Wednesday, November 2, 2016

St. George Marathon Race Report!

Now that it's November, I guess I can finally get around to writing about the races of October. I am finally all settled in my new house with couches and internet and everything, so I'm out of excuses. But because I want to give them their proper due, I'll just go over one race here and then the other two in another post later this week.

October kicked off with the St. George Marathon. I was certainly not ready to run a marathon, since I have been at level zero in my running for months now. But hey, who am I to waste a race entry? I was mostly certain that I could beat the cutoff at mile 23. So Jamie and I, plus another of Jamie's running pals, headed down to southern Utah for some marathoning fun.
You have to stop in Beaver on the way to St. George. It's mandatory. Photo courtesy of Jamie Eckles.
After we made it to packet pick up, chatted with legendary ultra runner Cory Reese, and ate our weight in breakfast foods at the Cracker Barrel, we headed down to Mesquite, Nevada. The hotels in St. George on marathon weekend are pretty pricey, so we were staying with another friend of Jamie's that lives in Mesquite.

Staying in Mesquite meant that we would be waking up around 2:30 a.m. to get back to St. George in time for the bus loading. Yay. I've run plenty of races with sleep deprivation so what's one more?

I didn't need sleep. Honest. Photo courtesy of Jamie. 
I guess I should talk a little bit about my level zero state before I get into how this race went. I have been having issues with my heart rate being ridiculously high. Like over 180 during my long runs. Needless to say, that's been concerning. I do believe I have a handle on the issue now, but I certainly didn't when it was time to run St. George. Now back to the race.

I started out super conservative, checking my heart rate obsessively. Any time it got over 160, I would walk to bring it back down. I wasn't making the greatest progress, but at least I was moving forward. I did my best to keep calm thoughts in my head. No need to add negative thoughts and stress to my situation. I knew that would just make my heart rate go up. I saw my nemesis cruise on past me, and I had a moment of panic. My nemesis had never beaten me in a race before, but it seemed like today might be the day.
I knew that worrying about someone else's race wasn't going to help me with mine, so I went full on zen and just let it go. What right did I have to think I could beat someone who'd been doing the work when I hadn't? Humble zen, ladies and gentlemen.
Once I decided that I needed to worry about only myself, I was able to enjoy the scenery. The St. George Marathon is a large race, so I was never by myself. There were always people around and they were all friendly and pleasant. So we back-of-the-packers would take turns passing each other, stopping to walk, take pictures, and get Icy Hot slathered on us by the ample body of volunteers.
It really is a pretty marathon course. 
I kept an eye on my heart rate and the cutoff time and knew I was going to be okay. By some miracle, I was moving fast enough to make it on time to mile 23. I wasn't feeling great. I wasn't feeling good. I was surviving. But around mile 20, something happened. I don't know if it was muscle memory finally kicking in, or some blessing from a benevolent running god, but I started to feel good. Then good turned into great.

I had run/walked/wogged 20 pretty crappy miles and now, all of the sudden, I felt like I could run forever. So I ran with it (pun intended). I never know how long these feel good bouts will last so I try to take advantage as long as I can. I was running my fastest miles of the day and it was sweet. I made the cutoff with about 25 minutes to spare!

Just after the aid station at mile 24, I started to walk as I tried to dig my chapstick out of my water bottle pocket. As I did so, I saw my nemesis coming from behind me. Somehow, I had passed him and not seen him. I immediately forgot about my need for chapstick and took off running. There were only two miles to go. I could do this. I could keep my unblemished record and beat him again. I rarely get competitive with my running, you guys. Because basically everyone runs faster than I do. But in races where my nemesis is involved, I get extra motivated.

My feeling good kept up all the way to the end and I crossed the finish line with a smile on my facea and ahead of he-who-I-always-try-to-beat. It's so nice to end on a high note. I know that for me, if I end a race feeling good, even if it's just the last mile, I will always think fondly of the race.
Swag from marathon #23. How have I run 23 marathons?! That's weird.
Some of you may remember that I mentioned having a plan for improving my training in my last post. That plan involved getting my nutrition sorted out. So on October 11, I started the Whole 30 program. I'm on day 23 and I'm still waiting for it to be awesome. Because let's be honest, not eating dairy, grains, sugar, and everything that you love, sucks. It sucks big time. It's the biggest suck that ever sucked a suck. I guess you guys get the gist of how I feel about it.

But in all seriousness, it's supposed to be making me feel better. Everyone keeps telling me to keep with it. It's going to be worth it. Blah blah blah. I'll stick with it, since I've made it this far. Quitting now would be like dropping out of a marathon at mile 25. I've added some vitamin B supplements to help with the overwhelming depression that's been the highlight of this eating plan. I am also more tired than I have ever been. Like ever. I get home from work and I'm ready to pass out and never wake up again. The only good thing that's happened on this program, and I can't say for certain if it's even correlated, is that my resting heart rate is finally back down to 55. It hasn't been that low in months.

So there you have it. Stay tuned for the Dugway and Haunted Half report coming soon! Until then, happy running! And eat some carbs for me, while you're at it.

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