Beginning with a forty-five minute ride, just long enough to allow the nervous butterflies to settle, on a no seat-belt, cold leather, rattling windows, I-rode-in-this-vehicle-everyday-my-6th-to-8th-grade-years classic yellow school bus, I arrived at the starting line at 5,240 ft of elevation, for the St George Marathon at 5am, with 59 of my classmates, er... fellow runners. :)
With a 6:45am start time, and 7,600 runners to transport 26.2 miles outside of town, early arrival at our shuttle-busses was encouraged with prize incentives, and I was game to get to the start early, to relax, drink some hot coffee, and mentally prepare myself for the long run ahead. A fellow runner and smart-phone owner provided us with a temperature update as we arrived in Central, Utah, the starting location of our race, and informed us that it was 27 degrees. Hm. "Okay," I thought, "maybe I should have worn a pair of sweats..." Stepping off the bus, I was hit with 20 mile an hour sustained winds pushing me back down the hill, away from the start. I laughed.
The race volunteers were prepared with mylar blankets, gloves, and hot beverages for those of us early up on the hill. I will be forever grateful for those shiny plastic blankets. Who knew that one thin layer would keep my upper body so warm for so long? I quickly made friends standing behind a trailer to stay out of the wind, sipping my hot coffee; we had plenty of time to get to know one another and relax that chilly early morning. There was no Moon, and the race would not begin until dawn broke.
Just as the sun started adding a blue tint to the dark black of night, occasionally through gusts of wind, I could hear someone singing the National Anthem. The race was about to begin! Unfortunately, I was in line for the restroom. You know, before the race, when everyone decides to make one last potty stop? I was in back of that line.
In fact, this race wins the medal for "The Most Unfortunate Circumstances" at the start of any race I have ever participated in. 1. I started coming down with a cold the Wednesday before the race. 2. The eggs I cracked and started to cook for my pre-race meal had worms in them... Ew! (The up-side? There were more eggs, sans worms. I cooked and ate those ones!) 3. It was cold and SO WINDY!!! I stood two hours, bouncing and dancing around to keep my legs warm (my feet did go numb) before the race began. 4. I made it through the pre-race restroom line with plenty of time to spare only to discover my 'Moon time' had begun, go figure, right before the longest race I have ever done; I laughed (What's a girl to do?) Fortunately, I found a kind, prepared woman who saved my day with some equipment.
After all of the obstacles, I somehow managed to get through the restroom line again, strip off my warm layers, drop them off at the U-Haul, and then had to wait a few minutes (I had time to spare!) to cross the start line with the 4:45 pace group at about five till seven, exactly where I wanted to be in the mass of runners.
Even when the unexpected happened again and again on race day, everything worked out fine!
The course was beautiful. Spectacular. I met a runner moving at my pace before I had even run a mile, and we decided there at the beginning to stick together for the full 26.2. We were constantly amazed by the amount of aid stations on this course. The St George Marathon was incredibly supported. While the overall event is largely on a deserted (beautiful) highway, every two miles there was a fully stocked and staffed aid station, and after mile 19 they appeared every mile!
Utah's mountains and rolling rocky hills were a sight to behold.
Yvonne, my new marathon friend, kept the positive vibe the whole way, and I am SO grateful that I met her and that she chose to spend most of the race with me! She has so much stamina, and a great athleticism that she has yet to fully step into. (Let's just say she had a 3 mile kick and left me 10 minutes behind in the dust... Amazing!!!). I fully expect that when we meet for our 'destination marathon' she will totally kick my butt. ;)
All I wanted at the end of that race was my protein bar (above, in hand), a shower, and a nap. I was exhausted! (and a little cranky).
But... I did it! I ran the St George Marathon.
I ran a marathon...
I am a Marathoner.
Thank you Grampa for all your encouragement and advising: while training, before the race, and after (how to stretch, shake-out, and teaching me to get the pictures so I can remember this event forever and post them in my blog). ;) I had a great experience doing this race, regardless of all the unexpected surprises. Thanks also to Mom for answering all my other training questions. Without you two, I probably would have still made it, but certainly would have been less confident about running so far. I hope to have the opportunity to run a marathon with both of you, soon. And thanks Granma Cj for all your support, insight into your marathon experiences, your lightheartedness and giggles, helping me get the 'right' color of nail polish for the race, and feeding me and making me well again post-race.
Thanks also to all my runner buddies and Saturday's Run group! You are not just the gals I run with, you're great friends, and I am so lucky to have you all in my life.
So, here's to the next race!
Where is your next race? For me ...? Something at sea-level... :)
with joy in running, ~Alaina