Monday, February 14, 2011

26.2

I can honestly say I just accomplished to most physically challenging thing I have ever put my body through. I never thought a marathon could be so difficult. After running the St. George Marathon 3 times, I now realize how EASY that course is... yes, I just used the words "marathon" and "easy" in the same sentence! I trained hard for this race. There aren't many hills to train here, so I found myself running up and down the same hill over and over. I even did trail running once a week to prepare for the 40% of the course that was steep downhill/uphill trail running. And to give my body a chance to recover from the toll of running, I was dedicated with weekly yoga and pilates.

I knew the race was going to be challenging, especially with the big change in elevation (1,117 feet to 4,326 feet). However, I assumed that the trails would be well-groomed and free from too many rocks. And I looked at the course elevation map thinking I would sprint the downhills and jog the uphills if I got tired. Haha... I laugh a little as I type those last two statements.
Course elevation map: see below.

The trails were rocky and extremely hilly. I usually get lost in my music as I run, but I found myself so focused on my footing, the hills, and my breathing, that I could have left my ipod at the start. It was difficult to breathe at times and it felt as if I were breathing through a straw on the uphills. The scenery however was breathtaking! The weather was perfect, a little cool in the morning, but it was beautful by midmorning/afternoon. Although it was a challenge, the first half went surprisingly well. I did a PR for my half marathon time in 1 hr 59 min.

The way back was a different story. In this race, you run 13.1 miles and then turn around and run back the way you came. At the turn around point, I was faced with a 500 ft climb on trail in about 4 miles... yeah, I walked most of that. At mile 15 or so, I had to stop to use the restroom. I hate doing this because it kills your time, but at least I knew I was staying hydrated. Then another stop.... had to take off my shoe and sock to put moleskin on a newly formed blister.... oh the joys of marathons!
A marathon isn't a marathon without a stop at the porta potty...
I really don't remember too much more of the second half of the race. I don't ever recall running on flat ground... you either go uphill or downhill. I was physically exhausted, but somehow I kept going. I do remember I got a burst of energy at mile 22 and made up some time I had lost previously. I had to laugh because several volunteers said my hair looked great around that time... you usually don't here that while running a marathon!

I ended up running with a fellow Sedona marathon participant around mile 24. I thought that we would help push eachother, but come to find out he was actually training for his 3rd Ironman and was having some digestive issues. He also normally runs a very fast pace (around 7 min/mile). When I met up with him, he said he was feeling better enough to run and got a burst of energy too. We started sprinting down a steep hill... my pace jumped from 11:00 to 7:30... my legs were killing me, but I didn't want to leave his side because I knew it would make up time. I finally told him to go on, but shortly after saw him walking up the next hill... this course was even tough for an Ironman.

The last mile was extremly difficult, but my dad joined me for the very last uphill and gave me that last push that I needed. It made me think back to my first marathon when he rode his bike along side me for the last 5 miles... "one foot in front of the other," he says. Oh, how I love you dad... thank you for being there!
Last 1/2 mile...
And so I finished... 4 hrs 31 min. And I can honestly say I am proud of this time. I placed second in my age division and that doesn't ever happen to me. Usually I feel like I could have done better or pushed harder, but I don't think I could have given it anymore... I gave it everything I had.
My sister Abby and I post-race. And in case your wondering, Abby didn't run the half marathon in that skirt! She got to shower after her race. I got to take a "hobo bath," as Steve calls it, in the gas station restroom because we had to check out of our hotel before I finished.
And now I have a lovely sunburn and some very sore legs, but I did it! I also can say I will never do this marathon again, but I'm glad I did because courses that I once thought were challenging, won't seem so difficult.

I do have to mention a few other friends and fam that ran this crazy course as well. My sister Abby ran the 1/2 marathon in 2:17.... incredible! It was so fun to have Abby and my parents come down from SL. Steve ran the 1/2 as well with no training whatsoever and suprisingly averaged around an 11 min/mile (that was with walking the last 4 miles of the race!). My friend Megan and her friend Abby ran their first marathon! I'm amazed they finished an incredibly challenging course... WAY TO GO!

I can hardly wait to do another marathon... one that is very FLAT and on PAVEMENT!

video
And a side note... I said my time was 4:36 in this clip, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that my chip time (real time) was faster than what I saw on the clock when I finished :)