The Huntsville Marathon was my 6th marathon in the last 5 weeks and after running the fastest marathons I have ever run within those races and running a 4:07:15 at Big Cottonwood (with several bathroom breaks), I gained confidence that I could actually break that elusive 4:00 marathon if I could keep my GI issues in check.
If I thought I had a shot, Huntsville was the place to do it. The course is perfect to run a PR or BQ. Even more so than Big Cottonwood due to the more gentle downhill that doesn't shred your quads as much.
Friday night severe thunderstorms rolled in with heavy rain and lightning. By 4:00am when I got up, the rain was still coming down very hard. My neighbor Galen called me and asked me if I wanted to ride with him to the race and given the race was over an hour away from Draper and I don't drive well in the rain or the dark, I took him up on his offer! Thanks G!
On the way there, I was actually praying that the race would be cancelled. The thought of running 26.2 miles in the freezing rain just sounded miserable. I hate being cold and I was just tired.
The race started at 9:00am, but if you wanted to pick your packet up on race morning, you had to be at Huntsville Park (the finish) at 6:00am. We parked the car and walked to in the pouring rain to where the packet pick up was, got our packets and was informed that the race was still a go. Doh! We headed back to sit in the warm car until the bus to Monte Cristo (the start of the full marathon) left at 7:15am.
We got on the front seat of the bus, which was heavenly as I was sitting right next to the heater. I fell asleep the whole way to the start and that little warm nap was awesome!
I remember last year they had a heated tent for runners to stand in before the start, so being in the front seat of the bus, I jumped off the bus and headed into the tent securing a spot right next to the heater that warmed the tent. The ground was wet, so I used the garbage bag they gave us for our gear bags to sit on.
I parked my butt right next to the heater!!
We had about an hour to wait before the race started, which gave me time to use the bathroom and warm up. The rain had let up and it wasn't super cold by the time we got ready to start. My attitude began to change. This might just be the best conditions to run in ever. Cool temps and an overcast day to keep the sun off us just might be ideal!
Gorgeous view from the start at Monte Cristo
I am ready to give this a shot!
At 9:00am, we walked to the starting line and the race was underway before I knew it! At this point, I decided I would give it my all.
Walking to the start!
Once we started, I settled into my pace. I was feeling very comfortable and did not feel I was pushing the pace at all. I was trying to go very conservative to save something for the later miles. The rain started to come down again, but I still felt good.
I hit the half at 1:52:43 (I was actually there at 1:50, but I hit the bathroom before crossing the timing mat). I had banked some time and still felt really good. Two other guys came up on me and complemented me. The said they had been following me for a while and they were impressed with how consistent my pace was. We talked for a bit, they wished me luck on my sub 4:00 and speeded away (they were looking for a 3:40ish finish).
The course got a little rolly at about mile 16. I still felt strong, but I started having trouble breathing. I just could not catch my breath and I started coughing like I had a chest cold. It was odd. I slowed my pace a little so I could catch my breath. All was still good though. I was still well within my sub 4:00 pace.
The rain had let up again and since I was layered up, I started getting a little warm, so I thew away my rain poncho (which I had a feeling would be a mistake). Then at mile 20, the skies opened and the rain came down so hard that, with the headwind that came blowing in, I could barely see and suddenly got super cold. I started to mentally break down.
By mile 22, I was absolutely miserable. At mile 23 I saw the 4:00 pacer come pass me, and at that point, I was mentally done. When I hit the mile 23 aid station, I got really dizzy (from being so cold), that they wanted me to sit for a while. I declined and just walked a little until I felt OK to run.
The last 3 miles, I just tried to get through by running and walking. When I was able to see the finish line I looked at my watch, I realized that I still had a chance to at least run another PR! I tried my best, but my legs were cold and I just couldn't move them fast enough. I came across the finish line in 4:07:49, missing my PR by 34 seconds. Doh!
I went straight to the medical tent upon crossing the finish line as I was was so dizzy and cold, I just needed to sit down before I passed out. They gave me a couple of space blankets to wrap around me. It was there that it hit me that I had forgot to bring a change of clothes. I would have to drive the hour home in soaking wet clothing! Double Doh!
Looking like a drowned rat on the way home!
Luckily, since I had picked up my race packet that morning, I did at least have the dry race t-shirt to put on. On the way home Galen passed a Cracker Barrel and even though I was soaking wet, we were starving and stopped in for me to change into my warm shirt and partake in some nice warm comfort food! OMH!! It was so delicious!!
Heaven on a plate after a cold, rainy marathon!
After lunch, Galen dropped me off at home and I took the longest, hottest shower known to man, grabbed my little Zoe and jumped back into bed and watched a funny movie just relishing the thought that I would NOT have to run a marathon next weekend!
Weather was the only thing about this marathon that was not amazing this year (and that is out of the Race Director's control). The organization is great, the course is fast, the scenery is beautiful and those wonderful volunteers that stood out in the pouring rain for hours were AMAZING!!
Huntsville is a must do race!