Sunday, May 20, 2012

Last Was Best of All the Game

I knew when I decided to do a marathon that I was biting off more than I could chew!  The half marathons I had run in took all that I had, but for some reason I got the courage to sign up and see what I could do.  After four months of training and one long day on Saturday, I found out what I could do.  I have written about what I learned during training.  Saturday was the day I had done all of this work for.  I knew it would be hard, but I didn't know how it would test my limits and how rewarding it would be.

I am not going to give all of the details, but there is still a lot to report on.  I haven't even been able to process all of the experience myself.  I am going to give the highs and the lows and let the pictures do most of the talking.  Thanks to my brother Gordon and my wonderful sister-in-law Martha, I have several pictures to share.  I got very few, but they were taken during extreme conditions.  But before the pictures, I gotta say.  I DID IT!  I finished the marathon!!!!!  WHOOOOOOHOOOOOOO!!!!

Here's a little bit about how it went.

No pictures from Friday, when Gordon and I drove up to Ogden, got checked in, got my Bib number, ate pasta, went back and did a walk through at the runner's expo.  It all went smoothly.  The packet pickup was great.  I walked right up, got my number, race shirt, check that the timing chip worked and got out of there quickly.  I got a good nights sleep with only one brief night terror when I woke up and thought, I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS!!!!.  I rolled over and went back to sleep.

I got up Saturday at 4am.  I ate a light breakfast, got ready and headed out the door.  Gordon drove me over to the busses by 4:45.   This was really well done as they got the busses loaded quickly and we were headed up Ogden Canyon to the starting line.

As soon as I got off the bus, I headed over to the porta-potties to avoid these lines.

We waited at the start of the race for about an hour in 30 degree weather.  They had fires going to keep people warm, but it is hard to have enough fires for the 1000 plus runners.

The first 7 miles were mostly downhill.  I kept on my pace during this time.  I talked briefly with a runner.  I asked why she decided to run a marathon.  She said she was 44 years old, had a son with a disability and wanted to take care of him as he grew older.  I thought of my brother and sister-in-law who where there with my nephew Mark who you will see in a picture later on.  Already I was inspired by others during the race.

Miles eight through fourteen were a real challenge.  There was a lot of hills, contending with traffic and being out in the sun for long stretches.  Thankfully the temps stayed cool.  As I was trudging towards mile 10, Gordon pulled up in his truck and asked how I was doing.  It lifted me up just seeing him so I could truthfully say ,"OK!"  He went on a head to a pull out by the next aid station.   Here are a series of pictures of me approaching the mile 10 aid station.
The pair you see behind me were not a pair for long.  In about 2 miles, I ran by as the wife told her husband she couldn't go any further and told him to go on.  After a couple of exchanges, he passed me and I didn't see him again.

I was glad that Gordon was able to meet me on this part of the course.  Most of it was closed to traffic.  I was able to get rid of an overly stuffed fanny pack which made a big difference.

A got a great reception from the aid station at mile 13.  All of the volunteers started chanting my name which they saw on my race bib.  "BRUCE, BRUCE. BRUCE!!!"  I couldn't help but stop for a second and give them a WOOF WOOF WOOF and then we all cheered.  The enthusiasm was repeated at each of the aid station.  I can't give thanks enough to all of the volunteers who gave water, sports drinks, Clif Shots, Blocks and Bars, orange slices and even Otter Pops! They took the time to make you feel the race was there just for you!

Here I am leaving the aid station.  There was traffic to content with during this part.  I had a semi pass really close to me at one point and I was off the road a bit.  It came to an abrupt stop behind two runners that were unaware the peril behind them.  He then figured out he could go around them instead of running them down!

Right before mile 14 was the gut check.  It was a half mile climb.  There were only a couple of us getting up this hill by the time I got there.  It was getting warm, and I had to focus on the near term just to get up.  Much to my surprise there was an otter pop waiting at the aid station which really helped cool me down.  I also dowsed my head with water at almost every aid station from mile ten on and poured one down my back.
Ogden Marathon Facebook Page

Last week, I wrote about my fear of 17.3 miles and the time cutoff.  I was looking good time wise, but the hill took a lot out of me.  As I approached the dam, a car drove up and the driver said, "You have three minutes to get across the dam. If you hurry, you can make it."  Below is a picture of the dam crossing taken by someone from the marathon.  The car drove up where you see the cliff face meet the road.  It wasn't a short distance.  I started to worry.  All I could do is say a quick prayer and move as fast as I could.  As I reached the end of the dam, the race official started to approach.  Was it good or bad news?  He smiled broadly as he told me, "Good job!  You beat it by a minute!"  I was one minute away before being taken off the course!  I waited until I turned down the Ogden Canyon road and gave a quick thank you prayer before I cried a bit.  

Ogden Marathon Facebook Page
Here is a picture of what the course looked like coming down Ogden Canyon during the main part of the race.
Ogden Marathon Facebook Page
This is what it looked like when I got on it about a mile down after crossing the dam.

And this is what I looked like.  I think I wanted to smile, but forgot how!

About Mile 18
I had until 1pm to be out of the canyon.  I could see two other runners ahead of me, but wasn't in any condition to try and catch them.  I had a van come up to me with a race official asking if I was ok.I was at mile 22 at that point.  I am pretty sure I was the last one out of the canyon.  I had 5 minutes to spare!  :)

From here, we were on a multi-use path.  By the time I got to mile 23, (and another enthusiastic greeting!), I had been on the race course for 6 hours.  I was greeted by the Ogden Police on bikes.  One of the policeman struck up a conversation with me and said what a great name I had.  Of course, his name was Bruce as well.  He stuck with me all the way to the end, keeping me company, telling me stories and I felt no pressure at all.  I was being treated like the whole race was all about me.

As I turned onto Grant Avenue, I could see the finish line about a mile away.  Gordon rode up on a bike and was able to go most of the last mile with me until he took off to grab a camera for the finish.   All of the Ogden Police who were on parade duty escorted me in.  I didn't feel like a last place loser, but a true marathoner.  I was given the hero's welcome as I approached the finish line.    

Coming down the finisher's shoot, I was amazed how many people had stuck around to see one tired runner coming in.  I can't count how many high fives I got.  The cowbells being rung just for me were just great!


The fist pump I gave may have seemed a little over the top, but it represented a feeling that rose up in me as I had done something that with a lot of hard work, over many years and had seemed impossible was finally coming to pass.  It was overwhelming to cross that finish line and hear my name announced over the speaker that I was a marathoner!

 These great volunteers gave me such a welcome as they made a tunnel with their arms and gave me a victor's welcome.
 I received my finishers medal and on the other side I was greeted by Gordon, Martha and Mark who I referred to previously.  They will never know how much it meant to me to have them there.  Then much to my surprise, my cousin Teri greeted me as well and told me how proud she was of me.   

I knew the marathon would be hard.  I also knew it would be a great accomplishment when I finished, but what couldn't have known was how overwhelmed I would be by how much the support of family, friends, the Ogden Police and the great Ogden Marathon crew and volunteers would add to my experience.

And thanks to all of you who have followed me along!  I got a lot of comments, emails, Facebook shout-outs, handshakes, phone calls and hugs the days leading up to the run.  Any time that little doubt if I could do it would come in, the thoughts of not letting you all down pushed them out and I dug a little deeper.  I have gained a lot of friends both as runners and fellow bloggers.  My family has been great and my running advisors have all added to the courage to complete the task.

What's next?  Rest up a bit and easy stuff for a couple of weeks, but there is a summer full of adventure ahead.  I will need to gear of for those adventures!

Hang in there and I will too!


  1. Congratulations, Bruce! That is really, really quite an achievement . So happy or you. You worked ard, not just or this marathon, but to gain your health back. You got it now. Enjoy a lite respite now!

  2. I am BLOWN AWAY by your strength and commitment. I wanted to talk to you today and tell you how happy and proud of you I was - but I just didn't get the time. What an inspiration you are to so many people. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for sharing this story. It just brightened my day.

  3. Bruce, I am so proud of you! Great accomplishment and a great blog post to share it all with us.

    You must have been freaking out about the deadline to enter the canyon. Three minutes! Glad you made it in, and out. Now you can always say you ran a marathon - so cool!

    I'll look forward to the rest of your summer adventures.

  4. I am so proud, Dad. You have always inspired me, and I can't wait to hear all the details.


  5. I am so happy for you dad! I knew you could do it. I am glad that you didn't let the doubt get to you and that you were able to complete your goal, just as you have done over the past couple of years. You have overcome so many challenges, and are such an inspiration to me. Thanks for being such a great example for us to follow. CONGRATULATIONS! I love you and loved reading about your experience. Keep up the great work!

  6. Wow Bruce!! What an inspiration you are. That is an amazing accomplishment and I'm so impressed and proud of you for seeing it through! Thanks for sharing. :-)

  7. wow, good job!
    i can't believe you did that.
    i never could.
    and last place is awesome!
    you got more attention for it.

    -zeke [draper] zenger

  8. CONGRATS! So glad Melisa posted this link on her blog. Kendal and I just sat and read this together....SO inspiring! AMAZING!