In May 2011, I ran my first marathon -- the Ogden Marathon. On about 90 miles and 4 weeks of training, I managed to do it in 3:12. But it wasn't pretty and it hurt a lot.
Yesterday, I ran my second marathon -- the St. George Marathon. I'm a year older, have a few more running miles in my legs, and on top of that, I seriously trained on the road for 6 weeks. In those 6 weeks, I mostly did endurance training with a bit of "speedwork" mixed in. This was essentially what I did:
Week 6 -- About 50 miles. Mostly easy. This included a 20 mile run from Mountain Dell Golf Course down Emmigration Canyon to my house.
Week 5 -- About 45 miles. Half easy, half hard. This included the Mid-Mountain marathon (only 25 miles and on the dirt -- don't count it as a real marathon), which I did in 3:17ish. I was happy about this effort, particularly about the fact that I made it the full distance without having to stop due to cramps, injury, fatigue, mental breakdown, etc. This gave me hope that I could break 3 hrs in a road marathon.
Week 4 -- About 40 miles. Mostly easy. This included a hike-o-run up the Grand Teton.
Week 3 -- About 40 miles. Mostly easy. This included a repeat of my Mountain Dell to home run. However, I lost lots of confidence after this run. After about 12 miles, my legs and ankle hurt. I had to walk and jog most of the way home. Part of this was due to the fact that I was trying some new, lighter shoes. Another part was due to the fact that by this time, my body was having a tough time absorbing the miles of the previous weeks.
Week 2 -- About 20 miles. Three quarter easy, half hard. I ran a 5k (hills and headwind) and was 17:40ish. Ran the first mile in 5:20, after which my face and arms went numb. Then I just survived the last two miles. I also ran 4 x 400 at the track for the first time. I won't disclose my time because it is embarrassing. I never guessed that 400 measly meters could be so hard. Respect.
Week 1 -- About 45 miles, including the marathon. Made the mistake of going up Grandeur with Jason and then running down the day after the 5k and struggled to get my legs feeling better before the marathon. For the most part, they felt ok, but there was soreness even before I started.
The marathon was pretty fun. It was fun in large part because I didn't know what to expect. There came a time in bike racing and ski racing when I could pretty much predict what would happen. Given my inexperience road running and marathon-ing, I had no clue. That's what made it interesting.
As usual (for me), I started too fast. I went 5:47 the first mile, and by mile 7, my average pace was 6:05. That made me nervous, but I put "feeling" over reason, and just went with it. By Mile 12, my hip (that got injured in the avalanche) started hurting, and I ate 2 ibuprofen pills. That was a mistake, because at Mile 13, I started heaving and throwing up. I stopped twice briefly to put my hands on my knees and heave, but since Mile 13 is lined with lots of crowds, I was spurred on to keep moving. That was definitely the low point for me in the race. I was weaving and heaving. I got a bit scared that my marathon goal was in jeopardy, but again, going by "feeling," just did the best I could. When I saw that my Mile 13 split was 6:28 and half marathon split was a bit under 1:24, I realized that the damage wasn't too bad and that I was still on track.
Through Mile 20, my overall average pace stayed at 6:26, and then at Mile 21, I did a 6:06 mile bringing it down to 6:25. When I hit mile 24, I knew that I would probably get my goal of 2:50. Still, running 2 6:30s on the flat was really hard, like really really hard. A lot of this was due to fatigue, but I will remember that feeling of difficulty for a while. I like keeping a mental file of moments of pain like that. It keeps me alive, happy, and sane.
I crossed the line at 2:48:43. I was proud of that. And even though I can scarcely walk today, I'm quite happy with that time. A part of my satisfaction arises from the fact that 6 months ago after I got caught in an avalanche, I didn't think that I would be able to manage a marathon. The body is an amazing thing.
So, what's next? I'm slightly intrigued with road running. I would like to train for a marathon for real and do a solid 4 months with real speedwork worked in. I ran Ogden off 4 weeks and 100 miles of road training. I ran St. George off 6 weeks and 200 miles of road training. I'd like to think I could do better with a bit more training and a few hundred more miles.
But, it's going to snow soon. . .