Grant and I woke up at 3:45 a.m. the morning of the marathon, and so, by default, did our parents. We got ready to go, then had some Cheerios and almond milk and purple Powerade.
For some reason I was convinced we would forget our bibs, even after I myself had pinned them to our shirts. We did not forget.Mom and Dad drove us to the bus-loading zone, where we got in a not-so-long line to board a school bus. We were glad we got there early so we avoided a hoard of people who arrived just after us. The bus departed and we were on our way!
The drive up to the start line takes a while, which we knew both from last year and from driving the route the day before, but it feels even longer in the dark. We talked a bit, but mostly looked out the window.
When we reached the start line, we immediately got in line for the first of several bathroom trips, then grabbed mylar blankets and sat on the road to wait. The weather at the start line was much more pleasant this year–probably sixty degrees instead of the frigid wind we encountered last time. At 6:35 a.m. we tossed our gear bag in the truck and headed over to the crowd to await the starting gun.
Finally, at 6:45 a.m., the race began! We were closer to the front of the pack this time, and crossed the start line at 6:51.
It felt good to be running after the long wait at the start line. Grant noted that his foot hurt a little bit, but that he presumed the pain would go away. We passed the 4:15 pace group and lots of people in matching running garb. (For some reason Grant didn’t want to match me this year?) Grant tied his shoe at one point.
First bit of downhill. It was nice. Suddenly, I developed a sharp pain in my left hip. I’ve never had pain like it, running or not, and I was a little worried. I tried to focus on breathing, which helped a little. We noted that the sky was darker this year than last, since the 2014 race started almost thirty minutes late. We did some 8-minute miles here to give us some wiggle room at the Veyo Hill, which loomed large ahead of us.
First we passed the Veyo Pie Shop, which has a terrifying anthropomorphized pie mascot. Grant suggested maybe we come back this afternoon and get a pie. That sounded like a good idea to me. Then we started up the Veyo Hill, a mile-long 6% grade. We slowed down a lot and just plodded our way up. It wasn’t nearly as bad as last year, probably because we were in the shade almost the entire way up. At the top, Grant made use of the bathroom.
Tried to enjoy this downhill portion before the next bit.
This is the part of the race where last year I began to feel absolutely terrible, so I was a little anxious. We didn’t worry too much about speed through here, and fueled up with some waffle (which Grant did not like as much as I did). Around mile 12 I told Grant I couldn’t talk anymore because I was beat, so he told me about the top ten men’s tennis players. We were so happy to reach the half mark at 1:58:27, on pace for our goal of less than four hours.
This is where the St. George marathon gets good. I was overwhelmed by how beautiful the canyon is. At mile 16 we saw spectators and what appeared to be an alpine band (accordion, lederhosen, etc.)
We still felt pretty good. Grant wanted some more food, so we opened the sports beans. I ate one and spit it out immediately. While my stomach felt much better than last year, I definitely didn’t feel like eating. Not eating when or as much as we should have was the biggest mistake we made this year. The second biggest mistake was me thinking “Oh, we’ve just got 8.2 miles left” at mile 18.
We saw a woman who had fallen down and looked like I did when I encountered the shrub in September. Grant and I were still talking, and the scenery was incredible. We hit 20 miles at exactly three hours, which was good because prior to that mile marker I was incapable of doing math. 1 hour = 6.2 miles is an easier calculation, though, and I figured we would be just under our goal. At mile 20, Grant said “Hey, we just have a 10k left,” which felt pretty good.
Lots of downhill. Feet killing. During one of these miles I said to Grant, “My body is rebelling.” This is also where the aid stations don’t exactly mirror the mile markers, which was a little disorienting. We were in survival mode now.
The weirdest thing about a marathon is how something that should be easy (like running two miles, which I can do in my sleep) becomes insurmountable. I was not feeling great as we entered St. George proper. People lined the streets, handing out soda, candy, and popsicles, none of which sounded appealing. I grabbed an otter pop and held it against my forehead. By now the sun was out in full force and, while the weather felt better than last year, I was more than ready to be finished. More than once I told Grant I couldn’t do this, and that I had to stop running, and he just kept repeating, “Come on, Amanda. We’ve got this!” Mile 25 was by far the hardest mile I have ever run. This photo (from about a mile later) shows how we were feeling.
We passed a water feature/splash pad and I legitimately thought about just walking over and laying down in the water. I didn’t care about anything at this point, even about making it under goal. I just wanted to stop running. My feet, core, shoulders, hips and IT band all hurt. Grant kept me going. A little ways ahead of the finish line, we saw Jason, camera at the ready!
We look so much happier here than we really were. The rest of the fam was also there cheering us on: Mio and Jordan, Hannah, Mom and Dad, and Dave. My watch showed that we hit marathon distance at 3:57:42 seconds, so that’s what I’m going with. (Official time was 3:58.) We not only finished under our goal, but we had run the whole way. We kept plugging away, and crossed the finish line together. I just threw my arm around Grant. I couldn’t even cry this time; all I wanted was a carton of chocolate milk and to sit down.
We wandered through the post-chute food area for a while before determining that the Great Harvest bread and Creamies did not sound good. We each grabbed a water and a chocolate milk, then headed out to find our family.
So glad to be finished!
I can’t overemphasize how happy we were to be not running anymore.
It was amazing to see our family at the end. Jason’s been so supportive (as always) through the last five crazy months of training. Couldn’t have done this without him.
It was also bittersweet, since we had hoped my dad would be doing it with us. Next year
We also couldn’t help but miss Adam, but he’s where he is supposed to be. (Judging from his most recent letter, I don’t think he was disappointed to miss out.)
And Dave filled in. He was a good sport to come along on a madcap Pullan weekend and we’re so glad he did!
Grant and I changed into our sandals (thanks Mom!) and crashed. We probably should have walked around, but at this point we just wanted to rest. A few minutes later we went to get our gear bag, and then–on my dad’s instruction–went back to the Runners Only area for food. We each had a piece of bread (of which I handled one bite then gave it to Grant) and a Creamie. Are those a Utah thing? Anyway, they were delicious.
Hannah and Dad walked back to the Hotel, but the rest of us drove. Grant and I showered, and then we went to Mongolian Barbecue for Mongolian barbecue. I think this is my new go-to post-race meal: carbs, salt, and a fortune cookie!
I’m so grateful the race went well. I worried we would have a heartburn/leg cramp repeat of last year, or that the hills would get to me, or that Grant’s lack of running (in spite of his very active lifestyle) would be a problem. None of those things materialized, thank goodness, and Grant and I admitted to each other later that we pushed ourselves so we wouldn’t let each other down. He’s an awesome brother, a great running buddy, and the toughest sixteen-year-old I know.