I will add to this periodically as it comes back to me, because right now some of it is still fuzzy, either by the weather forcing me to black out at times while running, or my subconscious mind has decided it’s far to horrifying to have to recount the details.
Let us proceed. The day was May 21st, 2016.. Lacey, my father, and myself are driving to park our truck by the El Matador restaurant to walk to the buses to drive up to our starting point for the Ogden full marathon (my father ran the half). Lacey and I were standing in line to board a bus, when a guy came walking by and tripped on the cement and I think landed on his side. It was a pretty intense fall, even with Lacey somewhat catching him as he was falling down. I immediately felt bad for the guy, here he is, mentally prepping himself to run a race, and he trips and possibly hurts himself a couple hours before.
When we arrive at the starting line area, it hadn’t began to rain much..yet. It was pretty cool watching everyone with their pre-race planning and ideas to better accommodate themselves before the race. We laughed at this very tall, muscular guy wearing a very tiny garbage sack as a poncho. Another guy was sleeping under a table, staying dry in the process (brilliant actually, just brilliant). I must remember for other races now though, we saw a group of people take up fold up lawn chairs..now, I am not sure if they were just going to leave them up there and come back after to pick them up, or if they were just leaving them there and planning on never seeing the chair again…either way, it looked like a great idea, having somewhere to sit, off the cold, wet ground, & off your legs for an hour and a half before the race starts.
The race started at 0715, it was only barely showering at this point. There were more rolling hills at the start than I remember from the first time I ran the Ogden full marathon, my thighs made sure to remind me. I was ideally planning on a sub 3:25:00 finishing time, but for the first 6-7 miles, I was holding a 6:49/mile pace, so I was feeling pretty giddy. I even remember having thoughts like, “you know, keep running like this, and you’ll see that BQ in a few hours”..but than realistic side of brain chimed in to remind me, “you never trained at this pace, you’ll wear out”. Of course, realistic side of brain usually is the victorious one, but this time, realistic side had no control over the events that were about to unfold. Now, the Ogden marathon has recently become infamous for being rainy and wet the day of the race. More often than not lately, race day is in the rain. 2016, was no different..except for an exciting addition of hurricane caliber wind from miles 8ish-17. It slowly became a nightmare. I have shared this part of the marathon with basically everyone I have talked to about it, but up by the Pineview reservoir and Eden Park, there is a school, I believe it’s an elementary school, but as I was running by there with, I’d say about a group of 7 or 8, and that is where the storm hit it’s climax. The rain was crashing down in sharp, needle-like waves, while the headwind gusts were applying so much force, your pace soon became a slow jog. I had never, ever, ran in a storm of that magnitude. By that point, the poncho and sweatshirt I had worn since the start were ditched at mile 7, serving me no further assistance due to their current state of, “beyond saturated”. Needless to say, the t-shirt and running shorts I was currently covered by were serving little to no purpose for warmth or cover. I was miserable…cold, and losing motivation. I could feel my shoelace undone around mile 16, so I pressed on to the mile 17 marker where I asked a very nice aid station volunteer if they could help a grown 29 year old tie his shoelace because I couldn’t make my fingers function properly due to the cold. The aid station worker laughed and kindly started working at the shoelace. Within a few seconds, he also was struggling due to himself also being cold. He laughed and had said something along the lines of, “you weren’t kidding, this isn’t easy”.
I had eagerly looked forward to the canyon segment of the marathon in hopes that the slight downhill would help me to regain lost time and help boost my motivation, but sadly the canyon wasn’t quite as refreshing as I had originally hoped and remembered it being. The weather had taken it’s toll on me, along with a few others I had come across and ran by for a good majority of the race. There was a young couple I had ran with from about mile 4 to about mile 18, that the girl was so cold, she had actually been keeping her eyes open along the sides of the road to see what article of clothing and thermal blankets she could pick up and throw over her because she was becoming quite frozen. I remember passing them as they were sorting through a few piles of clothing and thought, “this is complete madness…why are we all doing this?”
The canyon ended up being a mind game. Every corner I would turn, I would hope that corner would be the one that revealed the waterfall at the end. The Alaskan Inn aid station was one I was excited to see..it was a good sign, reassuring that the waterfall was only a few corners away, and I might, I just might, survive this thing. The moment my eyes caught the slightest glimpse of the water rushing down the mountainside..I could have man cried. Man crying is different from normal crying, in ways only a man would understand, and to explain why and how man crying is different from normal crying would take hours, possibly days. So I will save that for another day.
Out of the canyon to Dinosaur Park, is such a refreshing, rejuvenating leg of the race. It’s where a very kind, welcoming group of runner fans gather to cheer on all the runners. None of them are there for me, but they are cheering like they have known you your entire life. If only they could travel with you for the entire marathon! Reaching Dinosaur Park, was a breath of fresh air. By this time, the rain was a slight drizzle, and the slight burst of a very tiny second wind finally makes it’s way into your step. A 5k to go, and this thing is in the books. The 3:30:00 pacer ended up passing me by the Prairie Schooner restaurant, which was kind of a kick to the man-go (man ego), but at that point, I was already thinking about that first sip of Coca-Cola at the finish line (turned out to be Pepsi this year..best Pepsi I have ever had). Running under the Ogden sign on Washington Blvd, there was a camera person taking photos, and under normal circumstances I would have made a funny pose of some sort, but given my current state by being completely over the fun and festivites the Ogden Marathon had just put me through, I gave him a wave and made my way to Grant Ave, which should change it’s name to, “Ogden’s longest road ever”. The finish line is in sight the moment you start heading south, but you begin to wonder if you actually see it, or if it’s just a mirage. And if you are one of the lucky ones who are able to reassure your brain it truly is, indeed, a finish line, it may soon begin to seem as if the finish line is slowly getting farther and farther away as you run towards it. It’s one of the greatest optical illusions I have ever seen with my own two eyes.
About 23rd street (race ends on 25th street), there was a kind old man handing out little American flags on sticks to any runner that wanted to carry one across the finish line. How, on God’s green, beautiful earth, could you turn down an American flag while on the home stretch of a marathon that nearly killed you? I had made a sign the week before the marathon, it had Steve Carrell from The Office on it, and in writing it said, “Wow, that was hard”, and “Don’t Stop”, also “Go faster”. Then at the bottom, it said, “That’s what she said!”. My family was holding the sign a block before the finish line, I laughed the moment I saw it. It sealed the experience up ever so nicely. And let me tell you, as I acted like an airplane, flying back and forth through the finishing area before stepping on the timing pads, the feeling of the finish line under my feet was one of the best feelings I had ever experienced.
It was a race I’ll never forget, I hope I never have to experience again, and a race that proved to myself that I wanted it. 18 weeks of training is much too important to give in to mother nature and let her win the race you started. I wanted that finish, and I wouldn’t quit. I took the finish from her, but she sure left a lasting impression on me that I won’t soon forget.