When the alarm of my daughter running down the hall at 2:30 am to get milk was happening, I knew it was going to be a great day. After a year of training, I finished my second marathon and lived to tell you all about it. The good, the bad, and the ugly. People, a marathon is serious stuff and for some reason, I think I got the bug. But, will I do another marathon after this?
I set my alarm for 3:00 so that I would make it to the buses at 4:00, but my daughter had different plans for me. When I wake up, it takes me a bit to fall back to sleep—especially when I have a race to get to. When race day arrives, I do everything I can to get my bowels moving. I don’t like using the bathroom during the race, but I do it. I’m not about to crap my pants just to get a better time.
As I got in the car to head to the bus pick up it finally hit me. I was finally doing what I had been training for this entire year. A marathon is the real deal and here I was going to get on a bus to run my second one ever.
So they set up the bus pick up at the finish line. Runner after runner lines up and it’s like the first day of school getting on the bus. No one knows anyone, we are all tired, and super nervous for what’s about to happen.
After I got my seat, and once every seat filled, we started our journey to the starting line. As you’re traveling, you look out the window and think, “I am about to run this entire way.”
Up and up we went. The canyon is a 14-mile drive, but then you head up Guardsman pass for the start line. This drive isn’t made for school buses and we learned that. Suddenly the brakes were slammed because the driver came up on a turn that he didn’t see coming. We were close to going over the edge, but thankfully he stopped just in time.
We reached the top and piled out. Running to the rows of Honey Bucket port-a-potties that had lines of people waiting to get their business done before the race.
For months I had been training in this canyon, but never going up Guardsman. I brought a jacket, but it wasn’t enough. There I was, the only runner in shorts, a light jacket and that’s it. Everyone had his or her light blankets that were given to us in our packet. I sat on the ground, shivering, waiting for the race to begin. After all, they dropped us off an hour and a half before the race even started.
Finally, the time came to turn in our bags. This meant leaving any spare clothes and items you didn’t want to ditch along the race. Now I was freezing. Walking to the starting line I couldn’t stop shaking, but I knew it was only momentarily. Once I started to run my body would heat right up.
Then it happened, 10..9…8…we were starting. BANG! The race began, and we were off. I made sure not to start fast to keep up with the front runners because I knew we had a slight uphill at mile three that would take a lot of energy from our future run.
The run was gorgeous. Utah truly has amazing mountains and here I was running down the entire canyon.
Mile three came and people started to slow down. They didn’t prepare for an uphill so soon. Neither did I, but I knew not to overdo it before getting to this point. Slowly I went up, went around the Brighton loop, and started back down the canyon.
When I run a long distance, I have to do something to not think about how far I have to go. So when I am running, I text whomever (this time was all my family) what mile I am at. Then I am just thinking about the number I just finished, rather than how many I have left to go. I don’t start thinking about that until I am around mile 20.
Down the canyon I went. Mile after mile, runner after runner passing, but I didn’t care. I was focused on one thing— the finish! When I ran my marathon twelve years ago I finished in 6:13.53. When I started training for this I thought, “All I want to do is beat that time.” I knew I could do it as long as I kept going. The down hill kept going and it seemed like I was going to beat my time easily.
As I kept running, I noticed the pace runners passing me. I knew I was doing great because the last pacer that passed me was 3:50. I was cruising and didn’t feel like it was exhausting me. This was great, until mile 18 came. When you reach the mouth of the canyon if you were running the full marathon you turned right. This was the turn of death. Suddenly you were facing a two mile uphill. Who wants to run two miles uphill after running downhill for 18-miles? Not me.
I walked. I had to walk. My body was exhausted and I didn’t feel like I had the energy to keep going. Suddenly, there they were. My family was there to cheer me on. There were my kids, waving at me to keep going. My wife smiling and cheering me on. I had to keep going. I still walked up the hill, but I knew that once I got to the top of the hill I got to come down to them. It was just the motivation that I needed. Yeah the hill killed my time, but I wasn’t going to stop.
There I was at mile 22 when I knew this was the time I needed to push myself. I picked up my pace again and just kept moving. As I was running I looked to both sides to see cars of people driving. I was going faster than them, but it motivated me to keep going. I was racing these cars and just trying to get from point A to point B and beating them there. Suddenly I saw it—the finish line!
When you see the finish line something comes over you and you can’t help but move faster than you should. I looked at the clock to see it ticking to just under five hours. I had to beat that and went into sprint mode. “Here he comes! Push! Run! This is what we like to see!” This is what I heard over the intercom as the announcer saw me coming in. Finally, it happened—I finished my second marathon.
How did I do? Well, here you go:
Finish time: 4:56:09.49
Age (35-39): 107/140
I did it! I beat my time. It came at a cost. From the sprint, when I crossed the line, as I was getting my medal I knew I was going to throw up. Time after time I felt it happening. I held it back and didn’t let it happen, but it came pretty close a few times. Then for finish line food they offered pizza, Diet Coke, and other things that I normally would love, but not after running 26.2-miles.
Also, I received my entrance to being an actually runner because I lost a toenail. It was around mile 16-18 when I knew it was happening. You know when you feel yourself getting a blister? That is what I felt, but it was happening under my actual toenail. Suddenly I felt the pop of my nail separating from the skin. When I took off my shoes and socks there it was; blood blister under my middle toenail and my toenail moving like it was no longer connected.
It wasn’t until Sunday when I realized I had an issue. My two oldest kids stepped on my toe and I felt the snap. Sunday night when I looked at it, I knew it was done. I had to cut the nail off because it was constantly poking into the raw skin under my nail. This was one thing I didn’t want to have happen, but it did.
Now that the race is done everyone is asking, “When is your next race?” It’s funny because it feels like when you have a kid and everyone asks when you are going have have another one. Okay people, I just finished and have to heal. Granted, I am never going to say I’ll never do another marathon, but it’s going to be a while.
What did I learn from all this? I can complete the goals that I set for myself. Not only can I complete them, but I can blow them out of the water. Don’t stop! Yeah, I may not be doing a marathon, but I need to keep my running going incase I do another one. Also, my family is so supportive. I think they know that this was beneficial to my life and helped me be a better parent by letting out my stress while running. All the running helped me focus on what was important. I did this entire training without being away from my family too much because I did most of my runs while they were sleeping. It was hard, but it was worth it. I needed to do this for me, but I didn’t need to spend tons of time away from my family.
Another marathon is in the future for me. Is it in a few months? Probably not, but like our favorite singer, Justin Bieber says, “Never say never!”