07 October 2008

St. George Marathon Race Report

I am having a hard time writing this race report and I'm not really sure why. This was definitely the hardest marathon I've ever run and since it was #7, I feel like I can say that. I guess I should star at the beginning, which kind of makes sense. After I ran my first marathon, my grandma started asking me when I was going to do the St. George marathon. I finally agreed to sign up for it this year, along with my my mom and my friend, Sherry. I knew the race would be in October and I knew it wasn't an "A" race, but I didn't count on the training issues I had, so I was actually dreading the race.

On Friday afternoon, I flew out of Peoria on a direct flight to Las Vegas. I ended up eating my pre-race meal on the plane, which consisted of three slices of a turkey wrap, pringles, a Snickers bar and 3 bottles of water. I picked up my rental car and made the drive to St. George in time to pick up my race packet. This did involve some speeding, which I'm pretty sure was the only time I was doing any sort of fast movement. Actually, I didn't think I would make it in time to pick up my packet, but I did arrive at 8:53pm and rushed into the convention center. Of course, they didn't have my packet, so I walked over to the information booth. Apparently, I had registered as a Clydesdale (I don't remember doing this) and so I had to pick up my packet at a different place. After packet pickup, I headed up to the Sports Village to see my parents. We talked for a few minutes and then headed to bed. I should mention that the condo we stayed in smelled alot like really old people.

My bed had the old lady smell, so I struggled to fall asleep and stay asleep. I think I fell asleep around 12am and woke up bright and early at 4am. I got up and got ready to go and actually wasn't feeling nervous at all. I grabbed my Poptart and my mom and we were off. We picked up Sherry and headed to the race start and noticed that it was sprinkling. I wasn't too worried because it's St. George and it's the desert and it never rains there.
We parked the car and hopped on the bus and noticed that it had actually started to rain. Of course the bus was full of very chipper happy runners, which was kind of obnoxious. I prefer the quiet bus and if I were in charge, I would definitely have a quiet bus for racers like me. I ate my Poptart and kept thinking, "Please please let it stop raining." In case you didn't know, I HATE running in the rain.

Once we arrived at the start, it was off to the porta-potty lines. It was pouring down rain and I had my mylar blanket wrapped around me in an effort to stay dry and warm, which wasn't effective. Soon it was time to turn in the gear check bags and get ready for the start. My mom and I found the pace group we were looking for, stood around a burning fire that smelled glorious (really, it did!) and waited for the race to start.

I never heard the race gun start, but just followed the crowd as we started moving forward. I couldn't believe that it was still raining. Have I mentioned yet that I HATE running in the rain. Anyways, I kept my mylar blanket around me for a mile or two, but the rattling noise was driving me nuts, so I took it off and just ran. My mom and I were running along and complaining about the rain when the stomach issues began. It must have been around mile 3 and I had to find a pitstop. Little did I know this would become the pattern for the race. We got to mile 6 and looked off and saw the HUGE hill that is between mile 7-8. I stopped again at a porta-potty and managed to struggle up the hill. I think it may have been the toughest hill that I've ever run and I love running hills. Anyways, it was still raining and I was miserable. My body was holding up surprisingly well (Did I mention my longest training run was a 10 mile run 6 weeks before the race and that I thought I might have a stress fracture?) , except for the porta-potty stops at every mile. I actually ran back to a porta-potty at one point. My stomach felt awful!

At mile 19, it stopped raining for a bit, which was nice, but the wind was still blowing and it was cold. I did have a huge blister on the ball of my left foot and my shoes were completely squishy. Stopping at the porta-potties was frustrating because it is really hard to pull up wet spandex when your body is soaking wet. At mile 23, I sprinted to the porta-potty and barely made it before bad things started happening. My mom left me at this point and went on to beat me. For the rest of the race, I ended up doing 2 minute run/1 minute walk intervals and I was really worrying about making it to the finish line under the 6 hour limit. I was in pain and everytime I saw a shuttle go by (through the entire race), I really wanted to get in and be done. However, there was a part of me (actually a big part of me) that wanted to say that I ran a marathon in the rain.

Anyways, I finally crossed the finish line, heard my grandma and aunt cheering, went to the first aid tent and asked for an IV. The nurses told me no, they didn't have anymore and gave me some anti-nausea medicine. I wanted to say "Wrong end..." but I didn't. I took my shoes off because my feet were ANGRY and found my dad. I couldn't wait to get to gear check to get some dry clothes. I didn't find any food at the finish line and actually all I really wanted to do was get warm. I hugged my grandma and aunt and then it was off to the car to head home to the warm shower.

Nutrition for this race was Clif Shot Blocks, which apparently only work for me on the bike during a triathlon. I did eat sushi after the race which tasted awesome and sat well. Oh, and the Coke my dad picked up at the store tasted glorious. We had several friends over for lunch and my dad cooked his yummy cheesesteaks, which totally hit the spot. There was another event that occurred during all of this which provided some great conversation, but I'll have to save that for another post.

So, I finished a marathon in the rain. It sucked and I never ever want to do it again. What did I learn from this race? Well, I learned that I can actually suffer through quite a bit and continue to keep making forward progress. I think that I already knew this about myself to some degree, but this was a whole other level. I learned that sometimes it's worth doing things for other people. Oh, and I learned not to eat turkey wraps on a plane for a pre-race meal.


Barb said...

And another congratulations to you, AJ. I am SO proud of you!!! You did it again....rain and all. And did I hear that you don't like to run in the rain............

Stacey said...

Sounds like a crappy time. I am proud of you for sticking it out! Way to go!! I heard about the guest your parents had in Logan while they were away. Too funny!!! But also a little creepy.

hillrunner1 said...

By the way, I am the guy with the head lamp. Tell your parents "nice house".

See You at the Finish Line said...

Congratulations AJ, you had many obstacles in your way - recovering from the season of triathlons, possible stress fracture, travel (including the dehydration, poor nutrition, fatigue that goes along with air travel) the day immediatly before, and greeted on race day with a few extra challenges just to make things interesting. Well done!

Sarah said...

Strange but true--sometimes it is the worst of races that mean the most. You left a piece of yourself on that course and gave it all you had--that is definitely worth remembering!

MEB said...

Wow AJ, what a tough day. You are definitely one tough cookie to gut it out and not give up. Way to go. Happy rest and recovery! Mia

Agua said...

AJ, what a tough day, but way to stick it out! Congratulations!