Bib and BLING!
I set the month of May aside as a cutback month. I have already finished two 100 mile trail races and few shorter ultras, so I planned for May to be a time when I could go easy and focus on recovery before my running season got intense. However, I get antsy when I don't run long and I get really bummed when I don't race, so I registered myself for two road marathons and a 50k for May. These are all intended to be training runs, with different areas of focus and different goals for each event.
The Provo City Marathon was intended to be a lengthy speed work session. Because I'm super slow and need the work.
Jo was planning to run the marathon with me, but had been hinting at possibly calling it a day at the half marathon mark. I was cool with whatever she decided. I just wanted her to have fun and stay healthy.
We were up and out of the house by 4:00 AM. The weather was decent in the valley, but we would be starting in the mountains and it was going to be cold. I didn't let that influence my decision on clothing and I left the house under dressed, as always. The ONE thing that Jo will listen to me about is how to dress for a race! So she froze her ass off to.
Jo thinks I'm being cuddly. I'm actually just trying to stay warm.
It was in the 30's up in Provo Canyon and they insisted we arrive at least an hour early. I think Race Directors do this type of thing out of cruelty. It was pointless to be standing around in the cold for that long.
We found the only available spot at a campfire, which happened to be directly in the path of the smoke. We debated the risk factors and decided we would rather die of smoke inhalation than freeze to death, so we took what was offered.
Trying to fight off certain death at the campfire!
We were thrilled when we could finally line up and get on our way. Body heat needed to be generated.
The race starts up Provo Canyon and we're treated to a nice, long downhill run for the first several miles. This can be a good thing if your quads can handle it, or it can ruin your day if you're a road runner.
I was pushing the pace from the beginning and eased into the downhill. Everything felt good and the run was pretty effortless. I had my iPod on and I was rocking my way down the mountains.
"Just warming up"? I was still freezing at this point!
View of the first several miles of the course.
The canyon was beautiful and I enjoyed running through the mountains. However, I would rather be IN the mountains, but this was a fairly decent consolation.
Waterfall off the rock face along the course
The course eventually flattened out as we approached downtown Provo. We left the bike path and got onto the local streets and would remain there for the rest of the race. This is where the race became mental. No more scenery, no more quad crushing downhill...just a regular road race for the rest of the day.
I contemplated throwing myself into traffic and ending it all right then, but I remembered I hadn't finished my TPS Reports for work and didn't want to leave any loose ends.
Coming into Provo
I assume I was running a solid pace because I was always running alone. I knew there were runners ahead of me, but I couldn't see them. I was pretty sure there were runners behind me, but I couldn't see them either. I don't wear a GPS when I race, so I was running by feel...and it FELT pretty fast.
Then. Suddenly. I needed to poop.
I considered doing it on the shoulder of the road, but remembered I was running a road marathon. The other runners would likely frown on such a thing, so I began to hunt for a more respectable place to crap. Like a bucket or maybe even behind a tree.
Then, from out of nowhere, I spotted a portable toilet and remembered they typically use these during road marathons! I had to blast right through the aid station to reach it as the volunteers were trying desperately to stuff cups of fluid in my hands. I had to be bold in this situation and I simply yelled...
By the looks on their faces, I would surmise they clearly have never spent much time around a trail runner.
There are THREE things trail runners discuss frequently and openly. They are:
Deal with it.
This little detour took far longer than I expected, but it was well worth the time. When I emerged from that magical porta-potty, I was a new man and was running with a fresh set of legs!
Was momentarily excited to see dirt on the course
Shortly after my emergency pit stop, I came to the 13.1 mile mark and enjoyed the cheers. I'm sure they were for the half marathon finishers, but it was still nice to hear. When I crossed the mat, I saw that my pit stop had cost me a bundle of time. Fortunately, I was feeling pretty awesome and my pace was even better than it had been for the last 6 miles. Probably because I was 5 pounds lighter and my gut wasn't twisted in knots.
I was winding my way through an unattractive part of Provo and did my best to stare at my feet and focus on my music. I turned my brain off and just ran. This is what I do when running 100's and it usually pays off. I just make everything go away.
At mile 19, I was getting hot and my shirt was caked with sweat and crusting over with salt. It had to come off and I felt another surge of renewed energy.
I began to calculate my splits and look toward my anticipated finish time. This helped keep my brain occupied while running through a mind numbing landscape. I came up with a variety of potential finish times based on a handful of variables. Only one thing seemed certain. I was going to PR.
At mile 24, I went through my splits again and realized I may have a chance to qualify for the Boston Marathon. This has never been a goal of mine and is somewhat meaningless, but I would like to go to my grave knowing I did it.
The problem was, my watch and the race clock were not synchronized. I knew they didn't line up, but I didn't know how big the difference was.
So I just ran hard and let things work out however they were destined.
I could see the finish line WAY off in the distance and tried to kick into high gear. Evidently, I was already in high gear because I had nothing else to give. The finish line was taunting me in the distance, but I was too far away to see the clock.
I kept my eyes on the clock the whole way in...
When it finally came into view, I read 3:11:xx. I was 92% certain my Boston qualifying time was 3:15, but the 8% of uncertainty stole my jubilation.
Coming to the finish!!
I crossed the line at 3:12:16. A new PR AND a Boston Qualifying time! When I crossed the line, Jo told me I was definitely in the top 10 and I soon learned I was 7th place overall and I had won my age group!
As soon as I stopped, I felt terrible. I felt weak, exhausted and I was shaking all over. I went straight through the finishers chute, found a patch of cool grass and I crashed.
Beginning to feel normal again, wishing this race served beer
My finishers medal and my award for winning my age group.
After qualifying for the Boston Marathon, I suppose most people would expect me to run it. But I have no plans to ever run the Boston Marathon.
That decision has nothing to do with the recent terrorist attacks or any other nonsensical reason. I won't run the Boston Marathon because I'm not a road marathon runner. I've never aspired to run Boston and I have never planned to, but so many people have those aspirations and they've worked relentlessly toward qualifying so they can live that dream. So let THEM live their dream. It's not my dream and I really don't care about that race. If I registered for it, I would potentially be taking a spot away from a runner that worked for YEARS to get into that race. I have no interest in that. I didn't set out to qualify and I have never trained for a marathon. It's the other way around actually...I run marathons so I can train for my goal races.
I will find enough gratification in knowing I had the option to run Boston. I'll go out and run some trails instead.
I have another road marathon coming up in two weeks. This race is intended to be a long, slow run and I'm sure it will be. For now, I'm very satisfied with where I fit in the marathon community. I have nothing to prove or and I don't aspire to be counted among the marathon faithful. But I respect those who do.
I hope to see some of you when I get back on the trails!