Back in 2012 when I started marathoning I ran three marathons in three months. I thought I was nuts (I was). I never thought I would be in a situation again where I would be doing that many marathons not just within three months, but within four weeks.
That’s crazy … to at least me. I know there’s nothing special about it — there are many many many more impressive feats by much much much better runners than me than three marathons in four weeks. And, that’s not hard to find. But, considering that about 1% of the world’s population have ran a marathon — I’ll relish in that accomplishment.
Anyways, the purpose of running so much — is basically to help in the training for my 50 miler. My training plan called for a number of 27 mile training runs — and instead of tackling these runs solo, I just decided to run a marathon instead of those runs.
And, why not? I get a fully supported “training run” with a t-shirt and medal to boot? Plus, I can run with my friends. Seemed like a win-win to me. And, they have been.
I’ve tried to focus on at least 1 or 2 aspects each marathon to help with my ultra training. The Big Cottonwood Marathon was time focusing on time on my feet — which was pretty much a given since I was sweeping the course. The Huntsville Marathon I wanted to simply trash my legs during the first 13-18 miles so I had to grind hard to crank out the last part of the race sore and tired both physically and mentally.
Going into St. George I wanted to do the opposite of my Huntsville Marathon goal. I wanted to start out conservatively and then finish off the race strong. And, to measure that — I basically wanted to be able to finish the race without relaying on the Marathon Death Shuffle and feeling like I still had some gas in the tank to keep going.
They might seem like strange goals for a marathon, but the more I’ve delved into ultra training I’ve learned the importance of conservative starts. And, I’m not talking about a 1-2 mile conservative start, but like a 8-10+ mile conservative start. Because in an ultra you want enough energy in the tank to rely on at mile 35, 40, 45 and so forth. So I wanted to use this marathon as the training ground for a conservative start and my last looooooong training run before my 50 miler here in three weeks.
I’ve always loved the St. George Marathon. It was supposed to be my first marathon back in 2012, but not wanting to wait for the lottery I ended up signing up for the DesNews Marathon. But, I’ve ran it twice before and I just love it. Love, love, love it.
I love it for a number of reasons. I love the course. It’s challenging. It’s fun. But, oh my heavens, it’s beautiful! From Central to Veyo to Snow Canyon to St. George — I feel like I am constantly in awe of the scenery around me. Plus, the organization is top notch and always fun without any major glitches.
Plus, you’re running towards St. George with 7000 other runners. It seems like you’re always running into a friend along the course. It’s just a fun festive environment. Pretty much the Super Bowl of running here in Utah.
The logistics around the marathon were for a quick trip and to not make a weekend of it. So, I carpooled down with some friends of mine — namely Martin, Sara and Doug — on Friday morning. We got to the race expo around 2pm to pick up our race packets. I stuck around for a few hours at the Runtastic booth helping give out shirts and registering people for the upcoming Haunted Half races.
My friend Kevin — and former trainer — and former mission buddy — met me at the expo later that afternoon and I stayed at his place that night before carpooling to the bus stop. Kevin was actually my first trainer when I started my weight-loss journey and is the one I hold responsible for my running obsession. I remind him often that he’s the one that challenged me to run a 5K — and now look what he’s done.
I have a lot of respect for Kevin. Anyone who’s met him knows he’s just a genuine good guy. But, he’s tenacious with his goals. He’s been training to try to BQ the past several years with no success. But, that hasn’t stopped him. He keeps getting back up and trying again — I admire that quality in him.
And, even though he didn’t reach that goal again on Saturday, I admire his attitude and perspective about this attempt and his subsequent attempts. I have doubt that he’ll reach his goal. His example has been a great example to me and how I approach and tackle my goals.
Anyways — after carpooling to the buses and taking the ride up to Central (aka The Starting Line) I hung out for a couple of hours before the race started. I was a little worried it was going to be cold up there like years past. But, to my delight — it wasn’t that bad. So I just kind of mingled for a while trying to work up the need to use the restroom before the race.
Because of construction in Veyo the marathon start line was done in waves. So the wait was rather long before I finally crossed the starting line. I wasn’t complaining because that helped me get in two extra bathroom stops. Plus, I liked the spread out crowd at the starting line — it wasn’t super congested like it has been in the past.
To still avoid the crowds and to get some “trails” in during my race I ran on the side of the road. Not the shoulder, but a little dirt trail that ran alongside the road. Runners were probably looking at me strangely, but I was in heaven — I was getting my trail fix in and avoid any mass congestion.
After it thinned out I returned to the road and ran alongside my friend Christy before running into my Facebook friend Jessica and her husband. She was running her first marathon and was hoping to run into me because we hadn’t met yet. We ran a good 4-5 miles together right before Veyo where we parted at an aid station.
I was still going rather conservative with my pace and was planning on doing so up Veyo. I knew if I tried to beast my way up Veyo I would pay for it in the later miles. That happened to me in 2014 when I pretty much cramped from miles 8-12. I was determined for that not to happen again this year.
So, I trudged up Veyo with Christy we stayed together for a couple of miles before parting at an aid station. Feeling good I wanted to pick up my speed a bit. It wasn’t really in my race plan, but I felt a need to redeem those miles from 2014 “Crampfest” fiasco.
Feeling good I just let my body dictate the speed. I just didn’t want to walk — both for the pride of not stopping, but also in fear that if I did — I would cramp. I did stop a couple of times — one, to use the restroom and, two, to take pictures of a tarantula that was making its’ way across the road. I ended up seeing three of them during the race. Nope. No thanks. But, still better than running into a deer in my books.
Once I crested the uphill climb after Veyo I took the next couple miles fairly conservative before turning towards Snow Canyon. That’s when I started picking up my speed — knowing the course would be mainly downhill towards the city. Being armed with a killer playlist and killer view — I just put myself into cruise control and enjoyed the ride.
The great thing about having ran a number of marathons the past few weeks the miles seem to pass by quickly. They literally seem to melt by step by step. There were a number of miles — specifically between miles 16 and 22. There were a couple of miles that went so fast I could have sworn the course was marked wrong. But, that’s not because I am some fast or amazing runner, it’s probably a better testament of my ability to distract myself more than anything.
I was waiting to see if I was going to hit a wall. I was expected to hit it eventually. But, after miles 19, 20 and 21 passed I was really feeling good. But, then I hit it somewhere at mile 22. It wasn’t so much my legs giving out or the lack of energy, it was just hot. I felt like I was running inside an Easy Bake Oven.
And, on top of that I was trying to do math on how close I was getting to the 1pm cutoff at mile 23. I knew I was going to be close, I felt like I was going to meet it, but I wasn’t sure. And, asking me to figure the numbers while out running a marathon is asking a bit too much from me. Especially considering I was never a good math pupil in normal circumstances.
But, once I hit that wall I just kept going. I prayed for a little wind and just focused on keeping my feet up and myself going forward. Once I hit the mile 23 aid station and the bridge I knew I was safe. It was a great feeling even if I had more than 10 minutes to save. I heard they gave a little variance to that cutoff — presumably because of the Veyo Hill construction and starting line wave start. Either way I was just excited to be hitting the last 5K of the race — I just wanted to be done.
Of course the last three miles were tough. But, during the marathon these are some of my favorite miles. Normally, I am not a fan of running around neighborhoods during races, but this is different. The marathon is very much a part of the community and the community gets behind it. They come out in droves to cheer on loved ones and strangers alike — and I love it.
There are also a number of impromptu aid stations along these miles. People are handing out Otter Pops, popsicles, ice, water, candy, fruit, etc., etc., etc. I love it. I love seeing so many of these citizens getting behind the race and helping out us marathoners during some of the toughest miles of the race.
I have to laugh about it now, but I got handed a popsicle at mile 24 and ate it like without any difficulty. Not wanting to just throw it on the ground I stuck it in my headband so I could throw it away at the next aid station. Well, I forgot about it and ended up running the last couple of miles with this stupid popsicle stick in my headband. I’m pretty sure I got a couple of great finish line pictures looking like a fool.
Anyways, as I wended my way to the finish line I was feeling strong. I was sweating buckets and ready to down ten gallons of water, but I was feeling like there was gas still in the tank. This gave me a surge of confidence and helped me keep my legs up — avoiding the dreaded death shuffle.
As I crossed the finish line I was feeling a number of emotions — sore, tried, humbled, thirsty, proud, happy, hot — name it, I was probably feeling it. But, of all those emotions I was thankful for what I was able to do. This was my tenth marathon and each has provided a blessing and lesson. Because of that I will never take them for granted.
It was such a sight for sore eyes seeing my friend Wanderley at the finish line giving out medals. He was the perfect person to be there handing out medals. He is such a cheerleader and embodiment of what a runner should be. He is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. I was humbled getting my medal handed to me by Wanderley.
In retrospect — I met all of my goals. I do wish I was a little faster. I finished in 6:24, but considering the conditions of the last half — the heat was no joke. But, standing at the finish line I felt like I had gas in the tank and the death shuffle didn’t manifest itself at all during the race (after the race is another story).
But, I felt proud of myself and what I accomplished. Plus, I feel more prepared and ready for my 50 miler, which is the whole reason why I was running this race and the other two marathons so close together.
I am ready to tackle this 50. Now for a couple weeks of tapering before finally tackling this beast. I can’t wait.
I am pretty excited about this relay. I know I’ve talked a lot about it — but, this is going to be a special relay. I am going to be running this on a team of other Addict II Athlete runners — my AIIA Family. Some of us our veteran relay runners and some of us newcomers. But, either way it’s going to be a great experience and a fun way for me to spend my taper miles.
I am going to blog a bit more about this later this week. Plus, I am going to be sharing my story on the Addict II Athlete Podcast here either this week or next. So stay tuned for all of that. But, I can’t wait for the Red Rock Relay this weekend!
TOTAL MILES TO DATE
MILES TO GOAL
I’ve been working on my race schedule the past couple of weeks for the upcoming year. And, I swear it’s been tougher than years past. Not sure why?
Well, it could be with the pull I’m feeling to run more trails — but, also the desire to stick to half marathons next year. Plus, there are just a bunch of great races here in Utah that I just want to run.
Oh so many decisions.
Plus, a number of races are opening registration this week and I am going to have to make some decisions, especially with the ones offering killer early bird deals.
Anyways, here’s what I have planned so far — or what I am thinking of running so far …