next year! I'm so happy that I accomplished something hard, very hard. It is officially checked off my bucket list. As much as my family hates for me to say this, now I can die having successfully finished another item on my list! No dying going on here though. My next MRI is in a week. Praying for continued healing and stability.


Josh and Heidi Balling said...

Congrats, a marathon is a huge accomplishment! After a few halves, a marathon seems do-able, but actually running a marathon is way harder than two halves. It is draining! I remember Lance Armstron said after his first marathon that he had never felt such sheer fatigue during all his biking than he felt after his marathon. You did it!! Way to go!

Jared + Carly Reid said...

Way to go Lisa! You are so amazing!!!!!!!!!! Goodness. You go girl.

Donna and Bevan said...

What a story! I admire you so much, Lisa! I think marathons are beyond HARD which is why I'll never do one. But you did it! You're amazing!