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Big Cottonwood Marathon - A recap of sorts

Running 26.2 miles, no matter what the course is like or how well you have trained, is hard. I still don't love the distance, but there is nothing like crossing the finish line of a marathon. Nothing.

On September 14, I completed Big Cottonwood Marathon. Here are a few things I never want to forget, things I always want to remember and things that worked for me.

Things I Never Want to Forget

This moment....
When I got home, I went upstairs to shower, with a little detour to register for Boston.
I saw my family for the first time at mile 17. It was really the first time you could see spectators, and I tried to take in the sight as much as I could!

I have only cried happy tears a handful of times in my life. This day was one of them. Especially when I texted the person who has believed in me and cheered me on through it all more than anyone, other than my family. I did get to have a mostly incoherent phone call with her a few minutes later. Both are moments I will always treasure.

Admitting on the bus ride up that I was hoping for a sub-3:35 freaked me out a little. I realized the night before the race that I actually needed a sub-3:35 to be able to register for Boston that same day, even though my BQ time is 3:40. Hearing myself say it out loud to a complete stranger was a little scary.

Seeing Jen and Julia just before the finish line was a moment I will never forget. I have the most amazing friends!!!! The moment I saw them was the first time I let myself really acknowledge I had done it. I had crushed my sub-3:35. Then seeing Janice and Janae after the race made the moment even sweeter.

I ran the last two miles for my girls. Thinking of my Princess running her races and picturing her running along the same trail I spend so many mornings logging miles on pushed me through one of my most difficult miles. And thinking of my silly little Bean and knowing I would see her smiling face in just a few minutes pushed me through that last mile.

I couldn't have gotten to the start or the finish line without my family. They have been my support crew and my cheerleaders through it all. On Saturday, they were there every mile or so after 17. With signs, dressed up, with water and Powerade ready to go, blasting my theme song out of the back of our car (Katy Perry's Roar) and just cheering me on. I am so spoiled I actually remember, the one time I went about two miles without seeing them, thinking, "Where's my freaking family?!?" And my girls wouldn't have appreciated my accomplishment if their dad hadn't helped them understand what it really meant. I wouldn't have runnerd license plates without him either, which they surprised me with at the end of the race.

Laying next to my Bean Saturday night, she asked why I cried after my race. When I explained that they were happy tears because I had done something I never thought I would do, she asked, "Did you win?" My answer: "Yes. I won."

Things I Want to Remember

When my left calf started talking to me, I talked back. I started willing it to not cramp up. I sent it happy thoughts. I've never done this before, but it worked. And it kept me entertained for a while. When my right quad started acting up, I did the same thing. And it worked again.

I struggled at mile 8. I struggled at that same point in some of my longer training runs, so I knew it wouldn't last. Knowing this helped me get through several other tough miles as well. A marathon is full of ups and downs. And so much of running really is mental. If you can get through the rough spots mentally, your body will (usually) follow.

The last six miles or so were hard. In a marathon, they will always be hard. But quitting is even harder. I've had a lot of races when I've looked back and wished I wouldn't have stopped to pee or wondered what my time would have been if I had just pushed a little harder when I was struggling, but I've NEVER had a race where I looked back and wished I would have quit.

Things That Worked for Me

I walked through all the aid stations and drank water. I've never done this before. On any other distance, I don't fuel or hydrate at all. So finding what works for me during a marathon has been a journey of trial and error. During most of my other marathons, I carried a handheld water bottle the entire race. I hate carrying it and I still got dehydrated during several races when I carried it, so I figured walking through the aid stations would force me to get the fluid I needed. It was absolutely worth the few seconds it took each time! Getting dehydrated would have certainly cost me much more than those extra seconds.

I grabbed my handheld full of Powerade at mile 17. I kept it for the next few miles and then ditched it. My apologies to the hubs who had to run out in traffic to get it. And to the driver I scared when my sad throwing while running skills only got it to the middle of the traffic lane rather than to the opposite shoulder.

My stomach wasn't happy off and on, so I kept putting off using my fuel. Around mile 21, I downed one Accel Gel. It really seemed to help. This is big for me. I had to force myself to start using some kind of fuel. And feeling like it actually helped will make it easier to fuel in future races.

I took salt tablets (actually Hammer Endurolytes) just before I started and at miles 6 and 12 and 16.

I smiled. I know it seems simple and trivial, but it's amazing how smiling at a volunteer or another runner would give me a boost. And every time I told myself "I've freaking got this," I couldn't help but smile. Because I freaking had it. And I wasn't letting anything stop me!


  1. Way to go!!! That is an awesome finish and I'm sure Boston will be amazing!!!

  2. I'm seriously bawling reading this! I love this! I am so freaking proud of you! Amazing amazing! You are such an inspiration! :) xoxo

  3. i love this so much! you absolutely earned every second of that most amazing day and the amazing reward that is to come:) that last pic is probably one of my favorite photos i have ever seen. priceless!

  4. Love the picture of your girls and their signs!!! Congratulations and way to go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. What a difference family can make! Congratulations Runnerd!

  6. WOOHOOO!!! Awesome awesome awesome. Hugs congrats!!!!!!

  7. Congrats on the race! Sounds like it went perfect!

  8. You rock. There's really nothing more to say. Well, except that the wigs are hilarious and your family being there for you to keep your spirits soaring is awesome.

    Congrats again!!!

  9. I love this recap. That picture of your girls holding the signs is seriously awesome. Huge congrats on an amazing race!

  10. It's like your daughters were twins!

  11. YOU are incredible!! Congratulations on such an amazing accomplishment! You totally rocked that race...I'm so freakin excited for you!!

  12. Wow- so impressive! I am a newer reader. I will have to check back to see what kind of speed work you did. Congrats!

  13. Awesome! All of it. Love your girls, they are adorable. Congrats on the race!


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