Monday, July 25, 2011

Deseret News Marathon

I had all kinds of hesitations about this race. I was worried about the race temperature because of a mid-summer race time; I was worried about how that temperature would affect my training; More recently I've been worried about how an achy back from sleeping on a bad mattress would affect my running. There were a number of things concerning me.

And all of that has contributed a lot lately to just not wanting to run much recently. I got through my 20+ long runs, but my most recent one was my worst ever. I couldn't run the whole time. I had weird chills going through my back and shoulders. I just really struggled with it. My previous one was fine, but it just really left me not feeling very confident at all about my training.

Flash forward to this morning. We got a nice hotel room at a nearby Marriott and Amy took me at 3:00 to catch the 3:15 AM shuttle up to the start of the race. The temperature was fine down in the valley, but we started from Big Mountain which is 7000 feet higher in elevation, so I was pretty cold up at the top. I had about an hour and a half to kill before the start time which would be at 5:30 AM.

One of my favorite things about running these races are the random little friends you make along the way. I happened to meet a guy named Carlos, about age 30, from Brazil, also running his fourth marathon, also in a Phd program. Turned out we had a lot of things in common and we talked for about 30 minutes, and then we ran about the first 5 miles together before he dropped off behind me.

I felt okay for the first half of the marathon. I did have to go to the bathroom once, which is not great, but once I did that I didn't have much problem with my digestive system afterwards. My first half was about 1:50 or so. Not great, but okay considering that I wasn't trying to set any PRs this marathon. And that's when the struggles began.

Around mile 17 we finally got out of the mountains, crossed up around, over, and passed Hogle Zoon, and I was just having the hardest time. I was not in the right kind of shape for this marathon. My calves were tightening and I had to stretch them out a couple of times. The quadriceps become your shock absorbers when you are going down an incline, and mine were just shot. I told Amy that the very fastest I would run would be 8 minute miles, but I was nowhere near that. I was between 9-10 minutes from 17-22, and then almost 10 through the end of the race.

The night before the race we had seen the mile marker for 21 which was right by our hotel, so I was pretty sure I would see my wife there. I thought really hard about just giving up when I saw her. I was worried about having her get back to work at a decent time, and I really was just dying. I knew that I could finish a marathon so that wasn't a motivating factor for me to get through the end. I knew that I wasn't going to break any records either. To tell you the truth, I'm really not sure what it was that kept me going through the end. I knew that I would have a horrible time, and it's actually kind of humbling for me to acknowledge finishing at such a slow pace for me, especially when I remember how old and slow the runners were who I ended up finishing with.

My first half put me on a 3:45 finish time, but my second half slowed down to a near crawl, closing up at 2:24, so a full half hour longer than my first half for a total time of 4:14. I walked a lot of the last few miles, but I did manage to run most of the last couple miles, albeit at a very slow pace.

I thought the course was really pretty. For a small marathon, I actually thought it was pretty good. So far the Long Beach marathon is my least favorite of them all. The weather was very, very accommodating today too. I think the race start temperature was in the low 70s, and was overcast at the end, maybe high 70s.

I finished it. This was by far my hardest marathon. This was about 100x harder than running the 3:28 in St. George was last October. I didn't have enough training for this one. The 7000 feet of descent just destroyed my legs to the point that I couldn't really run on them from mile 17-18 on. I was in so much pain, in fact, that I was just about in tears following the race. I didn't have much cramping afterwards because that actually came during the race. It was just really, really hard, but I did it. I finished it, even though I didn't have anything to really prove, other than the fact that I'm just kind of stubborn. This is going to sound dumb, but I think my two biggest motivators were that I knew Amy had to get back to work, and I wasn't going to see her anywhere else other than the finish line, and that I wanted the finisher's medal. I wanted to have this race under my belt and say that I had run it, even though it just about killed me to do it, and I'm not proud about my time or how poorly prepared I was for it.

I'm happy I did it. I didn't injure anything. No muscle pulls/strains, and my joints are all okay. Everything is pretty sore, and climbing down stairs is a huge chore, but that's always the case with marathons. Amy asked me immediately after I finished if I wanted to run another, or take a break for awhile. I just told her that I couldn't answer that question yet. It really is the furthest thing from my mind at that point. All I could think about was how much everything was hurting.

My sincerest thanks goes to my wife. I hope she already knows that. I think I thanked her at least several times on the way home. Thanks also to all of the wonderful, wonderful volunteers, especially the policemen directing all of the traffic for us slow runners even though we totally held people up. They never made me wait at an intersection, and they really were just so cool the whole time. I really do want to volunteer more for race support at these things. I can't even say how much I appreciate all of the people who help out through the whole thing. Thanks to the random girls at about mile 23 who were handing out Otter Pops. That really did save me at the time, even though it did make me walk.

And thanks, race people, for playing Milli Vanilli when I was running through the finish. Now this song will be associated with the Deseret News Marathon for me.


David and Mary Walton said...

Wow, Chris, that sounded brutal, and I think that pushed me to say I won't ever run a marathon! Glad you are okay though, other than the aches. congratulations! Mary

Kira Cook said...

My friend Keri ran this marathon and also said that it destroyed her. She is going for 10 marathons this year, so apparently she enjoys the torture.

Lisa said...

WOW. Sounds absolutely horrible. I'm so sorry it was so awful. I am still totally impressed that you finished.

By the way, I was talking to Emily and Megan about when you guys were coming and Megan said, "Mom, I just can't wait till we can see Chris and then we can start loving him."

elisha said...

Congrats for finishing. Thank goodness for pride ;) hahaha. It's an accomplishment either way and yes, it's under your belt and you have the medal to prove it! Running downhill is not the funnest, especially when it shreds your quads! Hope to see you both soon!