Sunday, October 3, 2010

Running The St. George Marathon

St. George Marathon 2010: 5 Hours & 26 Minutes!!

This marathon weekend was one of the most fun experiences of my whole life. It started Friday night when we went to the marathon expo. We went to the First Timer's clinic by Terry Tucker which was excellent. He said that he did everyone a favor and took down the wall at mile 20. He said that people hit a wall at mile 20 because they think that is what's supposed to happen. They expect it. And so that's what happens. He suggested that runners get that out of their minds and decide that if they are going to "hit the wall", they can do it at mile 27. Great advice!

We also picked up our race packets. The St. George Marathon prints a poster every year that they give to all 7400 runners. I was surprised when I looked at this year's poster to see that it was one of the pictures I took during last year's race! They contacted me a few months ago to ask if they could use a picture in one of their publications, but didn't tell me that it would be the official race poster. What a cool surprise!

Saturday morning we rode the bus with our friends Darin and Shelly to the starting line in Central, Utah. The bus to the marathon is always full of 1) Nervous chatter, 2) Anxiety, and 3) The penetrating smell of Bengay. Before the bus started, the driver told us where the exits were, how to locate a fire extinguisher, and where the emergency brake was in case she wasn't able to stop the bus. One witty runner said "You haven't told us what to do in case of a water landing."

Prayers were answered and we arrived at the starting line without needing to use the fire extinguisher or perform CPR on the bus driver. We stopped for the customary Start Line picture:

And now for the funniest story of the day: The marathon was a few minutes from start time and lots of runners headed for the hills, bushes, and trees in the dark for a last-minute bathroom break. Mel decided she'd head for a bush too. A few minutes later I could smell her coming back. She was distraught and said that in the darkness of the bushes she stepped in someone's poop! She did her best to wipe it off, but it still sloshed out the holes of her shoes when she stepped down. This is evidence of the fact that I love my wife: I still agreed to run with her for the next 5+ hours DESPITE her smell.

From the moment the race started, it was very, very warm. I was a bit concerned when I was already sweating my guts out at mile one. That is unusual for me. Mile one was miserable. Not because of the race, but because of the guy who was running by us. He reminded me of a very un-funny Jerry Seinfeld. "Man, there sure are a lot of shirts on the side of the road." And now for the punch line......(wait for it....wait for it.....) "Man, someone is going to get themselves a free shirt after the race." Instead of getting laughs, I think I heard crickets chirping after the joke. People were not impressed. This continued on for 10 minutes before we stopped to walk and let Seinfeld move ahead. Seinfeld is lucky nobody was carrying a pocket knife. Otherwise he may have been the first death ever at the St. George Marathon.

The marathon is such an incredible experience to be part of. There is such an energy and excitement and togetherness among the runners. It is incredible to look ahead of you and behind you and see thousands of other runners weaving through the hills. This is one of my favorite pictures I took from yesterday:

Around mile 2 a girl came up to us and said "Hey! Cory Reese! I will be listening to some of your songs while I'm running today." I suggested she find some different running music. One of the things I loved most was taking pictures during the race (117 pictures to be exact). One lady saw me taking a picture and said "Do you want me to take a picture of you guys?" (Runners are very kind.) Two thumbs up for her photography skills:

At mile 7 we reached the most intimidating part of the course, the dreaded Veyo Hill. I appreciated this sign as we were heading up the hill:

We were thankful to be done with Veyo and reach the aid station at mile 9. Unfortunately this little stunt left me with orange pulp in my teeth for the next hour or two:

We spent some time running with our kid's awesome first grade teacher and 21-time marathon runner Mrs. McCombs. I love this picture where I happened to catch her looking back to provide some encouragement and moral support. This is what the marathon is all about: everyone helping everyone make it to the finish line.

I am convinced that running through Snow Canyon is one of the most amazing things in the world. Here is a glimpse of the Snow Canyon aid station.

By mile 18 it had become ridiculously hot (Ridiculously hot = 94 degrees. Seriously.). Dehydration had set in and many people had started the marathon death shuffle.

Alex: "Welcome to Jeopardy."
Cory: "Alex, I'd like to take Heat Stroke for $600."

Every once in a while we would see a shuttle drive by, with its welcoming doors wide open offering runners its comfy seats, air conditioning, and a ride to the finish line. It seemed like a vulture circling around a wounded animal expecting to get a meal soon. But none of the runners I saw gave in to the temptation.

The Young Women in our ward did a project where they made signs for everyone in the neighborhood who was running the marathon. I thought this was so thoughtful and the signs helped us stay positive so we didn't become dinner for the vulture.

At mile 20 I saw this random stranger holding a sign up for me which gave me an enormous boost. I was surprised that I had become such a well-known member of the community! Oh......wait...............

Within the last few miles all fluid had been leeched out of our bodies. If we had been grapes at the starting line, we were now raisins. Like those really shriveled, hard raisins that you buy at Walmart. It was 94 degrees outside and we had been running for five hours. These big water misters were a welcome sight. If you had come up to Mel and said "Listen, you look like a raisin. I will give you $1000 and tickets to see Oprah, or you can walk through my water mister." she wouldn't have thought twice. She'd take the mister.

Mel's goal for the race was 5 hours and 30 minutes which I thought may be a bit ambitious. But within the last few miles I knew she could do it. I pushed her to keep going and ensured her that she would thank me later even though in the moment she may have wanted to ram an ice pick through my eyeball. We were passing lots of people and it was a cool feeling to be running while everyone else was walking. We did the Galloway run/walk method and passed LOTS of people who cruised by us earlier on in the race.

You will never believe who we caught in the last mile: SEINFELD! Unfortunately he had the last laugh and sped past us at the end. In the last stretch we saw lots of friends, and Mel's mom and sister who brought the kids in to see us run. We were so thankful for them.

We reached the finish line in 5 hours and 26 minutes, so Mel beat her personal record by 35 minutes! Amazing. I was pretty overheated and gave myself a 63% chance of throwing up (fortunately I beat the odds). The St. George Marathon does an incredible job with the finishers area and has tons of good food available. I had been so excited to eat a month's worth of Blue Bunny Ice Cream. Unfortunately by that point my stomach felt so sick that I didn't really want to eat anything. I managed to get down half of an ice cream sandwich.

I felt really proud of Mel. She worked hard in her training, pushed through some challenging times during the race when she wasn't feeling very good, and earned herself a PR. A year ago she wanted to run a marathon but didn't want to do it by herself. I told her that if she really wanted to run a marathon, I would run it with her. It was rewarding to have that day arrive.

I felt really proud of myself. I ran 4 marathons in less than 4 months and feel like I have learned so much since I did my first marathon a year ago. I once saw a Nike quote that said "Running never takes more than it gives back." I think this is so true. This was one of the best experiences of my life.

"Believe deep down in your heart that you're destined to do great things."
~ Joe Paterno

So......did you run the race? If so, how did it go? Did the heat make you want to attack Jerry Seinfeld with a pocket knife?


Tonya Mae said...

You'd be willing to PAY $600 for heat stroke?? Cory, let's get your brain examined.

Poor Mel and her Shoepoo. That sucks.

But kudos to the YW who helped cheer you on through their colorful and bright signs. :) Congrats again!!!

Marie Says Yes said...

you are both obviously very awesome and very sick!!!

way cool you did it together.


Mr. Thomas said...

Cory and Mel we enjoyed riding the bus up to the start line with you, but the rest of the day really sucked (for me that is) The heat was horrible and my time was worse than that. It was fun but wished it would have been 30 degrees cooler. I am glad I didn't have to see the human ***t on Mels foot. That is wrong in so many ways, but glad it was her and not me:) How about running the Mesquite Marathon on November 20th?

Jen said...

Way to go! That is so awesome about your picture being used as the poster! And Mel is awesome for beating that time by so much. You guys rock!