Brian Nicholson: Deseret News Marathon: Pain to the 100th degree

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 9 2011 3:22 p.m. MDT

A runner makes his way over a crest in the road at sunrise during the Deseret News Marathon on Monday, July 25.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

I am baffled at how my legs still hurt more than a week after completing the Deseret News Marathon. I’m not limping uncontrollably like I was the five days after the race, but there is still an uncomfortable amount of pain.

It was my 19th marathon and by far, the race that I’ve had the longest time recovering from.

Seriously baffled.

The day started out as expected. I went through my normal routine, got to the bus with plenty of time, chatted with friends at the starting line, stayed as hydrated as is humanly possible. But for some reason, the running amnesia hasn’t kicked in yet.

“Run•ning am•ne•sia: (run’ing am nÊ ‘zhe) n. 1. Partial or total loss of memory of the pain inflicted by running, causing a person to repeatedly sign up for insanely difficult activities, like marathons, resulting in even more pain."

Running amnesia is something I have been depending on this year as I attempt to complete the Utah Marathon Grand Slam. Admit it, if you run, this “illness,” sometimes referred to as endorphins, is what you depend on to keep your spirits up.

Yeah, not feeling it. No amnesia here.

In looking back, I may have started out too fast, which isn’t hard in this race. Runners are basically riding the brakes the first four miles. It wasn’t until mile five when I really felt like I was running naturally.

There is a good sized hill at about the six mile mark that lasts two miles, then you’re on your brakes again for most of the remainder of the race.

It’s not really an easy course as some might imagine. It starts at the top of Big Mountain, runs up over the ridge to the top of Little Mountain into Emigration Canyon. Then down the canyon, through the neighborhoods on the east side, down from the University of Utah on South Temple, then it ends at Liberty Park, after making a one block appearance on the Days of ’47 parade route.

If you’re following along, that’s a ton of downhill. There is close to 3,000 feet of elevation drop, which can be fast if you train for it. Apparently I didn’t.

On the shuttle bus from the finish line, I actually heard someone say he “slowed down” on the final descent down from the University of Utah because he’d had too much downhill.

Amen, brother.

By the time I eventually rounded the corner at 300 East and South Temple, I was pretty much spent. My time started to decrease, my calves were in knots and it was all I could do to keep running.

My dad ran this race when he was 40 years old and for some reason, I remembered his time. With about three miles left, and based on where I was, and how long it would take me to finish, I realized I had to step it up a little to beat his time. It was a nice motivator to keep me going when I knew it would be so easy to slow down and walk, or crawl.

I eventually finished. And I came in slightly ahead of where my dad did over 20 years before. But I couldn’t go much further. Just getting to the shuttle was a huge challenge.

I’m sure by the time this is published, I will be back in my shoes pounding out more miles. And it will be nice to say I completed another marathon, and a very historic marathon at that.

The Deseret News Marathon has been around as long as I can remember. It’s gone through changes over the years, but still remains as one of the classic races here in Utah, one of the staples of the many activities on Pioneer Day.

For now, I’m just waiting for that amnesia to kick in. Hopefully before I ramp up training for the final race, and the crown jewel of the Grand Slam, St. George.

Time for another ibuprofen.

Brian Nicholson has completed marathons from Boston to Beijing, a host of Ragnar relays and has developed a keen taste for all things Gu.

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