Felt lousy and sore at the 1:38 half.
Struggled through 20 at 2:32.
Got mad and ran hard the rest of the way.
St. George was supposed to be a fast course. It has about 600' of climb,
and 3200' of descent. It was my first marathon since '86. The last time I
raced a downhill marathon, in '83, I averaged 5:40/mile from mile 10 to 20.
So I was hoping to coax the old legs into 7:00 miles. On my long trail runs
in the hills, I ran a lot of 6:30 - 6:40 downhill miles, so I thought I had
a shot at it. One key unknown was the surface: I run 90% trails, but I
hoped that pushing the downhills in training would toughen up my quads for
My younger brother Greg (44) and I planned to take it out in the low 7's and
see what happened. We jogged 10 minutes and got by the velvet rope into the
first corral. We opened up with 21:40 at mile 3, which in retrospect was
pretty quick given that the race started at 5200' (a 20 sec/mile penalty).
At 5 miles I tried to remember how it felt to run the first 10 miles in a
marathon. This felt harder than the moderate effort I remembered, so I
backed off a tad. I let Greg run off ahead.
At about 8 miles I was taken aback when I was passed by a couple of
overweight guys and even one woman with some extra avoirdupois. I hit the
10 in 73 and change, but my quads were already getting sore. I backed off
and hit the half in 1:38. By now I was very sore, and feeling terrible. I
could do the math, and the news was that I'd slowed to 8:00 miles -- on a
downhill course! I had visions of deteriorating to 10 minute miles. I'd
run long runs after a hard week better than this. Just to make it
interesting, there were deep rumblings (from a less-comfortable compartment,
CP) that required urgent attention -- a first for me in dozens of marathons
and ultras. So I stopped and took care of business which cost me a shade
over 2 minutes.
I merged back into the crowd (which had been running about 10 sec/mile
slower than I) and I struggled to stay with them. I resisted tempting
thoughts about*** it up and jogging in to a 3:30.
I ticked off the miles, getting sorer and sorer. This course was a meat
grinder. I had envisioned pushing the aerobic pain envelope, not quad pain.
Finally, I hit 20 at 2:32 and got mad. Mad at my legs, mad at my body for
letting me down, mad at the overweight guys who'd passed me. I thought "I'm
going to treat this mile marker as if it were the start of a 10k."
I started breathing 3-step, cranked up the heartrate to 161 (89% max), and
put my head down. I started moving through the crowd. Every once in a
while, someone would challenge me, but no one stuck. Now I felt better,
despite the pain in every downhill step. At 22 miles, I knew that I could
do this all the way in. I caught my brother, and we exchanged a quick
"Hey", but he didn't want to join me. Finally I felt like I was racing, on
offense. I reached out and slapped dozens of spectators' outstretched
palms. Their touch energized me.
By 24 it was getting rough. The wheels were still on, but there were loose
lug nuts and the differential was making funny noises. It wasn't fun, but I
could make it. One runner dashed ahead of me, then stopped, then raced
ahead again. At one aid station he stepped in front of me and stopped dead!
Strangest thing I've seen in a long time, but I wasn't in a philosophical
mood. Finally we made the last turn, and the course flattened out for the
last 3/4 mile. It was *so* tough. Now others were putting on their
finishing surge, and I struggled to hold on to my pace. At the 26 mile mark
I kicked it in. 3:17.
So it was a long day at the office, and a dissapointing time, but I felt
good about my 6 mile dash at the end. The legspeed ain't there anymore, but
the mind is still willing. My goal is to get back into 80.5% wava shape, a
3:00 marathon at my age, but I'm stuck at 72%. There are still a few things
I can do (speedwork, lose that 10 lbs, run a few more miles). I was
surprised that my legs were so sore and dead at the half; I expected the
going to get tough after 18, not 11. Greg finished about 4 minutes back.
I chatted with three faster runners afterward, and they ran 10-15 minutes
slower than expected. The race has a lot of sneaky uphills in it, from 25'
to 400'. The ups were no problem; the downs were the silent killers. Some
thrive here, but this ain't no gimme. On our trip to the drug store that
afternoon, we saw three young skinny guys limping out. "Advil?" "You got
The weather was perfect: about 40F at the start, and 60-ish at the finish,
clear and clean, with some cloud cover in the middle miles. I doffed
gloves, ski cap and baggy T-shirt over the first 8 miles. Fantastic views
the whole way, from the crescent moon overseeing the dawn to the sunny
finish. Hundreds of personal inspirational signs taped to road posts.
Crowds gathered at all the crossings in the countryside, and the last few
miles were lined with cheering spectators. The aid stations were spread out
and well manned with eager volunteers. Very cool polished stone medals.
Lots of goodies at the end (but no beer -- hey, this is Utah!)
You can't take it with you (into the future).
Tapering is overrated.
Sometimes you have more in you than you think.
Started with a full 24oz squeeze bottle on a lightweight belt.
Refilled it w/gatorbarf at miles 7, 13, 19, and drank on the run, ~8oz every
Took 1 succeed cap per bottle.
My gu fell to the floor of the porta-john at 13 and I left it there!