Big Cottonwood Marathon – Sept 14, 2013

Today is the marathon. It’s 2 am and I’m heading downstairs to the lobby to grab a banana. I’m kicking myself for not buying one yesterday and worried they may run out if I wait. The hotel van will take runners at 3 am and 4 am to the bus pickup location. The bus driver says she’s sorry she has to drop us off on the street. My friend Gary and I walk around many buses at Cottonwood High School. It’s 4 am, someone in a turquoise volunteer-jacket points into the darkness explaining that we are in the wrong place. We are walking three blocks to the marathon buses found at an unknown location. I am thinking, as we ride in our yellow school bus to the top of Cottonwood Canyon, that at 10 to 20 miles an hour, these schools buses aren’t made for driving up a mountain. The driver’s falling asleep. He’s bobbing his head. Luckily, he slows to make a sharp turn, backs up to reposition the bus and just barely cuts around the corner.

We are 1.5 hours up the mountain stepping out into the darkness and one large spotlight, with folks huddling all around. A long line of portable toilets with netting and barriers prevents easy access. The other 1,200 marathon runners are still down the hill. A school bus that didn’t make the turn is blocking the road. In the darkness someone shouts: “They are going to delay the race about half an hour.” Might it be better using waves since we all have chips? Can’t we start on time? The voice says “I will share your advice with the others. Thank you!”

We are starting to move through a small opening in a race arbor stepping on the chip mat. I notice I have lost my satellite connection and click it back on after the line. Our eating and bathroom schedules are now off. We are already passing a water station only 1/3 of a mile in and I have already lost Gary. Gary advised me the severe downhill will be easy to take too fast in the early miles. With the flat or uphill in the last 8 miles, I will need to hold back early on. If not, we will be crawling in those late miles.

A runner next to me comments of how steep and slick the road is. I agree, “it’s jarring.” She introduces herself, “Kendra from St. George. We own the only running store in St. George.” Where the hell is Gary? I share, “I have a habit of losing my running partners especially in races.” Kendra laughs “Don’t worry I will hold you back. I am going to have to go slow.” She is wearing the same watch as Gary. We both need to pee and stop at the next bathroom. She is yelling, “Andy I’m heading out” 30 seconds after I shut the door. I still need to pee. I remark, “It’s amazing that anyone pees that fast.” She explains “after four kids it isn’t a problem to do things fast.” This reminds me of my St George Marathon and a 20 something mom with two under-3-year olds on both her hips. She has just run a sub-three marathon. I can barely walk up a curb and only ran 3:42. Running is her chance to be alone.

My Podiatrist explained my Plantar Fasciitis may not allow me to run at all this year. I took off 3 days and cut back my mileage. I had two PTs, one working on my athletic hernia, adductors, and gluteal strain, the other on my foot. She manually manipulated my foot and Achilles. She provided me with exercises and stretches to do at home. She didn’t turn me over to someone to exercise me during treatment time. Instead she worked directly with me using laser, ultra sound, and Corticosteroids, and taped my foot.

Gary says, “less then 10 miles to go.” I am thinking how will I make it? My feet are burning and every injury over the past year I can feel. Gary is no longer next to me. So I change my mantra “from run the mile you are in” to “it will hurt just as much if you walk.” I am passing a lot of people and racing a final man that appears to be my age. I have a 342:45 chip time and a BQ.

Andy Big Cottonwood
Andy and Gary Big Cottonwood
Andy and Gary Big Cottonwood
Andy and Gary Big Cottonwood
Andy Big Cottonwood Mid Race
Andy Big Cottonwood Bridge
Andy Big Cottonwood Finish
Andy Big Cottonwood

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