Thursday night we had our fantastic book club selection night. We had a great turnout, and by the time the night was over, we had eaten our way through a whole cake and a pan of Ina's Outrageous Brownies. We'd presented our books (over 70 in all) and voted for them, and then when everyone else went home, Lyn and I slogged through the votes and picked our reading lineup for the next year. It's a great lineup and I'll post it in just a little while.
But I was so excited after all of the women left that I went to bed late. Very late.
Friday morning dawned very early. I got the big kids off to school, the little kids off to my friend Annie's house (thanks, Annie!) and got on the plane. I keep forgetting how relaxing and easy it is to travel all by myself. I read and slept and generally had a nice time. Then I got to Vegas, jumped in the car and drove to St. George. Sheree and I stayed at her husband's grandma's house, and it was so nice to have a quiet place to stay. Once she arrived we picked up our packets and drove the race course. Then we came home and had a pasta dinner (Sheree took great care of me!) and went to bed.
Saturday morning dawned even earlier than Friday morning. Let's face it, 4:15 am just isn't morning. It's night. But that's when Sheree and I woke up, got dressed (me in a fancy orange flowered running skirt!), tossed down some bananas and protein shakes and headed for the buses. We got to the starting line about an hour before the race started. Although it had been sprinkling a little bit down in the valley, it was raining hard 26.2 miles up the canyon. Sheree came through again with space blankets and hand warmers and we spent our time either standing by the fire or waiting in the bathroom lines (usually I spend as little time as possible in the portapotties, but I was happy for my time in them at this race because at least they were dry!). The hour seemed to pass quickly, and pretty soon it was time for the race to start. I found the 3:20 pace group (our leader, Darris, was featured in last month's Runner's World article about pace groups). I also hooked up with Bode, my friend Rebecca's brother-in-law, who was shooting for a Boston Qualifying time of 3:15. We decided to run together to see if we could get him to Boston to run with me and Rebecca.
When the gun went off, it was dark and wet. Everyone was tossing off their warm clothes and garbage bags and space blankets everywhere. For the first couple miles, it took all of my effort just not to trip. Several people did. I cast off my warmup pants at the beginning of the race, but kept the t-shirt on until four miles into the race.
Really, there's not that much for me to write about the race itself. In the past, I've noticed a lot about the scenery, the runners around me, and the terrain. This time I was in a zone. It finally started to get light right about the time we hit the Veyo Canyon hill (mile seven). It was big, but we took it well. Bode was a great running companion, he reminded me to slow down when we were taking things too fast, but he really pushed me on the flats. Around mile 15, I started to notice the surroundings and said something like, "oh, it's kind of pretty here." Duh, this is one of the most scenic marathons in America. Seriously, though, I could have been on a treadmill for all I noticed it for the first 3/4 of the race.
Bode and I stayed together until about mile 17 or 18, when he needed to stretch a cramping muscle. I thought he was going to stretch quickly and catch up again, so I kept going to keep the pace. Unfortunately, I never saw him again.
The change I've noticed the most over the course of the three marathons I've run this year is how my stamina has improved. At my first marathon, the whole second half was really hard and the last six miles were agonizing. At the second marathon, I felt good until I had four miles to go, but it took some serious effort (self-talk, praying, visualization, begging) to get me through to the end. Yesterday, I felt great right until I saw a sign that said "seven blocks to go" and realized those were seven freaking long blocks. I got passed by several guys after we rounded the last corner. I was excited to see Rebecca about a block from the finish line, cheering me on. Next time, I hope to have enough left in the bank that I can pour it on at the finish!
Anyway, I came across the line in 3:16. That's 11 minutes better than my time at Country Music in April, but I've read that people generally do about 5-7 minutes better at St. George than at other races, so my actual improvement is probably somewhere in the 4-6 minute range. I was 12th in my age group and the 50th woman overall. There's a cool stat sheet on the website, and I was stoked to discover that I finished ahead of 89% of the male finishers. Yes, I realize I'm bragging.
The finish line was cold. Running for more than 3 hours in the rain (sometimes sprinkling and sometimes stinging, but always raining) finally caught up with me. I started the same kind of uncontrollable shivering that I always get after I have a baby. The ice cream I ate probably didn't help (although it tasted great!). I got a massage (heaven!) and one of Rebecca's daughters gave up her blanket for me. Bode finished at 3:35, and although I felt bad that I hadn't helped him get to Boston, I'm guessing he would have been even more frustrated if we had run all the way to the finish line together and he missed the qualifying time by 45 seconds. I found my friend Cara and her husband, and we all cheered as Sheree came through the finish line. She did a fantastic job and shaved of 45 minutes from her last marathon time!
We got back to the house with just enough time for me to shower, toss my stuff in my backpack, and drive to Vegas. I got a pizza from Wolfgang Puck's and some chocolates from Ethel's and reveled in the silence of a solo flight with a whole row to myself. I read a whole book (The Mother in Me, which you should read too!) and got home at 10pm to find three of the four kids still up and waiting for me and Eddie relieved to pass the baton.
Yesterday was my first St. George Marathon, but I certainly hope it wasn't my last. I was planning to take a several-months break after the race, but I've decided that I don't want to lose my current level of fitness and even if I don't race again until Boston (oh yeah, I qualified for 2010), I'm going to keep up the training. Another advantage is the lack of soreness. I hardly feel sore today!
I'll put up some pictures once I can get Rebecca to upload them. I had a Shot Blok in my mouth every single time the race photographers shot pictures (I took them every other mile at even intervals) and I doubt the pro pictures are going to be great if I have pink teeth.