Tuesday, September 4, 2012
My Idaho Marathon
To begin, I have to go back about 8 weeks. I had a horrible run/time in Montana and my mental game for marathon running was practically destroyed. As anyone who runs marathon knows, and especially those who do several a year, your mental game is just as, if not more important than being physically trained.
Right after the race in Montana my dad said "Okay are you ready to listen to me again?"
You would think that having already run 33 marathons that I would know everything I needed to do. The problem is, and it started gradually. Although I didn't necessarily need to put in as many long runs (compared to runners who only do 1-2 a year). Since my long runs are the marathons. Instead slowly I had relaxed too much on my weekly "maintain" runs. I would get tired and shorten the run, skip a day.... At first it was unnoticeable, but gradually over months and by the time I got to Montana, it became obvious that I didn't do what I needed to do, to have a good race... and this equals lots and lots of pain... Too much!
So 8 weeks ago I started listening to my dad and forced myself up in the 5 and 6am hours to go out and put in double the weekly mileage I had been running weeks prior. Didn't really do any speed work, but I did time a few 6 & 8 milers and I knew especially on my 6 miler I was now running it in the time I was previously running 5. So going into the Idaho marathon I was feeling a bit more positive and slowly the mental portion of running was coming back and getting better.
Injuries, well they were something I had been working at for weeks to overcome. I had a previous new pair or running shoes that had a slightly lower hill than I was used too. I had used them 2 months hoping my body would get used to them. Instead all I got was a bit of tendinitis in the back of my ankles from it. Made for painful uphill running, that was for sure.
However, a week before the race at a wedding I had injured my left foot (also the same foot with the ankle and the worst tendinitis). Every step I took was considerably painful, and I wasn't exactly sure what was wrong. I just did the ice, Naproxin and rest method, but even up until the night before I was still stepping in pain.
On top of all of that, I was an idiot and accidentally cut open my left foot (same one with all the other issues, naturally) just a few days before the race.
Despite all of this, I just figured the worst that could happen for the cut was my shoe would fill up with blood. And I figured the other injuries would just hurt a bit and I hoped that the pain would go bad and numb early on and not bother me... (In hope)
On a good note, my hip bursitis and tendinitis might finally be on the end of the mending process:)
I woke up at 4am the morning of the Pocatello Marathon, got myself ready, ate a bagel breakfast and headed out the door. The bus pick-up was literally right next to my hotel so I hardly had to walk much at all to get to it. I hopped on the bus and took the short drive to the start. On the way I sat next to a nice lady from Colorado, Barbra. Who turned out to be an artist and world traveler. I ended up hanging out with her until the race started, and really enjoyed chatting about different marathons around the country/world and some of the places she has visited in her travels.
After the singing of the Star Spangled Banner, the race began. Being 6:15am the sun wasn't up just yet, but the sky was taking on that dark bluish purple in the east signaling the sun was on the way.
We began at Buckskin Summit, then onto Hoot Owl Road Little Irland. The first few miles the sky began getting lighter and lighter. We were up in the mountains after a night before with rain. So the clouds were sitting fluffy and wispy up above and hanging around in the lower pockets of the mountains with the mountain tops poking out. The mountains were beautiful, lots of dry yellow from an obviously hot summer. But also lots of beautiful green pine tree's and Aspens and small streams and water pockets along the course. Your lungs filled with the strong smell of sagebrush at several points, I swear the sagebrush in some areas was some of the tallest I have ever seen.
From there we headed through the McNabb Triangle and past Rapid Creek Raceway, Sunflower Mile and Cheop's Corner.
The first half of the course was mostly a downhill course, I believe they said we would drop 1,500 feet. I took the first few miles out a little slower than normal just to let my legs wake up gradually to the running. Plus, with my tendinitis I already learned in weeks of training that gradually getting my ankles into was the best thing for them. I picked it back up to a normal pace by mile 3 and ran as I had been taught by my dad to avoid killing my quads on the downhill.
It worked I was feeling great! Not only that, but the first half of the run the temperature was absolutely perfect for running. Slightly cool with the slightest breeze. Plus, the sun was covered early on by white and purplish rain clouds that had lingered from the rains the night before.
Running down the canyon was fun and like I said before beautiful. Clearly Elk territory, but I didn't see a single sign of any wild animals. Just the occasional farmers horses or sheep herds on the mountainside and birds and ducks playing in the little streams and rivers.
I was actually surprised at how beautiful the course was, I wasn't expecting to enjoy the scenery so much.
The volunteers were friendly and the water stops were great, after having so many issues back in Hawaii with water stops, this is one of the things that makes or breaks a race for me. But this race did good. My only complaint was when I did decide to take on a little of the Powerade, it wasn't mixed very good. So rather than bring on possible stomach issues, I just decided to stick with plain water most of the race.
Eventually we came out of the canyon and things pretty much leveled off for a few miles. Around mile 10, I had really started feeling good. My legs were still feeling fresh and I was still feeling pretty great. None of my injuries had bothered me even the slightest, today was turning out to be fabulous!
I remember when I got to mile 15, I was thinking about how good I was feeling. Remembering my last 2 races in comparison I was seriously in much better condition and I was actually loving running again. From here we were in area's called Cammy's Connection and Portneuf Gap.
Now around mile 19 I passed a lady and she came up to me right after and asked if I would run with her for a little while. She was struggling big time and in a lot of pain. My first thought was no, but maybe I am too nice. I figured, well it's not like I am going to win, so what is a little of my time.... Her pace was considerably slower than mine, I probably lost I figure about 5-7 minutes in the couple of miles I stayed with her. She was very nice, I enjoyed talking with her. She was actually finishing her 49th marathon, we discovered that we had run a few of the exact same races together this past year and we chatted about how much we loved running Alaska. She gave me tips on some other great races and I passed on a few to her.
Eventually I was trying to think of a nice way of saying, I am going to go without you now. Right after a bit hill around mile 21, she started cramping up and said she was going to stop and stretch. So I used that as my time to break away.
Mile 22, I was still feeling pretty good. The 2nd half of the course was I would call rolling hills, there was only 1 really big uphill. A few of the uphill stretches went on for a mile or so, but it was gradual uphill. Just stuff to tire you out, not flat out exhaust ya.
Even once out of the canyon the course was still pretty. We crossed back and forth under I-15 a few times, but once out and away from the interstate it was just country road running, mountains to the sides.
I felt like I was getting my 3rd wind again around Mile 22, and I really felt good. (Now when I say I felt good, yes I was in pain and my legs were getting tired, my lungs were starting to really feel the day. But overall, with all things considered I was doing MUCH, MUCH better than I normally have been at this point.
So I pushed it a little more, as I had been trying to push it more than normal at several points in the race. But to be able to push it and do more with 3-4 miles to go, for me that was a huge mental HOOORAYY. Because lets just say, in the past 2 marathons before this one. At this point I remember thinking in my mind, oh just get me to the finish before I die or collapse, so actually feeling good was just showing that listening to my dad and putting in all the extra training miles paid off!
It was then I knew, or just completely agreed with everything my dad had said. If you want to run marathons, and not hate all the miles in the 2nd half, you have to put the work in beforehand, in other words you have to put the miles in and not cut corners. (Duh, you would think I would know this by now:)
Mile 24 - 25 I had a few struggles, but they came and went enough that I got what I needed to make the final push to the end. When I was running along the lava cliffs and I could hear the race finish on the other side of the cliff's at Ross Park, it both gave me more energy and made me wish I was on the other side:)
When I came around the last corner and the guy said "only 400 meters left" (Just FYI he lied it was closer to 800 meters). But just knowing I was close, I picked up the pace and figured why not just push it more. I was already hurting, it wasn't going to hurt anymore to push it a little to get it over with a minute or two sooner.
Eventually I passed my cheering mom as I had about 170 meters to go, and I could see the green finish banner finally getting a little closer and closer. Then I finished, and for once in a long time I didn't want to just find a place to sit and try not to die. If needed I could have kept running, and that thought just made me feel good about myself.
I have to also mention, my Garmin had broke and I didn't end up taking on out on this marathon. This was the first time I haven't ran with my Garmin in a race since I started this 50 states + D.C. goal. So although I am pretty good at guessing my round about pace without it, my internal clock can still be off a bit. The fact that they didn't yell out pace times during this course, I really wasn't exactly sure on what my time was going to be. So I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the finish clock.
My time wasn't wonderfully great (not great enough to mention in this post, LOL), but considering how bad it was the past 2 marathons, I was extremely thrilled. To show how far I have come from my last race, I realized when writing this post I ran this race 45 minutes faster than my last. So obvious improvement!!!! I still have a ways to go, I would like to cut my time down another 30 minutes by later this fall.
So as soon as my body, which is seriously sore pretty much everywhere and some places worse than others, has time to recover I want to get back into it keeping the mileage up, and maybe get a week or so of speed training in. I have a little less than 4 weeks before my next marathon, and after that I will be running one every other week to every week. Yup I have a pretty crazy fall schedule, and there won't be any room for working on improvement then, so it's whatever I can do in basically the next 3 weeks that will count.
As for the goal count, I am 27 states completed, and this was my 34th marathon overall. I keep getting asked by people and even runners who I meet in the races (4 people just in this race), this one very common question.
"Does it get any easier, when you do so many?" Well in case anyone reading this is curious about that question, I will answer it. NOPE, 26.2 miles is always hard and tiring, and it always hurts. Just like anyone who runs marathons, some days are better than others, but the pain is ALWAYS there.
HOWEVER, there are a few things that because I do so many I may differ from others who are only running 1 or 2 a year. I do feel like my body is learning to recover faster. I can go out and start running again (depending on the race course) a couple of days to a week after a race (forcing myself to ignore the tired feeling and all the aches). (This race was hilly and lots of downhill so my legs are shredded, I may take 5 days off running to recover correctly before I can start running again.)
I also think I learn to accept and adjust with the pain better. I know each race is going to hurt before going into it, and I am getting better and better at ignoring the hurt and getting through the bad moments to finish a race (which is the ultimate goal, after all running all these races in different states costs a small fortune. I would hate to have a DNF and have to re-do the state).
Most importantly and not especially after this race, I have learned a lot. I know what I need to keep doing, so that I will continue to enjoy running. Because to be honest, when you are not enjoying running it takes a lot more effort to get through a marathon. When you are enjoying it, you tend to get through the bad moments faster. So here's to doing what I need to do, and not allowing myself to drop back on the weekly mileage so I can continue to enjoy all moments of my marathon 50 states + D.C. goal!!!