Monday, December 15, 2008

2008 11 marathons!

In this world today we seldom have real challenges that test who we really are. I have found that by getting out there and doing battle with myself while running and cycling, I learn about who I am and in turn I grow because of the experience. 2008 was an amazing year for me. I embarked on a unplanned journey of 11 marathons in 10 months. Prior to this year I had run a combined 5 marathons in two years, only one of which went very well. This blog seems a way to share some of my experiences and hopefully encourage others to move off the couch and get out and test themselves in whatever way they see fit. I chose running with a little cycling mixed in. The marathon distance is certainly a test where anything can happen even when you are prepared.

11 marathons! You have to be thinking that is crazy, in my defense, I did not sit down and think to myself, "I want to run 11 marathons in 10 months that sounds really fun!". Any sane person who has participated in and finished one marathon understands the strain that distance puts on your body. I would like to provide a little history on how this all shook out. I tell people "it just kind of happened".

Last year I signed up for the Utah Grand Slam. I thought it a worthy goal of 4 marathons in Utah in a year. So in prep for that year (2007). So I ran Odgen, Deseret News and Park City marathons. At Ogden Ihad a bad experience, ran poorly, ate poorly, hydrated poorly and I got sick and threw up at the finish line (finished poorly puking is poor form) I had set and unrealistic goal to run sub 4 and ran a 4:20. At Des News, I got thoroughly punished, the downhill pummeled me into submission, any hope of sub 4 was left at the bottom of Emigration canyon. I trained poorly, no downhill training. Had my car been parked at Rice Eccles stadium I would have got in and when home, never to run again I was feeling so bad. Instead I suffered through the last 6 and finished at 4:40. This Grand Slam thing was not going well, actually poorly. I stuck with it and ran Park City, and much to my surprise, I neither threw up or found lead weights in my legs. I finished at 4:25 and felt good and was proud to have run the whole race. St George was next, but much to my suprise, my daughter announced her upcoming marriage and the date was the same weekend as the St George marathon. So what could I do, I put my Grand Slam and sub 4 goal aside to support my oldest in her pursuit of marriage. There would always be 2008

And so 2008. After the wedding I started training with a new found friend and crazy runner Scott Kunz. Who is much more experienced and has many, many marathons, ultras and a couple Wasatch 100's under his belt. You should always run with someone faster than you. Not but not someone who is crazier than you are, peer pressure is a nasty thing.

So I started 2008 with the Buffalo Run 50K and had a great race, ran well, felt as good as you can in such and event. I was 50 minutes faster than 2007 and it was great experience. I was hooked and wanting run.

Next I had the Salt Lake Marathon, sub 4 goal time. Scott had a Sub 3 goal. We were ready. I was on pace and things were going well til mile 18. I cramped up in my left ham and I knew if I stopped I would be done, so I battled and fought through the cramp and finished 4:04. I was dissapointed but happy to have finished. And I learned I could run with a cramp, and that I needed more electrolytes in my plan.

Next up Ogden Marathon first race in the Grand Slam, again sub 4 goal Scott along to pace me. We are cruising along but again I have not hydrated well and I am short a bunch of electrolytes and about mile 24 I start seeing little blue men realizing I am severely dehydrated and in trouble. I fight through it and with Scotts help, finish 4:05. And don't throw up at the finish.

So I figure for June I will go to Bear Lake for the 1st annual Bear Lake Marathon. Scott is off running somewherea and I am on my own. This course flat and fast. Still looking for that ever elusive sub 4 goal. It is a great day, perfect weather and I am running well and feeling great. I am 1:50 at the half, eating and drinking well I am on my way to my goal. Then about 14-15 (I can't remember) as I go to tiptoe across a cattle guard, I step and slip through the cattle guard and twist out and fall (luckily) right on my butt. Of course there are witness I was not far from the next water stop. I try to get up and recover my composure, yes I can run and chew gum at the same time. Bad news is my knee is tweaked and I am gimping around. The folks at the water stop help me along and I am worried I have done something real bad. EMT want so to keep me but I keep moving and do the walk run thing till about 19 and I get back going again stiff knee and all. I finish in 4:30 Every race has a challenge.

Next up, my nemisis the Deserest News Marathon, I have no sub 4 goal this day, I am treating this as a training run and I want to be faster than last years 4:40 and finish. Scott and I run to a 4:23 finish feeling pretty good and glad I trained well enough to not let the course pummel me into submission again.

August 23 is Park City second race of the Grand Slam, again I have no real goal other than to beat last years time, Scott is along for the ride again to encourage and push me along. The race goes relatively well but I struggle about mile 22 I just plain don't feel like doing this anymore. I quit the pity party and get going again and finish at 4:25 seconds slower than last year. Oh well I finished and I am glad. More learning for me.

August 30 I let Scott talk me into doing the Grand Teton Trail marathon 1 week after Park City. What? I know crazy, crazy crazy. So we burn up there late on a Saturday night for a Sunday race. Spectacular race, very tough, lots of up, lots of down. My goal is to finish 5 1/2-6 hours. We are bebopping along about mile 10 I am getting a lesson in downhill running technique and it is going well. That is until I stop paying attention to the trail. And I promise this was only for about a second, and bam I catch a toe on a rock and I go down hard in a nifty little pile of granite boulders. OUCH The good news I am okay, I haven't cracked my melon on a boulder, I am bloody, dirty and all but no real race stopping damage. I wash off some dirt and get going. Little did I know blood will get you lots of attention at the water stops, something I don't suggest you try but may work to pick up chicks. We battle through a course that is very tough, but it is the toughest fun I have had. We finish 5:45 and what a great well organized race. Challenging and brutal, very rewarding.

For September the Top of Utah marathon the 3rd race in the Grand Slam. And this race is two weeks before the 4th and final race of the Grand Slam St George. So Scott and I plan this as a training run. My plan is to get the halfway point in 1:50 or less and then cruise the balance and save myself for St George. The plan works and we finish in the rain in 4:13.

October-St George Marathon. In my opinion the premier event in Utah. Sub 4 goal here, I have prepared and planned and trained for this race. We get to the start and mother nature is not happy with runners. It is raining and we have a nifty head wind for the start. So I get my garbage bag to stay dry and start my race prep. Scott is here and he is looking for sub 3 so I am on my own for this one, just me. Sub 4 is my mantra. We start and we are off and for the next 26.2 miles we have nothing but wind and rain. A couple times it is put your head down this hurts rain. I keep my head on and stay focused and I finish 3:56:15 mission accomplished. Really rough, I have never been so wet, but I am very excited to get that monkey off my back. I know how it feels to run sub 4. I get my Grand Slam medal and my St George medal and I am more happy about my 3:56. It was a tough haul.

October 25th Goblin Valley 50K Scott tells me this is a flat as a pancake run through the desert. Scott is a liar. It is a up and down rolling hills forever race through some very pretty and very desolate country. I start out too fast trying to keep pace with Scott, not realizing it is all downhill and what ever goes down must come back up. The way back is a battle. I run out of gas about mile 30 and finish 6:05. Very fun race that I will do again, very scenic, very cool people. Moral of this story, Scott likes to see Troy suffer. I would call him a true friend.

November I had no marathon but instead I head to Tucson for El Tour de Tucson bike race. This is a really fun event with 10,000 riders taking over the town of Tucson. It is 109 miles of sun and fun. With two river crossings where you have to get off and carry your bike. Very fun and very well organized and tons of fun. Finished in the gold category at 5:52.

Last race of the year Las Vegas Baby! On December 6 I got to run with the King, Elvis is not dead! There were about 260 guys were dressed like the King, helping us to realize the King is very much alive and running a marathon in Sin City. Scott and I along with Rusty Hurd (this is his first marathon) line up with about 15,000 other runners and prepare to run the strip,yes the strip. A Fireworks show starts us off we have people lined up from Mandalay to Fremont street. Very fun stuff. I am feeling great, 1:55 at the half and it is all downhill from 18 on, so I am ready to go. But at 15 I feel the real fun need to puke and not in a little while but right now. So I do. Why I don't know, green water, a bad GU, my luck? I don't know. But now I am concerned my fuel, is all fertilizer in some poor homeowners park strip in North Las Vegas. All in all I am not feeling so hot. I drink some water and try to get going, at 16 I fertilize someones elses cactus. Now I am concerned, if I can't keep water down I will dehydrate, if I keep using GU as fertilizer, I will not finish. I walk/run for a while and think to myself DNF or finish. Then I realize if I can get to 20 I can walk the last 6 and finish. So I battle to 20 slam the rest of my fertilizer I mean GU and start feeling like I am back on the planet. I run the last 6 and finish 4:30. Bummer, but I am proud to have finished, I had seriously considered a DNF. What a way to finish the year. Rusty got it done, Rusty's first of many I hope. Scott of course ran a marathon at Death Valley the day before and was hardly winded at Vegas. Great trip

Right now I am in training mode I have signed up for the Antelope Island Buffalo run 50 miler. 2008 was a time to learn and see where I am as a runner, I am not fast, the body style doesn't permit that. I am okay with that. I have found rewards in the battle. I know I can get 50 done, how fast I am not sure. I do know I can finish it. 2008 has taught me that.


  1. Hey, I am so glad you are going to be a blogger. It is a ton of fun and very addicting. You will love it. I can't believe you did 11 marathons! I knew you were running a ton, I just didn't realize you did that many marathons. Way to go!

  2. Good history! Lots of learning points in there. Congrats on the sub-4!