Monday, October 28, 2013

St. George Marathon 2013-Dream Big

How could 3 weeks have already passed?  I have sat down to write this race recap so many times and it has just never happened.  Life goes on and my October is always the busiest month.  We have 2 bdays bday parties, football,  soccer x2, bball, school, etc...  you get the picture.  So the post that I will write will for sure be different that a post that I would have written right after the race.  I have had time to analyze and overanalyze the race :)

I wish that after I arrived in St. George that my cold went away and everything was smooth sailing but it really was not.  My cold actually seemed to get worse and I was not sleeping well, I just felt really off.  Having a head and chest cold, coupled with the altitude was not ideal but I did my best to keep it out of my mind and not dwell on it.
I was delighted, actually shocked when I went to the expo and found that my bib was at the elite table.

Did not quite make the cut to have my own bottles at the elite aid stations but I was happy to have the other perks at the start line.
I tried to stay off my feet as much as possible on Friday because I have found that it does make a difference.  I took a nap, or should I say I laid down for a while.  Time passed rather quickly and before I knew it I was getting all my gear ready and making sure I had everything that I needed.  The prediction was that it was going to be cold at the start, 35 degrees, brrr......

Ready to run!!

After a Very restless night, with very little sleep my alarm went off at 4:30.  Left to head to the buses at 5 after forcing myself to eat greek yogurt and packing my bagel with honey to go.  I was safely on a bus by 5:20 and was a ball of nerves.  I did my best to pass the time chatting with the nice guy next to me but I was really not feeling great.  I again forced myself to eat the bagel and continued to drink until we got to the start.  I was not so sure that my breakfast was going to stay down and I really was hoping that once the race started that the nerves would just go away.
The elite corral was great, lots of port a potties with no lines, water, gatorade, heat sheets, and fires because it was cold and windy.  I immediately went into a port a potty and decided that since no one was waiting for me to come out that I was going to take my time and just get ready in there.  It was a nice shield from the wind and it was nice and clean.  After spending a good 10 minutes in there I went and stood by the fire and waited.  This marathon is the most organized marathon I have ever run.  I have run it 2 times before but never raced it.  The energy was great but to be honest I just really wanted to get it over with.  Soon it was 10 minutes to race time so I shed my warm clothes, left on my throw away long sleeve and checked my bag.
As I was trying to stay warm by the fire, 2 girls that I had run many miles with at the Hobble Creek 1/2 in August were right around the same fire.  Jasmine recognized me and began chatting and then Tara was there too.  Jasmine was shooting for low 2:50's and Tara was going for 2:55.
We decided it was time to leave the warmth of the fire and line up at the start.  We squeezed our way close to the front and then it was really time to go.  I remember Tara saying that she was so excited and I remember thinking, "I really don't want to do this."  Not really what you want to be thinking right before the gun goes off.  Ready or not, it was time to go.

Miles 1-7 (6:41,6:48,6:33,6:22,6:32,6:24,6:21) 10k split 40:32, 6:32 pace
I was happy to finally be running!  It was still pretty dark and I could not see my Garmin to know my pace but when it beeped at the mile I used the backlight to see.   I was going out faster than I wanted but the downhill combined with the a little tailwind for the first few miles made it hard to pull back.  The effort was easy so I went with it.  While there was a net drop it was pretty gradual with some rollers.  Miles 6 & 7 dropped into Veyo and the bottom of Veyo Hill (Big hill).  At about 6 1/2 I needed to go to the bathroom :(, I have never had this issue in a race before but i also had not been able to go before the race.  Yes, I am talking #2, sorry gross I know!  I knew there was a port a potty at the base of the hill and decided that even though I hated to stop that I had to.

Miles 8-13(the hill miles, no st george is not all downhill!)
8:05(1 minute in the port a potty),7:02,6:54,7:11,6:53,6:30  1/2 split 1:29:17 6:49 pace
The Port a potty was an unsuccessful stop and so frustrating to me to lose a minute and not go tot he bathroom.  While in the port a potty I shed my throw away shirt and came out of there like a bat out of hell.  Unfortunately before I had to stop I was comfortably running behind Jasmine and 2 other girls who were chatting away.  It was nice to be able to listen to their conversation and be distracted.  I knew that I should not try and catch them but I did push it up Veyo because I had lost so much time in the port a potty, thus the 8:05 mile.  I saw Tara on the hill and was hoping we could work together but What I did not know at the time was that she had fallen right before I saw her.  I kept on hoping she would pull up along side but it did not happen.  You can tell I was wanting some personal company but knew deep down that while there were plenty of people around that I was going to have to dig deep for this one.   After the giant hill there was just a steady hill for miles.  Around mile 10 I started to not feel so great.  It was the same feeling I felt in the Hobble Creek 1/2.  Nauseous enough to not want to drink or eat but I kept on. Looking back it had to be the altitude.  I have raced a lot at altitude and my body does not love it.  I started to wonder if I should just pull back and go on cruise control but I knew if I did not try I would regret it, so I kept moving and hoped that things would turn around.  I was carrying a handheld so I drank as needed.  My plan was to fuel 90 minutes in which would be right around the 1/2.  This may seem late to some of you but I trained doing this for this cycle.  For alot of my runs I actually did not fuel at all.  I carried electrolyte drink with no sugar (Nuun) but did not take in any carbs.  I really feel like if I had not been at altitude that this would not have been an issue.  That could be a whole other post.
Crossed the 1/2 at 1:29:17, pretty much on pace.  This is a good course to negative split and I was hopeful but struggling with the nausea.  Took 4 GU chomps.

Miles 14-20- 6:50,6:21,6:20,6:35,6:26,7:20,7:04  30k split 2:05:00  6:42 pace
Finally some down to make up for all the up!!  My sister was meeting me at 16 to give me a bottle of water that I had mixed 1/2 a Gu into.  I was looking forward to seeing her.  I made it to her and got my bottle.  She asked how I was and I remember saying not good.  The middle miles are hard when you are hurting because you are not close enough to the end to convince yourself that you are almost there :)  I ran with my GU bottle for a couple of miles and then was only able to get down 3-4 sips before deciding to chuck it on the side of the road.  Mile 19 brought another good climb and I grabbed a water at the aid station so I could take a few more Chomps.  At some point between 19 and 20 the dry heaving started.

Miles 21-26.2  6:17,6:48,7:18,6:49,7:33,7:31
These miles were not pretty.  I was digging really deep and trying to keep everything down.  Thankfully i was able to keep moving with the occasional dry heave at an aid station. There was a clock at every aid station which at this point was every mile.  In hind sight I am not sure if this was good for me mentally or bad for me.  Between 23 and 24 you finally come into town to good size crowds and cheering.  My parents surprised me and came down to St. George.  They were around mile 23 1/2 and it was a boost to see them!!  I threw my gloves at my Mom(sorry Mom) and tried to muster up some faster feet.  My hamstrings were hurting which was weird to me because I would have thought that my quads would be hurting but sometimes the body does what it wants.

My Dad took this pic at 23 1/2, last downhill before the flat.  Nice catching me in the air!

The last few miles were tough as I am sure you can tell from my splits.  I felt pretty rotten.  I had to stop several times to dry heave as I was not sure it was going to be dry.  I was getting passed by what seemed like all women and I wanted to match their strides but I just could not.  I remember seeing the clock at mile 25 and knowing that I could let up a little and still break 3.  I wish I have not seen that clock because at that point in the race I really wanted to be done.  Its hard to know if I could have pushed harder had I not known that I could run an 8 min mile and still break 3.  Oh well, it is what it is.  The final stretch is about .4 of a mile long.  You make a left turn and can see the finish line, I was so happy that I was going to break 3 and that I was going to be done.  I gave it everything I had hoping to break 2:59 as I could see 2:58 on the clock but was not sure if it was going to happen.  I crossed the finish line in 2:59:19. 

Right after I crossed the finish line, I left it all out there!
I remember saying many times right after finishing, "It's Over, I am so glad it's over."  I was not feeling so hot immediately after but fortunately I have dealt with this enough to know what I needed to do.  I went and got my checked bag where I had some Zofran (anti-nausea medication), I took the medication and laid down on my heat sheet on the grass in the sun.  I was grateful that my Mom, Dad, and sister were there.  They got me some things to rehydrate and refuel.  After about 20 minutes the medicine started to work and I was able to get a recovery drink down without nausea, that helped a lot.  When I started to feel normal again I was really happy and thankful to have broken 3 hours.

My Mom and sister

My Mom an Dad

Shout out to my Brother in law who ran his 1st marathon

I Did It!!!!

One of my friends from highschool left a comment on this photo on facebook after the race.  It said something to the effect of, "I never would have thought in highschool that you would ever a marathon runner."  Ha!  Yes, in highschool I hated running.  I never would have thought that I would be a marathon runner either and even after becoming a marathon runner, I did not dream of breaking 3 hours because I did not think it was possible.  Sometimes we have to reinvent ourselves and really Dream Big to reach our potential.  I was running with my coach the other day and she made a comment about my face the first time she mentioned breaking 3 hours.  Then it was not something I thought was ever possible.  Hard work, dedication and a village of people got me to this point. 
Shout out to my family, my coach Nikki Rafie who always believed, my sports chiro John Howell who helps to keep me running, the most awesome Team Athena, and some awesome friends who talked me off the ledge when the stress was getting to me.
Dream Big Guys, Dream Big!!!


  1. why am I SO emotional reading this?!!! Part of it is b/c it's just such an incredible FEAT and you had a tough day and STILL did it and part of it is b/c I WANT THIS so badly! but I'm not sure i"ll ever even run A marathon again let alone this.
    I cling to your story. I remember how far you've come the last two years and it gives me strength.
    love you and am so proud of you.

  2. OH! and PS. you look super hot in those shorts and should race in them more often! HA!

  3. Yes!!! I'm so glad you posted this this week. I needed some sub 3 hour marathon inspiration! :-)

    Sooooooo much I could comment on here... I can't believe you went sub 3 WITH a bathroom stop?! and all the stops to dry heave? And a 6:17 pace for mile 21 of a marathon?!

    Like you, going sub 3 has been a goal for a while and more than a year ago I NEVER thought I'd been shooting for it. Crazy to think about maintaining a 6:50 or better pace for that long... Still, I'm trying to believe I can do it. One thing that is encouraging in this recap was that it was NOT a perfect race but you fought HARD for it.

    Curious- do you think you will run this one again? Or any other altitude ones? I have never run at altitude in my life. I would like to do this one someday though.

    Anyway, congrats again and I love the pictures with your parents and sister and bro-in-law. That's awesome he did his first marathon. Did he have a good race experience? And another random question- what shoes did you race in? I loved the color!

  4. Steph, I rarely read a race report from start to finish but I devoured yours. Loved every bit of it. So much. Much of that is because I've seen your journey for several years now. I've seen you go from self-doubt and not even being close to realizing your potential to THIS...this inspiring, fierce, dig deep, beautiful ball of Stephanie! I love seeing makes me smile. It also makes me feel a little cool that I was lucky enough to go on so many runs with an elite runner. Ha! If I come back to Portland, I hope you still run with me. I still remember that day that you kicked it with me for my 1200's at what was my threshold pace at the time (and hard for me then) and you were just zooming along with an effort like you were walking in the park. Ha! Well, a 7:00 pace iS a walk in the park pace for you now. Gosh, you have guts girl! Way to fight for this and push through like a champ despite your sick feeling. So glad you wrote this down. And Team Athena and awesome!! Miss you! Congrats again!!

  5. Great job!! Ugh hate gut issues but glad you still made it in under three hours, that is a kick ass marathon time and you should be so proud of yourself!! AWESOME!

  6. Wow, you certainly gave it all you had! Great race report and execution. Such an incredible time, especially considering the altitude and illness! Stephanie, you are a fantastic runner and I can't wait to race with you again!

  7. Loved this report! You are my inspiration!! I am still dreaming big just to make it to Boston. Hopefully this year! :-) Congrats- you earned it!

  8. Okay, I swear I read this race report a week ago but somehow I forgot to comment on it! Just want to say how incredibly amazing, inspirational and mentally tough you are. I loved reading this and can't believe that you ran a 2:59 even with all the stomach issues you were having, not to mention running at altitude!!

    You make me want to be a better runner! :) Congrats again on getting that sub-3!! xoxoxo

  9. Hi Stephanie! I was just reading up on your blog and had a quick question. Could you please email me when you get the chance? - Emily