The final race! 117 seconds

I am not sure where to start in describing my final race on this journey of trying to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials. I believed so deeply that it would happen that I am in a bit of shell shock that I didn’t qualify and this part of the journey is over. A new dream is already hatched for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials. My fastest marathon was in June 2:47:57 so in the end 117 seconds separated me from qualifying for the Olympic Trials ( less time than it will take you to read my blog today).

I flew home late Monday night and it was so strange to see my motivational phrases all over the house, posters Katherine made me, stacks of mental training and running books, bottles of vitamins/supplements/oils that helped kick my cold and reduce inflammation, foam rollers, etc. Wow I was in deep and left nothing out in pursuit of this goal. I feel like I should be sad and crushed but can’t find these emotions I think it is because I did everything within my power to run a 2:45marathon. I am blessed to have the confidence to know I can run that fast. Can I run that fast on reduced training, a comprised body, injuries, and asthma problems? Not this time.

My Arizona kids had never seen the leaves change color. They were delighted to see these beautiful colors on the grounds of the state capitol building. They made piles and jumped in them.

Saturday morning Wendy Schulik filming my prerace interview ( I am wearing my “Grateful” shirt Susan Loken gave me before I left for the trip. I will post any videos in the future.

The night before the race I tossed and turned in the hotel room barely sleeping a wink despite 2 alarms set. Thoughts of my  training kept creeping in my head, little voices saying “you hardly ran anything at race pace, you did not get enough long runs in, almost every track workout was on the Alter G, every long and fast run was very painful, how are you going to run faster, further and push through the pain tomorrow? For every negative thought I conjured up something positive: anything is possible, believe you can do it, think how awesome it will be running across that finish line, what an amazing year, take one mile at a time. Then I just started praying; Hail Marys and the rosary. Finally time to get up. Felt like I had about 1000 butterflies in my stomach. That always makes it easier to eat! Somehow the oatmeal, rice protein shake and banana went down well. A sports drink with Carbopro would be sipped up until about 30 minutes prerace. I have learned this year to eat about 600 calories prior to the race.

I headed down to the lobby to meet the bus. A girl spotted my yellow ribbon on my gear bag (indicated Elite status) and quickly started chatting me up. She was also trying to qualify today. Being my usual self I start encouraging her, giving her final tips, calming her nerves and keeping her motivated. A few miles into the bus ride I pulled out my rosary and started praying again. It was hard to block out the chatter of all the runners but I did my best to focus.

We arrived in Folsom and I headed to the elite tents with my new friend. It was in the low 30’s so we were thankful for the tents with heaters! I was really hoping the cold would not cause asthma problems, I have not run in this cold of weather and with just shorts, sleeveless top and arm warmers, Brrr. It was fun connecting with girls I had met in Duluth this summer. I wished everyone well. Standing in line for the porta potties I discussed the benefit of triple knotting your shoes. (Later at the finish a young woman who qualified would come thank me for the advice).

Several of us ran a bit of a warmup mile or so keeping our sweats on to ward off a chill. I ran into Wendy with her camera and she got a quick prerace interview. I told her I would rely on the strength of my father today since he is the one I get the running gene from. I teared up thinking of him and sad that he was not alive to share this with me.

Then it was time to peel off our sweats and line up at the start. It is kind of funny to think of all the lean barely any body fat girls huddling together to stay warm. The National Anthem and then we are off!

Starting around miles 5-6 I was trying to convince myself that the feeling in my quads was from the cold not fatigue. I keep telling myself stay focused, you don’t have to think about the whole race just run a 6:15 paced mile 1 at a time and before you know it you will be at the finish line.

I was looking forward to seeing the family around mile 6 or 7. I was still fighting the mental demon that was sinking in quickly telling me there is no way this is happening today. I ran by the kids gaining a mental boost! Now I just needed to hold it together despite not really being able to feel much of my quads anymore. I knew my friend pain would be finding me on the course at some point too.

I focused on getting to mile 10 by about 62:30. It helps to break down the race into smaller segments when I struggle. I don’t recall looking at my watch at mile 10 but knew the last couple mile splits were a bit off. I knew Jaymee was going to try and be there around mile 13 and was remembering her advice that I could negative split the course. This was really keeping me going. I passed Jaymee at some point and heard her encouraging words (really needed it at that point). My family surprised me by being around the half marathon mark too. I was trying not to cry because it was becoming painful and I was slowing a bit. It is sort of blur now but I know I was doing everything I could at this point, I needed to hold this pace and even pick it up a bit.

The next spot to see family was going to be 18.5 miles. I focused on just making it there on pace. Between 14-16 mile markers as pain in my hip was really firing I just could not hold the pace anymore and knew the dream was slipping away. This was a low point of the race. I considered dropping out when I saw my family next. The pain and fatigue were severe and I could get a ride with them.

Suddenly something clicked in my head, I am not a quitter I deserve to finish for myself, my family and all those that can’t run. I thought about the kids I coach for running program at school, how could I go home and tell them I did not finish. I decided to just finish even if I had to walk. The thought of walking 8 miles to the finish was very unappealing. I got a little boost and somehow ran mainly around a 7minute pace through til the finish.

The last few miles was definitely emotional and spiritual. I started encouraging all the other runners around me. I prayed that my lost dream would transfer to another girl up ahead on the course and allow her to qualify for the trials. I gained mental strength thinking of my friend Jared who is wheelchair bound. I tried to enjoy the run since I knew I would be taking time off and not running for a while. Here are my mile splits from my Garmin:

1-6:16 2-6:18 3-6:18 4-6:17 5-6:15 6-6:17 7-6:19 8-6:23 9-6:30 10-6:30 11-6:27 12-6:38 13-6:34 14-6:44 15-6:58 16-6:56 17-6:57 18-7:07 19-7:05 20-7:00 21-6:58 22-7:03 23-7:09 24-7:07 25-7:03 26-6:58

My official finish time was 2:56:29. If I put aside what I was trying to do and just looked at my training and the time I ran it feels nothing short of a miracle. I am not really sure how I ran those last 10 miles at that pace! There really was no motivation to run hard, push through the pain.  Once the dream of qualifying for the Olympic Trails slipped away the marathon just did not seem to matter anymore. I think that is the point the spiritual part of the race started.

I sprinted down the final straightway to the finish. I crossed the finish line smiling with my arms in the air for victory. I always thought I would cry at the finish either because I qualified or didn’t. I could not find  tears just pride in my journey of 2 1/2 years. Wendy was there with her camera and got a few words with me. I just wanted to find my family and celebrate. Kevin’s brothers family was there. My nephew Andrew was full of questions about the race and intrigued with my medal. Katherine was tearing up feeling my sadness for me. It was such a sweet moment with my family.

We got back to the hotel to pack up and I said it seemed so surreal that it was all over. Katherine says “Mom the journey is not over because you still have your dream” Well that finally brought on the tears.

 Post race celebration and enjoying a huge Mexican Feast. I was so hungry!

The next day we went to San Francisco and had a great time seeing the city. I am glad we had this trip planned. The kids had fun pulling mom up some of the big hills (my quads were not exactly working).

I plan to take some time off for my body to recover. I can’t wait to get back out there I know 2012 will be another exciting year of racing. In Jan 2011 I was full of excitement about my running dreams for the year. I did not reach the ultimate goal of qualifying for the Olympic Trials but gained more than I could have ever imagined.

I just bought my ticket to Houston. I have to go watch my friends race at the Olympic Trials and start my visualizing for 2016. I think it might be broadcast on NBC. Watch for Arianna Hillborn super fast girl from AZ and Susan Loken the masters legend.

Dream Big and go after your goals. It will not always be easy but I promise you will land on your feet and might surprise yourself along the way and it will definately be worth it.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Allison DeLancey
    Dec 07, 2011 @ 21:40:28

    I loved reading this post! I love your outlook and positive attitude! Keep it up!


  2. Trisha
    Dec 08, 2011 @ 05:25:15

    Kerry, We don’t know one another, but I I understand the frustration of not qualifying. I missed it by 17 seconds the first time I tried to qualify. It sucks big time, but it will motivate you even more for the next time. Congratulations on not allowing yourself to drop out, which afforded you the opportunity to run the last part stronger than you had anticipated for how you felt that day. I hope you will be able to harness that strength and take it forward with you to your next goal. Best, Trisha


  3. meg
    Dec 09, 2011 @ 23:44:05

    This was an amazing post, it made me tear up. Nice job, I’m so happy for you!


  4. thethinksicanthink
    Dec 12, 2011 @ 05:06:53

    To me, it’s truly incredible that you can train at that level, run that fast, and raise kids. It’s very inspiring. I only have to take care of one person (myself) and I still struggle sometimes to get my training in. Being able to even dream of qualifying for the Olympic Trials is an accomplishment in and of itself, in my opinion.

    Just curious, what books did you read?

    I’m hoping to qualify for the Boston marathon in the spring (much slower goal, but it will be very fast for me!), provided I get to train for one (at the moment, injured). I’m actually going to be in Phoenix for 2 weeks over Christmas/New Year’s for my brother’s tournament and thought about seeking treatment from John Ball. Not sure how expensive he is nor how hard to get into (I’m sure he’s busy). I’ve been getting Graston/ART and PT. And, I really hope I’m able to run while I’m out there!

    Good luck with whatever is next for you!


  5. Kimberly
    Dec 12, 2011 @ 20:31:00

    I loved reading your post. I have had two goals that I have wanted to accomplish. Finishing an Ironman and qualifying for the Boston marathon. In 2010 I missed qualifying at the Portland marathon by 39 seconds. It poured and I blanked and put the wrong socks on. They were low cut and at about mile 10 I had blood pouring from where my shoes were rubbing my skin. I didn’t bring any bandaids and so we stopped at a medical tent. Since we were so wet nothing was sticking. That was a 3 minute stop that would come back to haunt me. I crossed the finish line at 3:46:38. I was devestated to say the least. I couldn’t let myself get down too much as I had to focus on Ironman Coeur d’alene in June. I used the 39 second miss at Portland to motivate me when the training got tough for Ironman. And when I crossed that finish line there are no words to describe how incredible it felt. I don’t know if I would have taken my Ironman training easier if I had qualified for Boston but at that finish line I was grateful for the 39 second miss because it got me to my second goal.
    Thanks for your post. It really helped me remember this past year and all I’ve been through as I gear up for training for a spring marathon. Now I’ve got 5:39 to erase! 😉 Best of luck on 2016!


  6. Susan Loken
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 03:09:50

    Kerry, You never gave up, you stood your ground and you are an inspiration to me and so many others. LOVE LOVE LOVE training with you and I look forward to many miles ahead!! Love you!! Susan Loken

    PS…You are a OTQ in my book!!


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