My intentions were good when I signed up for the Ogden Marathon several months ago. I figured that by May I would be done with skiing and on to other stuff, like running. Little did I know that "spring" skiing would not really even commence until May, or June as the case may be.
By Saturday, I had logged a total of 88 running miles since November 2010. 20 of those 88 miles were acquired on a "fun run" a couple weeks ago, when the Dorais brothers and I set out to run an "of the couch" marathon. We barely made 20 miles, but it gave me confidence that I could make it 26.2. Plus, I've logged lots of vertical and lots of skiing/climbing miles.
After an alpine start, a drive to Ogden, a school bus ride to the top of Ogden canyon, and some milling about in a muddy smoky pasture, I lined up with the 7 minute mile group. I sheepishly stood to the side because I didn't think I would be going that fast. But as it turned out, about 200 people over estimated their pace, and as the gun went off, I found myself boxed in. Luckily, one skill I do have is being able to weave in and out of any type of peloton (bike, ski, or run), and work myself up into a decent position, which is what I did in the first mile or so.
When the people cleared, I was able to catch a short glimpse of the elite guys. They were flying! And that was inspirational. It almost made me want to be a marathon runner.
This inspiration carried me for about 10 miles. I was having fun, feeling good, and moving at a decent 6:45 ish pace. The course took us by the swollen Weber river and Pineview reservoir. Above Pineview, I traced ski lines on the snow-covered mountains. I was having a good time.
I was surprised that I was moving at a 6:45 pace because I had only done two 3 mile runs at that pace this year. But since it felt ok, I went with it. But my head told me I ought to slow down. I didn't though.
By mile 10 or so, my body had no choice but to slow down to a 7:30 pace for a mile or so. I think I had a hunger knock, which was turned around quickly by some gel. The achiness in my feet disappeared with a couple Ibuprofens and I was able to run the next 5 miles sub-7. I secretly wondered whether I could go under 3 hours.
But that was too ambitious. By mile 17, I was a hurting unit. By mile 19, I was no longer inspired and had eaten the last of my 1200 mgs of Ibuprofen. I wanted to be done.
About mile 21 or 22, a couple of guys that I saw at the beginning of the race, leisurely loped by. Both were wearing red shirts. Both looked experienced. So, I latched on and started drafting off of them, forcing myself to match their pace.
I did that until my legs locked up. Cramps. I had to stop and work the kinks out for a bit. I did hamstring/calf stretches on the guardrail. Luckily, the cramps subsided, and I was able to continue. As long as I kept my pace in the 7:30 range, my legs would go. As I moved into the 7:00 range, the cramps would come back. It took me a couple of cycles to figure that out.
While my aerobic system didn't feel all that taxed, my legs and body felt maxed. The Ibuprofen dulled a lot of that, but the pain was throbbing through by mile 25. Fortunately, the last mile, I saw several people I knew. I also could hear music. And that lifted me up and carried me to the line.
I crossed the line in 3:12 and 40 something seconds, and was glad to have completed my first legitimate marathon.
Since then, I've looked at some blogs of 2:30 marathon runners. And I'm intrigued. How do they maintain such a fast pace for 26 miles? Although I set out to run the Ogden Marathon with some guys at work and so I can put a 26.2 sticker on my car (kidding!), I'd be lying if I said that I don't have any new aspirations.