(Sorry for the time between posts, lack of comment responses, etc….things are little crazy right now and I’m trying to keep my head on straight while packing all my worldly possessions and organizing the sale and purchase of houses! Bah!)
The 4:30 am wake-up call came bright and early on Sunday morning. “Faith and strength,” I thought to myself over and over again as I tried to calm my nerves and get excited about the day ahead. Patty, Kate and I donned our matching shirts and headed to the shuttles waiting to take us to the start at the Casper Events Center. We’re on a bit of an anti-Maniac gear kick lately (not anti-Maniac, just anti-Maniac gear) for reasons none of us can entirely explain, but I think we all felt a bit of nostalgia when we walked into the events center and saw all our friends decked out. Whatever, we looked super cute in our matching shirts.
We were lucky to avoid the rain as the marathoners took off. Kate was planning on running much faster than Patty and I, so she took off and Patty and I settled into a comfortable pace. Neither of us was wearing a Garmin, but she had a watch and we simply ran at a comfortable pace and then walked a minute at each mile marker. With the race starting at 6:30, it was nice and cool in the morning and we got some beautiful views of the Casper Valley. Have I mentioned how much I love Wyoming? Seriously, go visit, it’s the best.
One thing we were not noticing, thankfully, was the altitude. I’m not sure if we had adapted in the past 48 hours or what, but Patty and I were feeling pretty good. It probably didn’t hurt that we were running on a beautiful course and having fun chatting with each other and other Maniacs we saw out there. The course did a loop around the events center and then ran towards town and along the Platte River on Casper’s extensive bike path system. Seriously, every time I go to a city that is smaller than Columbia SC (the big city near where I live) and it has tons and tons more miles of bike and pedestrian paths than we do, I get irate. GET YOUR CRAP TOGETHER, COLUMBIA. End rant. Anyway, it was beautiful.
There definitely were not many spectators out there on the course, but the aid stations more than made up for it. Our matching shirts were a huge hit. Everyone we passed yelled “there go the twins!” and some people were even observant enough to note that we had a triplet (Kate) at little further down the road. The aid stations were stocked with fruit, water, gatorade, and gu, and although there weren’t a ton of people out, they were certainly enthusiastic. One lady even told us optimistically at mile 8 that we were “almost there!” Ma’am, bless your heart, but no. That wouldn’t even work if we were half-marathoners. COME ON.
The course had a few out and back sections, which are either fun or torture depending on where you are in the race. Around mile 11, it was pretty fun! It’s cool to see the leaders coming back and high five some of our faster friends. At this point, the course wound around a golf course for 3 miles. This portion of the race used to be run in the last few miles, and I could see why people would hate that. In addition to there being no shade, there are also even fewer spectators, so it is pretty lonely out there. I definitely agree with the decision to switch the course around! At mile 15, we stopped at the bathroom after leaving the golf course area and oh…there had been an incident, apparently. I mean, I get that our bodies do strange and sometimes unfortunate things during a race, but HOW do you manage to literally coat the bathroom wall with diarrhea and WHY oh God WHY would you not at least attempt to clean that situation up? Yeah, suffice to say that I was feeling a little nauseous after experiencing that. FOREVER UNCLEAN.
Things were still going pretty well for me at this point, traumatic experience aside. We weren’t breaking any speed records, but we were definitely sticking to the run/walk plan and I was in good spirits. My back was holding up fine as well. That continued until mile 17.5 ish. I think we saw Kate somewhere around then, and she said the course was kicking her ass (she says this while being an hour ahead of us). Between miles 17 and 18, the mile marker suddenly seemed really far away. The impact on my back was starting to take its toll in a major way, and my form was reflecting it. So, Patty and I took a recovery mile at 18 and walked the whole thing. We were still making decent time up to that point, so I told her if she wanted to run ahead and break 5 hours, I understood. I didn’t want to hold her back if I had to walk the entire rest of the way, but Patty being Patty, she said no way. That made me want to try a bit harder to run, so from that point on I just did the best I could and ran until the pain caught up with me.
The course got oddly hilly from miles 19-22 ish, and the turn around point of the race was near mile 20. As we crested the top of the hill, we hoped to see the turnaround, but no…it was so far away and never seemed to get closer. The people heading back could read the looks on our faces and kept saying “I promise, it’s right there. You’re so close!” but those people were LYING because it felt like forever. Patty and I swore that we would not spread false hope to others and if they asked, we would just say nothing. There’s no need to be cruel.
We had another recovery mile around mile 22, and things were looking up. It definitely wasn’t going to be a fast finish and I didn’t feel awesome, but I was surviving. I was 4 miles away from the finish, and it was all going to be ok. Then I got to mile 24 and I don’t know if it was the altitude or heat or what, but all of a sudden I got incredibly dizzy and nauseous and felt like I was going to pass out. The closest thing I can equate it to is when you’re very drunk and the room is spinning, so you try and close your eyes but you still feel everything spinning. It was like that. I told Patty and she was really concerned, but I wanted to keep going. She said that we had 30 more minutes to go 2 miles and finish the race under 5:30, and that motivated me for approximately 90 seconds. Then another wave of dizziness and nausea hit and I was like “Yeah I’m gonna be honest, I don’t think 5:30 is going to happen and I really couldn’t care less.” Well, as it turns out, Patty lied, because when we got to mile 25, we suddenly had 20 minutes to finish the last mile! I ran as much as I could and walked when I felt like I was going to pass out, which was more often than I would prefer. Finally, finally, finally the finish was in sight and we crossed it, holding hands, in 5:27. SUCCESS!
So all I wanted was to sit down. I didn’t care about water or food, I just wanted to sit down or lay down and not move. Well, as luck would have it, someone from the Casper Marathon race committee had heard I write for Women’s Running, so they came up to interview me literally within about 2 minutes of me finishing the race. She asked me what I thought of Wyoming and the marathon and I could barely string together a sentence. Feel free to watch my lovely thoughts (and grimace…wtf is happening with my face?) below – it’s only like 18 seconds.
Danielle Hastings after the Casper Marathon. Love her Blog!
Posted by Casper Marathon on Monday, June 8, 2015
It just so happened that we finished just a few minutes before awards were about to start. We have a lot of fast friends and had been fortunate to stay at the host hotel, where we had late checkout, so there was time to hangout and wait for everyone to get their awards. So we’re just sitting there chatting and then all of a sudden we hear “…and in third place for women age 20-29, Danielle Hastings!” (I had registered for the race before AJ and I got married, apparently. But yeah, so I FREAKING GOT 3rd IN MY AGE GROUP. I could not stop laughing. A 5:27 marathon and I placed in my age group?? This is my kind of event! And it wasn’t even like there were only 3 people in my age group, so I really did place! I got a sweet hat and a toiletry bag as my spoils. Then we found out Kate got 2nd in her age group, which was awesome too! The best and funniest part to me was that my super fast friend Cade (who ran a 3:03 marathon yesterday, by the way, no big deal) finished in 3:28 that day and he got third in his age group at Casper, too. I told him I was going to title this post “The One Where I Won the Same Award as Cade” and I was only half kidding. But I mean really, you have to love small races for stuff like this. I owe this one all to Patty for pushing me! She doesn’t get my hat, though. I don’t win stuff very often.
So here’s the thing about this whole weekend, especially with the age group award. Going into Casper, I really didn’t know if I would finish the race. I also didn’t know if I would ever run another marathon again even if I did. I had no desire to train for NYC. It seemed like the universe was telling me to give up marathons. But everything with this race and this weekend and my life right now is falling so perfectly into place. Whether there had been anyone behind me in my age group or not, it wouldn’t have mattered. It seemed like a sign from above that I’m doing the right thing and should keep doing it for as long as it is fun. I’ll be in our new city just in time to start training with a new running group for NYC. And look, I might never be able to train the way I used to. I might be destined to a lifetime of 5:30 marathons. I can’t pretend that I’ll never get frustrated with that or that there won’t be days when I think about taking a break for awhile, but for now, I’m going to keep going. I love the life I have built for myself and the amazing friends and family I have to share it with. And now that I have my embroidered toiletry bag, I see no reason to quit now. I’m travel ready, baby. Life is good.