This was my 4th year and while I missed a super important commitment back up in Northern Utah on the same day, at least I had a great experience AGAIN with this event.
Becca and I headed down Thursday night in preparation for the expo Friday.
Of course, a nice easy run was in order Friday morning. Nothing long or hard, just enough to stretch out the legs and enjoy the sunshine.
The Expo is one of my favorite parts of the weekend. I love the energy of all the runners and vendors. D, Becca and M, and I had a great time chatting with people, talking running, the course and I had a sweet visit with some fb/irl friends!
(Doug, me and Monique)
I was able to sneak away early, grabbed some dinner and crashed back at the hotel. I laid out all my race gear and then climbed in bed to attempt as much sleep as possible.
Gosh that alarm goes off early. Race day is ALWAYS early! I quietly got ready (so as not to wake up Sleeping Beauty Becca), and made my way down to the lobby to catch a ride in the shuttle to the start line.
As I got to the buses, I started texting a friend trying to connect up at the start line. We never made it on the same bus, but eventually found one another at the fires.
Love me the fires.
The start line was cold this year. Colder than it has ever been in my experience down there. I was grateful for my tights, blankie, gloves and the direct source of heat from the fire. That's the one advantage of taking one of the first buses. I also love to just listen to others talking, feel the energy, think over the course and try to start some positive talk in my head. This particular morning was especially relaxing. No pressure. I had already qualified for Boston, so that monkey was off my back. I really didn't set any expectations for myself other than to post something respectable.
Soon enough, we made our way over to the trucks and I hucked my drop bag in. Somewhere, in the chaos of the porta potties, bag drop off and trying to find the 3:45 pacer, I missed the national anthem. At this point, runners were moving forward and we were off.
Hit my Garmin right at the start pad and then tried to find a pace amongst all the runners. It's usually pretty crowded at the start and that's okay. Lot's of weaving around and trying to find an open space. Again, since I had no specific goal or expectation, I was okay with some jostling.
The first 3-4 miles were pretty cold. I actually ran with my space blanket wrapped around me, my gloves and my long sleeve 3/4 zip top. It wasn't until about mile 5 or 6 that I ditched the space blanket. Another half mile, I ditched the top and by the time I was ready to climb Vejo hill, I wiped my nose one last time and then ditched the gloves.
The dreaded Vejo hill. I've run this now 4 years in a row and every year I am confident that I remember what I'm in for, and every year I realize that I am not.
Seriously. My legs felt like lead. Back at mile 5 they were sluggish, but now.....lead. I kept thinking "what the crap is wrong with me?" Thinking that once I crested the hill, they would come back to life.
Nope. Slogging, slogging, slogging........ I started looking forward to every aid station so that I could use that as an excuse to walk through. I took my time fueling, and drinking, and.........slogging.
As I started down Snow Canyon, a familiar shirt passed by. I recognized a runner from the store's training group so I caught up and said hello. Clearly, I wasn't gonna be keeping pace with him for long, so wished him well and on I slogged.
At this point now, it was just make it to the next aid station. My legs are hurting, they feel like they weigh 100 pounds each and all I really want to do is jump into the sag wagon and go home. This is where it all becomes a mental game.
You know the game in which your body is saying "ENOUGH ALREADY" but your mind keeps saying "but if you quit, that's another DNF. That sucks more than anything. Do you really want that next to your name? How about making it to the next aid station and then seeing how you feel?"
This was the game for the rest of the course. Each aid station, I would walk through, get some fuel, drink some liquids, have someone rub either bengay, or bio freeze on my right hip and IT band. After stalling as long as I could, then I'd pick up the shuffle again and start the talk all over for the next two miles until the next aid station.
I love when we come downhill into town. The crowds ALWAYS give me a boost! By now, the temperature was absolutely perfect, the sun was out, hundreds of people cheering and lots of motivational signs. Now is the time to let all the positive vibes outweigh the negative that your body thinks it needs to spew forth.
I remembered the section where they pass out popsicles. Oh, how I wanted a popsicle. Not because I was hot, but I wanted the sugar. And YES! They did not disappoint. Got my beloved treat and then talked myself into making it to the next landmark. The cold wet cloths. In past years, when it's been blazing hot, those cold wet rags are lifesavers. This year, I was grateful for them to be able to wipe off the sticky from my hands. It was refreshing, and just enough to carry me to the last block and the final turn.
I had long given up looking at my Garmin since my strategy had been to go from aid station to aid station. As I turned and headed towards the finish line, I began hoping that I had at least done some kind of respectable time. I had no expectation of doing anything better.
As the crowds thickened and the chute narrowed, I was somehow able to pick up my pace ever so slightly. I love finding some juice at the very, very end. Next thing I know I hear, "HEY MCAT!!!" I turn and see my friend Doug waving and cheering me on! Okay. That was all I needed for the last few feet!
I sprinted in and looked at the clock. Wha?? I looked down at my Garmin. What in the world?!?!
4:17 ?? My best time for this course. Huh.
Holy freakin smokes!! For feeling like utter crap for 21 miles of the 26.2 - I had actually pulled off my fastest time for that course! Well lookie at that! NGL - big smile on my face. Happiness and every ache and pain magically disappeared replaced by the high only a runner at the end of a hard race can understand.
I grabbed a bottled water, walked through the runner's area and made my way over to WRC's Grand Slam tent. Becca, D and M were there handing out Grand Slam medals. I ditched my shoes and socks, and put on my flip flops and wrapped in my blankie that Becca had brought with her for me. I stretched, relived my race and basked in what can only be described and happy, happy wonderment.
I checked my official results on their mobile app (matched my Garmin), grabbed my race shirt, retrieved my bag and then searched the discarded clothing piles to see if I could find my long sleeve 3/4 zip.
By noon or so, Becca and I were gassing up the car, getting some food and hitting the road for the drive home. Thankfully, she was driving and I could just relax, stretch and close my eyes now and again.
Love having another STG marathon in the books. I love this event. I love the organizers, the expo, the course, the runners and the support of the community. I also saw one of my new favorite signs: "Great job perfect stranger!" How awesome is that? One stranger cheering on, encouraging, and happy for another stranger.
You know what? At races I never see signs like: "You suck" or "Go idiot go!" or "What in the world were you thinking dumba**?" Yet, every day we say or think those things of others. Huh. Something to consider.
Thanks to Becca, my WRC family, my supportive friends and family for another wonderful experience!
*yeah, I know I don't have very many pictures this year.....it just kinda got by me but if you REALLY want, you can read about my previous experiences