Before the start:
I am not a morning person. I have never run a marathon with a start time before 8:00 (why I never ran the Flying Pig) and now I was not only running one with a start time of 6:00, but I had to be in the hotel lobby at 3:30 for my ride to the shuttle bus to the start.
On the day of my last marathon, I woke up at 6:00 feeling great and found that the weather was perfect. Yesterday, I woke up at 2:45 feeling not so great and found that the temps were 10 degrees higher than expected and there was a strong wind advisory.
Shuttle dropped me off in a field 2 hours before the start where I sat on prickly grass next to a camp fire wishing I had my iPod which I unfortunately lost during a short run the day before. Luckily, I had just transferred all of my songs so my music is not lost.
I looked for the 3:30 pace guy, figuring with a downhill start I would run 8:00 miles comfortably and then settle down to 8:12 and a bit slower at the end for a finish of 3:38:59. When the gun went off, it took maybe 20-30 seconds to get running at pace. The 3:30 sign guy was already way ahead of me and I became discouraged. I couldn't believe that I could be that much slower than 8:00 pace in the first mile. Then I hit the mile mark in 7:28. Given the delay at the start, my first mile was probably 7:18ish and I was WAY behind the 8:00 pace guy!
I decided to ignore that guy and ran at a more reasonable pace for the next 6 miles before the road turned into a strong headwind. Shortly after this point, I decided to pay attention to the awesome scenery and not to what my finish time would be. I was still doing okay until the wind blew something down my throat and I started gagging. I doubled up, coughing/gagging violently and unable to breathe! I honestly thought I was going to die!
Finally, I was able to breathe again. But I had pulled my left hamstring from my violent, bent over, hacking.
The winds continued until the last 5 miles but I had long been a tourist runner, not a racer by then. Temp was mid 70's and sunny. Spectators were sparse and primarily there only to cheer for their family and/or friends. I was chugging along knowing that finishing is an accomplishment and that many of my Spark friends would be happy with my time. I gained more respect for the runners who enter a marathon knowing that they will be on the course for over 4 hours. I got a nice IPA after watching my friend Ron finish a little under 5 hours. Had to wait as none could be sold before 11:00.
I learned that 6 weeks of good training is not enough (I usually plan on 10). And never to try a marathon that starts that early again. But I am in decent shape today, about to head to Sundance, which I ran past yesterday, Park City, and Salt Lake City, where there are some fine breweries.