2009 Top of Utah Marathon

tou2009marathonYeah…

One wasn’t enough… had to do more. It’s kind of funny, actually. The thrill of finishing the marathon really makes you forget the pain of training for it in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy running, but it is quite the time commitment, and I was rather eager for the marathon to be done and out of the way a couple weeks ago. Now that it’s done I’m thinking “That was so awesome! When can I do another one?”

The thing that was really neat about this one was running it with my family. I had three siblings (one brother and two sisters) run this with me, and that made it so much more enjoyable! My brother and I ran ahead of the girls at about mile 4 or 5, but the two of us stayed together for the entire marathon. It was really neat. Both of us feel like we helped the other to run a little faster at different times, and we enjoyed talking with each other (for the first half at least–the second half we didn’t talk so much).

This course was pretty nice–overall I like the Ogden better, I think, but I actually didn’t mind the last part of this track being on the streets as much as I thought it would. The nice thing about Ogden is that when you get into the city the route goes onto a river trail, and so you don’t run on a street until the very end–like the last half or three-quarters of a mile. However, the problem with the river trail is that there is a whole lot of little ups and downs that really wore me out. In this one we spent a lot more time in the town on the street, with accompanying smell of oil and tar, but the ups and downs were not nearly so severe.

My final time on this was 3:45:37, so I can be proud of the fact that I am 8 seconds faster than I was in May (Boston, here I come!). I actually am pretty pleased with that time–I didn’t use the mp3 player, and I didn’t train nearly as well. I did have the Ogden under my belt, so I had a better idea of what I was getting myself into.

Some highlights:

  • I rather like the Boston qualifying strategy offered by another marathoner, who was explaining that the older you are, the longer the qualifying time is. His strategy was as follows: “As long as I keep this pace; eventually I will qualify”
  • The sign that read: “I thought you said 2.62 miles!”
  • Oranges!
  • The stars as we reached the starting point–they were amazing (the fact that it was still pitch-black was not a highlight).
  • Having all four of us finishing the marathon.

2009 Ogden Marathon

 

2009 Ogden Marathon

2009 Ogden Marathon

I did it!!

I can’t believe I actually did it! I was getting quite nervous leading up to the marathon, but it turned out to be really neat, and a lot of fun (yes, fun!).

The last 3 miles were really hard, but in all honesty it wasn’t nearly as bad as I have heard it could be.

I do think I had some extra help doing it. As the marathon started I prayed that my legs and back would be strong enough for the marathon and that everything would go well, and I really think that God gave me extra strength to be able to have it be as enjoyable as it was, and to have a really quick recovery.

So here’s the long story:

The race started at 7:00 am, and in order to get the 2000 half-marathoners and 2000 marathoners up to the starting points on time, we had to get on the busses at 4:30 am. That was a little annoying, but honestly I wasn’t sleeping anyway…

The ride up was fairly uneventful, except when a couple busses (including the one I was in) took a wrong trun and had to turn around… Ever been in a bus doing a 10-point turn? On the first back-up the back of the bus started grinding on the (higher) ground, and then the engine quit. That was a little interesting, but the bus driver merely muttered to himself and restarted the engine and we continued on our way.

The next part was waiting at the starting area for about an hour while everyone was carted up. It was really cold up there, but there were lots of fire-barrels  set out, and volunteers kept the fires going, so we kept pretty warm. I had a chance to talk to several others up there–there were a lot of first-timers like myself, and lots of really experienced runners–one person had been running for 12 years and this was his 39th marathon!

When the race was ready to start, they had us get in according to our estimated time–the area right behind the starting point was for those running a 6 minute mile or better, and then there were sections for 7, 8, 9 and 10+. I was in the 8 minute mile section.

The race itself really was a lot of fun! The first few miles was quite easy and it was really cool to see the mass of people stretching on for such a long distance–it reminded me of the army of Helaman, as our group was about that large…

Another thing that was kind of funny while the runners were still packed was hearing all the garmin watches go off at 2 miles. I had mine set to give an alert ever two miles, and apparently I wasn’t the only one to have done that…

For a lot of the race I had to be careful to not try to run too fast. I tried to concentrate very much on taking it easy and just enjoying it. However, I do tend to get rather competitive and it sometimes took a fair amount of effort to not be bugged by someone passing me.

The course is really nice–virtually the entire race is at a pretty easy downhill grade. You head down towards a lake, and run around it. Somewhere in there is the halfway point, where the half-marthoners started. There was a live band playing the “SpyHunter” theme, which I thought was pretty funny.

After the lake there is an uphill stretch to get you into Parley’s canyon (I think that’s what it is called). Then it’s downhill again through the canyon, and into Ogden. Even most of the course in Ogden is rather nice–it is on a riverside trail. Finally you turn onto the last stretch (about 3/4 mile or so), and it’s straight down the street to the finish.

A couple things that helped me with the marathon: One was definitely my mp3 player. I do want to get to the point where I don’t need it, but for this first marathon it was really helpful to have some music playing while I ran.

Another was when there was steep downhill (to the point where you are more trying to control your run and/or slow down), I would try to run just to the side of the road rather than on it. That way I would be on gravel or sand, which was obviously much nicer on my feet and knees than the asphalt.

The third was a hint from someone I chatted with on the marathon, and that was to walk a little at the aid stations rather than run straight through them. This did help a lot, although I worried a little about walking through the last couple aid stations–I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to start running again…

This marathon was really well organized–there were lots of aid stations along the whole course. For most of it the aid stations were about 2 miles apart, which at the very beginning seemed almost too much. By the end of the race, however, they had them about every mile, and that just wasn’t nearly close enough together.

The very best part had to be coming out of the canyon. At that point you have about 3 miles left, and the race is getting really, really hard. But right there was my family cheering me on (thanks a TON Em for getting that put together–it was sooooo encouraging!). And then at the finish they were there again, cheering me on! That helps out so much, it’s hard to believe.

I actually finished the race relatively strong, although when I stopped running after the finish line I realized just how tired I was. They had a separate area for the runners to rest/stretch in after finishing before going back into the crowd. That was actually quite nice. They herd you into this blocked off area, and someone hands you a water bottle, and then someone else hands you a bag of ice. There were 3 or 4 stands there that gave out some snacks to eat (Jamba Juice was handing out small smoothies, which was exceptionally nice).

My official finishing time was 3:45:45.90.

My rankings are as follows:
Division (30-39 male): 58 / 136
Gender: 295 / 933
Overall: 401 / 1693

For a first marathon, that really is pretty good (if I do say so myself). My pace was about an 8.5 minute mile. As I said earlier, I do think God gave me some extra help, and I also had a ton of encouragement/excitement from Emily and Rosanne especially–thanks a ton!

I’m definitely going to do that again. Emily and I are now planning to work towards qualifying and running the Boston Marathon (In order to qualify, I’ll have to do a marathon in less than 3:10, which is about a 7 minute mile pace).

Marathon Mis-step

Well, I’m afraid my back has been hurting bad enough that I haven’t been able to run. Ever since the 18-miler, my back and butt have been very sore and stiff, and when I try to run there is a severe jab of pain on each left step. Eeven stuffed full of ibuprofen I could only manage a few miles and felt like I was doing more damage than good.
 
I saw the doctor yesterday and he said I had SI joint dysfunction, which was causing my right leg to be longer than the left. I’m doing physical therapy starting Monday to correct it (doctor said that would take about a week). Also, a coworker who runs a lot pointed me to an article about some core strengthening exercises that seem to be helping as well–it’s at http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-238-263-266-13030-0,00.html
 
So, I won’t be doing a 20 miler before the marathon, but the doctor was pretty sure that with the physical therapy I would be able to still run the marathon. I’m walking and biking instead of running in the meantime (I pull my daughter along in a cart on the bike, which makes it a pretty good exercise). Obviously missing the 20 miler (and associated runs) won’t help my training, but if I can get in some small runs and one half-marathon before the actual race (with rest time before the actual marathon), I’m pretty sure I’ll be fine.
 
Not necessarily good news, but it could be a lot worse…

Marathon Training Progress

This last week of running has been rather interesting, so thought I’d put all of my unique and amazing epiphanies here…

Wednesday:
On Wednesday, I ran 6 miles. A couple of interesting notes on this–the first is that I found “my pace.” I’ve always enjoyed long strides, walking kind of fast, etc. It’s rather silly, but I feel like I’m accomplishing more, and it makes me think of President Kimball’s saying to “Lengthen your stride” (He actually meant in just about every way except in your actual pace, but oh well). Anyway, about halfway through my run I started taking longer strides, and found that I could hold that pace (at least for the remaining three miles of that run). I don’t think I’m going to be able to run that for the duration of the marathon, but I really enjoyed it, and am trying to run that pace as much as I can (It’s about a 7 minute-mile pace, where I normally ran about 8.5).

At the same time, I realized how much of a mental exercise running is. When I ran those three miles, I could tell that my legs were getting very tired, and it didn’t really matter. I decided that was how I was going to run, and I did, and it was incredibly fun!

Thursday:
Thursday’s run was almost the opposite. My earbuds wouldn’t stay in, and so I gave up sticking them back in every few steps at about 2.5 miles. It was really frustrating. That frustration, on top of not having the music to run to, made the rest of the run very difficult (and it was only four miles). I knew that I depended on the music a lot, but I hadn’t realized how large that dependency was (It actually bugs me; perhaps more than it should). During that run, I realized a couple things:

First, I realized that to really be able to run without the music, I would need to work hard at focusing (“Focus, Danielson!”). I would need to be able to ignore the “you’re getting tired” voice and concentrate on other things.

Second, I realized that I do want to get to that point. I don’t think that’s going to happen for this marathon, but I think I can get there for a later marathon. I may start doing my shorter runs without music for a while and see how that goes.

Saturday:
Saturday’s run was noteworthy in that it was the first run with a distance greater than a half-marathon. I ran a half-marathon last year, so up to this point every run I’ve done, I could tell myself “This is something you’ve done before.” Saturday’s run was 15 miles, and I started having a pretty hard time as I was getting close to mile 13. But then it came and went, and I realized that I really could do it–I could go the 15 miles for that day. When the 18 miler comes up, I’ll be able to do that, as well as the 20 miler, and the marathon itself. It was a rather neat experience.

Marathon Reactions

My favorite reaction to my deciding to run a marathon has to be my older brother, who after a moment’s thought, came up with what he described as an equivalent scenario:

“Hey, I’ve discovered that sticking your finger into a socket isn’t actually lethal!”

“I’ve decided that I’m going to do that for ten minutes every day!”

“I’m trying to work up to two hours…”

Marathon

..Wow, has it been that long?

Have you ever tried to keep a journal? You do really well for a little while, but then you get a little busy for a little while. Then you decide to go back to your journal, so you open it up, and… you haven’t written in 6 months. Or a year.

Nuts.

At any rate, I’ve decided to run a marathon. No, I don’t know what I was thinking when I signed up, but I am rather excited about it. I’ll be running the Ogden Marathon in Utah on May 16th–I hear it’s a very nice marathon to run, without very much difficult terrain.

I’m using Hal Higdon’s Marathon Training Guide  (novice 1 schedule). It’s a lot of running, but even with the cold weather, I’ve found that I rather enjoy running. When it’s really cold outside I run on the treadmill (and, yes, I watch the documentaries found on the extended versions of “Lord of the Rings” when I do–they are really quite interesting).