Monday, September 21, 2009

Top of Utah: Take Two

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. Seems to me that's one good reason why marathon runners are considered insane (besides the obvious ones, of course).

Saturday morning, I ran my fourth marathon and for the first time, I ran a marathon I'd already run before. A marathon that'd already kicked my butt before. And yet, there I was again... begging for more.

Insanity at its finest.

To be fair, the technical results this time actually were different... 14 minutes and 35 seconds different, to be exact (which was the improvement I made on the same course from two years ago). Even better, I set a new marathon PR on Saturday as well by clocking in at 4:19:22, more than seven minutes faster than my previous personal record.

I should be ecstatic, right? Well... I am. Sort of. But here's where the insanity comes into play.

At mile 20, I was on course to shatter my PR, not just clip it. The first 18 miles of the course were downhill and despite my efforts to keep my legs in check, they were on fire. Even the weather was working against me with a strong 15mph tailwind pushing me even faster down the canyon. Over and over again, I checked my GPS for my pace and over and over again, I had to force myself to SLOW DOWN. It was all an effort in vain, however, and although I managed to keep things from going wildly out of control, I failed miserably at disciplining myself enough to stick to the negative split strategy in order to finish strong.

It all felt sickeningly familiar.

Two years ago, I did the exact same thing. I built up a full head of steam the first 18 miles running downhill only to crash and burn and lose a PR in the final six miles. For all intents and purposes, it should have been a lesson learned... if I were sane, that is.

In the end, I still got the PR I was coveting on Saturday morning, one that has eluded me since I ran my first marathon more than three years ago. And while I'm annoyed with myself that I can't seem to find the necessary discipline to avoid the Crash and Burn that would've resulted in a much bigger PR, I'm still supremely pleased with my accomplishment. Perhaps I'm the kind of runner that will only make PR's in small chunks at a time... and that's okay. At least the numbers are going in the right direction and that's reason enough to keep trying.

I don't know if I'll be back to Top of Utah. Although I love the event, I just don't get along with the course. I'll be researching marathons in the coming months that will be much more forgiving of my insistence to start out too fast. If it has to be an uphill marathon, so be it, as long as there's enough flat or downhill at the end of it to finally turn my legs loose.

It's the least I can do to repay them for all the hard work they do at the hands of a lunatic.

Warm orange Powerade never tasted so good. If my tank top seems a little... errr... off kilter, it's because my last energy gel (out of four total) is still stuffed in the right side. I've never felt so voluptuous.

An impromptu "ice bath" after the race (hopefully the last time I'll be pictured lying in a gutter). My Garmin registered a total of 26.5 miles, no doubt a result of my inefficiency in running the tangents down the winding canyon road. No wonder I'm still so sore today... stinkin' extra three tenths of a mile!


Anonymous said...

A prime example of your insanity is the big wide smile on your face in the first photo. I've done TOU and that had to be in town after mile 17. Congratulations! You deserve it!

Mel said...

I don't know about you, but that looks like a strong finish to me! Way to go, you should be so proud.

Mel -Tall Mom on the Run said...

Way to go!! Amazing PR and way to concur a course that you have a PAST with. You look amazing. The Gutter picture could be the cover of a magazine. CONGRATS!

Rachel said...

I love it! I think you did a GREAT job, that course is just a tough one. A lot of people have said they hate that course for the last 6 miles, so getting a PR on it shows how CRAZY strong you are! If you want an uphill then down course, you should try park city next year. It is 18 miles of gain THEN only 8 down to the finish...It was okay as a training run :)
Love the pics and video, you are an amazing lady! I'm so glad I had to opportunity to share this race with you!!!

Betsy said...

Hold on, did you run that race in a dress?!? You look so incredibly cute, not to mention fast. Post fashion details, please!

Tall Girl Running said...

A dress?? Nooooo. I needed something to keep me as dry and lightweight as possible, so it's just a plain old tank top and pair of compression shorts. I did consider wearing my running skirt, but figured with all the men I would pass the last half of the race, it would sting a little less if I wasn't wearing a skirt.

Aaron Cunningham said...

Marathon PR and shattering a course PR? Awesome!

Not quite what you were hoping for, but quite impressinve none the less!

amydear said...

Well, you look great! This is a course I'd like to try. I've done two that are pretty flat out-and-backs. Congrats on a PR. Any PR is worth celebrating!

Vanessa Shannon said...

Hi! I found your blog from Marathon Mommies. Thanks so much for the advice about the Gu...I will definitely try the Power Gels because it really wasnt the flavor that bugged me but the super thick consistency. Congrats on your PR... and hey! Im running in the same shoes! I LOVE shins never felt so good until I switched to these shoes. Anyway, thanks again... I enjoyed reading your blog :)

robison52 said...

You did GREAT!! Congrats on that PR, and you can really hear the wind on that first video. Seven minutes off on your personal record is HUGE.

blaine said...

Nice Job on accomplishing a new PR. I remember that wind really kicked up at the bottom of the canyon. Way to go.

KK @ Running Through Life said...

Congrats!!! Awesome job getting a new PR!!! Wow, that course seems like a hard one, especially in trying to slow yourself down.