Monday, June 17, 2013

How I peed away my goal at the Utah Valley Marathon and why I don't care...

My stated goal for the 2013 Utah Valley Marathon was 3:54. That's not the goal I peed away. It's the 4-hour goal that eluded me by 55 seconds. Here's how it all went down.

First off, I executed my plan to near perfection with just two important glitches: (1) I foolishly said I could easily run a 1:55 half marathon the second half. Luckily, I was not foolish enough to try it when I realized I could not back up my boast; (2) I urinated five times and made a porta-potty stop in the first 13 miles.


I ate well the three days before the marathon and drank well on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday included a long drive, so I didn't drink too much during the day. At night, however, I drank two gigantic Powerades. Since I didn't have to go to the bathroom during the night--I slept from 10 p.m. - 3 a.m.--I figured I needed a little more hydration, so I slammed a glass of water and two Vitamin Waters. Of course, once you get to the starting line, there's plenty of Powerade begging to be drunk.

I met some new friends who I'll never see again and warmed myself by a fire. I warmed up nicely, got the legs loose and went to the bathroom a few times. I figured it was just nerves. Then the race started.

Miles 1-7: My plan had me stealing these miles, and I did. Unfortunately, I stopped four times in the first seven miles to urinate. I decided to run right behind the 3:55 pacer. The first two times I stopped, he would get ahead and I would catch up mostly, but then I'd have to go again and by the fourth stop he was farther ahead than I wished to catch up to. I convinced myself that going slower here was a good idea, so I just kept with the plan and finished the first seven miles in about 62 minutes.

That was two minutes slower than I wanted and 4.5 minutes slower than last year, but I was fine. I had stuck to my plan and considering the pee breaks, I was at just the pace that would allow me to finish well. There were quite a few runners ahead of me that I knew I'd be passing later in the race. That's a good feeling.

Hi everyone!
Miles 8-13.1: The long hill at miles 8-9 were a lot easier this year. That may be because they switched sides of the road to run on or it may be I had planned my training runs so that mile 7 meant going up an annoying hill. It's probably both. I only had to stop to urinate once during this section and I rolled in to the halfway point at a shade over 1:58. Perfect. Except I was about to poop my pants.

It's time for an interlude. Because I was an expert, having run the race before, I dispensed important advice to my fellow marathoners. And that advice was if you can hold it, wait until the halfway point to use the port-a-potties. There's a ton of them at the half marathon start. This advice became even more relevant since the course had no other port-a-potties. Apparently, the race director drove the course with the port-a-pottie provider the day before the race, but the port-a-potties were never delivered. Sounds a little fishy to me.

Anyhow, at mile 10, I needed a port-a-pottie. Bad. I was able, fortunately, to will my bowels and follow my pre-race advice to hold it until the half marathon start, which I did. Thankfully. You have no idea what a glorious site it was to round the bend and see a huge line of sea green port-a-potties lining the road. It was angelic.

I stumbled out of the port-a-pottie refreshed and lightened--physically, emotionally and mentally. The contrast from last year's race was stark. Last year, I availed myself of the port-a-pottie as a precaution and crossed the half-way point in under 1:57. But I was toasted. I had run it too fast and was dreading the second half.

This year's race, I hit the half way mark at 2:01 feeling absolutely fantastic and ready to crush the second half.

Miles13.1-21: I spotted the 4-hour pacer about a minute ahead and sped up to catch up to her. When I got there, I liked the pace she was running and tagged along for the next seven miles. I don't remember much from this section other than passing hundreds and hundreds of runners who had made the same mistake I'd made last year. I was experiencing a runner's high. I recall the pacer turning around and telling me I was strong on the hills. That was nice of her.

There was no wall at mile 20. There would be no wall.

Dang, I'm handsome!
Miles 21-24: At mile 21, the pacer stopped to drink water. I took off. I felt strong but tired a bit as mile 24 approached.

Miles 24-26.2: Aw heck! I slowed down. My hamstrings started to cramp and the 4-hour pacer passed me. I laid in wait at mile 25. I needed to finish the last 1.2 miles in 10 minutes. Part of my long run training involved 10-minute bursts at 8-minute mile pace or faster. I had this. Unfortunately, about 10 steps into my burst, my right hamstring cramped and I had to slow down. Dang!

The Finish Line: Ha! Ha! Hee! Hee! I made it. I sprinted the last half-mile and crossed with both hamstrings cramping pretty good. The second half took two hours. That's right: a negative split. I passed over 250 individuals the second half of the race.

Well Done!


  1. Dude. Awesome report and great job on the race! You can definitely do a sub 4 marathon. You are right there!! Next time pee faster :)

  2. Ugh, so sorry about the hamstring cramping (and of course all the peeing issues)! Nonetheless, you executed this race really smartly. Congrats! You learn something from every one, right?