Thursday-Drove to Las Vegas by myself! This really isn't an accomplishment or anything, we had never driven through Vegas to get to Utah, so the experience was new for me, and I'm hoping it will be the last time I travel THROUGH the Hoover Dam. At least until construction is complete. Northbound you travel at a rate of 10 mph for 3 miles, southbound you travel at a rate of 4 mph for 4.5 miles. Not fun.
That's the new bridge to allow those not wishing to drive at a snail's pace to keep their momentum as they travel. Can't wait.
I picked up my two sisters, Stephanie and Jen, from the Las Vegas airport, and we were on our way. My parents and Nikki had already made it to St. George because they didn't have any dam traffic, so they had gotten us checked in to our lovely condo. Huge screen TV included to watch all the football or conference your little heart desires. With the assistance of my St. George navigator (thanks, Nik. For those of you who are college students, Stephanie is available to get you around Dixie area on a bike.), we found the local Costco. We purchased four items for the group, but Costco's always fun. And different in Utah. As are most things there. We had a rousing night of watching football where I learned a new football term. For those of you who don't know, my dad coached football at Skyline High School and we watched a LOT of football growing up, so while I don't know positions and everything, I like to think that I have a solid football knowledge base. So at the end of a game (it could have been the USU vs BYU game or Texas A&M and another team-they have blurred in my memory at this point) the kicker was "iced". I thought my family had just made it up until the announcer said "They're icing the kicker." You'll have to google it because this post is getting long enough as it is.
Friday, Kellie and Perry Jr. came in on a little plane. Perry Jr is Baby Yan'Tu, but my dad thought that Perry Jr. suited him just fine. Perry Jr. tried his hardest to stop being cute the whole time we were there, but to no avail. We all went to the expo. Who doesn't love a good walk around looking at stuff that you didn't know you needed until you got there and then thought it was the best idea you'd heard all day? The best part was when I saw a sales person from the local running store wearing hot pink knee high compression socks. I walked up to him and told him that he was my hero, because whenever I wear my white knee high compression socks in public, I get "Nice socks." I knew if he was planning on running around in those, I would fit right in. We met an 80 year old man from Japan who had run the St. George marathon for ten years in a row! He was kind enough to let us take our picture with him.
What an inspiration! Isn't he cute?
Then we got down to business. Shopping. Dad had chosen to stay behind because he knew. He knew that five girls + one mom=extended periods of shopping and talking, and why not use that time more effectively by golfing two balls for nine holes. I'd say that's excellent time management skills. Lunch at Smash Burger was a party in my tummy.
We decided that at this point it would be a good idea to drive the course to see what we could expect along the way. We had to drive it backwards then forwards because there is only one way to Central, Utah where the race starts. We came across the first "little" hill and I assured Nikki that it was nothing to be concerned about since there wasn't much of an incline, so it really wouldn't feel like much, to which she said "It's going to feel like hill!" That got a great laugh and a future idea for next year.
Nikki and I at the start line. Now we drove the course as we would be running it. Didn't seem too bad, but there was the ONE hill that I thought I had trained properly for. No problem. Emily told me I had this one, and at least I wasn't running an ultra marathon like she was.
Of course, we had a spaghetti dinner, reminiscent of many prerace meals from my childhood, not for me of course, but for the champs. Another football game. May have had another "ice the kicker." I had bought us all matching pajamas in celebration of Nikki's 40th birthday so that we would all have something to take home to remember.
Race day! The big question that I got asked was: Was I going to wear makeup? Uh, yeah. I needed all the help that I could get to look bright eyed and bushy tailed at 4 am. Jen woke up to take us (didn't ask her, she just did). The buses were very well organized and lined up ready to get us to the starting line. At the start line, there were fires and hot cocoa and bandaids and port a potties, all essential to a good start. Nikki and I discussed our strategy. Don't pee your pants, stay with the 3:40 pacer, toss gloves as needed, don't step on any roadkill, avert eyes when someone dashes for the bushes. The start of a marathon is really uneventful for those back in the pack. It's more like a shuffle. But we started. Yay us! Nikki had used the johns (sorry, John) five times before we started, and hit promptly hit the first one at mile three. I ran ahead, stopped at the next one, she ran ahead of me, she stopped, I ran on, staying with the 3:40 guy. we ran over a few hills that were tought, but I knew "the big one" was coming up, so I kept on. My family planned on cheering us on in Veyo, so I was looking for them. They were hard to miss:
This provided some great comic relief. I laughed as they took this picture:
That's me waving my arms like a crazy girl.
And then The Hill. It looked benign enough, maybe a 6 % grade for 2 miles. My coach, Stephanie (she was made my coach the day before. Her experience in coaching is that she talked to a guy from Gilbert that morning, who had run the Top of Utah marathon two weeks before) said that I was to look straight ahead while I ran up the hill and it would feel less bad. As I started the Climb, Gonna Fly Now by Bill Conti or "Rocky's Theme" came on. This may have been the worst strategic move that I could have made during this race because I ask you, How is it possible not to run your guts out when you hear the trumpets start on that song?! It's impossible! And I was not about to take the time to get my iPod off my arm, change songs, and put it back on. So I pushed. Hard. Up hill. That dang hill NEVER ended. (I feel like I'm sounding like a bit of a wimp right now. Check out what Emily did that same day: http://royalpitatoias.blogspot.com/2010/10/more-than-words-extreme.html ). After I had that hill under my belt I swore. Out loud. Under my breath. In the port a potty. I'm not proud of that, but that hill really stunk! After this, everything went downhill ( no pun intended) for me. Walked a little. Started feeling dehydrated. Saw the 3:50 guy go by me. Wished I had spectators to provide social pressure to keep going. Wished I hadn't lost Nikki. Longed for a ride in the ambulance. Although I made sure that I was actually running when the photographers came by. Did get a boost at mile 21 when I saw John and the kids. Nothing like a three year old yellng for you. I asked Braiden if his mom was in front of me (which I knew she MUST be because she had the mental toughness not to wish for an ambulance). She was in front of me. That was kind of bad news for me because it added to the "forget pushing really hard" that I had succumbed to. Then came my coach, Stephanie, to run with me. Thank you, Stephie. I told her not to go too fast because she had fresh legs. The spectators started becoming more regular. Saw mom and Kellie and Perry Jr around mile 23. One of the most welcome sites I saw was four little girls holding out their hands for a high five. Of course I had to high five them. Popsicle at mile 25. Wet towels at mile 25.5 (seriously? No one thought that could be beneficial at mile 18?) Steph left me at mile 26. Do you finish weak or strong? Me, I finished strong. I sprinted to the finish line. Still finished slower than marathon #1. Medal, misters, then ice cream. I cannot figure out who wants to eat right after a long run. Not me. I would rather drink any calories. So I had a Sprite. Ahhhh, Utah. Found my peeps.That's Nikki during the race. These are my peeps:
Jen ran illegally with Nikki for a while as well. There's even proof that she was in a marathon as she is in one of Nikki's marathon photos. But guess what Nikki's time was for her FIRST (and she says only) MARATHON EVER? 3:48! She qualified for Boston on her very first marathon ever! No wonder she is a state swimming champ! If I could just hone the mental aspects of competitive sports that she has, I could be a force to be reckoned with. Way to go, Nikki! That's how you celebrate turning 40!
Nap. Long hot shower. Conference. Football. Ice the kicker.
We all went our separate ways in the morning. So much fun getting together with my family. We really missed Matt though. He "said" he had a business meeting, but I'm thinking he didn't want to hang around a pest. That's me he's referring to. Me?! A pest?! Well, get ready mister, because this is your notice to clear your schedule for MY 40th birthday celebration. It's a toss up between the Honolulu Marathon, Grand Canyon hike, or a cruise with Michael Ballam (for those of you unfamiliar with Michael Ballam's work, I am a fan of his, mainly for the role I've seen him play many times. I won't say anymore than that for fear of getting accused of sacrilege).
The big question is: When is the next marathon? After doing some research, I have discovered that I need to run a "flat" marathon to be faster. That would be Phoenix or Las Vegas. Phoenix is in January. That's probably the one. Then we are going to Catalina in March, where I will run the marathon there, but this one will be trail run, so I will not be attempting a qualifying run there, just enjoy the run. And what did I learn from this one? Train for the course, not just the most dominant feature of the course. I did A LOT of downhill running, because that's what I thought the course was, but not too much uphill running. And I need to really work on my mental game if I'm going to qualify for anything. But I will take any marathon, running, hobbling, cartwheeling, as long as I get to have some time with just my sisters (and brother).