Friday, July 24, 2009

the marathoner

I was in a marathon this morning!
I'm about ready to go buy myself one of those 26.2 stickers for the back of my car!
what a great time it was: the enthusiasm from the support teams at the water breaks, the sheriffs on their motorcycles, the pace car right behind the race leader, and then toward the end, as the route wound through wasatch drive, all of the residents who put up lawn chairs and waited to watch us all pass by.
the energy was just powerful, and swirled around the entire event.
I even passed the race leaders! twice! both times a blond in bright yellow running shoes was in front, followed fairly closely by a dark skinned man who must be a kenyan. aren't most of the best marathoners from kenya? or is that just one more urban myth?

regardless, I'm sure you've figured out by now that during this intensely magical marathon of mine this morning, my feet never touched the ground. they stayed firmly attached to my pedals, as I wove in and out among the astoundingly diverse collection of runners who were on their way to tucking another little marathon under their collective belt.

it all began in the dark, when I first caught sight of a truck parked at the mouth of emigration, its flashers flashing, its owner standing alongside a portable table and various other paraphernalia I didn't have time or the ability to puzzle out. the scene was familiar, though, as a handful of other times I have seen support stations posted along the emigration canyon road for running races.
hmm, my little brain went.
nothing else entered the big picture until a bit past ruth's, when I saw a half dozen cars and some bodies and tables set up with a hundred or so paper cups filled with liquid. I said good morning to them, and almost immediately put clue #1 together with clue #2 and deduced it was a running race day.
ooh, my brain went. it's pioneer day, and this is the annual deseret news marathon . . . sharp as a tack, am I, at 5:50 am.

the 40th annual deseret news marathon took place this morning, and I was in the thick of it. what fun! I got to weave in and out and amongst some of the best runners in utah as well as a bunch of slightly obsessed people quite similar to myself. what more could I ask? I had to finally stop saying hello and good morning, as that in and of itself took more energy than I had to spare.
I first saw runners coming toward me a mile or so from the top of emigration, when they were about 8.5 miles into their race. the front runner was being led by 2 motorcycles and a pace car with (I'm sure) dignitaries in it, the woman in the front seat reading a book. (she must really be into marathons.) the next 3 runners were close behind, and then there was a gap of at least a half mile. I saw the first female runner near the top of the summit, and I silently cheered her on.
I wanted to shout way to go! you all are so awesome! to everyone along the entire route, but I haven't figured a way to do that without feeling that I will be interpreted as somewhat condescending or just plain crazy or possibly, histrionic. so I just thought it, and tried to give out waves of positive energy to all I passed.
running has its strategies, just like all racing, and I just now searched the news to see who won. it was not the man who was far in front both times I saw them, nor did the front-running woman win. so during the last 8 miles, it's clear that the leaders tired and some runners from a bit further back powered on to take over those leads. (and yes, it was a kenyan who won the men's race.)

what I learned this morning:
  • I like being around the energy of athletes exercising their skills and strengths.
  • it's even more fun when I'm not part of the competition.
  • some runners take pictures while they're running marathons.
  • chalk messages on the asphalt cheering on specific runners can be done quite artfully and colorfully.
  • skorts are reasonably popular among running women.
  • runners are more jovial running downhill than uphill.
  • cyclists moving toward runners get there much more quickly than if those runners were on bikes.
  • I'm glad I'm a cyclist, not a runner. but hey, I already knew that.
happy pioneer day, utah!

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