Saturday, October 9, 2010

St. George Marathon

The best darn cheering section a girl could ask for.
I have about a million things about which to BLOG, but I want to write about this experience before it is too far out of my head. This WHOLE experience has been quite the adventure and the people with whom I have shared it  have told me to write it down before I forget. Here goes.....
I have always loved running and completing a marathon has always been on my bucket list. I registered for one back in 2000 but during training I learned my mom was dying and I chose spending time with her over running two hours a day. NO REGRETS! Well, marriage, school, pregnancy, babies and just LIFE happened and I never got back to training. This year I decided it was MY TIME! I knew I didn't really have the time to train but I was determined to make it happen.
After entering the St. George Marathon lottery I learned I got in back in APRIL. It was an exciting day! Even better was that I wrangled one of my besties, well I call her my breastie, to run it with me. We don't live close so we didn't get to train together but we supported each other via text through hard runs, blisters, shin splints, perverted passers by, and other things which are NEVER TO BE SPOKEN OF. LOL Training while working, being wife, raising young children........was a challenge! I had many early mornings and several late nights. Mike was SUPPORTIVE throughout my endeavor. He and the kids would drop me off somewhere 10 to 20 miles away and wave goodbye as I began my run back home.
Training was going GREAT until three weeks pre-race day. I was on my 20 mile run and injured my inner thighs. Basically, I had slowly been tearing the ligaments off of my pubic bone, the surrounding muscles were trying to compensate creating tendonitis, and bottom line I COULDN'T WALK, LET ALONE RUN!!! I was devastated and, well pissed!!! I had been training all summer and now I was in no position to run. Not to sound haughty but I believe I am a TOUGH person. I have survived many things while in excruciating pain.Well, no matter how how much my brain wanted to push through the pain, my legs said, "NO!" When I would put weight on them they would buckle and collapse.
While I was busy getting heat stroke Summer got into the baby powder.....the WHOLE bottle!!!
Now, I will get back to my legs, but here is the second part of my story. I have always believed in GOD, but I have never had a CONCRETE testimony of the LDS church. I have always thought it sounded nice and was a good environment in which to raise kids, but this past year I seriously considered leaving. I know, SHOCKER to many of you. I wasn't anti-mormon and nobody had offended me, I just didn't KNOW if I could go through the motions anymore. In April I read the BOM in less than a month and thought it was an incredible experience.......but I still wasn't sure.
Back to my legs. I never stopped praying to God. I just always felt selfish praying for myself. I got over it and prayed, PLEADING that somehow I would be able to run. I even humbled myself enough to get a priesthood blessing. I wasn't sure it would work but I was willing to test my faith in ANYTHING that could help me fulfill a dream. A week later my breastie, Charity, told me her friend had a friend who could probably help me.
His name is Tom Fletcher and he is a Chiropractor by trade. I had never been to a chiro nor did I really think he could fix me, but again I was willing to try ANYTHING!!! I first went to his office two weeks pre-race. Turns out he is not any old chiro. He is certified with Ironman and has worked with Olympic athletes! He was confident he could help me get not only to the race but across the finish line. He is trained in a technique called Active Release Technique. It hurt like hell, and I was covered in bruises but IT WORKED!!! After working with him three times I was ready for the race.
I had gotten three opinions from three different docs as to whether doing the race would cause permanent damage and 2 out of three said, "As long as you take it slow!" The 1 was a total douche so I didn't really value his opinion anyway. I promised to take it slow, keep my muscles warm and take in a lot of electrolytes during the race. 
Mike and I packed up the kids, my running gear and our swimsuits and headed to St. George. Friday, Charity and I checked out the Marathon Expo, got our race bibs, attended a first timers seminar, ran into old friends, current friends, and the kids made signs to hold up for us as we crossed the finish line. I was beginning to think the blessing might have worked after all.
Saturday was RACE DAY!!! I woke up at 4:00, got dressed, taped my toes, put my KT tape on my knees and thighs, tri-glided my entire body, and laced up my kicks. Chard and I then headed off to the buses. It was quite the PARTAAY for 5 am. After we reached the top of the 26.2 mile drive UP the party continued: campfires, music, hugs, was so exciting! I had always heard it was freezing at the top so I was ready with my beanie, gloves and Savers sweats. Unfortunately, I didn't need them. I say "unfortunately" because it was a bad omen that it was already 60+ degrees. By the time the race started at 7:00 we had already stripped down to our tank tops and shorts.
The first eleven miles were easy breezy. NOTE: Whoever thinks the St. G marathon is all down hill has never RUN the St. G marathon! We took in all the excitement, my legs felt great and then.......MY LEGS STARTED BUCKLING!!!! I began to stress and by mile 13 I was in excruciating pain!!! I was half way to achieving this goal and I could barely move. When these muscles tighten my stride is basically cut in half. I could probably have walked faster than I could run at this point. SERIOUSLY! :( I prayed in my head that I would be able to make it and just kept going albeit slowly.
Well, God gave me something to take my mind off the pain and it was in the form of INSANE HEAT!!! The sun came up as we were passing the Veyo volcano and it was brutal! I know at some point it reached 93 degrees and if you factor in the black pavement I am sure it was 100 plus for us crazy runners! I began noticing people laying on the side of the road, getting taken away in ambulances with IV's, collapsing into volunteers' arms and getting into the shuttles. Now, these were not just newbees and old people. These were race veterans and serious athletes! It was HOT people!!! Between the heat and the pain I think I dissociated from life for a couple of hours. I was physically and mentally exhausted but quitting is not in my lexicon so I kept going.
Chard and I stayed together for most of the race, and even when we split up we always caught back up to each other. By mile 20 we were dead. Let's just say you do things during those last 6 miles you normally wouldn't do: you get over the fact there is no TP in the porta-John, you don't flinch at what you HOPE is a smooshed Power Bar on the road, you are so desperate for hydration you aren't above grabbing a water bottle off the freaking ground and you ignore the fact there is a layer of salt on your body and your skin is probably frying.
Teresa drove all the way down to watch me cross the finish line.
I made it!!!
By this time Chard and I had become buddies with this Asian guy from Cali. We were all tired and dead from the heat so we just kept each other going and joked about how miserable we were but how awesome we were for not getting into the now crowded shuttles. At mile 23 we were in the city and my legs were on fire. I could literally FEEL the ligaments ripping off the bone and my tendons were so tight I thought about cutting them to relieve the pressure. (I was not thinking clearly. lol) I wanted to stay with my buddies but I knew if I didn't get to the finish line soon I wasn't going to make it. I feel soooooo guilty because I knew Chard was struggling and yet I totally ditched her. :( I had hoped we would cross together and do some awesome toe touch or something. When I saw those silver balloons I was so happy, but when I saw my cute family and one of my other besties, Teresa, I was ELATED!!! I had made it and although I was disappointed in my time I had run my first marathon! I got my medal, gave some sweaty hugs and waited anxiously for Chard. She crossed soon after (after PUKING the last few miles!!! Again I feel like such a tool for leaving her.)

Breasties Forever!!!
The whole experience was such a trip! I have since learned that slmost 2000 people didn't even finish!!!! It was the hottest race St. G has had. Most people I know who were trying for PB times didn't come close. One in particular passed out at 20 miles! When people found out it was our first marathon they told us we had the worst possible conditions a first timer could have.

If you look closely you can actually SEE the layer of salt.
Now, do I think there was divine intervention? Um......DEFINITELY! I should not have been able to run, make it through the pain, and survive the heat on my own. Also, one of the nights I spent with my mom in the hospital before she died, I told her to meet me at the finish line when I finally ran a marathon. Did she? Again...DEFINITELY! Not only that, but I felt her with me throughout the race. I even wore a pink ribbon tatoo in her honor.
You may be wondering if this experience has scarred me from the marathon realm but actually the opposite is true. I am running the Ogden marathon next May and hope to get in the St. George Marathon for next October too. I figure it can't get any worse, right? ;)
Physical PROOF of where Tracy gets his crazy.
 I am still working on my testimony but I can tell you it has grown exponentially throughout this experience. And there hasn't been a day I haven't thanked God for His help and for helping me complete something I have wanted for so very long. I may need Physical Therapy for a few months, I am missing three toe nails, and I still have a crazy sunglass tan line, but this smile isn't going anywhere. :D
Mike loved capturing my pain. Walking to the pool the next day was like running another race! OWEY!!!

WARNING!!! DO NOT SCROLL DOWN IF YOU ARE SQUEAMISH!!!!!! It is a good thing pointe shoes ruined my feet years ago so I have never had pretty feet. Now they are just EXTRA ugly.

Anyone up for giving me a pedi?


Becca Jo said...

this might have made me cry! you are amazing. That is AMAZING strength that you have. I hope that you are SO proud of yourself. (and your smoking hot bod...HELLO!)

Seriously I envy strength like that.

Alicia said...

Leesa, this was really inspiring. Thanks for sharing it here like this for losers like me to read. You are freakin' tough and amazing. I loved hearing you talk about your sweet mom. I love you.

Lamb Fam said...

WOW Lees! I'm so glad you shared this with all the nitty-gritty details. What an accomplishment! I'm so proud of you. WAY TO GO! You are my hero you HOTT MAMA!!!!

Brady + Marsha said...

I'm so proud of you Leesa! I wouldn't have been able to run a mile in that heat.

kristi and family said...

good job girl.. you ROCK!!!

melbel said...

You. are. amazing! What an accomplishment! It's not only getting through the marathon that intrigues me, but it's all the training 6 months before it. It takes dedication! Good for you.

Suzie said...

Everyone has already said it, but you really are incredible. When something hurts, I stop. The end. Pretty impressive that you kept going. I'm glad to hear it was a great experience for you in a number of different levels. Good for you!

Teresa Stevenson said...

You have voiced your experience wonderfully!

kanaboke said...

HOLY COW Gurl! So I've seen the pics on your Facebook, but I haven't blogstalked you in a while...I thoroughly enjoyed reading this! Seriously, it took me thru a whole range of emotions ~ I laughed, I cried, I smiled, cried some more..anyHoO, YOU ARE TRULY AN INSPIRATION!!! you ROCK!!!!

Kristen said...

I'm a little slow at reading blogs. I loved this! I have been so out of the loop! You are so amazing. Your determination will get you through anything in life. I'm so glad you wrote this down - for your sake as well as ours! Love you!!!!