Tuesday, January 20, 2009


With a crack of the gun we were all off running and cheering. My first goal of the race was to get to mile marker 1 and then re-evaluate things from there. Baby steps...one step at a time...26.2 is a long ways to go. I tried to go into this with the attitude that getting to the start line was my final exam-- the real test of whether I would actually make it through all the sacrifice and dedication that was required to train for this after the past year. Once the gun went off- the next 26.2 miles was a celebration party!!! I really wanted to keep that in mind the entire race-- attitude is everything! Though I had some questions of how well I'd be able to maintain this optimism by mile 20.... time will tell....

Mile 1- "Remember when times get tough, Susan will be watching and pulling
for you! Who knows...knowing Susan, she'll probably be running along side you."
:) (Justin Turley)

Miles 2, 3, and 4- "Good luck as you gracefully stride completing miles 2, 3, and 4. Relax and enjoy this event with pride. Tis a good cause you're running for." (Bruce and Janet Mortensen)

Somewhere along mile 2 I ran into Elvis--- well, he actually almost ran into me...

Seriously, this guy (his 14th marathon I found out) ran the entire race in this costume and guitar. You see a lot of these people in big races--- I can't even imagine doing that!!! I had my hands full without a rock and roll costume and musical instrument.

Mile 5- "You got a dream, you gotta protect it. People can't do something
themselves, they wanna tell you that you can't do it. You want something? Go get
it. Period."- The Pursuit of Happiness (Lisa Mortensen)

Just one of many bands, cheerleading groups and dancers we came across on the course-- I gave up trying to get pictures of all of them, there were just too many. But they were incredible and really added to the party atmosphere and experience. I just missed the picture of Elvis (from mile 2) stopping to get in a few dance steps with this group.

Mile 6- The miracle, or the power, that elevates the few is to be found in their industry, application, and perseverance under the promptings of a brave, determined spirit. Go Anna!!!! (Doug & Vicki Mortensen)

Mile 7- Divide your race into thirds, run the first part with your mind, the middle with your personality, and the last part with your heart. (Marty Mortensen)

I was kind of excited to see this thought again as I really liked it. I spent
a little time trying to mentally calculate just what 1/3 of 26.2 really was
(don't laugh... see how quick at arithmatic you are after running 7
miles)... fortunately some help came along from my mile 8 message...

Mile 8- "You know you're a dedicated runner when the trip to the race was longer than the race... You have completed about 1/3 already!" (John & Linda Digman)

Wow! Thanks John & Linda for coming to my mental arithmatic aid! :)

Ran past a very excited spectator holding signs and cheering us on with excitement. "Great job you guys! I'm going to run the half marathon next year! I'll be out there with you next year! Keep running!" How awesome! She got all kinds of support and good wishes from the runners.

Right about this point in the race my feet and shins begin to ache pretty significantly. I wasn't all that surprised, as just a day or so earlier I remember thinking that I had been on a schedule of tapering long runs for so long-- that I wondered if my body would remember how to handle them. I decided to go with the attitude that the pain would be temporary and to keep my pace--- good call, within 2-3 miles everything loosened up and felt good again.

Mile 9- The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare. (Annette Mortensen)
Mile 10- This is for Susan. (Chris Peel)

One of the things I love about big races in big cities is the mass of diverse supporters. We ran through many commercial districts where businesses had sent their employees out to the streets to offer food, water and support to the runners. The residential areas were no different. I stopped by one table a lady had set up in her front yard and took an orange slice from a bowl full of fruit. "Thank you so much," I said, "this is wonderful! Do you do this every year?" "Yes, I always look forward to it! I'm so sorry but I just ran out of brownies. If you can wait just a minute I've got another pan in the oven". I decided against waiting for a brownie, but left encouraged to again have confirmed how many wonderful people are in the world-- and was so grateful for events like this that bring them all together.

Mile 11- That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the task itself
has become easier, but that our ability to perform it has improved. -Ralph Waldo
Emerson (Steve & Katherine Anderson)

Right around mile 11 I had a flash back to this same event last year when I was running the 1/2 marathon for the first time-- at mile 11 I was DYING--- this year I felt like I was just getting warmed up! It seems such a rediculously obvious statement-- but it really is amazing that slow, persistant practice at running really does work!

Mile 12- Giving up is a permanent solution to a temporary situation. -Gerta Weismann-D.C. Holocaust Museum (Steve & Katherine Anderson)

Funny mile 12 story-- just after passing through a water stop- I overhear one volunteer say to another in a very concerned voice, "You know what is scarey is they're not even half way there yet!" The runner next to me and I shared a good laugh over this--- Boy, they sure seem to have a lot of confidence in us- don't they?? lol

Mile 13- Never, never, never give up. - Winston Churchill (Marv & Janis Turley)

At mile 13- the half way point- I was physically feeling good-- but as I started to watch more and more runners excitedly greet friends and family among the spectator crowds, I started to feel just a little bit lonely running through the streets of Phoenix. Just as I was getting deeper into this thought, I see a small group up ahead who might be waving at me- but it was hard to tell... I get closer and they're still waving-- and suddenly I realize.....It's Randy, Kelly, Erin, Mark, Calley and Matt!!!!!! All there to greet me on a random street in the middle of Phoenix.

Words can not even begin to describe how excited I was to see them!! I think I did a little dance of joy right there in the middle of the street before running over to hug all of them.

After some more words of thanks and encouragement were exchanged I took of back to the running the course...still completely overwhelmed with the excitement and emotion of seeing my aunt, uncle and cousins all there for me. Any feelings of lonliness or fatigue that were starting to set in had completely vanished-- I could keep going!!

Just as I was getting back into my running zone, I spot two more excited wavers..... MY PARENTS!!!

I couldn't believe so many of my family had managed to find me in spite of extremely vague directions of from me as to where I might be along the course at what time. Seeing them there was just incredible!!!

A few more things set in just after mile 13- one was the time. About two hours and twenty minutes had passed since I started running-- meaning the elite marathoners had just finished the race and were likely getting into their cars ready to head back to their hotels. Wow! The other thought was my half-marathon time from last year-- at this point I had beat it by more than 20 minutes. Granted, still slow--- but improvement is improvement! Cool! Maybe I could take 20 minutes or more off my next marathon time compared to this one-- woah baby....at mile 13 let's just focus on one thing at a time- long way to go yet!

Mile 14- Go Anna! You can do it! You Rock! Raisin and Truffles are cheering you on- ruff, ruff! Love From, Ashley and Laura Harris

I spent this mile thinking back on some of my best memories from my favorite families from my dog training days. How great to have a little canine support on mile 14! :) Thanks to Ashley and Laura I focused on giving high fives to as many child spectators as I could this mile. (Kids at these races collect high fives from runners like tokens of accomplishment-- it's fun for both the kids and the runners!) :)

Mile 15- Stopping at third base adds no more runs than striking out.- Anonymous Go Anna, you can do it!!!! (Marv & Janis Turley)

I took the opportunity at mile 15 to check in with myself physically and see how things were going. I took a short walk break to use my breathing machine, ate a package of fruit snacks, some extra Gatorade, and although could definately tell I was well beyond warmed up at this point- decided I was good to keep going.

Mile 16- The anticipation of extraordinary performance. (Fred & Shauna Mortensen)

This thought was accompanied by a small photocopied picture that was difficult to make out-- but as near as I could tell might be Darth Vader wearing a baseball jersey??? Not sure just what was going on with this picture- but it definately gave me a good laugh!

Mile 17- Your determination is inspiring! Chin up, you can do it!! (Karen Rodrigue, Kristen Kennedy, Girard Bischof)

Mile 18- The great lesson from the true mystics...is that the sacred is IN the ordinary, that it is to be found in one's daily life, in one's neighbors, friends, and family, in one's backyard....so keep running for an unordinary woman, Susan. Your strength is sacred today. (Monique Mendel, Jim Garrison & Family)

Mile 19- She who has a strong enough WHY can bear ANY how. (Rob Bever)

Mile 20- "Victory belongs to the most persevering." - Napoleon Great Job...Keep going...Only 6.2 more to go. (Tim and Janet McClellan)

Very true-- I had at last come to the infamous mile 20 wall so famous in marathons for being the beginning of the end for once hopeful marathoners. I was definately feeling it. Mentally I was still really excited to go forward, as from this point forward every step I took would be further than I had ever run before. But physically the pain was definately starting to set in, my feet were starting to feel numb, I was starting to get really hot-- for the first time that little voice came up that said maybe this is more than I'll be able to handle....

But before I get to think about that for one more second.....

It's Randy, Kelly, Erin, Mark, Calley, and Matt again!!!!!!! This time I was so surprised and excited to see them I nearly had myself an asthma attack on the side of the road. I couldn't believe it, they had found me again!!! What a boost this was for me at mile 20!!! Mentally I started to feel like I was headed to an altered state of consciousness brought on by heat and fatigue, evidenced when a few moments after I left this second happy reunion I realized I had forgotten to get a picture. I paused briefly, seriously considering running back-- but at last decided it would be in my best interest physically to save those 50 feet of extra traveling for later--- I may not have any to spare to get to the finish line.

Back to the road.... Now running through all the commotion of downtown Scottsdale-- when I meet my parents again!!! What a welcome sight their encouragement was and their bag of food and Gatorade, which I rifled through looking for extra nourishment each time I saw them.

Just after I saw my parents was the first obvious display of the official event photographers trying to capture pictures of every runner at the mile 20 wall --- how cruel! -- where were they the first 13 miles? None the less I did my best to make long strides and smile-- a photo lasts forever!!! I wondered if by looking at this picture years from now I might actually be able to fool myself from remembering how much pain I was actually in by this point.

Mile 21- Remember when you see a man at the top of a mountain, he didn't
fall there.
When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. Keep Going!!!
Love ya! (Kent & Gail Mortensen)

Mile 22- Anna, Mile 22, 4.2 to go. According to our calculations, when you
finish you will be part of a select group of people. Of all the people who
have ever lived on this planet, we estimate that less than a tenthousandth of 1
percent have ever run a marathon. Quite an accomplishment! Love, Randy, Kelly,
Erin, Mark, Calley, and Matt

Mile 23- Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what it's all about. - PattiSue Plumer, U.S. Olympian Way to go! I wish I could run 23 miles at one time. (Kristin & Nate Mortensen)

Really hurting now--- mentally I'm still aware that this pain is what will make the finish line all worth it, but physically there are signs I'm starting to fall apart. My limbs no longer feel like they are working together, but instead are parts of four separate bodies-- took a very short video here-- didn't realize how short it was at the time-- probably evidenced just how not good I was feeling at the time.

Also around Mile 23 I'm told I met up with my parents again. My recollections of this meet up are rather few-- but I'm told it did happen and there are pictures to evidence it. I seem to still look happy- or maybe my facial muscles have just spasmed into that goofy smile, I'm not sure. I remember my Dad telling me that I had plenty of time and inviting me to sit down and rest awhile-- a very nice offer!! but clearly he didn't understand that if I sat down at this point there would be no getting up again. I settled for some brief attempts to stretch out my calf muscles.

Mile 24- You know you're a runner when you have to think of your run schedule to remember what day of the week it is. We love you Aunt Anna! Hugs!!! (Dylan & Tyson Mortensen)

The thought of my nephews at this point was a warm and welcome brief distraction that carried me through just a bit more..... but it was clearly time to change my strategy of just keep going and having fun--- this was getting tough!!! I had brought my ipod shuffle with me in my gear belt in case of 'emergency', although I really didn't have any desire to listen to it at any point. Any more noise and commotion would have just been more than I wanted to deal with at the time. Instead I found myself in a sort of meditative zone I had never experienced before... I started counting my steps.... one by one.... starting at one, counting to 100, and then starting over again. I did this over and over again in the last few miles- in some strange way it was meditative and comforting. I never would have guessed!

Things are really starting to get hot now. Temps must have hit the 70s by this point and the bright sunny day sure could have used a little cloud cover. Medically and physically heat is one of my biggest challenges to deal with, so I started to get very careful trying to focus on making sure I would make it to the finish line without being carted off my medical volunteers. I poured cups of water on myself at every water stop, which unfortunately evaporated far too quickly. I drastically slowed down my pace at this point in an effort to keep cool and conscious.

People were everywhere crowding the sidewalks in support. The combination of heat, sun and fatigue was making it hard to see....but I could almost make out a priest just ahead of me standing in the road. Uh oh! Was this a bad sign mentally imaging a priest when I felt this bad? Was I going to get last rights? Turns out....it was a real priest! We were running past a church who elected to head out to the streets and support the runners just after morning services. Amazing!

Mile 25- When you were a little girl you told me it wasn't fun to ride
ponies when no one was watching, well, today everyone is watching and cheering
for you! Go Ann Marie! Love, Grandpa Mortensen

Pretty funny message from Grandpa-- and he was right.. with the finish line just a little over a mile away people were everywhere...including a few firefighters dousing runners with water hoses- the most welcome sight of that mile!

The finish line was no where in view and I couldn't tell which way the course went up ahead. Someone from the street shouted, "keep going, just two more quick turns and you're there!" Jeez I really needed to hear that at that point, I just hoped he wasn't one of those guys who thought he was funny by giving hopeful runners false information. Fortunately...he wasn't.

Mile 26- Way to go Ann Marie! You're almost done. All that training, planning and pain are worth it. You've almost accomplished your goal. Keep going...you're awesome! (David Mortensen)

I was going to make it! I started to prepare for the party that I really hoped was around the promised next corner. At the last water stop I doused myself with water once more and picked up my pace just a bit.

2. to the finish- Dearest AWESOME ANNA, Just put one foot in front of the other and keep your eyes on the finish line. Susan's strength and enduring spirit will supply the rest. We are so proud of you we are busting our buttons!

Just the emotional lift I needed to get me this last little ways-- keep putting one foot in front of the other-- I could do that! What I couldn't do very well was see or think-- I was really out of it by this point. I turned the last corner and it took several moments to process the faces in the crowd ahead of me. It was my great friends Amanda, Shawn, Alyssa, and Noah-- I couldn't believe it!!! She had promised they would be at the finish line-- and there they were-- could this mean I'm done?

Just to show how really out of it I was by this point, Amanda grabbed me from across the barrier and gave me a huge hug. I saw the rest of her family on her right, so what do I do? I step to the left and hug the person next to her (some surprised lady I didn't even know). At this point I was so tired, confused and fatigued I couldn't even figure out how to step the other way and say hi to the rest of Amanda's family-- and very regrettably I was way to far gone to remember to take pictures at this point. I was so glad to see them! I was going to make it!!!

I turned to my right and it was true! The finish line was right there! I just ran...no plan, not the emotional moment I expected to have for the moment! I was just SO TIRED!!! I still have that goofy smile on my face so I'm pretty convinced at this point that my muscles had spasmed permanently into that face.

And then it was over. After 5 hours and 13 minutes (chip time anyway), I could stop running! And stop I did, again to meet my favorite family members and friends just across the finish line.

Post-race pictures and reflections still to come..... :)

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