What a difference two years made. In 2008, the St. George Marathon experienced its coldest running in history and I survived the wet and cold and PR’d at 5 hours 9 minutes. In 2010, they experienced its hottest running in history and I hung in there to finish at 5 hours 29 minutes 33 seconds.
During my training this year, I was tempted to PR at St. George, but when I heard that the city was experiencing temperatures this week in the 100’s, I threw that idea out the window and just planned on having fun and breaking 5:30. I knew I only had 13 days to recover and be ready for my 50 mile Pony Express race on October 15th. That was the main goal and I had to keep that in mind.
Wednesday evening I went over to Tina’s house and she KT taped my left knee and left IT band from mid-calf to upper hip. I was very colorful. She has taped my knee a few times in the past and I was worried on the hills about both the knee grinding and slight IT band irritation. I will have to say – it works! No knee pain, no IT band inflammation. I will be begging her for a repeat taping before the 50 miler.
Thursday I started serious hydration. Downed probably close to 140 ounces of fluids and by evening felt that my hydration was where I needed it to be.
Friday morning, I picked up Leslie Peterson and then my sister, Marcia, picked us up and we started our ‘road trip’. We dropped Twilight off for a play date with her doggie cousin Joey and headed south. We had fun visiting on the drive and teaching Leslie all about the musical Wicked. (Marcia and I have a history of playing Wicked on our road trips).
Once in St. George we stopped at the expo to pick up our race packets and shop. This is the first time St. George used the new bib chips, so didn’t have to pick those up in addition to our bibs and shirts. The shirts were deep red and black this year – nice. I managed to control myself (for once) at the expo and bought some coasters, sunglasses, and a pair of pilates shorts. While at the expo I saw Clark Hirshi and family, Kelli and Scott Stephenson, Vic and Judy Mason, Tina, and KO Murdock.
The three of us gorged at the spaghetti dinner and then Marcia and I dropped Leslie off on our way to see Tarzan the Musical at Tuacahn.
Saturday morning came awfully early and I got up at 3:30 a.m. Decided I wouldn’t need running pants or a watch cap at the start this year due to the expected heat. Vic Mason picked me up at the hotel at 4:15 and we drove over to the start and rode up on the bus together.
This is the first time I have got off the bus at the start and not immediately felt the cold and headed for hot chocolate. That was a bit scary because it meant we were going to suffer in the heat during the race. One new change at the start – they were handing out space blankets, so we each grabbed one and headed for the back fires. We saw Leslie at the fires and I introduced her to Vic and we settled down for the 1 hour 45 minute wait until the start. Poor Vic – he was battling food poisoning and having serious issues.
Saw Rachel, Tina, John & Kristin Wojechowski and some other runners I knew at the start. One long wait in the POP lines and it was time to throw my gear into the trucks.
Les and I were planning on running in the 5:30 pace group area. I could tell even before the start that this leader was a noisy and entertaining type. Not my idea of fun – I like to focus. Later on I also found out she was a lousy singer and songwriter. After the anthem, the race started. And we stood there. And stood there. And took a few steps, then stood there. The race started at 6:45, we crossed the line at 7:00. Thank heavens for chip timing!
Once we started running, we settled down to enjoy the dark and cool while it lasted. I started to run 8 minutes, walk 2 minutes for my plan. We kept remarking how painful the first few miles are. All that training and your legs hurt and are stiff and you wonder how you will ever run 26.2 miles. It took until about 5 miles, but our legs finally warmed up. We built up a few minutes extra time in advance of Veyo Hill.
As we came into Veyo, I started looking for Marcia. She was going to drive up there and cheer us on. I saw her just as we passed the downtown and enjoyed her cheering and the sign she had made. Vic had planned on a 4:30 race, but she told me he was only a few minutes ahead – which worried me because it meant he was having a really bad day.
On Veyo I turned on my iPod and blasted Rocky songs to get me up the hill. I started noticing that the aid stations were not providing GU like they usually do. I was really glad I had decided to carry all my GU with me and not rely on them. They did have oranges and bananas at a lot more stations this year and I relied on them a lot.
Around mile 11, Leslie remarked that her new compression socks were bothering her knees and I suggested she roll them down a little bit. Hers came up farther on her legs than mine. I thought she would catch up in a few minutes like we had both done all morning, but never saw her again.
During mile 12, I saw a familiar figure up ahead and started working my way up. (It’s amazing how we can recognize people from behind. Probably from all the years I stared at Vic’s backside while training with him.) Vic and I walked together for about .25 mile and he told me that the food poisoning was causing him to feel miserable and take lots of bathroom stops. I was hoping he would be able to push with me, but he told me to go on ahead.
During mile 14, I had a 5 minute POP break for stomach issues, but felt a lot better after that. The day was getting seriously hot and I was forcing down extra liquids and poured water on my head a lot. The race had extra vehicles out picking up runners and about mile 18 I was actually tempted to hitch a ride for a while – the heat was just brutal. But – I forced myself to continue.
No real pushing on the downhill stretching – I was in survival mode and just trying to finish. It was not as enjoyable in this section as other years.
Finally had the diagonal in sight and looked forward to seeing my sister again. I was disappointed after going through the misters to not see her in the crowd, but just kept on running. About 14.25 I saw her Tarzan shirt up ahead. She had a frosty Gatorade for me and a cup of ice to fill my hat with. What a blessing! That made the last couple of miles much more bearable. I had so much ice in my hat I shared it with other runners and a couple of them said that with that they felt they could finish. Turns out she saved a lot of runners – she had two bags of ice and had been handing it out to anyone who wanted some.
The last couple of miles you could see how much the other runners were suffering in the heat. We just all focused on getting it done. I saw Judy Mason waiting around mile 25.5 and she got very excited to see me and then took my picture. She was very worried about Vic and asked if I knew where he was. I said he was struggling and probably 30-60 minutes behind. That made her start crying, so hugged her and talked to her for a minute or two to cheer her up. Then I told her I had to push to make 5:30 and would come back and wait with her.
It is always so great to turn that last corner and hear the increased noise of the crowds. When we were about 2 blocks away from the finish chute I started encouraging the runners around me. I told them that they needed to run it in and several of them finally started moving. Then when we hit the chute, I started yelling at them to finish in style and push it in. Saw Marcia yelling and waved to her and hit the finish line at 5:29:33. Made my goal. Handed my iPhone to a race volunteer and stood under the misters until I was pretty wet. Got my medal. Another race under my belt!
Vic actually was coming in as we made our way back. Leslie was shortly behind him. They were both within 20 minutes of me and I was proud of both of them.