St. George Marathon 10/2/2010

St. George is a lottery marathon…meaning you have to “apply” by a certain date and then, about a month later, they draw names to establish the field.  11,000 runners put in for 7,400 spots.  You can also put in as a group of up to five runners.  The Ship put in three groups, two of which were selected. 

The course is nearly perfect, theoretically.  It drops pretty good for the first seven miles, climbs for the next five miles, and then drops hard to the finish line (with the exception of another little rise at mile 19).  The climbs are manageable…with only the first mile and a half (roughly mile 7.5 to mile 9) of climbing at a steep grade while the balance is just grinding.  On paper, the mile 19 climb, while not in an ideal spot on the race course, should be somewhat of a relief after all the downhill running between 12 and 19.  It should also set you up for the final 10k which, on a day when the weather is cooperating, should be an awesome way to finish a marathon.  Notice the overuse of the word “should”.

Uncooperative weather.  Seriously.  If I had a nickle for every time an announcer said something to the effect of “this is the hottest it’s been in <insert large number> years” before a race I’d have at least a half dozen nickels.  My friends are going to stop running out of town marathons with me.  New York, Marine Corps, San Antonio, Eisenbahn, Mesa Falls, South Bend, and Nashville all had horrible weather on race day.  Most had awesome conditions either the day before or the day after but NOT on race day.  This year’s St. George, according to the announcer, was the hottest race in 15 years.  By Tuesday of the following week it would be 12 to 15 degrees cooler across the board…but that didn’t stop them from bringing out the bonfires at the start!

Though it was relatively cool at the start, I was sweating up a storm within a mile.  I, of course, ignored that and went on about the business at hand (ie grinding out miles at as close to 7:40 pace as possible in an attempt to qualify for Boston).  I knew it was a longshot but had to try.  Most of my running buddies have qualified recently and are running Boston in 2011…I didn’t want to be left out.

The format below is Mile, Mile Split, Overall Average:

Mile Split Average
1 8:10 8:10
2 7:49 7:59
3 7:37 7:52
4 7:42 7:49
5 7:42 7:48
6 7:20 7:43
7 7:37 7:42
8 8:28 7:48
9 9:05 7:56
10 8:07 7:57
11 8:37 8:01
12 8:42 8:04
13 8:41 8:07
14 7:34 8:05
15 7:56 8:04
16 8:01 8:04
17 8:02 8:04
18 8:04 8:04
19 9:21 8:08
20 9:32 8:12
21 7:57 8:11
22 9:15 8:14
23 8:48 8:15
24 9:03 8:17
25 9:11 8:20
26 11:36 8:27
0.2 2:11 8:28

I started very conservatively, got myself right on pace through 7, ran the big hill at 8 almost exactly as prescribed, ran 9 & 10 too slow, got back on track on 11, too slow again on 12 & 13, right on at 14, and 15 is where I knew I’d need to adjust my goal.

Some of you may be looking at the 15 split and thinking 7:56 isn’t too bad for that point in a marathon (when your goal is 7:40) but, let me tell you, that was a beautifully smooth, downhill mile that I ran pretty much as hard as I could.  The fact that I could barely crack 8 on that bad boy foretold of some major pain to come.

16, 17, and 18 are all gentle downhills that are just a pleasure to run.  With very little effort and on very tired legs I was able to keep it right at 8.  At this point the sun is out and the mercury is rising.  Mix that with the lack of shade and it was game on in the battle between body and mind.

The slight uphill at 19 was hard, much harder than the incline would have lead one to believe.  I spent the better part of mile 20 trying to recover.  21 drops like a rock…as do it’s close associates 22, 23, and 24.  As previously mentioned, I would love to run this course on a day when the high temp was around 40 degrees.

Just past the 25 mile mark, St. George has a 25.2 mile marker.  That’s a pretty cool touch because it’s very easy to look at your watch, add the time it takes you to run a mile, and ballpark your finishing time (much easier than trying to figure out 1.2 miles in a degrading mental state at 25 even).  That’s a long way of saying that at 25.2 it dawned on me that I could PR today…something I’d given up on several miles back after seeing all the 9s.  That was energizing so I picked it up a little.  Within about 1/4 mile my quads disagreed and both locked up completely (one of the downsides to running hard downhill).  I was forced to walk about 100 yds or so before they finally released.  It was at this very moment that Paul Williams, with whom I’d been volleying with for the entire race, caught me…again.  Paul encouraged me to start running and I did…kinda.  Really more sleestacking than running.  The finish line finally appeared in the distance but covering the ground between here and there was akin to slo-mo running in a bad dream where the target seems to be getting further away no matter how much ground you cover.

There was an awesome misting station just past the finish line.  I got in and stood there for what seemed like an hour.  I even got out, found a popsicle, and got back in.  I was thoroughly nauseated by the popsicle but that didn’t stop me from consuming the better part of it.  Once I extracted myself from the cool, flowing water I grabbed a coca-cola and laid down in the grass.  I had no plans of vacating that spot until they closed the park.  I had no desire to reunite with the shipmates that I knew finished ahead of me or the ones that were behind me.  I just wanted to lay there and pout…so I laid there and pouted.

What’s good for pouty, whiney babies??  Beer!

That was by far the coldest beer in the coldest mug I’ve ever had.  Once I started pounding them I couldn’t stop (kinda like what OU was doing to UT on the TV screen).  After about 5 (@ 20 oz per) with no warm fuzzy feeling forthcoming I realized they were probably 2% due to the altitude.  That’s ok…they were big and cold!

It was time to say goodbye to St. George.  Beautiful place, beautiful course, warm fires, cold beer, and (again) my second best time in a marathon ever (3:42:18).  The streak of sub 4 hour marathons in 2010 is alive and well.  The count now stands at 19 marathons (in 10 states).

Next up is California International…which is this Sunday because it took me two months to write up this report!


2 Responses to “St. George Marathon 10/2/2010”

  1. Tunnel Marathon 7/14/2013 | Says:

    […] times in 2010 (a 3:49 in February in Austin, a 3:46 in May in the Poconos, and a 3:42 in October in St. George) but clipping that old mark was proving stubbornly difficult.  The St. […]

  2. St. George Marathon 10/5/2013 | Says:

    […]  I’ve dreamed about the final 10k of St. George since I ran it in 2010.  I even put in my race report back then how nice it would be to run that final section on the perfect day.  This was that […]

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