Faith and Strength – Casper Marathon Race Report

(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.

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Don’t quote me on this, but I think 1 out of every 3 runners was a Maniac or Fanatic. Something crazy. There were a lot of us!
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You know we’re adorable

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.

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Behold, the valley! And other runners very very very far away because this was a small race.

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.

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Not almost there

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!

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And no blisters or lost toenails from my HOKAs! Hooray!

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.

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AGE GROUP WINNERS! From my Instagram

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.

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We don’t believe in going anywhere without matching

24 thoughts on “Faith and Strength – Casper Marathon Race Report

  1. Great race report. Thanks for taking time to write this one.
    My suggestion : you should write more often.

    1. Thanks, Mathew! I would love to write more often, but I don’t see that happening for another few months. Those boxes won’t pack themselves!

  2. Congratulations on successfully completing the marathon AND placing in your age group :). I agree that it is like a sign that you’re on the right path. It is so neat that you took the pressure off and ran with your friend and listened to your body- I think those kinds of runs are the best, both physically and mentally. It looks like this was a great race with fun medals and prizes and swag (the shirts are cute). Good luck with the rest of your move and house selling and packing, yikes!

    BTW… on the bike path thing… CHS isn’t much better unfortunately! I think it’s an Southeastern problem :(.

    1. Thanks so much, Amy! It really was a great day and I’m glad I stuck it out.

      I think you’re right – it’s a southeastern thing. We just don’t prioritize bike/ped projects the way other places do! It sucks for those of us who are really active.

  3. You are so awesome. I love that you placed in your age group and it’s giving you the confidence you need to keep moving forward. I really hope we get to meet up for the NYCM!

  4. I’m really glad this race gave you the confidence you needed to keep going in training. Honestly, I think that is one of the most important parts. If you are not confident for training, no one else can be for you!

    “ma’am bless your heart but no” is probably my favorite quote in a while.

    1. I guess the race just made me realize that there is more to racing (for me) than necessarily constantly improving. It took me awhile to come to terms with that, but I have to in order to keep running fun. That’s the most important part!

  5. Excellent race report! I didn’t know you were the T-Rex Runner! I’m not a very well connected Maniac so I only know Kate from the 3 triplets. I barely came in under 5 hrs at Casper. It did get kind of warm at the end. The heat usually hits me with the dizzy spells!

    1. Thanks so much, Emil! I struggle with the heat as well. I know a lot of people who don’t mind the heat and I wish I was one of them! Hopefully we’ll see you at another race soon!

  6. Thanks for your race report! Casper was my first full marathon. I remember you and your friend in the matching shirts. In fact, I think I might be the first runner ahead of you in the “valley” picture and I remember you finishing about a minute ahead of me. (I had a 5:28 finish, Bib #85) I had hoped to finish just under 5 hours, but I ended up rubbing my upper heal raw with my shoe and had to stop to get “doctored” from my support crew and my legs locked up about mile 22 and I ended up walking the last 4 miles. Thanks for your blog, I will keep reading about your other running adventures and look forward to future posts.

    1. Congratulations on your first marathon, Frank!!! That is awesome! I wish I had said hi to you out there on the course. It was really a great day. I’m so sorry to hear about your blister and your legs locking up. Marathons are a crazy, unpredictable, wonderful beast 🙂

  7. It’s funny – when I saw this in my email I thought “wow, with everything going on that review came FAST!” haha – perspective, I guess!

    Great job with completing the race, not doing anything foolish, and getting your AG with the appropriate pride and happiness yet without succumbing to delusions of grandeur!

    Random aside … for some reason it seems this year I have too many people in my social media feeds who are (or seem to be) entering specific very small races to gloat about winning … it is bizarre. One I saw this past weekend might have read “this year I skipped the charity race to save cute puppies and babies with cancer which also features people running 5-minute miles and instead drive a half-hour to run the non-charity grandma-toddler fun run where the other runners were under 5 or over 65 – and I WON! Yay me!” Ugh.

    But I also think it is great that you had a blast, saw a place you love, hung out with awesome people, and remembered how much joy you have had through running these years. And also that it is more than about a pace or whatever … it is the pure joy of being out there.

    Congrats for the run, and for everything else that is going on – I can’t wait to hear more!

    1. Whew! I’m glad you didn’t think I was slacking. It’s been tough finding time to get everything (hell, anything) done!

      I know exactly what you mean about people entering small races to gloat about winning. I know someone who does that and it’s really obnoxious. I mean, whatever floats your boat I guess, but I find it a bit tacky. This same person will drop out of races if they find out someone faster than them is running. Seriously, really?

    1. It’s funny, because I like hills in a marathon generally speaking. Just not at that point, especially not when undertrained. Woof!

  8. Congratulations on your age-group award! It’s so wonderful to see you come back from your surgery so quickly and sensibly. I’m glad to run a 5:30 marathon with you anytime! I am signed up for Chicago, Savannah rnr and Raleigh rnr. Would like to add another 6-8 for the fall/winter. Fir the record, you guys looked fabulous in your matching shirts!!

    1. I would absolutely LOVE to run with you again soon! Come out to Route 66 for my 50th marathon, please please please!!!

  9. Congrats on Casper! Yes, Wyoming is beautiful. Just ran my first marathon (half) at Lewa (in a wildlife conservancy in Kenya) and loooved it. Had serious knee injury prior …any tips on healing would help. I learnt about Hokas from you and got a pair before Lewa. Unfortunately, as some shoe experts predict for some runners, they overextended my knee movement inwards exacerbating the knee injury. Ran Lewa with Asics …good but almost lost a nail!.
    Anyway, keep running and keep posting. Am learning from you on how to run marathons. Please plan to run Lewa next year if you can travel to Kenya – its said to be the top ten races to run in your life.

    1. Oh no! I’m sorry to hear the HOKAs didn’t work for you. I’ve actually never had a serious knee injury from running, so unfortunately I am no help there! Congratulations on Lewa! Isn’t that the one Pippa Middleton ran? The pictures looked absolutely incredible! I would love to run that race – just need to find a way to get to Africa :). Thanks for reading!

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