Sunday, December 8, 2013

Tucson Marathon

December 8, 2013 7:00 AM
Tucson, Arizona

Annette and Ross were excellent hosts during my visit to Tucson

Time Pace Division Division
Bib #
Owen 3:28:08 7:56 M35-39 21/61 111/480 132/892 511

Written by Owen:

I did this trip by myself as a reward for winning our weight loss challenge.  My original plans were just to fly into Tucson the day before and then fly home right after the race.  But then I was asked to go to Microsoft Headquarters in Redmond, Washington for a week, the week before the marathon.  So I adjusted my plans and flew from Seattle to Phoenix, then a short connecting flight into Tucson on Friday night.  I arrived very late at night, and just barely made it to the rental car counter before it closed for the night.

As I'm driving to my hotel I see a policeman light me up.  I knew I wasn't speeding and couldn't imagine why he was pulling me over.  He asked if I realized I was driving without my headlights on.  D'oh!  No, I didn't, of course.  My car turns them on automatically, so I wasn't in the habit of turning them on.  I had been driving for about 20 minutes, very late at night, but I guess the roads were lit well enough that I didn't notice.  He reached in my window and turned them on for me and set me on my way.  I felt really stupid, but was glad I didn't get a ticket.

Saturday morning I woke up  and called Annette. She is a really good friend from back when she lived in Utah, but moved to Tucson years ago.  We arranged to meet after I went to the expo.

I did my typical "day before the marathon 2 mile run".  I just started at the hotel, and turned around after I had run a mile.  It was so beautiful:

The scenery during my 2 mile run.

The path around my hotel.

The view from my hotel room.
I went to the expo, which was on the grounds of my hotel (I splurged and stayed at the host hotel).  It was a small expo, I got my bib, and bought some throw-away gloves since the weather forecast called for cooler temps.

Point to point courses mean early wake-up calls.
 Annette and her husband Ross met me at my hotel, and we were off for some sightseeing.

They took me all over showing me all the really pretty scenery above, and more.  We had a great day visiting, and catching up on our families, etc.

Sunday morning I caught the first bus (I always do).  We got up to the start and it was very cold and windy.  The shuttle driver said he didn't have anywhere to be so he let us stay on the bus, which was really nice.  It was heated, and had a bathroom in the back.  So I stayed on it until 5 minutes before the start.

This race was mostly downhill, but I wasn't quite as fit as I was in St. George, so I was just going to take it easy.  The race was cold and windy, but I felt good.

There was some construction that caused a re-route of the course from their typical layout, which added a pretty nasty hill at about 20 miles.  From that point forward I started slowing down, but still finished with a good time (my second best) at 3:28:08.

Annette and Ross were waiting and cheering at the finish.  I had to catch a plane home immediately after the finish, so we said our goodbyes, and I took the shuttle back to my hotel.  I had just enough time to shower and drive to the airport.  I really enjoyed the trip.  If I had to list my top 10 places to live, I'm pretty sure I would add Tucson.  It is so beautiful and reminds me a lot of Southern Utah.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Santa Scramble 5k

November 23, 2013 2:15 PM
Concord, North Carolina

Time Pace Division Division
Bib #
Owen 19:18 6:13 M35-39 3/28 27/335 34/704 328
Michael 19:58 6:26 M11-12 2/27 42/335 53/704 330
Alicia 28:21 9:08 F9-10 15/41 134/369 354/704 332
Malissa 29:54 9:37 F30-34 15/29 175/369 410/704 329
Kyle 30:17 9:45 M9-10 14/27 242/335 420/704 331

Written by Owen:

I chose this race because I desperately wanted to break the 20 minute barrier for a 5k.  So I searched for a point to point 5k that was downhill.  I found this race in Concord.  It is the kickoff event for their Christmas parade.  Because of that, the streets were lined with people who were there to see the parade.  They cheered for us, which really helped.  I've never had that much fan support for a 5k before.

The organization left a little to be desired.  There was no chip timing at the start, only at the finish.  Which causes runners to crowd the starting line and causes a big mess.  But the course support, along with the fact that it was downhill most of the way, more than made up for that.

The weather was cold, which was great for the race, but made waiting for the start a little difficult.  Once the race started, we were warm.  I pushed it hard.  I was determined to break 20 minutes.  My previous PR was 20:28, but I felt like I could do it.  Running that fast is not very fun.  But I'm competitive, and enjoyed the challenge.

When I crossed the line at 19:18 (my watch said 19:08, but my official time was 19:18??), I couldn't believe it.  I am pretty certain that will be my PR forever.  I won't stop trying, but wow, that was fast.

Everyone else had a great race, too.  Malissa and Kyle both broke their PR also.  Malissa was shooting for sub 30 minutes, and she did it!  Kyle crushed his PR by almost 4 minutes!

At the awards, I was somewhat surprised when they didn't call my name for an age group award.  Michael took 2nd in his division.  I later realized they had me registered in the female division.  I'm glad I didn't stick around for the female awards, that would have been embarrassing.  They fixed it and I received my medal, and hopefully the women got their medals adjusted also.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

2013 Outer Banks Half Marathon

November 9-10, 2013
Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

Time Pace Division Division
Bib #
Owen 1:35:32 7:17 M35-39 7/126 57/972 68/2,717 3185
Malissa 2:24:00 10:59 F30-34 161/278 919/1,745 1,671/2,717 4704
Michael 1:35:32 7:17 M12-14 1/14 56/972 67/2,717 3184
Lu 2:23:59 10:59 F35-39 131/257 918/1,745 1,670/2,717 4729
Grandma 1:01:11 12:19 F60-64 4/12 173/233 336/416 7118
Gramps 41:55 8:26 M45-49 11/22 65/183 80/416 7119
Zach 44:22 8:56 M30-34 14/22 85/183 123/416 7100
Alicia 48:04 9:40 F8-10 2/5 67/233 184/416 7089
Kyle 35:17 11:21 M8-10 44/61 215/322 411/768 8136

Written by Owen:

Well we are WAY late on posting this, so memories have faded, but this trip was a blast.  I absolutely love when family meets us at a race and participates in the fun.  We rented a house right on the beach in Kitty Hawk, NC.  My brother Zach, his wife Liliana, and their two kids Nathan and Lucas joined us along with my mom and step-dad.  We had so much fun playing on the beach in between races.

The view from our beachhouse

I had to stop for a picture at Owen's Restaurant

The blind leading the blind :)

After the Expo

Our beach pyramid
Saturday's participants

Michael made it to the top!

I didn't even come close.

Alicia finishes the 8k

Grandma finishes the 8k

Gramps finishes the 8k

Kyle finishes the 5k

Cousins playing next to our beachhouse

Zach and the kids' Veterans Day Chalk Art

The cousins before the half-marathon, it was cold!

Half-Marathon participants
Nearing the end, just after the bridge.

Malissa and Lu waiting for the awards half-marathon award ceremony

Michael won his division

At the Wright Brothers museum in Kitty Hawk

At the Wright Brothers museum

Thursday, October 17, 2013

2013 Lung Strong 15k

September 29, 2013 7:45 AM
Cornelius, North Carolina

Time Pace Division Division
Bib #
Malissa 1:40:32 10:47 F30-34 28/36 150/215 297/380 174
Lynne 1:52:02 12:01 F45-49 27/29 192/215 352/380 4

Written by Malissa:

Lung Strong 15k

I am in the middle of training for my second marathon. I’ll be running the Louisiana Marathon the beginning of January. I’m super excited that I talked my friend Lynne into running the marathon with me. It’s going to be her first marathon and it will be so nice to have someone to talk to on all those long training runs. 

Lynne mentioned that she wanted to run the Lung Strong 15k so I asked if she minded if I tagged along. It fit perfectly into my training for the Outer Banks Half that I’m running this November and it runs along beautiful Lake Norman. It’s my first race since my disastrous Nashville race and getting my heal lift. Lynne and I train at a comfortable talking pace so I also wanted to use this race to see what pace I should run the Outer Banks Half Marathon in November.

I went back and forth on what my pace should be. The most I've ran in training was eight miles so I worried if I pushed it too much in the beginning I wouldn’t have enough gas left to finish the race strong. So I fiddled around with a bunch of different paces and finally decided I would make a pace tattoo for 1:44 (11:10 pace) and that would be the pace that I for sure didn’t want to go slower than but if I felt good after the first three miles I would pick up the pace a little more.

Owen and the boys volunteered to help out on the course so we arrived super early so they could get to their spot at mile 4 before the race started. I was looking forward to seeing Alicia, Katie (Lynne’s daughter), and Mike (Lynne’s husband) at few spots along the course too.

During the first mile I entered Jetton Park. There are beautiful tall green trees on both sides of the street with the lake peeking through. Just up ahead of me I could see my friend Udit so I sped up a little to catch up to him. Udit was running with a friend of his and we all chatted for a few minutes. I felt really good and contemplated running with them for a little while longer but I decided I better play it safe and hang back a little since it was still so early on in the race.  

It’s amazing how much it helps to see familiar faces a long the course. This course was a little harder than I thought it was going to be so it was really nice to have family and friends cheering along the way. It really gave me a boost.

About mile six my hip started aching. I was really bummed. I had high hopes that with the combination of my heal lift and physical therapy that this time around would be pain free. Both Outer Banks and Louisiana are completely flat so I’m hoping that the pain has more to do with running up and down hills than the distance itself. We shall see…

I remember thinking at about mile seven, why am I running this race again? At that point I was glad that I didn’t try and keep up with Udit and his friend. There is no way that I would have lasted at their pace. There was a runner in front of me that had a braided ponytail and would break out in random dance.  I kept telling myself, follow the ponytail, follow the ponytail. It was somewhere around this time that I saw Alicia, Katie, and Mike one last time. It was a nice surprise because I didn’t think I would see them again until the finish line. They had been there for a little while so all the other people standing by knew my name and were cheering for me too. Just what I needed because my hip was hurting pretty bad and I could feel my body starting to shut down a little.

The last .3 seemed to take forever and I was starting to doubt that I could keep going. I wanted to walk so badly but then I turned the corner and could see all my cheerleaders cheering for me. Owen and the boys even made it back to the finish line. Even with the hip pain it was a great race. There's just something about pushing yourself to the max.
After I crossed the finish line I grabbed a granola bar and water and then limped my way over to my crew to cheer Lynne to the finish.  After Lynne finished we talked for a few minutes and then I found the ponytail runner and thanked her for her random dancing because it helped get me to the finish line.
On the way home I stopped for a pumpkin latte. I'm a black coffee kind of girl but for some reason I was craving a pumpkin latte and it was so good. Once we got home I showered and while Owen was getting dressed to go for his run I fainted. It was a weird faint because my eyes were still open and I could hear everything that was going on but I couldn't talk. At first Owen thought I was joking but then I could hear the concern in his voice. I had a tingly sensation rush over my body and once that was done I could talk again. It was weird but I had a feeling it had to do with my sodium levels so  I had some salty wheat thins and then I was fine. There was no Gatorade on the course and I remember craving it at the finish line but there wasn't any there either. 
I talked with my doctor on Friday and he's pretty sure my electrolytes were just low after the race. (I had been watching my sodium the week before for weight-loss reason.) He told me it was ok to keep running but I need to add a little sodium back in my diet especially before a race. I ran 13 miles on Monday and didn't have any issues. I made sure to drink Gatorade right after I finished. From what I hear this is a pretty common thing with runners because you lose so much salt when you sweat during a race but I would be lying if I didn't say that it freaked me out a little....

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

2013 St. George Marathon

October 5, 2013 6:45 AM
St. George, Utah

Time Pace Division Division
Bib #
Owen 3:13:08 7:22 M35-39 102/467 395/3,176 478/5,832 771

Written by Owen:

To say I have been looking forward to this trip would be a HUGE understatement.  I have prepared for, trained for, and anticipated this trip more than anything in my life.  I will start with some history:

Immediately after I graduated from high school, back in 1993, I moved out on my own in Northern Utah.  My dad moved down to St. George to retire.  A year and a half later I had managed to get myself in a financial mess, so I moved back in with my dad down in St. George.  He trained for, and ran the St. George marathon each year (Washington County residents have a guaranteed entry into the race, everyone else has to try to win a highly coveted spot via the lottery.)   I remember helping him with his long runs by driving him up Snow Canyon, dropping him off, then driving down a few miles to hand him water, then driving further down, etc.  He asked me to train with him, but I didn't even consider it.  I thought running that far was just crazy.

I would give ANYTHING to have that opportunity back, as he died just a few months after Malissa and I got married in 2000.  During a training run down the marathon route a month before the 2000 St. George Marathon, he had a heart attack and died.  It would have been his sixth consecutive St. George Marathon.  He even qualified for the Boston Marathon a few times, but never ran it.

Once I decided to run my first marathon in 2011, I always dreamed of the day that I'd get to run the St. George Marathon.  I also dreamed of qualifying for Boston on the same course as my dad, and on the course that ultimately took his life.  So when I entered the lottery in 2013, I promised myself if I got in, that I would train as hard as humanly possible: watch my diet, lose weight to get to my ideal running weight, and QUALIFY FOR BOSTON in St. George.  What do you know, I got in!

After the Hatfield and McCoy Marathon in June, I took a break from running marathons so I could devote 100% of my focus on training and preparing my body for the St. George marathon.  I had a little less than four months before race day.  My training went perfectly, no injuries.  I chose a more aggressive training plan, running 50-65 miles per week, with long runs topping out at 23 miles.  I watched what I ate, logging calories religiously, and got down to my goal weight of 175 pounds just in time for the race.  Without exaggeration, there was not a waking hour for four months that I did not think of this race.

My friends and family came through BIG TIME for me also.  I was overwhelmed with the support I received this weekend.

Malissa's mom (Danell), Danell's husband (Angel), and Malissa's aunt (Freda) drove up from Southern California.  We had so much fun hanging out the entire weekend with them.  Angel was a very dedicated photographer the entire weekend.  His work is a priceless gift.  I will forever cherish the pictures he took and the video he made for us.  See the video at the bottom of this blog.

My sisters (Shalila and Lisa), along with their husbands (Whitey and Gary), my nephew (Tyler), his wife (Lisa), and their daughter (Oakley), all drove down from Idaho.  I hadn't seen them since 2011 at the Park City Half-Marathon.  I hadn't seen Tyler in even longer, and had never met his wife Lisa, nor daughter Oakley.  We got to spend a lot of time together.  I will forever remember and appreciate their support.  When we hugged at the finish line and were all where our dad had crossed that very same finish line at the very same spot so many times, the feeling was indescribable.  Also, Shalila and Lisa’s Mom and her husband, who live in St. George, came to the finish line to cheer me on.

Our friends, the Vigils (Corey, Tracey, Darian, and Sydney) made the drive down from Northern Utah.  We picked up right where we left off years ago as if no time had passed. We hung out at the pool, talked for hours and just had a blast.  I had a plan for Malissa to be at multiple spots along the marathon course to support me and give me Gatorade and Gu.  The night before the race, I decided that would be impossible due to the timing and Corey volunteered to wake extra early so he could support me at mile 16.  That was such an enormous help, both to me and Malissa so that she could rest assured that she could make the finish after handing me my supplies just before mile 7.

Our friends, Jason and Aimee Fass, also made the trip down with their daughter, Malya, and their dog Prince.  It was so much fun hanging out with them.  They are really great friends.

Malissa’s friend, Britney, could not make the trip down to St. George, but met us at the airport on Thursday in Salt Lake City.  We had a four hour layover before getting on our plane to Las Vegas.  She came and picked us up at the airport and we had lunch.  My friend, Steve did the same and we had a great visit.

Also, a very special THANK YOU to our friends the Alves’, who volunteered to take in our dog (Graycie), check on our cat (Sylvester), drive us to, and pick us up from the airport.  You guys are amazing friends.

So thank you to all of you that I’ve mentioned by name, and the countless of others that supported me from afar via Facebook and phone calls.  Now that I’ve got the back story and the thank you’s, I’ll describe my weekend chronologically:

Thursday, October 3, 2013:
We woke up at 5:00 AM, Lynne picked us up at our house, and drove us to the airport.  Going through security is AWESOME when you have kids.  They grabbed us out of line and walked us right up to the normal metal detector (not the full body scanner).  We walked right through it and were on our way.

Britney and Steve picked us up in Salt Lake City and we had a great lunch at the Red Iguana, which is a great little Mexican Restaurant very close to the airport.  They took us back to the airport, we breezed right through security in under five minutes, so we still had over an hour to kill.  While we were waiting, we saw Dolvett, one of the trainers from our favorite show, “The Biggest Loser”. He was very nice when I asked for a picture.  That was pretty cool.

The kids with Dolvett from "The Biggest Loser"

The time came to board the plane, but it was delayed, as they were doing some maintenance to the plane.  It turns out a cooling fan needed replacing so our 4.5 hour layover turned in to a 6 hour layover.   We finally boarded and were in Las Vegas before we knew it.

Once we were in Las Vegas, we were surprised that Aunt Freda had made the trip.  She even met us at the airport, even though we were getting a rental car and staying in the same hotel as Danell and Angel.  That was fun.

I always go the cheapest route on stuff, and sometimes that bites me.  I booked my rental car through Expedia, and a company called “Fox Rental Cars” was cheaper by a few bucks so I chose them.  The rental cars at the airport in Las Vegas are not in Las Vegas, so everyone has to board a shuttle for a quick trip a few miles from the airport.  Fox Rental Cars, however, is not at that location, so you have to get on another shuttle for another quick trip (now we’re almost in Henderson) to pick up your car. Oh well.

We spent the night at Circus Circus Hotel and Casino, which was my favorite as a kid.  This was also pretty special, because I have so many memories doing that with my dad.  The kids enjoyed the midway, enjoyed seeing “Duo Resonance” that we had seen on “America’s Got Talent”.

We were surprised by a Duo Resonance performance at Circus Circus
The kids were a little disappointed that we couldn’t go in the AdventureDome because it was temporarily transformed into a giant haunted house that cost a lot of money to enter, plus it wasn’t recommended for children under 12.  We did get to eat at the Circus Circus Buffet.  When we got there, the waitress asked us if we had ever been there before.  I said yes, but that it had been about 25 years.  That was the truth.  When I was a kid, that was where my dad and I would always eat when we went to Vegas.  After we had eaten, everyone was about to enjoy the amazing desserts including self-serve ice cream.  I was trying to be good and didn’t want to be tempted, so I took that opportunity to go play a little blackjack.  I got up $15 and walked away.  Then I went to the sports book and got some parlay cards for the NFL games  That was another thing I remember doing, both with my dad and with my step-dad, Torre.  "Michael helped me" (wink wink) bet $5 on a 6 team card, to win $210.  I bet $5 on an 8 team card, to win $850.  I really enjoyed teaching Michael how the parlay cards work.  He really enjoyed it, too.

Teaching Michael the Parlay Card.

Before bed we took a quick trip down the strip to see all of the lights.  We had been awake close to 20 hours and were getting pretty tired, but had to go see the lights.  They were really great.

Friday, October 4, 2013:
Michael and I woke up at 5am and ran my two mile shakeout run on the Las Vegas strip under all the lights. That was pretty cool!

We woke up and met the family for breakfast at Denny’s.  We had a very enjoyable breakfast, talking, laughing, and eating.  Toward the end of our breakfast, the waitress approached us holding a $20 bill.  I couldn’t imagine why she was bringing us money.  She handed it to us, along with a note, and said that a gentleman sitting next to us had asked her to give it to us after he left.

It read: "It is refreshing to see a family like yours ... intact and having fun."

That just made my day, this trip was getting better and better.
After Denny’s we drove North to St. George, about a little less than a two-hour drive.  We got checked into our hotel.  Coordinating when and where to do everything, with so many friends and family coming was a challenge, but everyone was really flexible.

For lunch on Friday, just my family went to the “Brick Oven” in St. George.  It was delicious!  They had an all you can eat salad bar, and fresh pasta bar.  We really enjoyed that.

Then we went to the Expo to pick up my bib.  I wanted to attend the “first-timers” clinic.  Its speaker was someone who had run the St. George marathon for something like 20 years in a row.  He was a very entertaining speaker who talked about all of the things that made the St. George Marathon unique. I was really glad I went and learned a lot, including how important it was to take the first half easy, because of the way the hills played out.  I was really glad I did, and ran significant negative splits because of it.  After his presentation, the speaker opened up the floor for questions.  I asked what the tear-off portion of our bib was for.  I am always nervous tearing those off, but they are never needed.  Because I planned on wearing the bib on my shorts, I wanted it as small as possible.  He said he didn’t know what they were for, so that night I tore mine off and threw it away.  More on that in a bit…

After that we met my sisters up at the exact spot where my dad passed away.  We erected a temporary memorial that I would pass the next morning during the marathon.  I can’t explain the emotions I was feeling while building the memorial, or the next day while running by it.  It was at mile 19 of the marathon, and really gave me a boost.  People running next to me asked if I was OK, because I was audibly emotional.  I grunted that I was fine, and turned on the jets to prove it!

After building the memorial, we had to run to the spaghetti dinner.  It was delicious and we had a great time talking, laughing, and planning our day the next morning.

Back at the hotel, we did some more last second planning, and just hung out a while.  Corey, Tracey, and their girls hung out in our hotel room, and we talked longer than I probably should have, but I was glad.  It had been a long time since I had seen them so it was fun.  Plus, Corey is an experienced marathon/ultra-marathon runner, so it was good to bounce strategy ideas around.

After everyone left the hotel, I got all my stuff ready for my 3:00 AM alarm.  This marathon is a point-to-point race, so all 7,500 runners have to ride buses up the canyon to the start.  Because of this, they offer incentives, via a drawing, to the runners that board the first 30 buses.  I wanted in on that, so I set my alarm in order to make it there at 4:00 AM.  It was 11:00 PM before I finally got to bed, in four hours my alarm would be going off!

Saturday, October 5, 2013: (Race Day)
I fell asleep immediately, but at 2:00 AM I woke, and could not fall back asleep.  I played around on the computer for an hour or so, then got dressed.  A few minutes before 4:00 AM I woke Malissa to take me to where the buses were loading, about a mile from our hotel.

I was on the very first bus.  As we were boarding the bus, they asked for the stupid tear off portion of our bib that I had asked about, and thrown away the day before.  It wasn't to gain entry on the bus, just to be entered in the drawing as our reward for boarding the early bus.  So I got up that early for nothing, and sat in the cold at the start for an hour extra, for nothing.  Oh well, I couldn't sleep anyway.

The bus ride to the start was pretty uneventful. I choked down a bagel (Sara Lee’s bagels are not my favorite, but it’s what was at Walmart), and ate a banana.  It was pitch dark, so I couldn't see the course on the way up.  We made it to the start at about 4:45 AM.  The race was scheduled to start at 6:45 AM, so I had two hours to pass in the freezing cold.

It was a brisk 32° when we got up there.  They had bonfires going, but I was worried about breathing in all that smoke right, and what that would do to my lungs right before a marathon, so I stayed away for a while.  After about an hour, I was frozen stiff, couldn't feel my toes, and was shaking like crazy, so I got as close as I could to the fire.  I was the first one up there, but now I was fighting to get within warming distance of the fires.

I had dressed pretty warm, and had even taken hand warmers (the kind you shake and they provide heat).  My legs and feet were the problem though (kind of important in a marathon).  I kept trying to wiggle my toes to get feeling back, but no luck.  Finally, it was time to shed my clothes, turn in my drop bag, and get to the start.  I did that all just in time, and was at the 3:15 Pace Team Leader by 6:45 AM.  The race started about 5 minutes late, however.

My Goal:
For months I've been posting on Facebook about my goal to qualify for Boston at the same race my dad did.  How 3:15 was my magic number for the 2015 Boston Marathon.  With my huge group of supporters throughout the country and the huge group that were at the race, I did not want to fail.  This race was too important.  I did not want to have to say over and over to people how awesome everything was, if only I could have…  So my focus on race morning was laser focused on those 53 splits I needed to hit (one every half-mile, plus the all-important 0.2 at the end.)

The Start:
The St. George Marathon does almost everything PERFECT.  I really mean that, they are amazing. Their organization and effort to ensure a perfect race day is second to none.  By far, the best in 17 marathons I’ve completed.  Other than an ugly race shirt this year, the only thing I can think of that they need to improve on, is the lack of corrals.  They just use the honor system, which people do not honor.  The first mile of my race was so incredibly frustrating.  I lined up with the pace group of the time I planned on running. In the first mile, I passed 100’s of runners that were much, much slower than that.  It was such a bottle neck.

I also had side stitches (stomach cramps) immediately upon starting.  They literally started within 10 seconds of the start.  I never get those, so it had to be because my body was frozen.  They worked themselves out after about a half-mile without slowing me down, just caused some pain.

My other major problem at the start was my left foot.  It felt like I had something underneath the insole of my left shoe.  It was very uncomfortable, right around the middle of the foot.  Nike has this stupid compartment in the left shoe that is designed for their Nike+ system, which is a device that communicates with your phone to count your footsteps.  It’s really inaccurate and a really dumb thing when GPS watches are so much more accurate.   Because I don’t use one, there is a “placeholder” that goes in that compartment that is really just a small piece of molded foam.  I am always worried that is going to come out and cause problems during a race.  I was certain it had.  Because I was still in the first mile, it was WAY too crowded to stop and take it out, I would be trampled.  I told myself I would take care of it after it thinned out.   I kept shaking my foot in between strides.  It felt like it was moving up closer to the front of my shoe.  It got less and less annoying, so I thought I could deal with it.  After a while, I could barely notice it at my toes.  I decided to just deal with it.  Come to find out, it was just that my socks were too bunched up from all the wiggling I did trying to keep my feet warm.  The extra fabric just worked its way to the toes and caused discomfort, but no blisters, and no problems.

Miles 1-6:
Malissa and the kids were going to be at Mile 6.7.  I couldn't wait to see them.  The first few miles blew by.  By mile 6 I was ahead of pace by over a minute, which made the clocks on the course match up to my pace tattoo for my goal pace perfectly. I decided to use my watch for my current pace I am running, but not for the total time.  I would use the clocks on the course and forget that I had that 1:30 padding caused by the time that it took me to reach the start (the gun vs. chip time difference).

Miles 7-16:
I saw the kids holding their sign they had made the night before. It was bright green so I saw it from a half-mile away.  The spectators were very crowded, so I never would have seen them without it.  I saw my Gatorade bottle being held out for me and I grabbed it. I heard everyone screaming for me, but could not look long enough to make eye contact.  I was dialed in, focused on my job at hand.

These two photos were taken at almost the exact same spot, 18 years apart.

After that I just kept focusing on my splits.  I had made a custom tattoo on that had my splits by the half-mile, so I just kept hitting goal after goal, taking in the amazing scenery, and enjoying every minute of it.  Before I knew it I was ahead of the clocks on the course by 30 seconds or so.

Miles 17-20
I was still dialed in, still 30 seconds ahead of the clocks on the course, still just concentrating on the half-mile I was on.  At mile 16.7 I saw Corey and his family. Again, I appreciated their support, but was still so focused on my job, I made very little eye contact, didn't say anything and just appreciated them being there and cheering for me.

At mile 19 I knew my dad’s memorial was coming up.  The tears were flowing.  I kept telling myself not to adjust your stride.  Any change in stride can be catastrophic with my muscles at that point.  I had a little private conversation with my dad, who was running along next to me, and just kept going.

Miles 21-25
I was still hitting my split times, however is was getting a little tougher.  My pelvic issue that I've battled for a few months was causing some pain, but not really slowing me down.  I kept telling myself not to think stuff like “only 3 miles left”, but to dial in to the half-mile I was currently on.  It was AMAZING how well that worked.  My watch was on auto-lap for half mile increments, so it would beep every half mile, which would also reset my current lap pace to the current half-mile.  It was truly shocking how fast those beeps came.

At mile 24, we turned off of highway 18 for the first time and made our way through residential streets toward the finish line.  At this point I was still ahead of the course clocks, plus I knew I had banked the 1.5 minutes.  I knew I had it as long as I didn't have some muscle cramp up or something like that.  So now my focus was less on my time and more on keeping my stride exactly the same.

In the past 6 months, you have no idea how many times I visualized this moment.  It did not disappoint. I turned on to 300 South, knowing I only had 3.5 blocks left.  I found my supporters and gave them a quick wave, but I still knew a bad cramp could end it still, so I focused on not breaking stride.  I looked at the clock on the finish line.  It read around 3:14:30 as I approached it.  3:15 was my cutoff, and it took me 1.5 minutes or so to reach the start, so I knew I had it, but I wanted the finish line clock to be sub 3:15.  I heard him announce my name, and I crossed with the finish line clock reading 3:14:47, giving me an official time of 3:13:08.  I DID IT!

Immediately after I finished.

After the race, we all hung out at a picnic table in the park where all the finish line festivities were going on.  It was nice to have a comfortable spot to sit after a race, where I got to give everyone the details of my race.  If there’s one thing I like doing almost as much as running marathons, it’s talking to people about them.

Then we decided we’d meet at Five Guys, my marathon day meal of choice, at noon for lunch.  So we went back to the hotel where I got showered and then met everyone for a great meal and great times just relaxing with everyone.

Then we went for a short hike around a park in St. George and got some great shots.

For dinner on Saturday we ate at what used to be a Sonic, but they had turned it into a “Patio Grill” on Bluff St. in St. George.  The Vigil family would be leaving that night, so we had a great meal, then said our goodbyes.   It was hard saying goodbye because everyone, even the kids, had such a great time.

Sunday, October 6, 2013:
Sunday we had another great breakfast at Denny’s this time it was in St. George, right across the street from our hotel.

Lunch was at Dairy Queen where we had a good meal, then said our goodbyes to Shalila, Whitey, Lisa, Gary, Tyler, Lisa, and Oakley.

Dinner was at Mongolian BBQ at the outlet mall in St. George.  Our waitress was really funny and we had a great time.

Our waitress teaching Kyle how to eat rice with chopsticks.

Monday, October 7, 2013:
This day consisted of nothing but travel.  It was a crazy long day that was no fun, but we got home safely.  We drove from St. George to Las Vegas, then flew from Vegas to Memphis, where we were originally scheduled for a 1.5 hour layover.  About a month ago, they emailed us to say the layover would now need to be 3.5 hours.  Then yesterday, there was a bad storm so the layover ended up being 4.5 hours and we didn’t get home until midnight ET.

By far this was the most fun I’ve ever had at a marathon, on a vacation, on a trip, in life, anything.  It was AMAZING!  Thank you to everyone that got to share this with me, I had a blast.

Here's a video that Angel made for us, it is wonderful and includes many more pictures than I cold post in this blog:

Garmin data:

Video of me at the finish line:

The official finish line video can be found here:

More race data: