Thursday, October 14, 2010

Marathon Mania and that's a wrap!

I feel so guilty that I haven't blogged!  I mean what have I been doing besides eating ice cream and watching Modern Family?  We are enjoying some serious recovery time.  Sleeping in, staying up late and relaxin' with the family is what we have been about these past two weeks.  We had a crazy stretch of three marathons in three weeks.  Justin did the Top of Utah and I followed that up with SoJo and then the next week was St. George marathon.  It was nice to cash in some fitness chips before the racing season officially ended.

Recap of SoJo:  Well it turned out to be a lovely day for a race.  They had a late start and I knew right away that it was going to warm up.  By mile 2 I was pulling off clothes.  The course had a nice, slight downhill at the start for about 6 miles then after the half separated from the full it flattened out.  The half-marathoners continued their decent to the finish while the marathoners headed out towards the Oquirrh mountains along 11800 south.  I was so lonely!  I found out later that they only had 100 people register for the marathon.  One bystander even shouted; "You are in second place!"  What the... me?  No way was I or ever had I been a contender in a marathon.  I found out later (after I had been passed by 3 women) that the bystander was lying because he saw me again and shouted; "You're in second place!"  He must have been trying to motivate me to go faster.  Weird way of doing it though.   All I have to say is that marathons are HARD!  I don't know what I was thinking.  I compare it to labor.  You honestly forget how how much they hurt until it's show-time.  I ended up walking at mile 23 and seriously considered dropping out.  I was getting that intense thirst again (read Boise) and I just didn't think I'd make it.  Justin was great and when I saw him and heard his words of encouragement I somehow was able to keep moving.  He told me to walk a minute and then run a minute.  I did this once I hit the parkway trail and it took me to the finish line in 4.16!  I was so glad to be done.  I have never got a massage after a race before and with no line I enjoyed one.  It was a beautiful day and getting warmer by the minute.  The best thing about this race was the prize.  I finished first in my age group which gave me FREE entry into next years SoJo marathon.  Maybe next year I'll train for it......

Mile 12 feeling good.  I'm making the #7 for how many marathons I've run.

Coming into the finish!  At last.
 Here's Justin!

Michelle is totally right, relaxing has been the word for the past two weeks now.  I hate it, but just can't bring myself to get up at 5:00 AM to hit the road/pool yet.  I'm in a training funk for sure!  I also know how important it is to give the body a break, so I've haven't been too hard on myself yet.  The good news is my body is totally healthy and I'm feeling great.  Such a change from last year when I was battling that annoying stress fracture.  Life is good right now!

As for the St. George Marathon recap...

Having met my goal for the year at the Top of Utah Marathon, I went into St. George with a complete sense of peace.  No pressure...I could just run for fun and enjoy the beautiful scenery.  That being said, I still had set a challenge of going sub-3:00, just because I think it would be way cool.  St. George is also known as a fast marathon (is that even possible?) so I thought maybe I'd have a good chance if everything went well. 

One of our friends (Brittany) was also running the race, so it was cool to have someone to hang with on the bus ride and at the start line as we waited around for the race to begin.  Congrats to Brittany by the way, she had come very close to qualifying for Boston a couple of times, and I knew St. George was going to be a good day for her.  She ended up running 3:31, and gave herself 9 minutes cushion on the 3:40 BQ requirement.  Very cool!

Me and Brittany the Grande Slammer!
When we woke up the morning of the race, something just didn't feel right.  I know we're in St. George an all, but it's still the desert...shouldn't it cool down a little?  Apparently not, cause it felt like it was 80 degrees.  Having done the same race last year I should have known it was going to be rough, but I guess the pre-race euphoria had already set in because I didn't think twice about it at that moment.  As we got to the start line, I was again surprised at how warm it was.  In 2009, I remember everybody huddled around fires in huge packs just trying to catch a little of the heat.  This year; however, they hadn't even lit the fires yet, and I really didn't think we needed them.  Other than a little wind, it was very comfortable.  Yet another missed sign that I was in for a long day!

As we prepared for the start I saw all these people sneaking into the "Elite Runners" area.  Wondering how that was possible I asked the guy at the gate how you got in...he looked at my number and said, "You're in."  I laughed, cause I've never been mistaken for an elite runner, but I guess you put a "estimated finish time" on your application and that's how they determine your number.  If your number is low enough, you're free to join the "Elite Runners" area.  Just a tip for any future St. George racers...go low (at least on your estimated time).  I'm telling you what though, it was awesome to get to start at the front.  With no massive crowds to fight through, you could really settle into a good pace early on.

I decided again to run without a watch, and really just enjoy the run.  I really like this approach as it feels more like a Triathlon where you just listen to your body and go with the pace you are naturally comfortable with.  I've always had a hard time sticking to a specific pace chart, so sometimes it's just better if I don't know.  It helps psychologically for me to have that unknown as well.  I think I force myself to push a little harder that way. 

As I ran through the first 5 or 6 miles, the temperature was really great.  I did notice though that I was sweating more than normal so I really focused on taking in Gatorade at every aid station.  The huge Veyo climb comes at about mile 7 or 8, and I really tried to hold back and not try to push too hard.  As I crested the hill I felt really good and thought hell yeah, it's all downhill from here.  Went around a corner and saw what seemed to be another hill.  Okay, don't remember this from last year, but what the hey, I'll push through this one too and then I'll be on my way!  When I get to the top I glance ahead...WHAT THE?...another da$* hill.  Boy, my memory really has failed me.  I don't remember this much climbing at all.  Oh well, nothing else to do but keep going.  What goes up, must come down, right (and hopefully faster too)?  At this point, we're nearing the halfway point and I'm thinking to myself, I swear there was quite a bit of downhill at this race.  Almost halfway in and I'm yet to see it!  Have to admit, I was a bit discouraged. 

As I rolled through the halfway point I noticed that my time was 1:29.  I felt really good about that considering the climbing, and was still on pace to go sub-3.  My mood perked up and I found a little extra strength in the legs to push the pace a bit.  I knew the downhill section was coming and I was determined to find it. 

The downhill finally came around 15 miles, and at that time I started to notice a little irritation in my stomach.  I've had this feeling a couple of times before (Utah Half), and really thought I could push through it.  By mile 18 though, it was really starting to cause some distress, and my pace slowed quite a bit.  Some nasty thoughts started creeping into my mind at this point...I even contemplated the thought of stopping at a Porta Potty.  Yikes!  No way was I going to do that, I can't stand those things!  I'm just going to push through this, only 8 miles to go.  Crap (almost literally), 8 miles to go still.  How am I going to do this?

Needless to say, at mile 20 I had to succumb to the pressure.  I snuck into the Porta Potty (not a second too soon), and realized my sub-3 hour goal had gone down the toilet.  (Sorry, I had to.)  With 6 miles left to go, I just decided to slow it way down and take the unnecessary pressure off myself and just try to finish the race respectably.  I'll admit, I did more walking those last few miles than I would have liked, but I really just didn't have it in me to keep pushing.  With the heat, stomach issues, and limited recovery time from the Top of Utah marathon, it was the smart thing to do.  In retrospect I'm really glad I did that. 

I managed to limp my way across the finish line in 3:13, and was really happy with that time.  Not a BQ, but still a great marathon time, and I came out relatively unscathed. 

The kids enjoying cotton candy and snow cones

Coming down the last stretch...
All in all, it was a great season.  Michelle and I were able to do a ton of races and accomplish a lot of goals.  We saw many cool places, met and spent time with some amazing people.  We couldn't have done it without the support of our family and friends and we thank you deeply for everything. 

Fan #1

and Fan #2

We've got Ironman on the brain these days, only 204 days to IMSG.  Base build start soon.  Oh yeah, maybe I'll blog about my "real" Ironman from last weekend if I get a chance!  Mental preparation shouldn't be underestimated...LOL!

Until next time...Tri Hard!