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Sunday, May 17, 2015

#95- The Ogden Marathon And My 1st Boston Qualifier!!!

Saying that I am walking on air today would be an understatement. Last year at the Ogden Marathon I ran a 4:48, this year I qualified for Boston with  3:44:08 (official time). What a difference a year makes!

How did it happen? I can't really put my finger on it. I had started a relationship with a man last June and was really inspired by how hard he was working to qualify and I guess that kind of rubbed off on me. He pushed me to work hard too and introduced me to streak running (which help with motivation to run everyday). I dropped some weight and my times just started coming down.

Once I got within 12 minutes of my BQ (Boston Qualifier) of 3:55 (but I was shooting for an 3:53, giving me a 2 minute buffer to get into Boston), I decided to work hard and see where it went.

In January, I ran my first sub 4:00 marathon at the Mississippi Blues Marathon (3:58:58) and that made me confident, that if I just kept plugging away, I could do it. A year ago, I NEVER EVER thought I could be fast enough to qualify, but with a sub 4:00, it seemed within reach, so I went for it!

I saw this and put it on my refrigerator as motivation! 

I started going to the gym and doing some strength training, doing a little speed work and hoped for the best. (HUGE THANK YOU to my strength trainer Suzy and the 1-800 Contacts OnSight Fitness staff for kicking my but over the winter!)

Between Mississippi Blues and Ogden, I didn't really have the opportunity to try for a BQ as all the races I had on my schedule were either ultras, trail races or pacing gigs. Ogden was the first race I thought I might have a shot.

Friday, I took a half day off work to prepare myself mentally and have plenty of time to make the one hour drive to Ogden, hit the expo and meet my friends for dinner at 5:00pm.

My friend and fellow Maniac and Idiot, Tim Gill lives about 15 minutes from the finish and he and his wife BJ were sweet enough to give me a place to stay Friday night, so I wouldn't have to make drive back home. They even let me bring Zoe, which was a tremendous help.

The Ogden Marathon expo was held at the Weber State University ice rink. It is pretty much like any other expo. I got there picked up my race packet and headed over to Tim's house before heading to dinner. 

Picking up my packet at the expo!
It was so cool to see my co-workers from Wasatch Running Center!

The expo

Zoe and I at the Expo
At 5:00pm, Tim, BJ and I met up with fellow Maniac and friend, Dawn Bentley and her husband Bob at Rovali's for dinner. They have a nice Italian menu at a reasonable price. They also have some very delicious desserts (the lavender cake was amazing).

After dinner we headed back to Tim and BJ's to get ready for the race and turn in.

Flat Angie ready to go!

We woke up at 4:00am, got dressed, ate some breakfast and got the bus to the start at 5:15am. I was so happy to see Dawn and we got the bus together (thanks for the ear Dawn)! Ogden is not a race to run late for. The first bus leaves for the start at 5:00am and the last bus leaves at 5:15am!

Getting a last minute snooze before getting off the bus. (Photo by Tim Gill)

The marathon starts just below Red Rock Outfitter's Ranch about 8 miles from Huntsville. The forecast for the race was sunny with scattered showers and with temps at about 55 degrees. This seemed to be a perfect forecast for running.

It was cool, but sunny when we got to the start.

For all that know me, you know that I am a social butterfly before a race. It is one of my favorite things to do, but this time after hitting the potty, I found a quiet place next to one of the fires and just contemplated what I had been through the last few months and how I could not let my depression get in the way of my goal. I had fought to keep my motivation to work hard, even on the days when I didn't feel I could get out of bed. This would be the first chance to to prove to myself that I was still strong.

Just a few Maniacs at the start. Tim Gill, Me Galen Garrison, Vincent Ma and John Bozung.

I found peace and warmth next to the fire.

The race started at 7:15am. At 7:00am I hit the bathroom one more time as I didn't want to have to stop at all on the course. Every minute would count. As I was standing in the line, what I thought was ash from the fires started to fall. We all shortly realized that is wasn't ash, it was snow! Luckily it only lasted for a minute.

I took my bag to the gear check and before I knew it, it was time to start. I reached in my pocket to pull out my pace band and it was gone! This rattled me a bit and I thought I would be lost without it. The Cliff pacers were there, but there was only a 3:45 (which I thought was too fast) and a 4:00 pacer (which would have been too slow). I positioned myself between the two and just relied on my Garmin pace. It was very important that I didn't go out too fast. 

A 3:53 marathon meant I needed to hit an 8:53 pace. The first five miles went as follows (according to my Garmin and not the actual mile markers) :

Mile 1- 8:29
Mile 2- 8:30
Mile 3- 8:25
Mile 4- 8:20
Mile 5- 8:23

I felt really relaxed, but knew if I wanted that 3:53, I was playing with fire going out that fast. 

A mile into the race the rain started to fall. I thought it would just be temporary and the sun would peak through at anytime. It didn't. It rained and rained and got really cold. I started getting nervous as rain I can handle, but rain AND cold are my Kryptonite. I knew I was going to have to use every bit of mental power I had to over come this. 

By about mile 6, I had to go to the bathroom really bad (maybe it was all that water coming down), but I didn't want to stop, so I just kept plugging along.

I was still way under pace and not being at the half-way point, I felt great (besides the misery of the weather) and was just waiting to bonk. I tried not to over think it, and kept going.

I got to the half at 1:51:18 (8:30 pace). By this time, I could not not feel my legs they were so cold and I was just miserable. I was so lucky to have my cheap rain poncho and hand warmers on as they helped keep a little heat in. If I didn't have them, things may have been much worse. 

There are some rolling hills on this course, but we didn't hit the biggest one until about mile 15. I thought, this is where it would all end for me, but I pushed up that hill with no issues.By the time I hit the dam at about mile 17, I was pretty relieved. My pace was still consistent as I hit another nice downhill section of the course. 

At mile 18 I caught the 3:45 pacer. I was in shock! I asked him if he was on pace and he said he was. I told him that I could not believe I was with him! I was still feeling great (besides still having to use the bathroom and freezing) and was just waiting for the other shoe to drop where I would fall apart.

At mile 22 we came out of the canyon at ran on this rolling bike path for another 3 miles. At mile 25 I could not hold it any longer without risking an accident and I HAD to stop at the bathroom. I knew at this point that I had my BQ and did not want the finish photo of my greatest achievement yet, to look like that photo of the poor guy that pooped himself! I ran in and out as fast as I could and headed out for that last 1.2 miles.

The last 3/4 of a mile of the course feels like FOREVER! It is one long stretch and you can see the finish line, but it is further away than it looks. It never seems to get closer until you are right up on it.

While I was in the rest room the 3:45 pacer passed me, but as I caught and passed him, I said, "It looks like I got my BQ!" He slapped me a high five and I flew by him!

Working hard!

When I caught sight of the finish line, I started to cry. I thought about my relationship with the aforementioned man and how he broke my heart like it's never been broken, but he didn't break my spirit or determination to do my best. I am grateful to him actually. 

Coming up on the finish and the tears started to flow!

I thought about my friends and my sister, who even as I cried on their shoulders, listened to me as I tried to pick up the pieces, took over the role of pushing me and keeping me motivated. I thought about Rob, who had to go to Hong Kong on business the day before the race, but knew he would have stood out in that pouring rain to cheer for me!


I crossed the finish line in 3:44:08. Nearly 11 minutes faster than my BQ and 14.5 minutes faster than my previous my PR! I cried happy tears on the shoulder of the race volunteer who gave me my medal for a good 5 minutes after! I needed something to make me happy, and this did it! At that moment I knew that with hard work, dreams do come true!

This sweet volunteer hugged me as I cried the happiest tears of my life!

At the finish with my bling and my lucky $2 bill!

Maniac pal Jeff Bollman from Montana and I at the finish!

My official result!

After the race I forgot where I had parked the car and spent an hour looking for it. When I finally found it, I sat in my car for an hour with the heat on trying to warm up my hands. When I finally got warm, I headed back to Tim and BJ's house changed and waited for Tim to get back as I could not wait to eat everything I had denied myself during training! 

Tim dressed up for lunch in celebration of my BQ! Wait! Which one is Tim?

I can't thank Tim and BJ enough for hosting my and buying me a celebratory lunch at Cracker Barrel where I ate my weight in fried food!

BJ made me a good luck swan!

My medal and pint glass!

For anyone reading this that thinks a BQ is not in your future, NEVER SAY NEVER!! I am proof that with hard work and determination YOU CAN DO IT!! I didn't have to hire a coach and did most of my training alone, but I sacrificed to make my goal a reality. I am still pinching myself thinking I am dreaming.

I finally earned a Boston jacket, I sure hope they pick good colors for next year! Ha Ha!

I am now ready to focus on my next goal, my 100 miler at Arkansas Traveler 100 to celebrate my 100th Marathon!


Melisa Lunt said...

I am absolutely thrilled for you! This brought tears to my eyes. Way to go! All of your hard work has paid off.

Maria Dahlgren said...

So happy for you!! I cried too thinking about your hard work paying off! You are an inspiration to all of us!!! BQ baby!!!

Maria Dahlgren said...

So happy for you Angie, this is such an inspiration to us all!! Cheers to #95!!!! THE BQ!!!

Debbiejsmith said...

I can't begin to tell you how motivating this blog has been for me and so many others.....I am running the race I Hoep to seal the deal in Aug and your blog gives me hope. Need to knock off 1-2 mins....THANKS!!!!

Debbiejsmith said...

Thanks for sharing your story...hope to see you in Boston 2016!

Angie Whitworth Pace said...

Thanks for your kind words everyone! I am very excited!!

Kristin said...

So many congratulations! You are a real inspiration to me. I am about the same age as you (though will age up this summer to the next AG). I ran a BQ in 2009 but since then have not been able to do it again, and seem to be getting further and further away. You are proof that one CAN get faster in our late 40s and beyond. I still have hope. :)

Sara said...

this is so awesome! i've made a goal to hit my BQ in 2017 so i can run in 2018 to celebrate turning the big 4-0. i too will be doing it all without a coach or any formal training. your journey gives me great hope that i can definitely do it.