Monday, October 5, 2009

St. George Marathon 2009 Race Report

We drove down on Wednesday night, spent Thursday running errands and checking out Snow Canyon, Friday with friends in the area and a little swimming at the Washington City Rec Center (I even did a couple of laps in my board shorts with no goggles), and Saturday I woke up at 3:30 and headed to the early buses. Just missed the first two (there goes the massage fast pass!) and didn't win anything either. I'll take a later bus next time and sleep in a little. My foot hadn't been bothering me at all the time we'd been in St George, but I hadn't tried any running on it either.

With about 25 minutes to go, I entered the POP lines and shivered for a while, got done with that, put the warm-up pants in the drop bag, dropped it, and I was off, just next to the 5:00 pace group. I quickly left them behind and thought if I could just stay ahead of them, I'd be happy.

Nothing felt quite right for the first couple of miles. I wasn't warmed up, everything felt kind of wanky. My foot wasn't bothering me, though, so I figured I'd just go with it. My first couple of mile splits were really slow, but it had probably more to do with the crowds than with my self-control of not going out too fast.

1- 10:28
2- 10:53
3- 10:44
4- 10:30

About mile 3 my foot started to ache. I knew that walking wasn't going to make it feel any better, so I kept going. I felt certain I was headed for my first DNF, and I was mentally and emotionally ready to accept it. I think that kept the pressure off and helped, in some strange way, to keep me going. I figured once it got too painful to run, that'd be that. Fortunately, that point never came. It never really got better, but it never really got worse either.

As long as I was keeping it below 11:00 miles, I was happy. As I approached Veyo, I got to chatting with a guy (Travis) who was running his 2nd marathon and hoping for a 5 hour finish. He's from Texas, living in Syracuse, and works nearby in West Valley City. We chatted about our families, college football (he's an Aggie fan, I'm a BYU fan -- made for a fun chat), about work and running. He told me to leave him as we headed up the hill, and on I went. I trudged ahead and didn't walk at all, but made sure to take it really easy:

5- 10:13
6- 10:04
7- 10:13
8- 11:41 (Veyo hill!)
9- 10:50

In 2007, my first marathon and my first SGM, it was the miles after Veyo that did me in. The road keeps heading up. I was ready for it this year, and managed to control my pace, still feeling pretty good, except for the foot. My nutrition plan that had worked pretty well in training was to take a Clif Shot Blok and a swig of water from my fuel belt at every even mile marker, and a swig of Gatorade from the aid stations at every odd mile marker. This, I must say, worked like a charm. Cresting the hill around the half way point made my day. I really wanted to come in around 4:45, and I wanted to run a negative split, with the first half at 2:25 and the second at around 2:20. When I saw the clock at the half way point and it read 2:28, I looked at my Garmin and figured I was about 8 minutes behind gun time, putting me at about 2:20 for the first half... way ahead of schedule! I didn't know if I could hold the pace, but I did know that the second half is a lot more downhill than the first half, so I just kept going.

10- 10:56
11- 11:01
12- 10:33
13- 10:26
14- 10:40
15- 10:05
16- 9:54 (!!! This was not part of the plan!)

I knew the Ledges hill (or "Heartbreak Hill" as I like to call it) was looming at around mile 19, but I was still feeling pretty good. As I headed up that hill, I got to chatting with a lady from Southern California who lives only about 15 miles from where I grew up. She was taking it easy, shooting for a 4:30 or so which was slow for her. I told her I was on pace for my first sub-5, and she was very encouraging, saying that I could probably hit a 4:30 depending on whether there were any more hills. I told her it rolled a little after the Ledges, but nothing significant. She decided to take a little walk break, so I bid her adieu and kept trudging along.

17- 10:11
18- 10:16
19- 10:36 (Ledges hill - it seemed so much bigger in 2007)
20- 10:28
21- 9:38 (!!! Again, what the !?!)

I knew I wasn't going to be able to keep that pace up once I got into town. The last couple of miles in town are a mental challenge for me. You know you're close, but you're just not there yet. The crowds really were thicker than in 2007 (of course, it helps if you're there an hour earlier than I was then!) I just kept asking myself as I ran down Diagonal Street and 300 West, "Can I go any faster?" and I'd pick it up, little by little, but I was definitely starting to fade. I was twittering and texting my wife as I ran (yes, it's really not that hard!), and she told me she'd be just before the chute at mile 26. Sure enough, she was there. I stopped just long enough to high-5 the kids and kiss the wife, and I was off.

22- 10:17
23- 10:21
24- 10:18
25- 10:24
26- 10:22
26.2 2:30 (9:19 pace - a little kick for the end).

Overall time: 4:34:40 (garmin time was 4:34:45). That's a 29 minute PR over Salt Lake 2009, and over an hour better than SGM 07. I'm quite pleased with the result, wanky foot and everything. My foot's really been hurting since finishing the race, and I'm sore otherwise, but overall I feel pretty dang good. I'm hoping staying off the foot for a couple of weeks will let it heal right up and it won't be an ongoing issue. I've had foot pain in this area before, and a month or so off really did the trick then... I hope it does again. On to the next challenge!


Ingrid said...

I love that you post all the details! That's how I like to hear it! WAY TO GOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!! Someday we'll run one together, or, er, I mean, at the same time and place.

Cory Reese said...

I liked reading your SGM blog - great job! I posted my race report at

So are you going to run it again next year?

Adam said...

Hey there! I'm also in half fast's football pool (Oreo double stuff).

Nice work!!!! I had a few runner club friends who ran this race as well. They said it was a pain on the quads but worth it for the PR.

Happy Feet 26.2 said...

Wow! over an hour better than last year. That is great. Your race report reminded me that I forgot to put all of my splits on my blog. Heading back to edit.

Jen said...

Way to go! Makes you wonder what you could have done without the foot issue! I ran the race too, but had some pretty major issues. That's a great time improvement as well!