It’s the off-season! I’ve been feeling so good. No pressure. No Garmin. No training plan. Just me doing whatever floats my boat at whatever speed (typically VERY slowly) that feels good. It has been pure bliss. In this blissful state, I thought that it would be a mighty smart idea to sign up and run the St. George Marathon! Of course! Yes! Why not?!?! I missed last year’s race and with all my endurance from this past season I can just jump in with both feet……….and so I did……
Honestly, this whole ordeal was Sarah Jarvis’s idea. Remind me the next time her birthday is coming up to head for the hills, hide her on Facebook and not answer ANY text messages Sarah was turning 32 this year and the marathon fit perfectly into her birthday “celebration”. We triathletes have really funny ways of celebrating. Of course, I said “yes” without the slightest thought of the quad trashing I was getting myself into. How can I pass up an opportunity like that?!
Saturday morning, I stood at the dark, cool start line wearing my Zebra print shorty shorts from Salt to Saint (it’s a party right?) next to Superman (aka Heath Thurston wearing Superman boxer shorts…..with compression underneath), Sarah Jarvis (always looking like a professional athlete and making me look like a hobo) and Jess Perry (one of my most favorite people on this earth). We were off!
Being this was my 4th St. George marathon, I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on how the course is going to play out. You go down. You go up. You go down, down, down, down……..you cramp and finish. Luckily my only goal for this race was to have a FUN and finish in good shape. I had 26 miles to just enjoy being with these lovely ladies (Heath is not a lady, but just far too quick to stay with us today. It would be the finish line before we saw him again). Of course, I had things prepared for our journey. I had my UltrAspire Revolution Pak (Click here for my Product Review) that I was testing out loaded with Roctane, water and salt pills. I had friends strategically placed on the course to offer me Coke (soda….not drug) since doing something long without Coke is just a travesty. Mark. Set. Go!
The miles kind of trotted by without too much fanfare. The downhills of the early course felt wonderful though it did take just a bit to hit a good groove. We were up and over Veyo Hill in a heartbeat and even got to chat with my Facebook friend Michael Richey on the way to the top. We settled into the rollers through Dammeron Valley consistently holding a 4-hour pace.
The halfway point came and went and we began the steep descents to the City. Sherry was there with a big smile and a can of Coke that tasted amazing! The crowds were great. The volunteers SUPERIOR. The scenary……second to none.
As we began to close in on Mile 18, I announced to Sarah that my legs were hurting……in case she was wondering I just had to clear the air on that point. I could tell that she was itching to go faster and by Mile 20 she was off. I was SO VERY happy to just maintain my pace. I was in the middle of beautiful, blissful runner’s high. At one point I remember almost shouting for joy about how much I LOVED RUNNING MARATHONS. I wanted to do another Ironman…..right then and there. I loved the pace. I loved how my legs ached, but I was okay. I was doing something amazing and loving every minute of it. I loved that moment because so many times I’ve hit the wall and fallen apart……No wall today! Others were falling apart. It wasn’t like I wasn’t feeling it. My legs hurt, but mentally, I was floating! IT WAS SO COOL! To people who say they don’t like to run…….you just haven’t run far enough yet
My good friend Paul (who is my own personal SUPERSTAR spectator) called me and would meet me as I entered town at Diagonal……Sweet. My runner’s high was beginning to disappear and the last 4 miles of the marathon were still ahead. Paul was there as I made the turn and greeted me with a smile and a bike escort for a few 100 yards. I was in familiar territory. I was back to the Ironman Marathon. It’s all I could think about and it helped so much. I knew where I was going and I knew what it was going to feel like and how long it would take. I just chugged along through those last tough miles.
As I approached Mile 24ish, I came upon another friend, Judd Burkett. Judd was out to break 4 hours and he was doing it. I told him to stay with me and we would get him that 3:??. I chatted with him until he probably wanted to slit my throat. I began to pull away as we approached the final .75 miles before the finish. I knew that I was just barely going to be breaking 4 hours and my hope was that he would stay close and meet his goal. He did and now owns a pretty cool PR.
I turned the final corner to the finish and just enjoyed the ride. It was strange almost. This was the 10th time I have crossed a marathon finish line (11th if you count Ironman). In a way it was “old hat”. I was actually a bit emotionless, whereas, I usually shed a tear or two. I was just kind of satisfied. Mellow. Peacefully done. My legs hurt and I knew that I was going to pay DEARLY for the last 4 hours, but it was all worth it. I felt so grateful for a body that can toe the line of an event like a marathon…….an event that most people will never complete in their entire life. I had signed up just weeks before and because of all my experience, endurance and strength, I could just go out and enjoy a 26 mile party. That is almost as cool as my runner’s high.
Finisher’s medal in hand, I found Heath, Sarah and all my St. George friends. We celebrated. We laughed. We limped……I limped A LOT! By the time the other’s were ready to head home, I was on my way back to the finish line. My dear friend LaRae and Emily were still yet to finish. I knew they were out there battling their own marathon demons. Injuries, blisters, emotionally spent. I found a little shade under the balloon arch and just waited. I had the pleasure of being next to the sweetest old women waiting for her 80-something-year-old husband running his 22nd St. George Marathon. That brought a tear to my eye. I looked at her and told her how much I wanted to be just like them when I grew up. She giggled and told me how young I was (clearly, she doesn’t know my actual age)
Soon, Emily began running into the chute with LaRae not far behind her. Emily was hurting and LaRae wanted nothing more than to be done. I grabbed each of them and held them. We cried. They cried because it hurt and they were done. I cried because I was so proud to be a part of something so WONDERFUL! I dropped them off to their respective significant other and decided it was time for me to head home and sit down.
The post-race party continued at home with friends and icecream for Sarah’s birthday! It was the BEST way to end the day! News of friend’s marathon times and experiences kept trickling in by text message and Facebook. Everyone had made it. Some with PRs. Some with better races waiting in 2013. Judd made his sub-4. My neighbors found their first finish line. Heath’s legs almost exploded. Jess continues to be my running hero with a Boston Qualifying time. I WAS SO SORE THAT I COULD HARDLY STAND IT……Sarah was not
The next morning was awful…..the past three days have been awful. It was my first post-marathon since I’ve been this sore (I was NOT properly trained for this race). My legs hurt so badly that I was grumpy. Ibuprofen wasn’t touching the pain. I took ice baths and hot baths. I went for bike rides and sat perfectly still. Nothing calmed the revenge my body was having for my 26 mile party. Finally on Wednesday and after a great massage, I got out of bed without falling to the floor or needing support. I’m still sore and have plenty of recovery in front of me……..but it’s the off-season. What else do I have to do……………..