I've been trying to think of the perfect sentence to start out my report. 'That was not a pleasant experience.' 'I'm too fat too run a marathon.' 'Fast Running Bloggers Unite!' I'm not a writer, so I can't say I have writer's block. Anyway, I got nothing. So here we go.
JamesW first told me about the Mesquite Marathon. At the time I was set on not running another marathon until I was sure I could qualify for Boston. But there were three things I really liked about this one. A) It's on a Saturday. 2) It goes through three states. D) It only costs $55. The more I allowed these things to fester inside me, the more the infectuous pus of "when is another chance like this going to come along?" began to ooze out. So a month before I ran 15.1 miles with the thought in mind that if I can do this, I'll seriously consider the marathon. I did it. The next week I ran 17.4 miles with the thought in mind that if I can do this I will do the marathon. I did it. It hurt. I didn't want to do the marathon. But the next day I felt recovered. So it was on. Time to cram for the exam. I put in 61 miles the next week. (That should get me ready.) Then I took it relatively easy for the next two weeks. Was I ready? Absolutely not, and I knew it. But still I hoped for the best. According to the McMillan Running Calculator and my half marathon PR I should be able to finish in 3:50 (if properly trained.) Anywhere between 3:50 and 4:00 would make me happy.
Since I'm such a cheap guy like Troy on the Goonies, I looked on the blog to see who lived in Mesquite. I knew Gary Culver did, so I asked him if he'd be interested in putting up a stranger from the blog for a night. I took a chance with Rhett at the Havasu Half, and that worked out. Would fate smile down on me again?
As it turns out, Gary's really cool, too. Since he doesn't have an active blog that tracks his daily workouts, not a lot of people know about him. He's an ultra runner that uses the Galloway method. My wife and I got to spend a pleasant weekend with him and his wife. They are two of the nicest people you could ever meet. Very intelligent, too. We shipped our kids off to various family members and friends, including our daughter Abby to her grandma's house in Kingman.
Hands down the best part of the race was seeing other bloggers. Some, like Walter and Jose, I had met before, and others I was meeting for the first time. Here's a list of the bloggers I saw in order of appearance: Gary, Scott, Eight Kid Mom, Ben, Josse, Walter, Bec, TylerS, Mary Ann, and Jose. (I hope I didn't miss anyone.) I didn't get to see Red Rooster, and that bummed me out.
Gary was worried that we might get some of the 100 mph winds that northern Nevada was getting. But it was beautiful out; 57 degrees when we walked out the door. And it stayed beautiful; 63 degrees when we got back. I didn't wear the gloves, headband, sweat pants, long sleeved-shirt, or jacket that I brought. We rode up to the start in these luxury buses. Only about 170 people signed up for the marathon. I sat next to Gary. Walter was one row up from me and Bec was right behind me. Bec was so cute. I overheard part of her conversation with a first time marathoner. She told the guy that she hadn't figured out how to run marathons yet. Then I read her blog, and found out that this was her 13th. She's so humble.
The sun was just coming up as we got off the bus. I ate a banana and drank some Gatorade. I emptied my bladder over by the electric fence. That's where I met Tyler, but he wasn't willing to shake my hand until he put gloves on. I did about a half mile warm up, stretched out, and was ready to go. In between songs from The Furnace that were stuck in my mind, I kept repeating - Even Effort. Relax.
With the goal to run a sub 4-hour marathon, I started off just going with the flow. I knew the first 10 miles or so were downhill, and I wanted to bank a little time before I hit the hills. I was running my own race, but I knew a handful of people were going for the same time I was, and it was encouraging that I was never too far behind them. Gary was doing his Galloway method. That made it really easy to know how long I was running because he would run for 5 minutes and walk for 30 seconds. Ben was trying to pace his wife, Eight Kid Mom, their friend, and one of the '8 kids' to a 4-hour time. I was leap frogging them after a while. By the way, I don't know how Eight Kid Mom has an 18-year old kid when she's only 32. And certainly none of her kids passed through the birth canal because she's far too skinny. (Somehow, that last statement is going to get me in trouble with someone.)
The first aid station was at mile 3. I ducked in the porta-potty really fast and grabbed some TP for my clogged up nose. I drank a cup of water because the Gatorade was still in the cooler. At mile 3.75 we entered Arizona. Most of the race was actually in Arizona. That' why it was so awesome. At mile 5 I took a Gu. From then on out I would take them every 4 miles. I also grabbed some at the aid stations that had them. So I ended up with about as many as I brought with me.
The first 11 miles were great. I was well on my way to getting that sub 4. Mile 12 brought the first significant hill. I powered up it, and without losing a lot of time. But my breathing was becoming labored. I hoped I would get it back under control once I hit the downhills. However, I really don't remember any downhills. It was all a big blur. Actually, it wasn't that bad. Yet.
An interesting feature to this race is that they put up "Miles to Go" markers. So when you see the "8 Miles to Go" sign, you've run 18.2 miles. The half marathon, 10k, and 5k were also on the same course, so I could see when I was half way there. I looked at my Garmin and saw 1:55:xx at the half way point. At that point I knew I wouldn't get a sub 4, but I still hoped to be close to it. Then mile 15's aid station came along. Here's the aid I got: "I'm sorry. I have nothing for you." You have nothing for me?! Give me that Thirstbuster in your car! You've got to have something. That was quite disheartening. So I plugged along to the next aid station telling myself, "Two miles isn't that long." Well, it is.
I finally made it to the next aid station. In between here is where I finally fell off pace for a sub 4. This is the last time I saw Ben during the race. His friend he was pacing was wanting to throw in the towel. His wife, Cathy, er I mean Eight Kid Mom, and their son had gotten a little ahead of me. Climbing those next never-ending hills was brutal. At one point I stopped, sat down, and emptied my shoe out. One of the runners asked if I was ok. I told him yes, but it was a lie Steven. A LIE! The cool thing about the race is I was done at the same time Walter was. Well, he had finished in 2:50. I was finished at 2:50. This was the same time I yelled out, "Curse you, Nan!" How dare you tell me to reward myself with a marathon. (You know I love you, Nan. But I sure hated you then.) Anyway, nobody heard me. I'm sure she felt a shiver go down her spine though.
A couple of miles later I found myself waddling like a penguin. That's when I yelled, "Curse you, allie!" (She knows why.) But I was finally out of the big hills. And with a 10k to go, I was telling myself, "I can run 6.2 miles." That's a little more than my Wal Mart loop. Even thought I stopped and walked a few times the last six miles, it was a moral victory. It would have been so easy to stop and walk the rest of the way or even quit. But I kept going. I was proud of myself for finding the mental strength to finish hard. (Even if hard meant walking for 30 seconds here and there.)
With two miles to go I could see Eight Kid Mom again. Her son was long gone. 'Come on Burt. You can run 2 miles in your sleep.' I knew I was going to finish. But I also now knew I wouldn't finish under 4:30. Oh well. I'm getting out of it what I put into it. And not a lot of 195 lb guys could do what I just did. With half a mile to go I got within earshot of Eight Kid Mom. "Go Cathy!", I yelled. That's what she needed. I'm embarrassed to say that I had to stop twice and walk for about 20 seconds each in the last mile. I'm pretty sure it was post partum depression. I mean, I was almost done. Now what was I going to do with my life? I hadn't thought that far. I don't want to be done! But really I did. So I finally got to the last turn where I could see the finish line. There was a small crowd lined on the along the street. They were just sitting there. Quiet. Maybe because I looked like death-warmed-over. So I yelled, "You all can cheer!" That fired them up. Then I started slapping high fives and kissing babies. Well, if there were babies, I would have kissed them. I didn't see any. But I saw Tyler and slapped him a gloveless five. I saw Walter and his crew cheering me in. And I saw my wife taking my picture. It was so cool to have them there at the end when I was knocking on death's door.
After the race I was done. It would have been nice to go mingle. But I could barely move. I did talk to Mary Ann, and she told me she got 2nd place for females. I went back to Gary's, showered, packed my stuff, went to Pizza Hut for a post marathon meal, then headed back home. We picked up my daughter in Kingman and made a bed for her in the cab of my truck. We at dinner at Arby's. She puked it all up.
||On pace for