My dad warned me that no matter how well I was trained, or how experienced a person might be, race day could and often would throw you for a loop.
Temps were predicted to start in the high 40s for the start of the race. So I packed tanks and shorts. I threw in my running capris just in case. No jacket, gloves, etc.
Saturday night we checked again and the temps were going to be in the upper 30s. Yikes! Thankfully we had been given a long sleeve shirt in our race packet. So I changed my plans and dressed in capris and long sleeves. I wore my regular coat with the plans to ditch it before getting in line.
We woke up that morning to a temp of 46. Still chilly, but bearable. Everything else seemed to be going as planned.
My dad, who normally has a time of well over an hour shorter than mine, needed a finishing time of 5:30:00 to qualify for Pike's Peak Ultra Marathon. Normally this would be a cake walk for him. But since he'd said he was running with me, he decided to give himself a bit of an edge. So I got in line and he waited for over 2 min before crossing the start line (chipped time) and then running to catch up with me. This meant that he could run in with me, but his actual time would read 2 minutes faster. With over 5k people (1/2 marathoners ran first 12 miles with us) he had a hard time finding me. =)
Since the kids were staying with my in-laws Jon opted to ride his bike and play sag wagon for us. It ended up being a huge blessing. We hit mile 5 and our route took us into a beautiful subdivision. I would love to have pictures of this place. It was unreal. But all of the roads were concrete with metal bridges. Our knees started aching, but weren't bad. The run through the subdivision spit us out around mile 10.
I began to get hot and so I asked Jon to ride back to the car and get my tank.
We left the 1/2 marathoners at approx mile 12 and a block later were hitting a gravel trail. This trail was almost 13 miles of the marathon.
Jon joined us on the gravel trail and saved me from the heat. When I get hot I slow WAY down. Since a large portion of the trail was shaded I was great with my tank. He also provided water several times when I needed some before I reached an aid station. Next time I'll know to carry water in addition to my jelly beans.
I didn't notice at first, but the trail is slightly sloped on both sides so that water won't pool in the middle since it's in a low water area near the river. Almost immediately my left knee began to ache and by mile 16 was killing me. By mile 17 it was locking up so badly that I almost fell several times. I refused to quit since otherwise I felt great. My brother had told me that when his knee bothered him, if he ran full out it would feel a bit better. So I ran the last 7-8 miles doing intervals. Running as fast as I could until my knee locked up, then walking until the stabbing pain quit. It would still hurt, but I would start running again.
My dad kept track of how fast we did each mile so I would know when to only walk until the knee unlocked or if I had a small cushion so I could rest my knee more by walking.
When I got to the 25 mile marker I knew I was going to make the 5 1/2 hour time limit we'd set so my dad could qualify. It was definitely not the time I'd been planning on when I started, but at least he could go ahead and send in his application.
I finished in 5:22:15.
I am now part of the .5% who has completed a marathon!
My dad was amazing. It was obvious that running at that pace was very uncomfortable for him. But he never once ran ahead or suggested that he leave me and come back. He encouraged me the whole way. I wanted so badly to tell everyone that passed us or saw him coming in at that time that he was only that slow because of me. I know it had to have been hard for him to see everyone his age going by and know that he would have gotten an award if he hadn't been running with me.
My husband was a huge support as well. The water, different shirt, and encouragement were a huge help.