Thursday, April 26, 2012

Runners' Stories

I've been pondering on some of the conversations I had with runners during the Salt Lake City Marathon. I asked the question of why people started running and what their goals are.

One runner commented that this was his way of letting go of the past. He had recently gotten divorced and then a few days before the race, he was laid off from work. He told me that he'd had 26 years of a crappy life and he was letting go of each year with each mile he passed. He had battled a bunch of injuries in training for the race and was ready to move on. He finished the race just a few minutes after me.

Another runner in our group had run more than 10 marathons and was from Texas. He told me that he considered making a goal of running 100 marathons, but then decided it was easier to do the 50 marathons in 50 states.

Another runner was running his first marathon. He was just hoping to finish. He started running on a whim and it stuck.

It got me thinking that every person has a reason to run. My friend who is training with me for the Utah Valley Marathon in June trained with me for my first marathon in 2009. When we finished the race, I was excited and ready to sign up for another. He finished 10 minutes before me, but felt complete. He didn't have a desire to do more. 3 years later, he's back on the road.

I started running because of a conversation I had with a vendor who took us to lunch. He was training for a marathon and it got all of us who were at lunch excited. Our vendor never ran the marathon, but many of us at lunch that day took up the charge. I've wondered why I continued running when other around me have let it go. For me, it boils down to enjoyment.

I enjoy the way my body feels as I am running consistently (aside from the aches and pains of course). I like crossing the finish line and knowing that I accomplished something that most people will never experience. I like getting a medal at the end of a big race. I like being fit enough now that I can pace people who are working to get a new PR or wanting to finish without injury.

Since I have the opportunity to pace more and more, I will be asking the question of what motivates people to run and why they continue to do so. I wonder if there are patterns in the responses I get.

I'll post their responses on my blog. I'll have the opportunity to visit with a few more runners on Saturday as I do the Thanksgiving Point Half Marathon and then on the following Saturday when I pace the Provo City Marathon.

I'm interested and excited to see where this lead. Feel free to share why you started running and why you continue.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Pacing, Pacing, and more Pacing...

Remember how a few months ago, I was wallowing in my desire to race without anything on the books until June? That changed with the email from my pacing group asking if I wanted to pace the Salt Lake City Marathon. took me exactly 1 nanosecond to respond. Yeah!

Gotta give the high fives out! 
Shortly after that email, I received another email. Do I want to pace the Thanksgiving Point Half Marathon the following weekend after Salt Lake City. Then answer? Yeah.

Then about a week after that, I received yet another e-mail. Do I want to pace the Provo City Marathon the week after Thanksgiving Point? The answer? you think my legs will fall off if I do? The pacing leaders reply: "I don't know, I'm running 3 marathons and a half in a span of 4 weeks, but I think you're in good enough shape to pull it off." So, of course I agreed.

My mileage has been between 50-60 miles per week which is the most I have ever done...ever...ever. A few times in the past, I topped out at 40+, but never hit 50.

Last Saturday was the Salt Lake City Marathon. This is the marathon that almost didn't happen. The previous owner of the race was in hot water with all former vendors, many former racers, upset police agencies and city officials over the way he has handled the past races. I guess some people don't like it when you don't pay them...go figure.

When the previous owner announced the sale of the race, everyone waited to see what would happen. The new owner took over vowing to make the Salt Lake Marathon great again. They pulled off a marathon in 60 days and overall it was a great race. You could definitely see where the organizers were working to be frugal this year, but the essentials were in place and even better than in the past.

I came upon this runner just before the
finish chute. No way am I going to let him
fall behind. 
I was assigned the 4:30 finish group. The pace was set to be 10:17 which is slower than I would normally run. Pacing though, is not about personal bests or PRs. It's about being the support system so others can accomplish their dreams.

The race was good. I had a group of about 6 that stuck with me throughout the first 18-20 miles and then they slowly dropped off. The last 6 I had people off and on that would finish with me. In the end, I finished in 4:29:51. I treated the run as a training run, but with a medal at the end. I finished the week with 56 miles which is about average.

Next up is the 2:05 finish group for the Thanksgiving Point Half Marathon followed by the 4:00 finish time for the Provo City Marathon.