Jimmy Forbis – St. George Marathon (2009)

Goofus & Gallant

Well, my quads are healing and my knee is probably going to be okay.  The words of encouragement have been really great.  I’ll give a quick recap of our adventurous weekend.

Back a few months ago, I was getting antsy and didn’t want to wait until December to try and run a fast marathon.  St. George caught my eye due to the downhills and its reputation as a really fast course.  I talked Carrie and Craig into entering the lottery and only Carrie didn’t get in – the race can only handle about 7,200 runners but received  10,000 applications – I can’t believe they get such an exact number.

We had already registered for the Rock ‘n’ Roll ½ so we thought we could just run the marathon, fly back real quickly and then semi-run/walk the ½.

This was a total planes, trains, and automobiles kind of trip.  We left Morgan Hill/San Martin at 9:30 on Friday morning, caught a flight to Las Vegas (stopped to say hi to my sister, who was there celebrating her 40th birthday), rented a car and drove 2 hours to St. George, went to the expo, drove the course, went back to the expo to eat, drove 20 minutes to the hotel and went to sleep by 10:00.

We were up at 3:00 to catch the early buses out to Central, Utah where they drop you off and you get to run back.  It was 39 degrees at the start and very dark.  They did have bonfires so it wasn’t too bad.  The weather the rest of the day was wonderful.  I think it was probably about 60 degrees when I finished.

Race started right at 6:45 and for the first few miles you run in the dark.  It has been said that the key to running well at this race was to take the first half very conservatively and then finish strong.  Really, the first third of the race went pretty quick and not much happened.  I was on my desired pace and was holding back.  There were a few uphills, but mostly things sloped downhill.  At mile eight, there was a significant uphill and I was able to maneuver up that pretty easily.  When I reached the summit, my heartrate shot up really high but I thought it might have been due to the combination of the altitude and uphill. Once you hit the apex, you immediately go straight down.  Again, ran down fairly easily, thought I was holding back.  I went through the first half in 1:33 so I was pretty close to where I wanted to be.  This course is known for the huge negative splits people have run.

Onto mile 14 and that is where things go awry.  You know you are in big trouble when you are at mile 14 and your quads are starting to ache.   This only got worse and I knew at mile 14 (yes mile 14) that I was in big trouble.  They started to lock up and as the course sloped more and more, I had to alter my running stride to save my quads from taking more abuse. The nice thing about hitting the wall so early is that you get to spend an hour or so cussing and blaming everything (I tried but find a good excuse but to no avail – the weather was perfect, no stomach problems, couldn’t even blame Craig, nothing) for why it isn’t your day.  The second hour after hitting the wall was the part where I started thinking about my next marathon.  I’m not going to bore you with details of what it is like to waddle-walk for about 10 miles as most of us have done it one time or another.  I waddled, made my knee sore, got passed by thousands of people, and then was actually able to run the last two miles fairly fast as they were flat miles that didn’t require the use of my quads.  Final result was a humbling 3:29. (1:33 first half, 1:56 second half, a nice 23 minute positive split!).  I know that some of you will think I’m crazy for being upset at that time, but look at it this way…take your goal marathon time and then add 30 minutes on top of it to get your finishing time.  Whether you are a 2 hour marathoner or 5 hour marathoner, 30 additional minutes really sucks.

To summarize, I got my butt kicked by running downhill.  I had a good training cycle but it was not specific enough to handle the downhill abuse I experienced.    This was my 20thmarathon and by far the most abuse I have encountered.  I am still having a hard time walking and whenever I see stairs, my legs go into spasms.

I didn’t run the ½ yesterday because I didn’t want to spend 6 hours out there waddling with a sore knee.

The nice thing is that 20 marathons have taught me not to get too low.  I’m in really good shape and should be able to use this experience and learn from it.  It just wasn’t my day…It was a great adventure and Craig was a great travelling partner.

We had one of those days where everything went right for Craig and not much worked for me, although my son thought the trip was a success since I brought him back some bubble gum.  All in all this was kind of a Goofus (Jimmy) and Gallant (Craig) day (remember the magazine Highlights?  Gallant is polite and nice to people, thing always go good for him; Goofus is kind of a butthole and nothing goes right).

1)      Craig ran great and BQ’d by 11 minutes.

2)      They lost the clothes I dropped off at the start line, wanted me to come back after 12:30 to see they were there… yea, right – flight left at 2:00 in Vegas.

3)      Craig received his clothes and they even returned the shirt he discarded during the race.

4)      He won a raffle prize.

5)      I got lost looking for the car after the race, probably walked about 2 miles.  Once I found the car, I set off the alarm and it took about 5 minutes to figure out how to shut it off.  I’m sure the residents of St. George appreciated that.

6)      I did feel sorry for Craig as he lost a toenail and the entire staff of the marathon tried to find it for him, but they just were not able to.  Bummer, I know.

Longest race report I’ve ever written.  Thanks for hearing me out.

California International Marathon in 9 weeks…!