That Time I Ran 20 Miles in the Ogden Marathon

I started leading up to this post a long time ago, but never finished. Here's the story: 

Sonora Grill has been an official sponsor of the Ogden Marathon for the past several years. As a sponsor, we are given some entries to the Ogden Marathon. We usually share them with employees, friends, and customers. But then last year, I decided I wanted to be a runner. My first race didn't work out so well. But since Ogden hosts one of the most beautiful marathon races in the country, I figured I should get a team together to run the relay. 

Somehow, I fooled these folks into running with me: Leslie Ballard, Lindsey Fox, my brother, Paul, and Angela Ballard. 

We called ourselves Team Ballard, but we probably could have been called The Invalids. Leslie was just two years out from chemotherapy, I was less than a year out from my third MALS surgery, and there were some days that Angela could barely walk. (Those Ballard boys didn't do a very good job of picking healthy wives.) 

Anyhow, I really don't know how I got Angela to say yes. But once Angela was in, Leslie was easy. Leslie just couldn't believe that I talked Angela into running a race. I think the conversation went something like this. . . 

Me: Hey Leslie, will you run the marathon relay with me and Angela?
Leslie: Angela who?
Me: Angela Ballard. 
Leslie: (laughing)
Me: I'm serious. 
Leslie: Yah. If you can talk Angela into running a race, then I'm in too. 
Me: She's already in. 
Leslie: That's funny. 
Me: No, I'm serious. She said yes. 
Leslie: WHAT?!?

It was a good thing that we got Leslie on board. Because then the two of us had to re-convince Angela that she could do it on a bi-weekly basis. (She was dealing with some serious back pain. And if I would have known that she was going to end up needing disc replacement surgery later that year, I probably wouldn't have persuaded her to run a race. Good thing I didn't know.)

I used this 12-week training schedule to prepare for my 7-mile leg in the relay. Just look how many boxes are filled in. I'm pretty proud of this chart because it's, by far, the most diligent I have ever been with a personal exercise program. 

A week or two before the marathon, Dave Ballard, who was supposed to run with us, found out he had been scheduled for a job interview the morning of the race. Lucky for us, my brother, Paul, was ready to step in. He had been running a few miles a day on the treadmill in the big cement palace up in Cache County. . . wearing Crocs. He went on a six-mile run with me, and we were both feeling pretty confident about things. 

My cousin, Julie, came to town, and we went to the marathon expo together. She had been busy with work and hadn't had time to train for the race. She intended to switch her full marathon entry for a half marathon. Except that she hadn't bothered to open any of the emails saying that the last date for race transfers had already past. Period. She wasn't super excited to think that she was running 26 miles, instead of the 13 miles she had planned on. In fact, I'm pretty sure she told me that she was going to die. At least seventeen times. 

Race day came, and I was really nervous about my stomach. Especially because we had to wake up so darn early in the morning. (The bus left at 5:00 am!) Why do races have to be so early?!?  

We rode the bus up Ogden Canyon to the start of the marathon and huddled around fire barrels to stay warm. Julie was thinking she would just run the first half of the marathon and somehow convinced me that I could run 13 miles with her. I was feeling good, and my stomach was feeling good, so even though I had never run more than 6 miles in my life, I thought I could maybe do it.  

And then the race started. I tried to keep up with Julie, but her pace was faster than mine, so after a few miles, I told her to go ahead without me. And then she decided she was going to push it and go for the full marathon. And somehow she convinced me that I could possibly do the same. 

The shuffle feature on my phone wasn't working, so I listened to the same song over and over again. But I finally finished my 7-mile leg and passed off to Paul, who quickly ran the second leg. I was still feeling good about things and decided I would run the third leg with Angela. So I caught a ride from some girls, who dropped me off at the next leg. Paul eagerly kept running with us.  

It turns out that running a marathon is nothing like training for a marathon. There were hundreds and thousands of people along the course holding signs, cheering, and ringing cowbells. There were water and food stations every two miles with volunteers dressed in crazy costumes. There was so much excitement on that course that you couldn't help but want to keep running. And did I mention that it's beautiful?

This is Paul and me, somewhere on the third leg of the relay (between mile 13 and mile 18). 

It was really hard to get a picture of Angela because she was running so fast: 

Okay, there was actually a little bit of walking that took place. And that was just fine with me. 

At the transfer station for the fourth leg of the relay, we found Addy. So I took this picture of Angela and her two younger sisters: 

I kept going and ran the fourth leg with Lindsey. Because I could. I was kinda shocked. And so was my friend, Sherry, when she texted me to ask how I did, and I told her I was still running. 

I really wanted to run with Leslie. But by the time I got to the fifth leg of the relay, I was about to die. But it wasn't like I was going to stop three miles from the finish line. So I told Leslie to go ahead at her own pace and I would run behind her. A little slower. There are so many spectators cheering on the runners that it's actually hard to stop and walk. It's not like I knew more than a handful of them, but their cheering was so sincere and I didn't feel like I could let them down. There were quite a few race photographers too. And those cameras are pretty good motivation to keep you running. 

Julie, the lady who said there was no way she could run the full marathon, crossed the finish line with a time of 4:17, which was actually faster than the year before. 

Paul crossed the finish line in just under five hours: 

Leslie was about five minutes behind him: 

And then I was a minute behind her. Steve only caught a picture of me from the back because I was running so fast. That's a joke. I could barely move my legs. 

I posed for a picture with my two favorite cheerleaders. They were so proud of me and my surprisingly long run. 

Paul was all about the food. He said he had a really hard time running past all of those aid stations because he wanted to stop and eat. And that the next time he ran a marathon, he was bringing a backpack. 

We didn't have a whole lot of time to recover before Rachel and Lucy ran the KidsK race: 

Their cousins arrived just in time: 

Here's Rachel: 

Jake and Gracie: 

And possibly the most animated runner, Lucy: 

I also caught this emotional shot of Kym Buttschardt, watching those kids and the last marathon runners crossing the finish line: 

Kym is Ogden's number one cheerleader and has played a big role in the success of the GOAL Foundation and the Ogden Marathon. (Incidentally, she is also one Steve's biggest cheerleaders. She is just a fantastic lady.)

Here's another picture of me and Paul. I ended up running 20 miles, and he ran 19. 

Lindsey and Angela: 

Rachel and Lucy are pretty sure that one of the best parts about the marathon is the soda at the finish line: 

I could barely walk for the next few days and ended up with a stress fracture in my toe, but it was completely worth it. I honestly didn't think it was possible for me to run 20 miles. I didn't think I had the physical strength, and I certainly didn't think my stomach could handle that sort of thing. 

But I trained. Even when I was sick with a horrible sinus cold. Even when I had an upset stomach. Even though I had to do almost all of it on a treadmill. Even though I certainly didn't always have the time. And even though I didn't always want to. And then once I was running the race, I felt compelled to keep going. To show my kids that I was healthy. To show my husband that I was "back". And to show myself that I could be a runner. And maybe most importantly, to remind myself that I can do hard things. 

I'm so grateful to have had this experience with the Ogden Marathon. And I can't wait to participate again this year. . . in just three weeks!


Mindy said...

Holy crap, you're incredible! You should come run the Vernal half next weekend...

Joanie said...

Longest training run was 6 miles and then you ran 20?? I can't even comprehend how much pain I would be in. Although, I've never done anything like that so I guess I wouldn't know. Are you doing the full marathon this year? I will be back for the half this year, though I considered doing the full and after reading about you and your friend who thought she was doing the half, I'm sort of tempted to just bust out the full! But then again, maybe not :)

i'm h.mac said...

The best part about this post besides the inspirational runners is the pop at the end. Pop at the end of a race?!?! Thats hilarious!

Natalie B. said...

this is the pep talk I needed! I haven't stuck to a schedule AT ALL, but I have three weeks to get my butt in gear! I better get going! No excuses!

Stephanie Dirks said...

You always, always, always inspire me. I'm so glad I know you!!!!!

emily ballard said...

Sadly, I'm not running the full marathon. . . or even the half. I was planning to run three legs of the relay (13 miles) but I hurt my knee a few weeks ago and haven't been able to run more than a mile. I'm hoping to work back up to 5 miles by May 18th!

emily ballard said...

And thanks, Stephanie! That's such a very nice thing to say!