Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Race!

I woke up at 3 am and got prepared to go. The marathon is a point-to-point race so the race starts 26 miles outside of St. George. All racers are required to ride a bus to the start with the first buses leaving at 4 am. The race organizers offer some nice early bird prizes to encourage participants to come early. Camille drove me to Worthen Park again where I boarded one of the first buses. I dressed warmly because the temperature can be a bit chilly while you are waiting for the race to begin. I brought 4 granola bars, 2 bananas, 2 bottles of water, and one bottle of Propel. I got to the start, grabbed a pair of the free gloves they had available for the first 1,000 runners and found a place to sit down next to a fence. I spent the next 2 hours resting, eating my food, and visiting with the other runners seated close by. After about 30 minutes, it started to sprinkle. The forecast called for rain later in the afternoon so this was a bit of a surprise. The race organizers had large trash bags to use for rain ponchos and I was glad to have a little bit of protection from the moisture.

At 6:15, I laced up my shoes, attached my running chip, and headed for a porta-potty. There were dozens of them but every line was already at least 10 deep. After using the facilities, I headed to the start line to drop off my extra clothes in a bag provided by the race. Then I situated myself in the front half of the pack of runners (approximately 6,500 total runners) and waited for the gun. I never heard the gun but the pack eventually started to move and we were off. It was still dark so I had difficulty seeing the actual start pad to know when to start my Garmin. The first couple miles were very crowded but the pace was close to where I wanted to be. Runners began to spread out after that and I was able to settle into a good pace in spite of the rain which varied from sprinkling to pouring. In addition, we were running into a strong headwind for a good portion of the race.

I paced a bit faster over the first 7 miles but the course was mainly downhill and I felt like I was not pushing things so I just went with it. We encountered Veyo Hill at about the 8 1/2 mile mark and I took it very easy going up it so as to not burn myself out. Miles 10-12 were a steady uphill climb but I still felt good upon reaching the halfway mark and I was a good 2 minutes ahead of my expected pace. It was about this time that I started to feel my left knee. I have had problems with this knee over the years but it usually bothers me when I play softball or basketball. I wasn't too worried but I did wonder how it would effect me down the way.

I don't remember much from the next 7 miles except for the rain. My clothes were absolutely soaked which caused my shorts to hang a little low. While I didn't think they would fall down, it was just something else to bother and distract me. It is things like this that really wear on you when you are running long distances. When I got to mile 20, I knew that I had paced correctly and that barring some major problem, I would reach and exceed my goal of running the race in under 4 hours. However, about a mile later, I developed a severe pain in my left hip. I'm not sure where it came from but it might have been due to me favoring my left knee. In either case, it was very painful and I slowed my pace to see if it would work itself out. No luck. I just figured I would endure it the best I could and not push the pace anymore.

The last 4-5 miles were very long, slow and painful. However, it was about this time when we came into St. George and the streets were lined with well-wishers who shouted encouragement and cheered all the runners on. I was surprised to see so many people out considering the rain but it motivated me to keep running and finish. I knew that Camille would be waiting at the finish line to greet me and empathize with my injuries and that also spurred me on. I pushed through to the finish line completing the race in 3:58:24! Camille came right up afterwards and congratulated me and took some pictures. I got some food and drink and enjoyed a post-race massage. My hip was so sore that I could hardly walk for a couple hours but after icing it, it felt much better.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pre-Race Activities

On Saturday, October 4th, I ran the St. George Marathon. It seems a little unreal now as I think back on the event but what a great sense of accomplishment. I trained for 22 weeks and didn't miss a single workout. Here's how the race went:

Camille and I left early Friday morning and drove to St. George, UT which is about a 6 1/2 hour drive. We arrived and went to Worthen Park (the finish line of the marathon). I had incorrectly assumed that the expo associated with the marathon would be at the park but we were told that it was being held at the Dixie Center, a few miles away. We quickly went to the Dixie Center where we were able to hear the keynote speaker, Rod Dixon. Mr. Dixon is a world class runner having won a bronze medal at the 1972 Olympics in the 1500 meters and winning the 1983 New York City Marathon in 2:08:59. He had a great deal of useful information and his comments were very motivating. Following Mr. Dixon, they held a first-timer's clinic. Again, excellent clinic with useful information concerning the race and the course.

We then went to the expo where I picked up my race packet and we visited many of the booths set up by various stores and companies. It was a smaller expo than we expected but it was well done and well attended. The race also sponsored a pasta dinner at the Dixie Center. We enjoyed salad, spaghetti, bread, and cake. They also provided some fruit and water. The dinner was well organized and the food was good.

Our good friends from our days at BYU, Conley and Kari Gali, now live in St. George and they were so gracious to let us stay with them. We went to their home and got settled into the guest room that they provided. The Gali's were attending the local high school football game so Camille and I watched the BYU vs Utah State football game. Afterwards, I set all my gear out for the morning and got to sleep.