Boulevard of Broken Dreams

Going into my 6th full marathon, I had heard that phrase, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” It was in reference to a section of the course I was about to be running.  I’ll tell you a little bit more about how it earned that name, but first let me back up a minute.

If you have followed my story for any length of time, it may not be news to you that I am a born and raised Southern California (read: sea-level) gal.  I have never lived anywhere else, and up until last weekend the furthest I had ever traveled for a race was Las Vegas and San Francisco.

On Friday, the day before Revel Big Cottonwood, I flew into Salt Lake City, Utah, met up with Kim and our first order of business was food – more specifically, carbs!  Annnnd I am now super excited for Thanksgiving..

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We went to the expo after that to grab my bib, and I got to finally meet @jessrunsblessed and @carlostherunner – These two kicked some major half marathon ass the next day both running a new PR!

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Little did I know then, posing with that 26.2 sign, what the next day would bring!

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Race gear was laid out, there was nothing left to do but hop in bed and wait for that 3:15am alarm!  Haha.

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The next morning we took the shuttle bus to where the race started, around 10k feet up, and waited in the dark for it to begin.  Prior to the race starting, I felt a tad off but chalked it up to race nerves.  Looking back now, I realize it was the beginning of the end of that race for me.

Once the race was underway, I noticed that in my first mile I could not breathe out of my nose at all.  I was mouth-breathing, which was already making me work harder than I should have been.  By Mile 4, I could tell things were going to be tough for me that day, something wasn’t right.  But look at the gorgeous views behind me!

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By Mile 9, I was actually wondering if I would make it to the 13.1 mark.  At that point, I downshifted, threw my legs into cruise control, and started littering my goals out the window.  I kept telling myself, if I could just get to Mile 18, I could talk myself through the rest.  I ran through the 13.1 mark at around 1:41, then as I rounded the corner around Mile 18, the sun was out and it was HOT!

This picture was taken somewhere around that time.  You could see my lips were blue, (not from being cold) but because my body was slowly shutting down.  Over the course of the next couple miles, I would crumble into my first DNF.

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Around Mile 18 is what I referred to earlier as the “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” Miles 18 to around 22 of this course are a brutal out and back section of the race.  There is no shade coverage and there is a slight shift in elevation gain, forcing your legs to switch to different muscle usage.  Runners were going down left and right with muscle cramps.  This is the “boulevard” of the race where many people are on track to PR or BQ — and they just completely fall apart alongside their broken dreams.

When I hit Mile 20, I started walking, and my vision went from seeing a few black spots to being very blurry.  I stopped several times to try to regain visibility, and then I noticed I was experiencing some nausea and a rapidly approaching headache.  I honestly thought I was getting a migraine somehow.  After several stops between Miles 20-22.5 (because I was staggering), I heard a guy asking me if I was okay.  I know I told him I felt really sick and he said my lips were really blue, and he wanted to get me a medic.  He said he was a run coach from Austin, and that he was going to stay right with me. Another guy stopped with us and told me I was dehydrated; I told him I wasn’t but he insisted I drink some of this electrolyte drink he was giving me.  I told him I didn’t think I could keep it down my stomach hurt really bad.  I took a few sips as the medics were approaching and I just started violently throwing up everywhere.  It wouldn’t stop. The two guys were holding my arms up because I started to pass out, and I could hear one of the paramedics saying, “She’s still going!”  Yes, I, too, was surprised at the amount of vomit!  UGH.

Needless to say, my race ended there that day – Mile 22.5 on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams.  They got me fixed up, feeling better and transferred back to the finish line med tent.  I shed a few tears as I watched runners crossing the finish line, but I knew I gave it everything I had.  I was in the ring against Altitude sickness that day and it gave me the total knock out.  It was physically impossible for me to even walk the last 4 miles to the finish, believe me, I tried.  I couldn’t believe after training and travelling to Utah, I would go home with my first DNF.

I ran into Kevin at the finish line, an IG friend, and had to answer my first, “How was your race?” question – Ha! I was fresh out of the med tent at that point and still trying to wrap my head around what happened!

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These two, @whydoirun and @Aaronrunner54 brought some much-needed laughs after my rough morning.

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I know not every race goes to plan, UM, hello!!  I am living proof of that ya’ll, and I know I am not alone.  I am also proof that you can follow a 16-week training program, early mornings, running tired, balancing kids, sports, work, and somehow always finding a way to squeeze it in so that you can stand at that start line and ROLL THE DICE!  That’s right.  No matter how much, or how little we train, race day will always be a gamble.  As one of my friends told me before when he was sick after a full Ironman,  “You gotta pay to play,” and I’ll be damned if he isn’t right.

I finished up my trip hanging with my Utah pals, we went to dinner that night and laughed so hard about some pretty stupid things – it was perfect!

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Utah was easy on the eyes, but tough on the heart.  So happy to spend a weekend with Kim @kkapinos I just love this girl!!

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You guys know that saying, “As one door closes another door opens” – So.Much.Yes.  As the door closed on me in Utah, I flew home to Boston opening their door for me.  I registered for Boston on Wednesday, just 4 days after my first DNF and yesterday I got my acceptance email into my first Boston Marathon!

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Moral of this story?  KEEP KNOCKING!  A few closed doors or a DNF does not defy or define you.  If there is one thing I have learned these last couple years, in training and otherwise, is to keep showing up, keep pushing.  Relentless.Forward.Motion.  When one door closes, another door will open….remember that.

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