I survived. It was very tough. Went slow out of necessity vs. practicality.
The Full Recap, Marathon #18:
I drove into Garden City from Salt Lake City Thursday afternoon. Upon seeing Bear Lake for the first time as I crested a hill I could not believe how huge it was. I don't know what I thought a 50 mile perimeter lake would look like, but I guess I didn't think it would look that huge. I thought about the notion of running around the entire thing and felt a little ill.
My first views of Bear Lake
Friday morning I was up before the alarm to head over to Garden City Park to pick up my race number. There were about 70 runners which was actually a lot more than I had been expecting. Things were VERY low-key. There had been lots of rain-talk from the weather forecasters. Though the sky was very overcast it seemed that the rain would hold off until after the race. It was a little chilly. I'm guesstimating it was in the low 40's at the start.
The race started and off we went. I had decided I would walk 0.1 miles every two miles for as long as I could hold out. I could feel myself breathing harder than normal for the effort level I was giving and said, "Hello!" to my new friend, Altitude. I'd say the first 3 walk breaks, I didn't really need and I forced myself to take in order to keep things low key. But this all ended at mile 7 when I took an "unplanned" walk break early. I think that from that point on, I took a 0.1 mile walk break every single mile.
Since the race was so spread out, after the first 8 miles or so I was pretty much all alone. There were two other runners I kept leap-frogging with as we took staggered walk breaks here and there. The roads were not closed to traffic so we were instructed to run on the left side of the road, facing oncoming traffic. We were in the busiest section of town early on in the day (race start at 6 am) so the cars didn't bother me. They were going fairly fast (55 mph on some stretches) but were all fairly considerate. Early on in the race the shoulder by the road was dirt and I tried to stay on it as much as possible to make things easier on my legs.
The weather was perfect for running! Super overcast and very cool. I had debated whether or not to wear gloves and had decided to leave them in my check bag. For a few miles once I got warmed up, I was very happy with this decision. Then a crisp breeze started up and my hands slowly but surely froze. The rest of my body felt fine, but my hands were SO cold. I had to try to pull down my arm warmers to cover as much of my hands as possible. Apparel Planning Fail.
There were aid stations every 3 miles and we were told there were going to be portapotties every 3 miles as well. The first 9 miles I'd say there were indeed portapotties along the side of the road every few miles. Why do I bring this up? According to my running log, I've run almost 7,500 miles since I started keeping track. I am going to estimate that is probably over 1,500 different runs. I can literally count on ONE HAND the number of times I have stopped to use the bathroom in the middle of a run. I consider it a great gift of mine as a runner. Once I get going, any urge to use the bathroom is squelched and suppressed. I have often arrived at the start of the run needing to go fairly badly, but once I start running I can last 2-3 hours without even a whimper from my bladder.
I noticed that even though it was very cool (my hands were frozen solid) I was drinking a lot of water. I chocked this up to my now enemy, Altitude. I figured all was well. I made sure I filled up my handheld at aid stations more diligently. Right around mile 10 I felt like I had to pee. I figured since I was taking it slow I would stop at the next portapotty I saw. A few miles went by and I figured I'd see one soon. A few more miles went by and there was nothing. By this time I really had to go and was still drinking down water like a camel. I didn't come across a portapotty until mile 18 or so! Gah! For a little while I thought the blue portapotty in the distance was a mirage. I even asked my two fellow leap-froggers if that was indeed a portapotty in the distance. For the first time ever in a marathon, I stopped to take a quick pee.
The wheels totally fell off around mile 18-19. I walked when I needed to and ran when I could. It sucked. My two leapfrog friends pulled away into the distance, never to be seen again. There was a deep-seated fatigue in my legs I can only attribute to Altitude. It was demoralizing to be feeling so low on day one.
I'd love to say I took it really easy but truth be told I was pretty much doing the best I could out there.
I kept thinking about how hard it was and how I had to do it all again tomorrow.
I didn't mention it before, but there were no mile markers on the course. I have never been so happy to have a Garmin. Of course, there was no way to know if the course was measuring long against my Garmin measurement. One of the race directors was manning the last aid station. He yelled some encouragement to me as I passed by. I thought he mentioned the number "3." I had no idea what he was talking about. My Garmin was reading 24ish miles at this point and I kept thinking, "Did he say I have three miles to go?!" "Or was he saying less than three miles?" "Or did he not even say 'three?!'" It drove me nutty. I was thinking of trying to run the last mile but wasn't sure if I'd get to 26.2 on my Garmin and still be nowhere near the finish.
Eventually I got close to 26 miles on Garmin and noticed, could that be? Yes, it is a group of people standing in the middle of the road up ahead! I cursed the fact I wasn't aware the finish was so close and ran the rest of the way. Talk about a low-key finish to a low-key race! There was not even a line drawn on the ground to indicate the finish line. Finish time: 5:21 (Sidenote: Garmin ended up measuring 26.23 miles)
A women at the finish line pointed out Garden City across the lake from us. "You ran all the way from there over here!" she exclaimed. I didn't realize it at the time, but it hit me later that I have never run a marathon before where you could trace the entire course from the finish (this was only the case the first day, not the second). Let me tell you, when you see 26.2 miles laid out like that, it is a freakin' far way to go!
We ran clockwise.
Before the race at packet pickup we were given this awesome shirt:
After crossing the finish I was handed this medal:
Last year, I read that people got the same medal both days. It was nice to know we'd be getting two different medals.
Of course, the above two things pretty much made it NOT AN OPTION to not finish the second marathon the day after. I even emailed my parents after the race and said, "When I think about doing it again tomorrow I want to cry. We got cool shirts & medals today though that said we did the double so there is no way I am not finishing tomorrow."
After taking a shower and eating lunch I pondered how to kill time in good 'ole Garden City.
I had sort of imagined myself sitting lakeside reading books or knitting, but the foul weather erased that option (the rain broke right around the time I got back to the hotel). So I decided the next smartest thing to do was to visit Minnetonka Cave.
Because you know, this:
is the best thing to tackle when you're recovering from, and resting for a marathon the next day.
Another man in my tour group was doing the marathon the next day. He hadn't done the Idaho 26.2 but was a Marathon Maniac and had just done one in Wyoming the week before (more on this later). I asked him if he had done doubles before and he said he had finished within 10 minutes of his first day time the second day. I told him, "I'd be estatic if I finished within 10 minutes of my time tomorrow!"
My legs were tired but not marathon-day sore. They felt like I had perhaps done a hard tempo run earlier. That type of tiredness. I was able to walk up and down all the steps in the tour normally. Marathon Maniac man even commented that I was moving really well for having just done a marathon. The only section that really got me was those 71 steep stairs.
When I got to the top of these stairs, I was breathing so hard from Altitude and my heart was beating faster than I think it ever has in my life! Gah!
From the cave, I drove back to Garden City Park to pick up my number for the Utah edition the next day.
To be continued...