The Dream that Wasn’t – Ogden Marathon 2014 Recap
“I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” ~ Michael Jordan
Once again, I am reminded that 26.2 miles deserves the utmost respect. It is a long time to be on the road and anything can happen.
I’ve never had such pre-race anxiety before. I usually never set a specific marathon time goal or set such high expectations before. I’ve never been so publicly open about my goals. Though I am full of craziness, I knew I had done my work and felt like my training was going to manifest itself with a BQ.
I headed up to Ogden on Friday afternoon to the expo. It is hard to explain the excitement of runners and spectators at an expo/starting line/finish line, but it is magical. The energy can actually be felt and I started to get really excited. I grabbed my packet and then headed up Ogden Canyon to drive the last half of the course. Though I have already run the course twice, I wanted to refresh my memory.
After my drive up and down memory lane, I check into my hotel, and then headed off to meet Rachel and friends for dinner. Rachel is a super star runner who has helped a lot of people met their running goals by being a race pacer. Though she wasn’t an “official” pacer for this race, she offered to pace me to a 3:40 marathon. I was beyond grateful! We had a yummy dinner at our favorite pizza place and headed off to our different destinations for the night.
Unfortunately, I did not sleep at all Friday night and hopped right out of bed at 3:50am. We met friends at the busses and took the long bus ride to the starting line. Though it was cold at the start staging area, it wasn’t cold enough. This meant for a hot morning. After waiting for an hour and a half, we finally shed our warm-ups and headed to the start.
I’ve never been this close to the starting line and felt a bit out of place. The national anthem was sung and the gun went off.
Though I had time splits written on my arm, I didn’t look at my watch. I let Rachel keep track of all that. My legs were not feeling super fresh even though I took a three-week taper. Four weeks before the race, I ran 53 miles, which was the most amount of miles I’ve ever run. I felt full of niggles and knew I needed that recovery period.
Around mile 8, it felt like someone took a gas pump full of lead and started pumping it into my legs. My breathing started to get labored and all the wheels started to fall off. I kept thinking to myself, “I run more than 8 miles everyday, what is going on? I still have 18 more miles to go.”
Rachel kept looking back and telling me everything was all right. We eventually made it to the halfway mark and I knew I was in trouble. I kept saying to myself I could turn things around and I could BQ. But more and more lead was being pumped into my legs and my heart rate kept getting faster. I was on top of my nutrition and water and was taking salt pills because of the heat, so why couldn’t my legs cooperate?
We finally made it to mile 17/18 where the elevation drops significantly down the canyon. Usually, this is where I can pick up speed and really start to feel good. Not today. My buddy Bradley came up behind us. He knew my goals and knew I should be way further along. I gave a weak smile and said, “I don’t want to talk about it”. No judgment was made and he ran with Rachel and I for several miles.
I finally got to the point of just looking at the yellow line on the road. Left foot….right foot….left foot….right foot. I zoned out. My legs were so heavy that I felt like the bad guy in the cartoon “The Incredibles” with his giant robot legs.
I saw the 3:45 pacer go by and took a major mental blow. I kept thinking of all the encouragement and kinds words people have said to me the past few days. “Come on Toby…NOW...NOW is the time to go” “Come on Toby…you’ve been working on this for 365 days…are you really going to let it slip away?” I would push that gas pedal to the floor but remained at a stand still. A few miles later, the 4:00 hour pacer passed me and I mentally lost it. I had only come up with one plan for this race – to run a 3:40 or less. There was no plan B. Or C. Or D. Now my only goal was to finish.
Rachel kept saying and doing all the right things but I just could not respond. We finally got out of the canyon and I knew Tim and the kids were going to be around mile 23. Rachel said to look strong to make my family proud. But as soon as I got through the tunnel and saw them, I lost it. I stopped to give each one of them a hug and sobbed. Tears streaming down my face. I felt as though I disappointed them while I shuffled by. By this point in the race, all of the facades and walls that I had up were replaced with very raw emotion.
Rachel jokingly said I needed to stop crying because it took much energy. Shortly thereafter, I saw my dear training partner Kellie. Ohhhh….what a ray of sunshine on a very dark day!
We finally hit mile 25 and turned onto the final stretch of the race. That last mile took so long to run. I could see the finish line and it never got any closer. I was so afraid my legs were going collapse. Finally….finally, I stepped over the timing mats. I was so disappointed. I felt like I had failed. I felt like had let so many people down. I was in a world of hurt physically and mentally.
My sweet family was standing right off the finishing area and it was nice to have a change of scenery. We planned a place to meet once I got out of the shoot. I asked Rachel what I did wrong? She said “Nothing. I can do all the right training and preparing and some days it doesn’t work out.” I am so grateful she is my friend and saw me through a very difficult day.
I grabbed some treats in the finish area and met Tim and kids. I started to cry once again…so very disappointed I didn’t hit my goal after so much work. I felt silly for sharing my hopes and dreams for the whole world to see and know I would have to face everyone with empty hands.
I recently read “The Mental Aspects of Running” by Sasha Pachev. I loved this paragraph.
“Jenny Spangler runs a 2:43 to qualify for the '96 Trials and she is in tears afterwards, and those are not tears of joy, she is disappointed because deep down she knows she is not a 2:43 girl. She enters the Trials with a B qualifier, nobody considers her a factor. She runs away from the field early on, they ignore her thinking she is a rabbit seeking some TV time, cannot keep the pace, and will come back. She does not come back winning with a 2:29. Had she not known deep down she was a 2:29 girl she would not have been in tears over 2:43. Had she not been in tears over 2:43 she would not have run 2:29.”
So now that it is over and I can look back…I need to run more miles in the heat. More strength training. More experience. More mental toughness. I had more demons today than dreams. I totally fell short of my goal and there is no one or thing to blame but myself. But I still have a BQ in me somewhere. Maybe not today or tomorrow or marathon #6 or #7….but someday.
Time to recover, move on and come up with a new plan. Failures lead to successes.
Chasing dreams and conquering demons 2015
(Thank you dear family, friends, and strangers for ALL your kind words. My phone, email, Facebook, and Instagram blew up this weekend with kindness. I thought about each of you while I was shuffling down the streets of Ogden. Thank you…thank you!)