marathon #20; TOU #7
splits: 6:31, 6:25, 6:28, 6:23, 6:26, 6:25, 6:19, 6:18, 6:27, 6:32, 6:24, 6:17, 6:22, 6:13, 6:13, 6:28, 6:18, 6:23, 7:03, 6:24, 6:25, 6:51, 6:56, 6:51, 6:57, 7:01, 1:27 (.2)
first half: 1:24:01 second half: 1:26:58
comparison to last year's race -- 2:51:11:
splits: 6:25, 6:30, 6:26, 6:28, 6:35, 6:24, 6:30, 6:21, 6:23, 6:27, 6:27, 6:27, 6:20, 6:15, 6:11, 6:25, 6:25, 6:25, 6:33, 6:41, 6:32, 6:53, 6:59, 6:53, 6:48, 1:27 (.2)
first half: 1:24:20 second half: 1:26:51
i signed up for TOU this year just a few days after i was diagnosed with a tibial stress fracture. my crutches were propped up next to me at my computer, and i was in a sulky mood about the circumstances. my time frame for recovery was 4-8 weeks, and i wasn't really sure how everything was going to play out. i had already missed a few spring races that i had signed up for and was on track to miss several more throughout the summer. i knew it was going to take some time for me to get back, but i was determined that i would be healthy enough to run TOU in september. i rode my bike to stay in shape throughout the month of june, then slowly started incorporating running again at the beginning of july. progress was slow at first, but i gradually increased my mileage throughout the rest of the summer, and was feeling hopeful that i could actually run a decent marathon in september.
i was mostly happy with the results of my races coming off my injury (one half marathon and several thousand 5ks), but my daily running wasn't going as well as i would have hoped. i was running with a constant "nagging" from my tibia. although i was certain it was fully healed, there was always that lingering soreness that had me worried i was going to do something horrible with just one wrong move. i continued on with my training and just hoped i could make it to the TOU starting line without any setbacks.
two weeks out: james caught me checking the 10-day weather outlook for logan. he told me that not only would the forecast change over that amount of time, but that i shouldn't spend my time worrying about things out of my control. i told him the weather was a very important factor -- if the weather was horrible, it would ruin the race. he told me that the weather wouldn't ruin the race, but it may require an adjustment of my goals to better match the conditions. i liked that attitude, but as much as i wanted to not worry about the weather anymore, i checked the forecast everyday (multiple times).
race day: rain, and lots of it. luckily, it wasn't very cold. just wet. really wet. there was a nice downpour about five minutes before the start that left everyone scrambling for cover under the tent. it was pure terror. screaming, scrambling, splashing. i wasn't terribly happy with these conditions, but i remembered what james had said and i was not going to let a little rain ruin the race. i didn't really want to adjust my goal, but i was prepared to do it if conditions worsened.
start: the rain settled down, and all of the soggy runners filed out of the tent to line up. spirits were still high, and the energy was buzzing. the moment had finally arrived -- my first marathon of the year. i was excited, somewhat dazed, and incredibly nervous. i tried to relax and stay focused on the journey ahead. my goal for the day was to run under 2:50, but i knew that was going to take a perfect race to pull it off.
i started off in the lead for the women, running next to seth (pcseth). i used the first mile to test out the pace and see how everything felt. i knew i had run a 6:25 opening mile last year; i came through in 6:31 this year. the pace felt very comfortable and i was much more relaxed and loose than i remember feeling last year. TOU added a new element to their race this year -- pace groups. i was excited to learn that they had a 2:50 pace group set up, with joe wilson as the leader (ran in the trials in '04; won SGM and ogden in '05). there were about 20 guys running with him -- seth and i were about 30 meters behind. we decided it would be a good idea to catch up to them, so we threw in a surge and joined the pack.
once in the pack, i quickly settled into their pace and felt very much at ease. they were rolling along right around 6:25 pace -- it felt smooth and comfortable. it wasn't long before the pack broke up into two pieces. this time 12 remained -- seth and markP included.
once i had fully warmed up, i got into a groove and really started to feel good. this was right around mile 5. the pace was still comfortable and i was getting into a good rhythm. joe decided that he was going to start entertaining us with byu vs. utah jokes. that evolved into chuck-norris-goes-to-byu jokes, which evolved further into some ridiculous but entertaining stories (something about urinating on the run and walruses). then joe started talking about pacing again, and told us that it was "every man for himself" in the final mile of the race. he told us to save the 5:15's we had in our back pockets for that final mile. someone responded with "oh no, i dropped mine at mile 4." now it was my turn to attempt a joke. i hesitated, but then went for it: "don't worry, we can purchase more fast miles at the maverick at mile 18. i did it last year." (silence). oh. no. (recover! recover!). "ahem. er. it was a joke." (silence). "sarcasm." (crickets). then someone burped, followed by a "right on, man." and...no more jokes from me for the rest of the race.
miles 8 - 13 went by really quickly. i was still in a good place and i was right on target with my splits for the 2:49. we crossed the halfway mark in 1:24:01 -- target split was 1:23:59, so i was pleased with this. it started raining pretty hard toward the canyon exit, but i was staying warm and we were still right on pace. the pack dwindled down to ten in these miles, and from there to the end it turned into the "and then there were none" game.
we exited the canyon and hit the first major crowd support area of the race at the turn onto hollow road. joe reminded us to stay in control and not let the energy of the crowd get us too exited -- we still had a long way to go. even with his pep talk, we were all feeling good and went through in 6:13. it was at this point that two more "back-up" pacers joined us -- two guys that joe used to coach was the only information i was able to gather. they were now labeled as the "two goons."
and then there were six...somewhere between the canyon exit and hollow road, we lost a few to bathroom stops, cramping, shoe tying, etc. we also picked up a few more ahead of us that we had reeled in. joe encouraged them to latch on, which they did. from this point on until the end of the race, joe took "roll call" every mile. allie? here. tim? here. matt? here? drew? here. etc. each time we lost someone it was kind of sad -- matt? silence. matt? oh shoot. and then there were five...
we ran through another downpour in the middle of hollow road, and now it was certain that i was soaked from head to toe. our shoes were squeaking on the pavement and we were all kicking water up off the ground into each other's faces. we made the turn off hollow road and onto the straight highway towards the maverick. i said nothing.
miles 19 - finish are definitely the hardest miles of the race, not just in the sense that it's the end of the race, but that the course is significantly harder than anything before it. the road starts to incline ever so slightly, and tired legs are very good at detecting the uphill. the course also starts turning/winding a bit through the neighborhoods, and it really makes you work.
and then there were three...myself, tim and drew were the only ones that remained in the pack at mile 22, along with joe and the two goons (i didn't get their real names, and they seemed fine with calling themselves that, so i will too). we were all struggling here, evident by the fact that we were no longer running in a tight pack and the moans and groans increased significantly. joe finally broke all of us somewhere in mile 23. we all slowly started to fade back from him, each one of us spacing out a little further from the other. and then there were none...
joe took off with goon #1, and i was just behind goon #2. i called out to him for help, telling him he needed to get me to main street because i needed to see my family. he said okay and then sped up. i tried to stay with him as much as i could, but i was hurting. he kept turning and yelling "come on allie!" -- over and over. even though i wasn't responding pace-wise, this was extremely helpful for me. he finally slowed down and let me catch up a bit, but as soon as i caught him he took off again. even though i was frustrated i couldn't go with him, he was doing just what i wanted him to do. he was keeping me going. he was not interested in jogging my pace to the finish -- he was going to make me fight to the end, and that's what i wanted (he was keeping my hopes for a PR alive -- sub-2:50 is a stretch at this point, but still possible).
right on cue, my family appeared at the base of the hill on main street. every year they are there and it always amazes me how much this energizes me. they were all there cheering and holding sweet (as in nice, not as in sweeeeet) signs. it's always an amazing boost to see familiar faces, if only for a brief moment. i had all but fallen apart at this point, but somehow i managed to put my sloppy form together and make it up the hill. i rode that small wave of energy to the turn on 300 north, but then i lost it again. the good news: only one mile to go. the bad news: it felt like five. my hands were tingling, my head was spinning and my calves felt like they were on the verge of exploding. one more push up a small incline and then a short little downhill -- the second cheering location for my family. i pushed with everything i had to crest the hump and see them at the bottom. i came slapping down the hill wearing my latest grimace and saw james and the rest of my family standing at the bottom. the motorcylce was right in front of me with its flashing lights, and at that moment everything became calm and quiet in my head. it was finally certain that i would finish this race in once piece. an overwhleming sense of relief came over me, and my emotions started churning.
two turns to the finish -- turn #1 and you see the 26 mile marker, turn #2 and you are on the home stretch to the finish line. the sub-2:50 was long gone (clock was ticking at 2:50:28), but i heard james screaming at me that i could still PR if i pushed, pushed, pushed. i felt like i was standing still, but i was watching that clock tick off its seconds and i wanted the sub-2:51 no matter what. i crossed the line right at 2:50:59. the clock was kind enough to give me the one second, but it's a 2:51. 12 seconds faster than last year.
i crossed the line and just sort of walked straight through everything in a daze. i went over to the gatorade/water table looking for something to drink, feeling very emotional. i then saw james coming toward me and couldn't hold it together anymore. i started crying uncontrollably. i have never in my life felt that emotional after a marathon -- i was a soaking wet crybaby with blue lips. quite a sight indeed.
post race thoughts: i did not meet my goal today of running 2:50, but i am positive that i couldn't have gone any faster in those final few miles. the end-of-a-marathon slow down happened. i rolled with it the best that i could, but i was at my limit. maybe i could have gone out faster in the first half, but i suspect i would have had even more of a slow down in the second half with that strategy. the split comparisons at the beginning of the report are just to help me see the differences between my race this year and last year. i definitely faded more this year in the final miles, but i had a stronger first half. this follows exactly what i suspected would be the case -- i think i have better base speed this year but lack the endurance due to the training that i missed this summer. overall, i am extremely happy. conditions weren't ideal, but they weren't awful either -- i was actually very comfortable for most of the race (the wet shoes and socks weren't my favorite though).
i would be remiss if i didn't give a shout-out to the many people who were there for me today -- my family went above and beyond to come see me race, driving two hours in the dark and rainy morning. they were all there cheering enthusiastically and showing their support. i was truly humbled by this, and i deeply appreciated their support. james -- he is so positive and sensible about everything -- he offers a lot of encouragement when i start rambling off my doubts and fears. he also endured my whining for the past two weeks about the weather ("what if it rains at TOU? i will probably die"). he had a sweet (as in sweeeet) race today, and i was very proud of him.
i also need to thank pacer joe wilson, the two goons, and everyone who worked together in the 2:50 pace group. everyone did a great job of encouraging and motivating each other, and joe was phenomenal in his pacing abilities -- he finished in 2:50:01.
TOU does a great job with this race every year, which is why i have come back seven times in a row. i love everything about the race. it is so well-organized and the course provides a nice mix of enjoyment and turmoil. it's a challenge for sure, but every year i learn a little bit more.
i'm extremely grateful that i had the opportunity to run today. i feel very fortunate to have been able to come back from this injury and get to a place where i felt confident that i could get through a marathon without re-injuring myself. i have definitely learned a lot from this injury, both from an attitude standpoint, as well as how i need to approach my training in the future. my biggest goal out there is to qualify for the olympic trials, but i know i need more time (as in years). i'm just not at that level, and i'm not sure i will ever get there but it's still fun to think about. a 12 second PR is a very small step, but it is indeed a step. i'll just keep trying to chip away at that -- accomplishing the smaller goals (sub-18:00 5k) as i work toward the larger ones (telling jokes that are well-received).
-herald journal article
-photos of the race