Monday, October 26, 2009

Losing A Toe Nail

I think my arrogant bragging about never losing a toe nail has finally caught up to me. I knew I might be in for trouble about three hours after the marathon.

I'll spare you a picture since, generally speaking, toes are pretty gross to look at. But use your imagination and envision this: Long Toe. Left Foot. Getting Black. Darker By The Day. I don't know what to expect but I'm thinking one of these days it's going to just pop off.

In other running news:

Monday, October 19th 2009: 3 miles in 28 minutes. My legs still feel rusty.

Tuesday, October 20th 2009: 30 glorious minutes on the exercise bike.

Wednesday, October 21st 2009: Snicker's Bar.

Thursday, October 22nd 2009: 4 miles in 34 minutes. This was a golden run. Very, VERY rarely I have an effortless, painless run. It felt amazing. My legs felt like feathers. I averaged an 8:47 per minute pace which is fast for me.

These rare outings are the reason running becomes an addiction. It's like gambling. You lose money on 29 pulls of the slot machine. Then on the 30th pull, you win some money. You are happy. So you keep dumping your paycheck into the machine hoping for another jackpot. One time when the gamble pays off and you're hooked. Elusive runs like this keep me going.

Friday, October 23rd 2009: Nothing.

Saturday, October 24th 2009: 10 miles in 1 hour and 40 minutes. The first two miles were great. During the last eight miles, I felt like I'd just been hit by a station wagon (and wished I would just get hit by a station wagon). I was completely exhausted. My body was out of gas. My legs were lead. While I was running, I tried to figure out why I was so miserable. Was it...
  • The 44 ounce Diet Mountain Dew I drank yesterday?
  • Not getting enough sleep the night before?
  • Not having enough fuel in me (I had a bowl of cereal in the morning then nothing else until I ran 7 hours later)?
  • Running in the afternoon when it was warmer outside?
  • Too soon after the marathon?

I definitely think all of those things played a part in the train wreck. But I think there's another, more simple reason the run was so hard: 10 miles is just a really far distance to run no matter how you look at it.

I was discouraged considering that I had run 26 miles four weeks earlier. 10 miles should be nothing. But 10 miles was something. Hard.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Want To Come??

There are a few races we have on the running calendar:

Butch Cassidy 10k: November 7, 2009. Our friend and Boston runner Tom is involved in planning this race in Springdale near Zion National Park. I'm really excited for this one.

Painter's Half-Marathon: January 23, 2010. I haven't done this race before, but I hear it's a beautiful course on the trails along the river in St. George.

Hurricane Half-Marathon: April 24, 2010. Rumor has it they may be changing the course this year. Hmmm.

OGDEN MARATHON: May 15, 2010! I'm itching to do another marathon to try and get a better time. This seemed like a perfect race between now and next year's St. George Marathon. They have a full and half marathon. If all goes as planned, I'll shoot for the 26.2.

What I'm most excited about with this run is who will be joining me. Mel will be running the half-marathon along with my sister Hollie and brother-in-law Kelly!

Kelly and Hollie are just beginning the insanity that is running. There is nothing like the excitement of your first big race. Here is a training calendar I made for them. Feel free to make use of it if you're just starting. I am very far from being an expert, but this gradual build-up seemed to work for me in preparing for my first marathon. (Click picture to expand.)

I think it would be a blast to have a big group of friends, family, rookie runners, and running pros all get together for this one.

Want to come????

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Our Daily Marathons

You know, running 26.2 miles in a marathon was really, really hard. The pain was excruciating.

But lately I've been thinking about how sometimes life can be really, really hard too. Sometimes the pain is excruciating. I think many people are in the midst of running their own personal marathon.

Over the last few days I've looked into the eyes of people who are fighting their way through a marathon:

  • The little girl at school who gets teased by the boys and doesn't have any friends.
  • The dad who isn't able to sleep at night because he lost his job and doesn't know how he is going to put food on the table for his family.
  • The mom who feels like she is being swallowed by depression and can't seem to break free.
  • The man who has failing health and is tormented by constant pain.

Seeing these struggles makes my heart hurt. I think our own daily marathons are much more difficult than running 26.2 miles.

In a real marathon, crowds line the street and cheer you on. When you feel like you can't put one foot in front of the other, the cheering gives you strength. But most of the challenges in life are quiet, inward, personal battles. We don't have screaming crowds to get us through.

In an actual marathon, you know where the finish line is. But in our life challenges, often we don't know how much farther until the finish line. Sometimes we're not even sure there is a finish line.

While I was running the race, I could feel the love and support from my family. It helped keep me going. I have to think that God is watching from the sidelines, loving and supporting us too. When life gets hard, I have to believe that God will give us the strength we need to get us to the finish line. He knows us and will be with us as we run our daily marathons.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hitting The Wall

I don't know what mile of the marathon I was at. It was far enough that my brain had stopped functioning and my legs were in complete revolt. I was not aware of anything around me except for how bad my legs were hurting. I know there must have been other runners around me but it felt like I was the only one on the road. My music was playing loud in my ears but I don't remember hearing a thing.

Then something strange happened. I was on the top of a hill just starting to descend. It was a steep hill. I looked down and saw lots of other runners toward the bottom of the hill. What I couldn't understand was why everyone was running up the hill toward me. They looked like ants scampering up the road. I thought someone must have gotten hurt behind me and they were running up to help.

After a minute I realized.....they weren't running up the hill. They were trotting along the marathon course just like I was. Looking back on the situation now, I'm sure that I was right in the thick of "hitting the wall".

I remembered this experience after reading THIS ARTICLE today. In the story, one guy said that during a triathlon he saw little purple people along the cliffs. He knew this was a hallucination but he stopped anyway to look at them.

What have you experienced when you "hit the wall"?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Marathon Recovery

"To describe the agony of a marathon to someone who's never run it is like trying to explain color to someone who was born blind." Jerome Drayton

Two days have passed since the St. George Marathon. Holy Tylenol - my legs are sore. Judging by the way I move up and down stairs, you'd think a gang of thugs made me their pinata.

Today I was tempted to steal one of the many wheelchairs available at my work.

I posted this hilarious video a few months ago but it bears repeating. Have you ever wanted to know what your legs feel like after a marathon? I can attest that there is absolutely no exagerating in this clip.

"I was unable to walk for a whole week after that, so much did the race take out of me. But it was the most pleasant exhaustion I have ever known."
Emil Zatopek's description of the Olympic Marathon win in Helsinki

Sunday, October 4, 2009

St. George Marathon 2009

St. George Marathon – 4 Hours 25 Minutes

I got 4 hours of sleep before the alarm went off at 3:15am. Ouch. I rode the bus to the starting line with the Dansie’s, Nielson’s, Shelley, and Darrel. That bus ride seemed to take FOREVER!

We arrived at the starting line amid the chaos of thousands of people, bright lights, and loud music. I was nervous and excited and cold. We took a few photos before heading to the bonfires.

The guy on the loudspeaker would come on every once in a while saying it was 39 or 40 degrees. We were cold, but in terms of racing weather, you could not have picked a better day for the marathon. The starting line had long rows of bonfires that we huddled around to try and stay warm.

A horn sounded and the marathon began. A mile or two into the race, the sun started to come up. I had to pull over to the side a few times to take some pictures. The sunrise was beautiful.

It was a crazy feeling to be among a sea of thousands of runners. It was a little claustrophobic to not be able to speed up or move around. I was praying that I didn’t step on someone or have someone step on me.

Early in the race I glanced over to the left and my jaw dropped. I’m being totally serious – running right to the left of me was Abraham Lincoln! I ran the St. George Marathon with Lincoln. I felt too sheepish to pull out my camera and take a picture of him, but trust me, this guy looked exactly like Lincoln. If this happened at the end, I’d attribute it to a hallucination, but this happened at the beginning. When race pictures are posted, I’ll scour the photos to see if I can show him to you.

By mile 8 we were in the midst of the dreaded Veyo Hill. One of the best signs I saw was in the middle of the hill. It said “Don’t you wish you were a Transformer right now?” The wave of people heading for the hill made me need to stop again for a few more pictures.

Before the hill started a guy named Andrew asked if we new each other. We talked for a while but concluded that even though I looked familiar to him, we didn’t know each other. It was nice to talk to him for the next five miles and have a bit of a distraction from the pain.

It was his first marathon too and we both didn’t know what to expect. We were trusting the pace group leader to get us to the end. But somewhere in the craziness of a drink station we lost each other and I never saw him again.

My plan was to stay with the 4 hour pace group. The pace group leader was experienced and I trusted that he knew what he was doing way more than me. I paid for this decision later though. When he came to a drink station he would grab a drink and then sprint ahead. I didn’t want to lose sight of him so I’d speed up for the next few minutes to catch up to him. I was right next to him until each drink station when he would dart ahead.

At the mile 15 drink station I decided this wasn’t working for me, but I think by then it was too late. It was disheartening when I grabbed a drink, then looked ahead to see his balloons way down the road.

I committed the cardinal sin of running a race – going out too fast. Comparing the suggested pace chart to my actual miles makes this blatantly obvious. If I had stuck with this chart instead of the pacer I might have had more strength at the end. Notice the yellow area where my wheels completely fall off the cart:

By this time I wasn’t feeling so good. My legs were starting to cramp. But we were coming up to Snow Canyon (and another stop for a few quick pictures). I was pushing myself to Snow Canyon at mile 16 because I knew I had visitors. My awesome mom and sister came down from Salt Lake to cheer me on. They had Jackson with them too.

I was so happy to finally see them, with balloons and signs in hand. I stopped for a minute to say hello and they gave me a bottle of water which I desperately needed. I felt dehydrated. Hollie encouraged me to be a winged liger. Then I set off again.

Shortly after that I got a choked up, although I didn’t have the physical strength or fluid to cry. I thought about all the support my family has given me over the last year. I thought about how thankful I was that my mom and sister drove down to support me. All the cheering from the crowd touched me. I was happy.

A few miles later I saw my grandparents who were waiting at Winchester Hills. This gave me another boost. They were so excited. My grandpa who has the funniest sense of humor yelled “You’re In First Place! You’re In First Place!” That made me smile and laugh.

Around the same time, there was a little girl that was handing out Otter Pops to runners. I wanted to give her a big hug and tell her this was the most welcome gift I’d ever received. Instead I just took one and kept moving.

At one point in the race a guy ran up by me and said “Hi Cory!” I think I gave him the “Hmmm, am I supposed to know you?” look. He said “You have some amazing music! I have your songs on my iPod.” I felt sorry for him if he was actually trying to run while listening to my music. That stuff can put you to sleep. But I appreciated the boost he gave. I wanted to give him a big hug and tell him this was the most welcome gift I’d ever received. Instead I just kept moving.

The last ten miles of the race were truly excruciating. I’ve done three 20-milers and never felt close to this bad. My legs remained cramped continually. When I was 19 years old I had a charley horse that woke me up out of my sleep and hurt so bad that it made me throw up. This is what my legs felt like for the last ten miles.

At the drink stations there were people rubbing Bengay or Icy Hot on runners. I took advantage of this at 4 stops. But when someone touched my calves, it felt like they were rubbing my legs with curling irons. My legs were so cramped up that they were as hard as baseballs. This was my view as a volunteer whipped me around and started working on my legs. I was so thankful for his curling irons. I mean....hands.

I can’t describe how bad my legs hurt. I tried to stretch them out, but then another part of the leg would shoot with pain. Sometimes I had to walk because I knew I would fall if I tried to run. I thought it was possible that my legs would give out and I would be eating concrete for lunch. For a few miles I was woozy and worried I would pass out.

Around mile 22 I became emotional again because of the pain I was in. The emotion wasn’t at all about the fact that this was the worst pain I’ve ever been in. The emotion was because of the fact that I was in such pain, but I was still moving forward. I was proud of myself. I knew that even though I had to slow down, there was nothing that would keep me from crossing the finish line.

By mile 20 I knew I was not going to beat 4 hours. But I truly didn’t care. I knew that I had given absolutely everything I had. I had obviously made tactical mistakes the first half of the race, but it wasn’t worth dwelling on. I knew I had worked hard over the last year and worked hard at the marathon so the finish time became unimportant.

The last three miles were indescribable. All the runners around me were suffering. I wanted to help them but had nothing to give. The crowds were cheering, but at some points my legs just refused to go fast. My friend Ben met me around the last mile of the marathon. He had finished in 3:01 (Crazy!!!) and was going back up the course to look for his brother. He walked/jogged with me for about a half mile as I got closer to the finish line. He reminded me of the ice cream waiting at the finish.

Finally I saw the balloons and finish line ahead. My legs slowly plodded ahead and carried me across the line. I had never, ever been so exhausted. I was feeling worse than I thought I would.

A volunteer put a medal around my neck, and another volunteer was handing out ice cream to the runners. I ate a huge ice cream sandwich. Then I ate another. I felt famished and dehydrated. My watch said that I burned 3005 calories. I felt honored to have that medal around me neck.

Eventually I met up with my family. They showed me more signs they had made. Mel had another surprise for me. She made a shirt for each of the kids that said MY DAD RAN 26.2.

Sometimes runners make specific goals for a marathon: an Ecstatic, a Happy, and a Satisfied goal. My Ecstatic goal was under 4 hours. My Happy goal was under 4 and a half hours. My satisfied goal was to finish a marathon. I was thrilled to have even completed a marathon. After all, the first guy who ever ran a marathon….died.

Now I know what “The Wall” feels like when you run into it. I happened to hit that wall way too early in the race. I’ll know better next time. I heard that you get an adrenaline rush with the crowds cheering you on. That never happened once. I can identify with a runner from Spirit Of The Marathon who said “I’ve never had a ‘runner’s high’. The only ‘runner’s high’ I’ve ever felt was when I stopped running.”

The awesome thing about my first marathon is that I set a Personal Record. I also have some leeway so that I can cream that record the next time I run a marathon. 26.2 miles is an absolutely obscene distance to run. It was excruciating and painful. It was challenging mentally and physically. It was rewarding and exhilarating. It was a hard-earned triumph.

I can’t wait to do it again.

“The pride in finishing a marathon is much greater than all the pain endured during the marathon.” Hal Higdon

“The miracle isn’t that I finished; it’s that I had the courage to start.” John Bingham

Friday, October 2, 2009


I went to the marathon expo today to pick up my packet and race number. The Dixie Center was PACKED. I truly felt like a kid in a candy shop. At one point as I was walking down an aisle it hit me. Oh. My. Gosh. I am running a marathon IN THE MORNING. And all these crazy freaks around me are doing the same thing. I got goosebumps.

The speaker at the First Timers Clinic gave a helpful tip for the clothing retrieval location at the finish line: "if you get to the finish line quicker you can usually find some pretty good stuff!"

Intermountain Donor Services (IDS) held a dinner tonight for the runners on our charity team. I have really enjoyed being involved in raising money to promote organ donation. When the miles get hard, I think about how I'm running for a bigger purpose. They made up a cool shirt for all the runners:

We had some special guests at the dinner. Paul Cardall's parents came to thank the runners on the team. Here is a picture of me with his parents. It was fun to talk with Duane about his marathon experiences and the documentary that was filmed of his first marathon.

Allow me to make a disclaimer that the full marathon report may not be posted until Sunday. It is likely that I will spend the rest of the day tomorrow in my bed whimpering.

St. George I come!

"When people ask me why I run, I tell them, there's not really a reason, it's just the adrenalin when you start, and the felling when you cross that finish line, and knowing that you are a winner no matter what place you got." ~ Courtney Parsons

Thursday, October 1, 2009

2 Days To Marathon

I have decided on a goal time for the St. George Marathon.......4 hours. Things will have to go nearly perfect to make this happen based on my recent training times, but I think I can do it.

I feel optimistic because of my farthest long run around three weeks ago. The 20 miler on the course route went extraordinary and it was one of few times where much of the run felt effortless. I keep telling myself that this is how I'll feel during the marathon. We'll see.

There is a pace calculator for the St. George Marathon. I compared the calculator pace per mile to my pace per mile when I did the 20 miler (we started at mile 4). Leave it to my math teacher friend Shelley to suggest a comparison. Here it is:

I wonder what it's going to feel like to "hit the wall". Every runner dreads this point where the body simply runs out of gas and you feel like you can't go one more step. I hope that when I hit the wall I start hallucinating and see Steve Martin show up to carry me the rest of the way.

"You have to wonder at times what you're doing out there. Over the years, I've given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement." ~ Steve Prefontaine