RACE RECAP #77: St. George Marathon

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Alright folks, I think I am finally ready to announce a Michael Jordan retirement (meaning … I’m announcing that I am retirement, but in all reality, I’ll be back in about 18 months or so). I’m done with marathons. Completely done. This was marathon #7 and I think I’ll leave it at lucky #7. You know, I’ve gotta finish while on top (twss).

Now with that out of the way … I had a blast! I will always LOVE this race. Always, always, always! It’s a challenging yet rewarding course. Whether it’s the thousands of signs along the course encouraging runners or the sheer beauty of the natural red rock scenery surrounding you. There’s Veyo Hill, Snow Canyon and the valley going towards St. George. It’s probably my favorite course in Utah.

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Snow Canyon in 2012. This alone brought me back in 2014.

And, that’s saying a lot considering how many awesome canyon runs we have, especially in the autumn. But, to me there is nothing more beautiful than the red rocks of southern Utah. It’s home to me. I spent three years in college in southern Utah and fell in love with it.

This weekend’s visit brought back a lot of memories for me. Especially the one time my friend Lola and I went to elope in Vegas, but ended getting as far as the Denny’s in St. George. This was even after I talked to her Mom and she … sorta … welcomed me into the family. And, one thing you need to remember about that story is that none of us drink. All you have to do is meet Lola and you’ll completely understand.

So, yeah, back to my running.

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Me, Adrian and Jorge in route to St. George!

I carpooled down with my friend Jorge and Adrian on Friday afternoon. It was pretty much a party. We talked about running, the end of the world and even more about running. We even took a pit stop in Fillmore for some Costa Vida for a burrito. I was skeptical about going with the burrito since I was running, but since it was lunch I knew that my system would have enough time to process it (my Mom is going to hate that last sentence).

Once we got into St. George we went straight to the race expo. I love race expos, especially when you know you’re going to be dropping a lot of money. Well I’d like to think I was going to drop a lot of money, but in reality I spent $5 on gels and ended up winning two t-shirts. Heaven knows I need more t-shirts. But, I still took them gladly. Hey, don’t judge.

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Trainer Kevin and I at the starting line.

I stayed with Trainer Kevin and his wife for the night. He was running the marathon as well. I haven’t talked much about Trainer Kevin as of late, but he is a mission friend of mine and my first trainer when I started my weight-loss journey. He’s a great guy and friend and I owe him A LOT for helping me get started. I also blame him for my running addiction. He challenged me to a 5K four years ago … and now look where it’s taken me? DANG YOU KEVIN!

Anyways, after a 4am wake up, I ate my pre-race breakfast of a banana and sweet potato. I don’t know what it is about sweet potatoes as of late, but I am addicted. It’s the best thing before a race. All, I do is nuke it and eat it. No butter, no sugar, no salt … just plain. Just writing about this makes me want to make another one. But, seriously, it’s heaven.

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The race underway and the crowd unmoved. It took me 10 minutes to get to the starting line.

Once Kevin and I got to the buses and up to Central at the starting line we had about 45 minutes before the race started. So I did my routine of trekking it to the port-a-potties. I knew I wasn’t one of the first buses up there so my port-a-potty was “used.” And, by used I mean … NASTY! I’ve never really gagged in the port-a-potty, but I was afraid I was going to lose my sweet potato. But, this is just reality, right? (again, my Mom is going to hate this paragraph).

The race was delayed a half hour though, because apparently there was a bus that broke down on it’s way to the starting line. I didn’t know this at the time and I won’t lie … I was slightly annoyed after being delayed at the Big Cottonwood Marathon. I also a TAD bit more nervous because of the cutoff at the Snow Canyon Parkway. It was slated for 1pm, but thankfully they moved that 1:30pm. I only wished Big Cottonwood did that. I know that takes the cooperation of the community and law enforcement, but still … it would have been nice.

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Gorgeous views of the marathon.

Anyways, as we got going I really felt great. And, I really mean great. I felt strong, I felt good and I felt optimistic that I might even get a PR (faster than 5:39). I started the run off slowly, knowing I couldn’t burn myself out too quickly. My goal was to run strong, walk the aid stations and walk (a mall walk pace) Veyo and Ledges. I knew those two hills could potentially kill me, so I wanted to run smart and technical.

The first seven miles were awesome. I was enjoying the run and once I got to Veyo Hill I flirted with the idea of running up it because I felt THAT good. But, I knew I had to stick to the game plan … soooooo … I did. After the aid station in Veyo (which by the way was my favorite, such great community support!) I walked up the hill. No problem whatsoever.

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The citizens of Veyo out in droves supporting us marathoners right before we tackle Veyo Hill.

But, once I passed the hill and I started running, my calves started cramping. I was fine when I was walking, but everytime I tried to run each calf would just cramp. It was frustrating. I tried massaging them, I tried stretching them, I tried swearing at them … I tried everything. So I just sped walked as best as I could.

It was frustrating and humbling, because mentally I felt ready to conquer this beast. I started worrying about being swept off the course. I knew I had to get to mile 23 to avoid that and I was only at mile eight. I was slightly freaking out.

So, at the aid station at mile 9 I got some icy hot on my calves. It didn’t work. I had a nine year old boy apply the icy hot and it didn’t really do anything. I don’t think he used enough … plus … he couldn’t obviously massage it in as I needed (those last few sentences sound really awkward … don’t people get arrested for things like that?). So the pain and cramping kept happening for another few miles.

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Slightly bummed.

By this point I was just upset. I was mad at my body, I was mad at Costa Vida the night before (sorry Costa, love you!), I was mad at my sweet potato, I was mad at myself for possibly too fast. I was trying to find A REASON why this was happening. I wasn’t in a good place and it was affecting my mood and my run. I knew I had to change my attitude if I had a chance to redeem my race and finish strong.

At this time Pharrell’s “Happy” turned on my iPad. Almost immediately this helped changed my mentality. So instead of listening to once, I ended up looping on replay because I had to beat that mentality into my head. And, it started working.

Once I got to the mile 13 aid station I got a great calf massage and I felt great. I also downed some caffeine and electrolytes and I could feel the change. I started picking up my pace and the cramps weren’t there … so … I picked it up more and more and just went with it. I felt go good I ended up listening to Happy for five straight miles. I didn’t dare mess with my mojo.

And, by this time in the race it helped a lot that the route moved more downhill. Once we got into Snow Canyon I just kind of put myself in cruise control and enjoyed the run. I once again felt great and I was extremely grateful. I didn’t want to be swept.

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Thank goodness for the panoramic picture of the iPhone. This will bring me back again.

I knew that I wasn’t going to hit my goal time and I knew that I probably wasn’t going to hit my backup goal time (6 hours), but I just kept at it. At Ledges I once again walked the hill and made a couple of friends along the way. They were two sisters that were too funny! They kept the mood light and fun and before we knew it the hill was done. Once again I picked it up and felt great.

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One of Braydon’s sign along the route.

But, then around mile 23 as I was approaching the cut-off I hit a wall. A nasty wall. Mentally, I was fine, but my feet started killing me. I knew I had lost a toenail in my left foot and I had blisters on both feet. Each step just killed me. I mean KILLED me. So, I just started walking. My intention was to walk a bit and then start running again, but every attempt just ended as quickly as I started to run.

Luckily at this time I ran into my friend Cevan and his wife. They too were DONE. So, the three of us gingerly walked the rest of the way. It was frustrating for me again, but I felt great about how my race unfolded, even if I finished it walking. Just the fact that I rebounded so early on to run strong made me not feel bad about the race. That’s why when I finished with a personal worst, 6:53:02 … I didn’t feel that bad. My time didn’t tell the whole story.

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The post-marathon aftermath. We all tanked our races, but still had a great experience.

As quickly as I finished I had enough time to grab some chocolate milk and a couple of ice cream sandwiches before Jorge, Adrain and I were off on our back home. And, of course we stopped to Costa Vida in Cedar City to refuel. I could have eaten two plates of nachos, but instead with another burrito (safer choice on a road trip).

It was a quick trip, but it was fun. It was character-building, it was inspiring, it was beautiful and it was … just … what I needed.

But, as much as I loved it … no more marathons until at least 2016. In fact, I might just make my marathon for 2016 the St. George Marathon. I know this won’t be my last St. George Marathon, it’s too good to pass up. Plus, I have a little redemption business in store for the future.

Onto the half marathons that catching that elusive sub-two time!

PICTURES OF MY RUNNING ADVENTURES IN ST. GEORGE.

NEXT RACE: Pink Series Park City Half Marathon (October 11th)


Total Mileage Breakdown for 2014

2014 Training Miles – 495.5 miles
2014 Walking Miles – 119.65 miles
2014 Race Miles – 360.65 miles
2014 Total Miles – 975.8 miles
 
Monthly Total Miles for 2014
January – 100.0 miles
February – 100.0 miles
March – 130.0 miles
April – 140.5 miles
May – 108.65 miles
June – 83.3 miles
July – 93.75 miles
August – 118.2 miles
September – 88.55 miles
October – 27.45 miles

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