Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Big Cottonwood Marathon Race Report

Let's get it out of the way: I blew up. Not in a good way. My finish time was 4:21:01, 56 minutes from my goal.

Here are my splits with commentary.

Mile 1: 7:58 - It was crowded at the start and I was content on taking it easy the first mile. If only I'd have continued to take it easy, I'd be able to walk right now.

Mile 2: 6:55 - I had no idea I had run mile 2 this fast. I hardly looked at my watch the first 15 miles. I started about 20 seconds behind the 3:25 pace group and had to catch up.

Mile 3: 7:08 - I settled in to a nice down hill rhythm, just slightly ahead of the 3:25 pacer.

Mile 4:  7:15 - I really had no idea I was going this fast. I just knew the pacer was still behind me.

Mile 5: 7:25 - It was at the end of mile 5 that I realized I wouldn't be able to keep up this effort and be able to finish. I had a choice to make: (1) Slow down and finish with a pr comfortably; or (2) Go for the BQ, knowing there's a high probability things were going to fall apart.

So little time together this marathon!
Mile 6: 8:42 - I did slow down a little and allowed the 3:25 pacer to catch up. I then saw an open port-a-potty and made a dash for it. It was my first and only restroom stop, which would be 6 fewer than the last marathon.

Mile 7: 7:33 - I'd fallen over a minute behind the 3:25 pacer, but I could still see her. I was feeling better after using the restroom and opted to go for it.

Mile 8: 7:55 - The course sloped up a bit and leveled out for this mile. I was still over a minute behind the pacer.

Mile 9: 7:40 - Still going strong.

Mile 10: 7:25 - Not only was I running tangents well but I was running on the left side of the road, which technically wasn't part of the course, in order to make up time.

Mile 11: 6:47 - The course is really getting steep and I 'm really getting stupid!

Mile 12: 7:33 - My stomach was giving me serious problems for about 5 miles, but I knew I needed calories, so I grabbed half a banana and forced my self to eat it over the next half-mile.
An actual race photo of me around mile 12.
 Mile 13: 6:47 - Apparently, the banana helped. I was about 10-15 seconds behind the 3:25 pacer, which was about how far behind I was when I crossed the start line. I should never run a mile this fast during a marathon.

Mile 13.1: I ran the first half in 1:37:44, a 9-minute pr. Even the hill adjusted time of about 1:43 (based on where the pacer was) is a significant pr. Chances are when you set a pr on the first half of a marathon, it's not going to end well.

Mile 14: 7:33 - I remember giving a little girl and her mom a massive side-5 at some point. I was out of control. I also remember trudging down a steep section and thinking to myself that I would probably pay for it.

Mile 15 7:50 - I'm coming out of the canyon just behind the 3:25 pacer.

This is how I felt at mile 15. Little did I know...
Mile 16: 8:35 - The first mile out of the canyon was fine. It was a pretty good hill, but very similar to the one I run on Tuesdays with the Wild Bunch Runners.

Mile 17:10:10 - I thought the hill was going to end, but it didn't. It was during this mile I realized 3:25 was not going to happen, so I pulled off to the side, walked for a minute, and gathered myself. I felt that if I could average 10-minute miles the rest of the way, I'd still crush my pr.

Mile 18: 10:40 - I would not run a 10-minute mile the rest of the day.

Mile 19: 13:05 - Won't this hill ever end?!?! I did see Darth Vader at mile 19 handing out water. I stopped at the aide station to make sure Darth Vader really was there and snacked on some oranges. Some may be leery about accepting water from Darth Vader, but I figured if Darth Vader wanted me dead, I'd be dead. And, to be honest, at this point, death didn't seem to be that bad of an alternative to running the remaining seven miles.

Mile 20: 11:00 - It was during mile 20 I calculated that I could average 11-minute miles the rest of the way and still crush my pr.

Mile 21: 14:45 - That wasn't going to happen.

Mile 22: 13:16 - I calculated that if I averaged 11-minute miles I could finish under 4 hours, maybe. My head was a little foggy.

Mile 23: 15:59 - Numerous times over the previous 5 miles I had thought about tapping out and lying down in the grass. This urge was never stronger than when the 4-hour pacer passed. He was about a 103-years-old. Good for him. The only thing that kept me going was the knowledge that my car was right next to the finish line and I needed to get there, so why not walk the course.

Mile 24: 15:50 I think I actually jogged about a half mile here. I put my arms up and walked like a zombie for a little bit.

Mile 25 15:35 - This is where Jeremy showed up in jeans and sandals. He asked how he could help. I just said, "talk to me." From this point forward I did the jog two telephone poles, walk two telephone poles marathon shuffle. It was so nice to have a friend there to help me finish.

This woman on the left (although, not Jeremy) could have paced me while picking up litter, too.
Mile 26:16:39 - It was a slow jog from telephone pole to telephone pole, slow enough to allow Jeremy to pick up trash on the course.

The End. Once I reached the 26-mile marker, I started to jog again. I allowed myself to enjoy the moment. I was weeping. I do at the end of marathons, regardless of time or how I feel. I kept muttering, "I'm not a quitter! I didn't f-ing quit!" over and over.

I crossed the finish line, ripped off my bib immediately, was startled by some kid putting a medal around my neck, and slumped down on a cot as a mysterious woman hung a cold, wet cloth around my neck.

I just sat with my head in my hands, feeling guilty that I'd inconvenienced my family by training all summer and by taking off for a weekend to run a marathon.  And all I had to show for it was a crappy marathon time.

Will I ever qualify for Boston?

Probably not. But I'm OK with that.

This is how I looked after crossing the finish line.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Big Cottonwood Marathon Preview

In two days I'll either be ambling my way to a Boston qualifier or in the crouch position, sucking my thumb in a port-a-potty.

The Goal

The Goal is simple. Run the marathon in 3:25 or less. I included several factors when determining this goal: (1) The elevation profile; (2) The fact I've completed two marathons; (3) I turned 45.

Let's start with my age. I am now 45. That means my Boston qualifying time has gone from 3:15 to 3:25. I'd like to thank my parents for having intercourse late 1968, allowing me to be born in July of 1969.

This is not my first marathon. I was just happy to finish my first marathon. That led to a conservative and enjoyable 2nd marathon, which I finished with a 13-minute pr and a negative split. I am confident I can not only finish this marathon, but finish comfortably. Been there, done that. Therefore, if I end up going out too fast and completely fall apart...oh well. If I truly give it my all, I can come to grips with a DNF.

The most important factor in determining my goal is the elevation profile.

Need I say more?
The Plan

There is no plan. I'm simply going to find the 3:25 pacer and become his shadow. When he runs, I run. When he grabs water at an aide station, I grab water at an aid station. When he eats, I eat. When he takes a dump in the porta-potty, I take a dump in the porta-potty. In the same porta-potty. At the same time.

I will execute this strategy until I look like this:

or feel like this lady on the left:

The truth is I feel strangely confident. I gotta feeling I'll be feeling more like this:

Wish me luck!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Big Cottonwood Marathon and Qualifying for Boston

I visited Salt Lake City in August, 2013. While there, I did an Internet search for some local hikes to take my family, many of which began in Big Cottonwood Canyon, which led me to Google "Big Cottonwood Canyon." Not only did I learn of several awesome hikes, I learned of a marathon that starts at Brighton Ski Resort up Big Cottonwood Canyon taking place in September.

It was at that moment I formulated a plan to qualify for the Boston Marathon. It involved running the 2014 Big Cottonwood Marathon.

So what made me think that a 4:00:55 marathoner, who missed qualifying by over 45 minutes think he could qualify for Boston? (1) I turned 45 this July, making my time 3:25 instead of 3:15; (2) Check out the course profile!

But isn't that cheating?

No. If the Boston Athletic Association says it's a qualifying marathon then that's good enough for me.

But isn't that kind of taking the coward's way out?

No. If the Boston Athletic Association says it's a qualifying marathon then that's good enough for me.

But doesn't it seem unfair?

No. If the Boston Athletic Association says it's a qualifying marathon then that's good enough for me.

Since we're on the subject of fairness, let's talk about genetics. Is it fair that the ideal runner's body, according to author of Racing Weight, Matt Fitzgerald, is the exact opposite of my body type? Yes, apparently, because the God deemed it so.

If God says it's fair that I got the genetics of an out-of-shape shot-putter then that's good enough for me. In order to level the playing field, for us squatty-type runners, he made mountains and canyons we could run down.

Here's a family picture from 2005. We're not exactly a genetically thin family.
I'm the one holding my daughter. My father and two brothers are next to me.

But, come on, it's not a real marathon. You could roll down that thing.

If the Boston Athletic Association says it's a qualifying marathon then that's good enough for me. Besides, have you ever run 15 miles down a steep canyon? I have. It's not as easy as it looks.

So you're seriously gonna count that as your BQ if you somehow finish in under 3:25?

Look, I have five kids. FIVE!!!!! Cut me some slack. And besides, If the Boston Athletic Association says it's a qualifying marathon then that's good enough for me.