Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What A First Marathon Race- My Desert News Classic Marathon Experience

July 24th, 1847 A day celebrated in liberty and freedom in Utah as "Pioneer Day" commemorating Brigham Young's entry into the Salt Lake City Valley on Exodus from religious persecution with all the excitement of the 4th of July- Parades, Rodeo's,Concerts, Fireworks, and all kinds of Races including the Desert News Classic Marathon sung as the oldest Marathon west of the Continental Divide.

They came from all over the United States to run Texas, Idaho, Wyoming,Washington,California,Florida, Colorado,Arizona,Oklahoma,Kansas,Nevada,Virginia,Washington DC,New Mexico,New York,Ohio,Missouri,Alabama,Montana, Illinois,Indiana,Minnesota,Massachusetts,Wisconsin, Hawaii and as far away as Australia.

What a Race!

This was my first Marathon race and I was just thrilled with achieving the two goals I had set for the race. 1) Run without stopping to drink, walk or use the "honey-bucket". 2) To run the race in under 5 hours. I achieved both. I ran through my water stops without stopping, held my bladder well, and got in under the 5 hour mark by a whopping 16 minutes.

In addition to this being my first Marathon, it was also the longest distance I'd ever run by 2.3 miles. The closest I'd ever come to the 26.2 miles a Full Marathon represents is 24 miles ran a little over 3 weeks ago in training. I did that 24 miles in 5 hours so to do the 26.2 miles in 4 hours 44 minutes was a personal crusher of barriers.

You may or may not have read the piece I did last on this blog which detailed a bit of my training for this in my age class and weight class called the Clydesdale Division, which was happy to place 2nd in.

I was 2nd in my "Age Division in the Clydesdale Division" - 4th in the Overall Clydesdale Division - 31st in my Age Division overall - and 310 Overall in the whole Full Marathon of some 500 Entries.

Time: 4 Hours 44 Minutes w a 10.50 /mile average

My Desert News Classic Marathon Experience

One of the mistakes I made based on inexperience was depleting my reserve tank a little in training. I ran 16 miles 3 days before the race and 7 miles 2 days before the race instead of tapering my miles 5 days before the race to 5,4,3,2,1 mile, but where mistakes were made I did a good job in eating 2 days before the race to make-up for the depletion in stores with the 48 hours I had before the race.

I ate like a Clydesdale. Monday for example I ate 2 boiled eggs, 2 pieces of whole wheat toast with cherry jam, a big apple, a banana, a large plate full of pasta, 1/2 a can of black beans, 4 big pancakes covered liberally with peanut butter and syrup, 2 fried eggs, and 32 oz. of pure Orange Juice with protein and electrolyte supplements added, and that was before Noon.

After that I had a whole plate of Chips smothered in shredded roast beef, cheese,onions,jalapeno's, for a snack, a large portion of roast beef, 2 potatoes, a whole onion, 2 carrots and half an apple pie for desert the whole time pouring down liquids 16 oz of milk, and near 2 gallons of water spread out the whole day.

The day before the Marathon was much the same diet except I stopped eating entirely at 6 pm that night to let the compost settle and work its magic. The night before the Marathon a good sleep would work well. I tried, but it didn't happen.

Went to bed at 9pm but my heart was all ready in the race beating like the starting line gun was going to go off any minute. I tossed and turned till 11:30pm finally took 2 Tylenol and slept like a baby till my wonderful ex-wife who I'd ask to give me a ride to the bus text me saying she was in the drive-way at 1:45am.

I leaped out of bed and into the shower, scrambled to get dressed and grabbed my packed back-pack and was out the door at 2:05am on the way to Rice Eccles Stadium to catch the bus up to the Park City starting line at 3:15am. Damn., decided to leave the back-pack with her and forgot my bandanna. She turned around quickly and got it to me before the buses took off.

It pays to be on the first bus, because when you get off there is no line to the Honey-Bucket Porta Potti. I made my dash twice, the second time waiting much longer in line. Approximately 500 Marathon Runners using 12 porta potti's can be an exciting place to be if you were a bear watching from the woods all those humans doing different dances holding it I laughed and imagined.

5am - thirty minutes before starting time.

Well, the gun went off at 5:30 am without a hitch and we all launched down a tortuously steep 5 mile switchback down hill. For me personally I felt the muscles holding the most lactic acid in my body was being pressed on with a vice grip- my schin muscles. I could not get comfortable and was damn near in a wincing snarl looking forward to every mile marker for the pain to stop.

Finally, around mile 4 it begin to subside and I was beginning to notice the beautiful scenery and enjoy the race when I grabbed my first water and opened my first CU just for practice and entertained a sip before I staggered into "the hill". So many people had talked about the downhill treachery and no one had mentioned what I was staring at.

It wasn't a "hill" - that was a flipping "mountain" to climb with probably 3 ridges that cut back to reach the summit 3 whole miles up a grade that would have an 18 wheeler gearing down to 20mph to climb. Wow! Was I ever glad I had trained with hills. I geared down to my low hill climbing running pace and sailed over it with a wild roar to my fellow Marathoners: "Let's Get This!". I was a much happier runner going up to mile 8.

Hadn't had too much experience running down grades so steep and from mile 10-12 I felt like I kept trying to learn how to relax my mid-torso and lean into the hill with faster quicker steps which worked much better then a flexed torso and a slight forward lean. I watched many other runners especially a lot of women pass me with a gate I had not mastered that seemed second nature to them.

I was awed with my fellow runners on this beautiful summer day treading the path Brigham Young had entered the Valley in. I could almost see him buoyed with pride in Heaven at what a beautiful pasture of green and flowers the salt desert he had entered had become, and here I was celebrating this with my fellow runners who had come from all over the United States and who were in my mind some of the greatest athletes in sea of our culture to rub shoulders with.

It was humbling to share the same pavement as they did. I road up on the bus with a trim classy 90 pound oriental lady who had called SLC home a week, just for this race. Maria was from Buda (near Austin) Texas and she was running her 46th Marathon at age 55. Maria was about to win her age Division at a scorching 3 hours and 50 minutes with an 8:47 pace. Wow!

There was no getting around it, I had to run my own race and settle my 210 pounds of collected Clydesdale hitting the pavement hard with all the strength and stamina I had- Slow,steady, and firm. One couple passed me and with the encouragement they mustered flattered me two shades saying; "Those are some good-looking calve muscles you have. The kind you need to climb hills".

I carried my phone and will share a few text and times I sent them to my sweet ex-wife who had agreed to come and get me after the race after she'd dropped me at the bus at 3am.

Mile 13 was coming up and I felt strong. Starting at 5:30am and now half way past mile 13 I text at 7:46am "Just passed half way" in 2 hours 16 minutes, but it was the 20 mile Marker I was looking for to increase my pace a little. At mile 19 I text at 8:45am ":) mile 19 past".

Molly had told me to increase my pace at mile 20 but as I broke out of the canyon at Mile 18 I was starting to feel fatigue set in and have her way with me and felt a drag that required 2 more cliff packs to shake.

The Salt Lake Police Department was doing a great job directing traffic for us and I thanked every officer I passed for his time for us. Again I was feeling stronger and passed through intersections feeling collected and in good form and we Marathoners begin to see a few people on the side of the roads waving and encouraging us which was a great inspiration to me as I hit mile 23 at 9:38am I text, "Past mile 23" and side stepped an officer laughing I said, "Don't run and text" and I kidded with another in a 15 mph zone, "I wished I was speeding!"

The pavement begin to make mince-meat of my muscles as I worked my way down to the 24th of July parade for mile 24, but as I entered the Parade Hall and heard the cheers of the 100,000 people my spirit took over and forgot about the pain. Now I was riding on angels wings hitting my feet on the street like a prancing Clydesdale pulling his load as a happy camper headed for his oats after a hard days work.

Mile 25 we turned off the parade route and all my enthusiasm with it. My body was saying "this is farther then we have ever come before", remembering the 24 miles I had done 3 weeks ago. At 10am I text,"1 more mile to go.." and indeed reassurances from friendly officers steering our path clear encouraged the few around me.

As I plodded away at my trot from about mile 22 to the end I was now passing those who had passed me and were walking. Like I said, "If your still running at any pace your still going fast at the end of a marathon" and I had kept my run going and had not descended into a walk-run-walk pace which many were doing. My steady as-you-go pace was now paying off.

Finally at last corner I turned and to my delight I saw the finish line some 500 yards away and my legs begin springing into action and floating again at the distant cheers and encouraging yells. We turned back onto the end of the parade route at 9th east and I saw the big arch of the Marathon across the street, loud speakers blasting some muscle beating music, and I was a now dashing a proud Clydesdale about to over-take another couple of runners who had passed me earlier. The screaming announcer yell my number in anticipation of the short distance race I appeared much more ready to win, and the thrilled crowd burst into applause at my last 100 meter sprint that felt as if I was floating above ground.

No longer was I the 210 pound Clydesdale collected and steady,- now I was the springing deer bounding over sagebrush, my hands in the air I had completely forgotten about the 26 grueling miles behind me and I yelled "Whah-whoo!" approaching the finish line and roared,"YES!" as I crossed it.

I was so thrilled I'd made it and achieved my personal goals. Indeed, and I had finished my longest run and first ever Marathon. I was grateful to God for the expression of talents I had been given by the Almighty, honored to have been part of a legacy of religious freedom, liberty, and independence this race was all about and touched personally by the encouragement, personal efforts, and great spirits of my fellow Marathoners whom I was now apart of and I had a Finishing Medal to reflect on a wonderful memory.

Post Script:
Enjoy the new alternative genre abstract rock song I made with some pictures of the Marathon during my two days of recovery ;)

Cody Robert Judy

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