I headed to Salt Lake for the Deseret News Marathon with my friends Darin & Shelly Thomas. It was only a short nine days ago that we all ran the Bryce Canyon Half Marathon. We woke up at 2:45am (2:45am!!!!) to get to the bus loading which was at 3:15am (3:15am!!!!). Ouch.
At the starting line before the race started, this awesome bagpipes player started playing. I've run lots of races, but that was a first to have bagpipes at the starting line. Usually you hear bagpipes at a funeral, so it seemed fittingly appropriate to have them at the starting line of a marathon.
With a 5:30am start, it was too dark to see the scenery for the first few miles but once the sun started coming up I saw the amazing rolling mountains we were surrounded by.
Mile after mile ticked by and I was feeling surprisingly good. After the last few months where my knees and I have not been on speaking terms, I was so thankful to be running without anything hurting.
I got to know these runners later on in the race when we ran a bunch of miles together. From right to left, I met Scott, his wife Rachele, and their friend Nate (don't know the other guy). I found out that Scott has done around 104 marathons (you read that right, 100+!!) with more than 30 of them being ultras. I loved hearing his training tips and wish I could have kept up with them longer.
The absolutely highlight of the day was seeing this crazy guy that I originally met at the Park City Marathon. Please read this post called Why I Run. I described him in full detail. But now I have a picture with him to prove it!! You will see from my description in last year's post that I wasn't exaggerating about him one bit.
I heard from someone that they thought the Deseret News Marathon was hard. I found exactly the opposite. There was a hill at mile 7 that was tough, but you can see that the majority of the race was downhill. Total ascent was 1670 feet and total descent was 4584 feet. I think this could definitely be a PR course.
The one thing that I think could be hard about this race would be the heat. Being in July I was worried that it would get hot toward the end of the race. Fortunately the Running Gods smiled on us (I bribed them with brownies) and the weather was perfect. We had overcast skies all day! It was still warm but very tolerable.
After leaving the canyon you spend a couple miles going through neighborhoods and I liked having families sitting out on their driveway cheering for runners. It wasn't just the canyon that was beautiful. Even the neighborhoods were pretty.
Reaching mile 20 in a marathon is when you are truly challenged mentally and physically. You are tired, sore, and ready to be done. At that point you find out what you are really made of. There are a few critical things that must happen at mile 20:
1) You take two minutes to whine and feel sorry for yourself.
2) You promise yourself that you will never, ever run ever again.
3) You decide to suck it up and stop being a baby.
4) You turn your iPod up to the Make-Your-Eardrums-Bleed volume.
5) You put your head down and just go. Just GO!
I had a very good thing happen after I turned my mp3 player to the Make-Your-Eardrums-Bleed level. I got to Kashmir, a piano song by William Joseph. Check it out - this song rocks! Air guitars are for sissies. Real men play the air piano while they are running marathons next to a line of onlooking traffic.
In the last few miles of the marathon my worst fear came true. Not leg cramps. Not digestive problems. Not bleeding from my eardrums. Worse than all of those. We ran past a 7-Eleven! I was horrified. I needed a Slurpee with every fiber of my being.
There was a section toward the end where we ran on the parade route of the Days of 47 Parade, the largest parade in Utah. It was huge! I had so much fun as the parade spectators were cheering for me. This is one of my favorite pictures of the day - giving high fives to everyone as I ran by.
At the end of the parade route I heard a few people yelling "Go Fast Cory!" I didn't even know who they were. That made me smile. They came over to the finish line afterward to say hello. This is Erin and Betsy. They said they follow the blog. They ran the 10k then waited around for a few hours until I finished to say hello. They definitely deserve to be on the blog.
I felt surprisingly good for the whole race. I was so, so thankful that nothing hurt. I really loved feeling good in the last six miles and being able to run strong. I passed a lot of people in the last six miles. As is tradition, I jumped across the finish line with a time of 4 hours and 45 minutes! That is 39 minutes faster than last month's Utah Valley Marathon. I was happy to meet up with Darin and Shelly at the finish line with medals in hand.
Remember how I told you that I was discouraged when I couldn't stop and get a Slurpee during the marathon? Fear not. I got myself a cup of pina colada heaven on the way home.
I have now done a half marathon, full marathon, or ultra for 16 consecutive months. The Deseret News Marathon was an awesome way to finish out July!
"Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through to obstruction" ~ William James