So... why did I pick this very small, very rural marathon in Willard, Missouri? Because of the awesome medal (which you will see at the end). You see, before I was "promoted to motherhood," I was an Architect (OK, I still am, just in an extremely tiny capacity these days). I have a passion for historic preservation. Well, about nine years ago I was blessed with the opportunity to help restore an actual Frisco caboose! Here is the finished product.
This is located at the Mammoth Spring State Park in Mammoth Spring, Arkansas.
Once I discovered this race online and decided that I could swing the timeline (it was nine weeks after my previous marathon) I knew that it was mine all mine! It just had my name written all over it. Plus, I was keen to do a smaller race. They can't all be Chicago! And smaller races, in my opinion, are more family friendly.
So off we went on Friday morning. But not before discovering that Isaac was likely teething because he had a huge fever. Ugh! Not good. We decided to forge ahead as a party of three with meds and the thermometer in tow.
I was soooooo glad that I borrowed a portable dvd player for the car. That thing was worth its weight in gold in terms of keeping Isaac occupied and happy. However, the windy roads of North Arkansas did not sit well with him. He threw up just before we got to the Missouri state line. Yep. Not zesty... He can now say that he has been stripped and changed on the side of the road.
When we finally arrived at our hotel in Springfield, Missouri we were oh so happy! Isaac could be "free," i.e. no longer strapped into his car seat, and I could head to the teeny-tiny packet pickup over at the Willard Middle School (start and finish of the race). It took about sixty seconds to get my tech shirt and race bib, and then I was out of there headed back to nearby Springfield. But not before receiving a call from Chasen to pick up more meds because now Isaac had diarrhea. Oh good grief! Thankfully it was short-lived and we were able to head to dinner soon.
My silly boy and I at Schlotzsky's. We were aiming for a good pic, but this is all we could get.
That night was ROUGH. Isaac woke up about once per every hour or two, and I only ended up with about three hours of sleep. Aaaaackkk! I laid there in the wee hours thinking "I can't do this. But I have to. I've come all the way and I just HAVE to get that medal."
5:30 AM came mighty early. The boys dropped me back off at the middle school and, fortunately, they had one of the medals laid out for all to see. That's when I decided that my exhaustion was just going to have to take a backseat to my desire to do this thing. Mind you, I had already established that this marathon (#6!!!) was all about just getting through the course and getting medal, as well as the family road trip. All I had to do was carry myself over 26.2 miles.
This was the only signage... at the side door of the middle school.
All it takes to put on a race in rural Missouri is a truck and some traffic cones!
This was not only a marathon, but also a 10-mile race, a 50k and a 50-miler. There were just over 200 participants, total. I was definitely at the back of the pack, which was fine. Right before the race director said "Go!" I turned on Phedippidations episode 270. The mantra, which I knew would come in handy later, was "When There's Nothing Left To Burn, You Have To Set Yourself On Fire." How very true, especially on three hours of sleep.
This was an out-and-back course. I have never ran a marathon that way, but I do enjoy training that way. I feel a huge sense of accomplishment at the turnaround point, as if I am "done" already. This was no exception.
The course was run 100% along the historic Frisco Highline Trail. The first three miles or so are "out in the open" on asphalt. The next 10.1 miles were all on hard-packed gravel. Most, but not all, were shaded. The weather was a bit windy, but it was definitely NOT too hot. That was the blessing of the day!
For the first five or six miles I was running solid miles, but then I began thinking about it and decided that I would switch to a Galloway run-walk method, given that I had a long way to go and, let's face it, very little reserve. Gee thanks, Isaac.
But perhaps I should thank him. You see, as soon as I switched to my Galloway 4:1, I immediately began to feel better, both mentally and physically. My whole mindset changed. It was as if I had discovered the golden ticket: just enjoy this race and get your medal. And that I did!
I finally caught up to the woman I had in my sights for miles -- Linda the first-time marathoner from St. Louis. We jockeyed for a while, but I ultimately stayed ahead. She was a joy to have around, especially since we were "out in the middle of nowhere" basically all alone for miles at a time. When she and I hit the halfway turnaround, I congratulated her big time. She was on her way!
At the first post-half water stop (mile 16.2) Chasen and Isaac were waiting on me.
Isaac and his BFF "Stinky Dog" are all ready to watch me run by.
Here I come! This is how most of the trail looked (shaded and beautiful).
Being that we were "way out there," I encountered several things while running that I have never encountered before: s snake, cattle guards, a wild hog (which farmboy Chasen confirmed once I gave him a detailed description), bunnies and an armadillo.
Isn't that gorgeous? Chasen took this while parked and waiting on me to run by.
He actually missed me. Oh well - better late than never!
Typical mile marker along the trail (not corresponding with the race, mind you).
Isaac blows a dandelion while checking out the trail. Oh the rocks I got in my shoes!
In the upper teens I switched to running 1 minute and walking 30 seconds. That worked well for quite a while. When we got to mile 21 (right past the wild hog...) Linda, in an exasperated way, said "Five miles to go." I, like Little Miss Sunshine, said "ONLY five miles to go, Linda. ONLY five!" You see, I really had discovered the golden ticket. It had left me so happy and optimistic. It was rather incredible. My outer thighs were on fire, but I had the mental spirit to keep going. That's all I had to do! Easy as pie!
I could see another girl waaaaay up ahead, just walking. I knew she must be feeling like death. At this point I was just running from chosen landmark to chosen landmark (i.e. overhanging limb to darker green bush, etc.) Somehow I made my way up to her. As it turned out, she was a 16 year old cross country runner trying her hand at 26.2 miles. I could tell that she was not having a good time of it. I took a risk and put on my "motherly hat" and said to her "Look, I am 36 years old... 20 years older than you... don't let an 'old lady' beat you to the finish line." She took off and began running a bit more, mixed in with some walking.
By the time I hit the final three miles, all on asphalt, I was toast. But I was walking quickly and again listening to the "When There's Nothing Left To Burn, You Have To Set Yourself On Fire" episode of Fdip. I knew I was almost done and I was soooo happy. This is amazingly different from all of my previous marathons, where I just wanted to lay down and die foe the final 6.2 miles. I am telling you... if I could bottle this new attitude of mine I would be a billionaire!
I told him that, if it wasn't raining, I wanted to cross the finish line with my sweet boy. Mother Nature cooperated.
Here I come, the happiest girl in the USA. You can't fake enthusiasm like that!
I was sooooo happy! Not just happy to be done, like normal, but simply on top of the world. Now I know the secret: just run and enjoy it! I couldn't care less that it was my second-slowest marathon.
Here I am with much-deserved pizza, cookies and a banana. Yum yum yum!
Official race shirt: waaaaay to small. Oh well, I'll make a t-shirt quilt one day.
Awesome logo. Love love love this race and course (minus the tiny dang rocks).
I congratulated the cross country girl and told her just how incredible she was for doing a marathon at age 16. Then I saw Linda finish. All in all, a great day!
After we got cleaned up (and I got a much needed ice bath) we headed to the Bass Pro Shop.
We had a celebratory meal at Lambert's Cafe in nearby Ozark, Missouri. Isaac continued his hunger strike, unfortunately (the next day Chasen told him if he didn't start eating soon he'd be down to nothing more than dirty fingernails and socks - ha!) But he did like to see hot, fresh rolls being tossed out to people! He slept better than night, but we were still up several times. Aye aye aye.
The drive home had to be rerouted because of flooding, so it took a bit longer. And we had a flat tire. You'll never believe what was removed from my left front tire: a bone. Yep - we had indeed been to the boonies!
I am still on cloud nine about the race. I learned so many good lessons (run for fun, take salt when offered, wear gaiters next time, invest in a travel dvd player) and truly, thoroughly enjoyed myself. Now the sky's the limit!