"Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.”

- George S. Patton, U.S. Army General, 1912 Olympian

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Marathon #9: St George Recap

Let's start with the positives: I just finished my 6th marathon in the last seven months and my 9th in the last 16 months. The other positive was getting to spend the weekend with my good friend and his wife, who were running their first marathon. Boarding a bus in the wee hours of the morning and then spending two hours in the dark at the starting line is far more tolerable with friends and seeing them as they crossed the finish line together was awesome.
Unfortunately, weren't very many positive things going on once the race actually started. It was a rough day all the way around. One that caused me to reflect and evaluate if running marathons is something I want to continue to do.
Maintaining proper nutrition is always difficult for me when traveling. Sometimes I'll bring my blender with me and make my smoothies but not when I'm flying to a race. This leaves me concerned with getting enough calories in the hours leading up to race day. I'm apparently not disciplined enough to go to a grocery store and buy tons of fruit and keep me going, so instead I went to Olive Garden Thursday night (horrible service, slightly less than horrible food), pancakes and eggs for breakfast and the pasta dinner at the expo Friday night. I did have some bananas in my car but it was so darn hot that they were not appetizing at all. So no fruit and way too much stuff that I usually only have sparingly. Doesn't make for a quality pre-race diet.
Then there was the weather. Freaking hot. One of the lead volunteers at the finish line told me that in the 35 years of the race, this was the hottest day. Whether that's true or not I don't know, but the sun was relentless all day and there was no where to hide from it.  It's so dry there anyway (especially compared to where I live here in the Willamette Valley) that I was drinking as much as I could handle at every aid station but still felt like I had a mouthful of chalk just a few seconds later. Dehydration was an issue during the second half of the race.
Veyo. Volcano and all.
The course itself was definitely scenic. From the Veyo volcano to Snow Canyon to St. George itself it's really a very pretty course. Friends of mine (who I'll get to in a minute) and I drove the course on Friday afternoon and felt pretty good about what we would encounter the next morning. For whatever reason though, I could have sworn I was running a completely different course. All of the course maps (and even my Garmin) shows the second half being almost completely downhill. My Garmin only measured 20 feet of elevation gain in the whole second half actually. Out there on the course though, on a long, hot day, it seemed like every time I came around a turn there was an incline in front of me. And every time I got to the crest of those inclines it seems like I would look out and see another one right in front of me. I can't explain it. But it was tough.
Proper rest is also difficult on the road. I've run races in other timezones before, but for some reason this one just kicked my butt. My friends and I loaded the bus at about 4:15am (3:15am my time). Before that though, I had been awake from basically 2am on (1am my time). By the time the race started at 6:45, I had been awake for nearly five hours. Tack on 4 1/2 hours for race time and it was a really long day by the time the last few miles came around.
So I finished in 4:30:59. Certainly not my best, but not my worst either. There was no excitement at this finish line though. Mostly just disappointment. I had higher expectations for this race given the course, the way I've felt in training and how I felt when I got on the plane Thursday afternoon. I spent some time Sunday thinking whether or not I wanted to continue to do this or if it was time to look for something else to do. I spoke with my friend to see how they were feeling and offered some encouragement, reminding him that they were marathoners now and that the muscle pains would start to subside in a day or two.
On Monday morning, still feeling a little depressed, I got a call from my friend. Usually we just text back and forth, so to receive a phone call was a little bit curious to me. The first words out of his mouth were, "I can't even walk down the stairs in my house I'm so sore today, so why do I have the urge to sign up and run another one? There was an enthusiasm in his voice that was infectious.
And with that, we spent the next 15 minutes talking about what race we could do next together, narrowing it down to Ogden in May, Utah Valley in June or possibly the Seattle Rock 'n' Roll at the end of June. I got off the phone and my outlook had completely changed. I was excited to look for my next race. The enthusiasm my buddy had had on the phone, despite the soreness he felt, reminded me of the excitement I had had after other races, when I couldn't wait to sign up for the next one. It reminded me that even though we hadn't run the race as quickly as we had hoped, we had still finished a freaking marathon and that we were doing things that the majority of people will never even attempt.
There have been people and experiences at various points along this road that have kept me interested, motivated and determined. Add my friend to that list. It came at a good time too because the Autumn Leaves 50 mile ultra marathon is now only 3 1/2 weeks away. It scares the dickens out of me and is the first time since I signed up for my very first half marathon that I really don't know how it will go of if I can actually do it. But I'll be there at the starting line prepared to find out.

1 comment:

Jon said...

St George marathon is deceptively difficult since it is all down hill. It's not like riding a bike where it would be really easy, running downhill for long periods is hard on the body. I guess you know that now.

Excited to hear how the 50 miler goes.