Go ahead and push play on the AC/DC video above. I might have gotten this song stuck in my head two to too many times the other night. But, it is a fairly fitting theme song for the back-to-back feat. Because there was NO sleep going Friday night. Just running. Along with some Denny’s, but mostly running and waiting around for busses.
This is the third time I have attempted this feat. And, the second time I have accomplished it. Back in 2013 the Gabicas and I were going to do the Utah Midnight Run in Davis County and then drive up to Idaho Falls for the half marathon there. But, we had to scratch the second leg of that trip after Jill got a migraine after the Midnight Run. You really can’t do anything about those kind of situations so I attempted it again last year.
So last July I did the Utah Midnight Run and Farmington Days Half Marathon back-to-back. In fact both courses overlapped SLIGHTLY. And, I mean slightly. But, the starting lines for both races were literally only 0.7 miles away from each other. It was very confident to say the least.
It wasn’t an easy challenge. I had gotten sick during my first run … eventually throwing up (my first time doing so in a race). It was HOT. And, then once I started my second race I was STIFFER beyond STIFF and by mile four I wanted to quit. It was tough.
But, here I am doing it again.
I swear us runners just block out all the pain. It’s a gift the running gods have given us. You can have the worst and most painful run in the world and by the time you are done with it you forget about that all. Within hours you can’t wait to do it again.
And, I needed to tap into a little bit of that this week after getting heat exhaustion after Ragnar that knocked me out of work for a couple of days. In the back of my mind I was a little worried I wouldn’t be able run my back-to-back half marathon. But, further back in my mind I knew that wasn’t an option. It might turn out to be miserable, but I knew I can power through it one step at a time.
So this past week in preparation of this race, I didn’t run at all. It wasn’t entirely on purpose, but half of my week was wiped out because of my illness and it just happened that way. I did get a three mile hike in on Thursday evening with friends, Jorge and Joycelynn, but that was the extent of my running and workouts this week. I needed the rest. Both from my illness and for my back-to-back.
It was a good decision.
On Friday, my plan was to drive down to American Fork after work to pick up my packet for Saturday’s race in route to Provo for my Friday night run. The traffic was horrific after there was an accident on I-15. So what is usually a 40-45 minute drive took me just under two hours. Not fun. I was anxious enough to get to packet pickup on time. Luckily, I got there with about 10 minutes to spare before they closed shop.
After getting to Provo for my first race I met up with the Gabicas for dinner. Neither of them were running of my races, but since Jill is pregnant and not running as much we don’t see each other as often. I chose a simple dinner of an egg white and cheese six-inch sub with Powerade to drink. I usually drink water, but not wanting to tank out during my race I was bound and determined to pump myself with electrolytes and sodium throughout the night.
And, as you can tell from the tone of this post I succeeded in that goal.
Anyways, I’ll tell the rest of the story of my all-night marathon through my race reports …
Of the races I was doing, I was most nervous about my first race, the Utah Midnight Run in Provo. It basically set the tone for how my second race went and how I felt after the feat was done. Going into the race I wanted to take my time and not push it too hard. I knew I was going to be over three hours, but as long as my legs stayed fresh that my biggest concern.
There were about 300 racers running so it was definitely small compared to most other local races. The Legacy Midnight Run (run by On Hill Events as well) is much larger, but that’s been around longer compared to the Provo race. I believe this was only the third year of the Provo version? Don’t quote me on that, but it’s been around shorter than Legacy.
So, I had a pretty good idea I was probably going to be one of, if not, the last runners to cross the finish line. And, I was okay with that. Heck, I am always okay with that. Having swept a number of races I’ve realized the miracle sometimes is JUST finishing what you started.
Since the race started at 10pm, I brought my head lamp along with me. I also strapped a couple glow sticks on my ankles for decorations and safety. We weren’t running on public streets so cars weren’t an issue, but running along the Provo River Trail there was the possibility of bikers and other runners. I probably should have worn a reflective vest for extra safety? Good thing this wasn’t Ragnar I would have been kicked off the course.
I didn’t run with my Garmin again. I just went by feel. There were some uneven stretches of trail where tree roots had bulged through the road. That kind of broke my stride a couple of times. But, I just kept running along. I felt pretty good about my pace for the first five miles, but then the sweeper caught up with me. Which was totally fine because it was Laurie Pope and I knew her.
But, still, the sweeper caught up with me at five miles. I was kinda expecting more of a buffer of people between me and Laurie. But, that’s the thing you run the risk against at these smaller races, most who sign up I’ve sound are between 2-2:30 finishers. Not too many back of the packers.
Apparently there was a three hour course time limit. I wasn’t aware of it, so instead of taking my time I picked it up a bit and stayed with Laurie for the rest of the race. I laugh about that, because I never thought I would (even mildly) complain about running at a three hour pace. But, I really, really, really wanted to keep myself fresh for the morning’s race.
Laurie and I had a lot of fun though. Especially after I got attacked by a giant moth. She laughed at me. But, I kid you not, this moth was the size of a small bird. It was a monster. MONSTER. But, that is the price I guess I had to pay for wearing a headlamp?
Also along the way we picked up trash from the runners. I am somewhat surprised at how careless us runners are with our trash. I get throwing your cup down on the side of the road at a large race, but at a minimally supported race or trail run … why throw your cup in the brush half a mile from the aid station? Larger races have LOTS of volunteers that work on sweeping the cups and cleaning the area up. The smaller races don’t. It creates more work per volunteer.
Just throw it away in the provided trash can at the aid station. It’s not that hard. Or use your own water bottle. Because, not all trash is found, so if you throw it off the beaten path … don’t expect it to be found. Keep it until the next aid station or plan better.
STEPS OFF SOAPBOX
But, the run wasn’t that bad. Running in Provo past midnight is … um … interesting … to say the least. We did run into some “interesting” individuals along the trail as well. All I am going to say is I really don’t understand the night culture down there. I’ve walked around downtown SLC past midnight, but Provo is just different. I wish I understood it better.
Either way, we finished around 3:18 hours, which is actually where I wanted to finish anyways. So it worked. I was tired and sore, but I pumped some Advil and Sports Legs in me along with a lot of Powerade and that seemed to help carry me into my next race.
I had a couple of hours between my two races. I finished my first race around 1-1:30am and had bus pickup for my second race at 4am. I thought about sleeping in my car for a couple hours before catching the bus, but instead I opted for probably the best option. Food.
I headed to Denny’s with the Provo Midnight Run’s race director and I am glad I did. I loaded myself up with biscuits n’ gravy, hashbrowns (extra crispy of course) and sunnyside up eggs. It was a perfect re-carb meal that I knew wouldn’t upset my stomach before my second race. Plus, Denny’s in Provo at 2am is quite an experience to say the least. Like I mentioned above, I wish I understood the Provo night culture better. But, it’s probably best that I don’t … right?
After catching one of the first buses up AF Canyon I rode up solo. Which felt strange, but I figured I would try to sleep a little bit on the way up … which didn’t end up happening. I actually made friends with the strangers around me and we ended up talking all the way up. It was neat because one was a cancer survivor and another a recovering alcoholic and they each shared a little about the reasons why they run. It was cool and humbling. Just an extra reminder that we all run for different reasons.
The starting line queue is one of my favorite of all the races I ran. The St. George Marathon queue is fun, because of how festive it is and how many people surround you at any given time. The AF Canyon race queue is not just festive and energetic, but when the sun starts to rise the scenery is just … BEYOND gorgeous. You get awesome views of the surrounding mountains including Timpanogos. It feels very intimate and really adds to the race experience.
This year it wasn’t any different.
After hanging out with friends for about an hour and a half the race started at 6am. The plan all along was to simply run what my body gave me. But, I also wanted to run somewhat smart. So the first couple of miles I really tried to restrain myself so I wasn’t going out too fast. The last I wanted to do was tank out after mile five and walk the rest of the way. So I kept a dilberate steady pace and just enjoyed the scenery.
Around mile three I started to pick up my pace some and I was surprised at how well legs felt. Last year when I did my back-to-back around mile four is when I just wanted to give up. I was sore, tired and cranky. This go around it was quite the opposite. I know the canyon and downhill course had a lot to do with that. But, having taken precautions to avoid heat exhaustions and overextending myself helped a lot as well.
It also helped that aid stations were spread out about every two miles after three miles. That helped me A LOT with hydration and electrolytes. I followed my rule of two cups of water for every Powerade cup. It’s a good ratio, especially considering sometimes the drink is made pretty powerful. It helps temper it some, otherwise it makes me burpy and while that might be cute it gets annoying when you’re trying to keep a good pace.
Throughout the race my focus was real simple. It was just to put one foot in front of the other. I knew I would be okay, but there was a two hour cut off out of the canyon, so I focused on that for a while. I got out in less than an hour and a half. Nothing to worry about, but sometimes its’ good to have smaller goals like that to focus on for a while.
While we were protected by the shadows of the canyon for the first seven miles, the last five miles of the race were out of the canyon and the sun was very much beaming down on us. I was a little worried about that, so I doubled up on my water at aid stations. I also walked UP any hill to save my energy while taking advantage of any down or rolling hill. But, I also walked a lot.
During my last three miles traded off on the walking and running. I ran all of the mile 11 and then walked pretty much all of mile 12. Well, I take that back … I mall walked mile 12. The difference between walking and mall walking? I swung my arms and kept my walking pace above that of a strolling stranger in the park. If I had two pound weights I am sure I would have utilized them.
But, after my nice little mall walk between mile 11-12, I picked up the pace from mile 12 to the finish line. It was REALLY hot at this time and I just wanted to be finished. I also noticed I was close to getting a sub-three time. It wasn’t my goal for the race, but was something to shoot for once I realized I was close to it.
I didn’t get the sub-two, but I still got in two minutes over three hours which I was happy with considering that would give me a 6:20:32 marathon time. I am happy with that.
So after refilling on a couple bottles of water, some chocolate milk and fruit. I tried to each some of the french toast they had, but it just didn’t sound good. But, after hanging around with friends for a while I made it back to my car and headed back home. Of course after a pit stop to 7 Eleven for a much needed and much deserved Slurpee.
MY NEXT RACES: JULY 11TH
So yeah, I’m kinda doing this again in a couple of weeks. Luckily, I am not doing an overnight back-to-back, it’s going to be all in one day. I am going to be sweeping the Hobbler Half in the morning and then later that night I am running The Dam 15 Miler in Heber City.
I think I am ready for this? I think.
Well, okay, this past weekend gave me confidence that I can. But, it’s those two extra miles from the 15 miler I am somewhat worried about.
Luckily, I’ll be sweeping the morning race and then have several hours in between the two races. So, really I shouldn’t be too worried about it. I’ll just view the Hobbler Half as my warmup to The Dam 15 Miler.
But, this is also the price I paid to make sure I get to my 100 races by the 24th of July. SO BRING IT!
2015 MONTHLY MILEAGETotal Mileage Breakdown for 2015 2015 Training Miles – 188.0 miles 2015 Walking Miles – 198.25 miles 2015 Race Miles – 185.55 miles 2015 Total Miles – 571.8 miles Monthly Total Miles for 2015 January – 78.8 miles February – 72.85 miles March – 115.3 miles April – 76.3 miles May – 97.4 miles June – 131.15 miles