I think I have always had a love for running but never explored it until I was in my 30’s. You will always hear people say no way would I ever want to do High School again but me it’s different I would love to do High School again and join the track club and see how fast I could get when I was still young and before I let myself get so fat. I remember being 20 years old and my whole goal in running was just to have that six minute mile like the fast kids in High School and Middle School. I wasn’t fat in high school I just didn’t do much running so I was always that slow kid that ran the 12-13 minute mile during the mile tests they made you do. I remember redoing those miles tests at 20 and I did time myself in the 6 minute range but no idea how accurate that was as I am pretty sure I just figured the distance off the odometer of my car and used a wrist watch for the time (hey it was the late 90’s I am not even sure GPS existed yet much less your fancy garmin watch you probably were still using road maps or if you were fancy like me directions you printed off mapquest before making a trip). That was my whole goal when I was 20 just to run a fast mile to make up for those painfully slow ones in school. I don’t think I ever ran more than 2.5 miles, I didn’t know what a 5k was and was only vaguely aware of what a marathon was I just wanted a good mile time.
Fast forward more than a decade and 200 plus pounds when I started running again was because yea I have always loved it. I started walking it was just a mile and half every day for the year of 2009 354 out of 365 days that year. Near the end of the year I started running bit by bit mostly just the last block home because who doesn’t like to sprint to the finish. When I did my first 5k after learning what one was (hey running has taught me the metric system better than school ever did) it was just 39-40 minutes I didn’t keep logs yet so I don’t know the exact times (the first logs I kept for my running has my 5k times in the 36-37 minute range). But I was happy with that I mean just two years prior I was so winded running to first base in a kickball league I had people offer to base run for me even though I told them to stick it where the sun don’t shine I will do my own base running even if I die thank you very much.
I have always been gungho and kind of leap in with both feet I signed up for my first 5k in August of 2010 and by November of 2010 I was signed up for my first half marathon that I finished in disastrous fashion. But anyone who races knows the addiction better than crack and I am quite sure more expensive. So yea you want to do better so you sign up again forgetting the pain and in the beginning it is so easy to get faster it seems like you will pr forever. I pred in the first 16 races I did, I mean my half went from a 2:30, to a 2:20, to a 2:13, to a 2:08 to a 1:55 in rapid succession within a years’ time. Heck that 1:55 I ran in November of 2011 I still consider it one of the best races I have ever run to this day (still no Garmin just a cheap Timex watch I got for $15 at Target but better than my first half when I didn’t own a watch so I memorized songs every 15 minutes on my iPod so I knew how long I had been running oooh Indian Outlaw is on I must have been running for 45 minutes now) and it still stands as the 4th fastest half I have ever run.
2013 I consider that little shelf right below the peak that makes you think oh I am still just right here but I am just a little off. I still was easily running sub 2’s (I ran 4 that year with also what I consider one of my better races of a 1:59 at STG half not because it was my fastest but because it was done on a much harder course then where I was setting my pr’s of Snow Canyon and Bryce or even Parowan. I have yet to do a true cheater course though like Big Cottonwood, Timp or Drop 13 as I consider Snow Canyon or Bryce a step below those as while yea you get some pretty good downhills the first half of those races the second half of those races suck in comparison and take some grit to hang on through rollers) and my marathon was decent with a 4:25. You are like I am still right there I will get that sub 4 soon, you can still see the peak you are still pretty close to it.
2014 wasn’t kind to me at all though. I had a rough first half of the year and decided to once more make an attempt for that elusive marathon pr. I knew it was unlikely at the time as my best half that year was a 2:01 I ran at Parowan as the peak was getting further and further away, I just couldn’t seem to close the gap any longer. Then I had my major bicycle accident that led to my worst marathon to date (to be fair no way should I have even done the race as I was just 6 weeks off a major accident and an ambulance ride to the ER without being able to run more than 4 miles because after that I would be pretty close to lying down and dying from sheer exhaustion (it’s an odd phenomenon to go from being able to run a half marathon every single weekend to being near death after just 4 miles).
2015 was even worse, things arose that led me to me being my laziest in more than 5 years and all desire just kind of seeped out of me. I spent more time watching Netflix than I did running that summer but I did get through all 7 seasons of Buffy and a couple seasons of the Shield and was starting to round the corner on the X-Files. Those heights and speeds of 2012 were long gone, heck even running a sub 2 now seemed impossible something that had been so easy from 2012-2013. It was August and remembering how miserable my 2014 marathon had been on no training I was like oh crap I guess I should train. That led to what was basically a 4 week marathon training program that consisted of two half marathons (including my slowest Parowan in 2:09) and one 19 mile long run then a taper. On August 20th I weighed myself and I hit my highest weight since 2010 and was like no uh huh not happening and promptly lost 25 pounds in 5 weeks before the marathon. I didn’t run the most terrible race putting up a 5:17 but that was still almost an hour slower than my pr of 2012.
Then I made a major mistake I decided to sign up for a second marathon a week later just to get into the Guinness book of world records. I hadn’t trained for the first marathon now I was doing a second one a week later. I came out of that not feeling very well and for the next three months I would be peeing blood after any hard workout and in an utter state of exhaustion the entire three months. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong I had wanted to do a full ironman in 2016 and had been saving up for it. But I could barely get through workouts and was crashing really hard. Then in January I woke up in major pain peeing blood again and ended up in the instacare the moment they opened. I had an infection, I had had the infection for probably three months which is what had caused the exhaustion. I was put on antibiotics and told not to ride my bike for 4 weeks which meant no ironman as I could no longer train for it. The antibiotics also seemed to rob me of my immune system as for the next 2 and half months I was non stop sick. I would get the flu on a Tuesday get over it by Friday then have a cold by Saturday night. All told I had the flu 3 times, 3 colds and 2 stomach bugs that seemed to stretch on for months on end.
I made the decision that I wanted to make my sub 4 attempt at Big Cottonwood despite being told that Saint George was a lot easier. I wanted to move out of my comfort zone though somewhere I reside too often and do something new and different though. One of my greatest weaknesses has always been mental toughness when it comes to runs. Starting out walking then slowly running led me to taking walk breaks throughout my running career even long after I didn’t need them. I could pace or run an entire half marathon without walking as long as I was running with someone but if I would go for even a three mile run around my house I would be taking walk breaks every mile. I spent all winter conquering that weakness and now no longer take a single walk break on any of my runs (it took me over six months to totally break the habit and I recently finished a 20 mile run with zero walk breaks). My other weakness has been hills something I also worked on all winter running up and valley view drive over and over and over until I no longer even thought about the hills. So yes Saint George might be easier but for me I wanted to a race where I am not thinking oh look this is where the wheels fell off in 2012 or man I could have done better here in 2013.
My tune up half was Bryce Canyon and that was a disastrous race from my car catching on fire to getting picked up on the side of the road, to almost zero sleep, to completely running out of energy half way through the race. I wasn’t even trying to set a big pr just a minute or two and it still galls me even a month later. I know it’s my third fastest half I have ever run only behind the two pr’s I set at Snow Canyon and Bryce in 2012 but I really wanted that pr. I knew going in that I had run more miles then I had ever run in a 6 week period, I knew my legs were tired but I wanted it so bad and even though it was my fastest race since 2012 I walked away disappointed. I am trying to pump myself up I know my training is there, I know after a taper my legs won’t be so tired but that stupid self doubt won’t go away, had I got the pr at Bryce it would have boosted me. I broke down my 2012 race, with 18 miles to go I still only needed to average the 9:09 and was perfectly on pace as you should be negative splitting the second half of Saint George. Even at mile 21 and after Ledges with all that is left is the fast downhill to the finish and I still only needed to average a 8:30 mile but that’s where the wheels came off the bus and instead of running 5 miles in 45 minutes I ran 5 miles in 1:03. The pinnacle is right there again I can see it again I know I am right there once more. I am no longer near the bottom like I was in 2015 but after chasing a goal for so long and so many years I can’t but help but feel apprehensive. It seems like this goal that has been there for years and years just won’t let me grab it. I wrote this to clear my mind not even sure if I would post it, this isn’t taper madness this is peak training madness with legs that feel like veal cutlets hoping and praying all the hard work will finally pay off.