Mixed feelings about this post. I really enjoyed my St. George Marathon experience--the training, the running friends, and the experience of attacking the first half more aggressively than I have in the past.
I'll keep the marathon report short because there is another topic I'd like to address as part of my report.
I had a goal to beat my 2012 PR of 2:22:52 and had been planning for months with Mike Nelson to run the first half faster than previous years to set myself up for a faster finish.
The day looked like it would be fast with decent temperatures and a slight tail wind at the starting line.
Mike and I synced up right from the start and ran our first mile a bit fast--caught up in the excitement. We expected to run with Ben, but he started a bit more conservatively.
We settled in to pace running ~5:20 pace average for the downhill miles before Veyo. Ben made a push to catch up with us after 4 miles or so--I fully expected to run with Mike and Ben for 20+ miles.
We got a bit spread out at the water station before Veyo and I hit the hill just in front of Mike and Ben. They didn't seem to be closing the gap--I eased off the pace a bit and still they hung back. I decided that I needed to run my race and be confident even if that meant running solo.
I felt good up Veyo and continued to catch maintain a similar distance and possibly close in a bit on Jon, Taylor, and Fritz who were running ahead of me. Aaron was already way ahead of us.
I was running ~15-20 seconds behind this group and had no idea where Mike and Ben were behind me.
I hit my half spit close to my goal of 1:12 and change feeling good. I was pretty confident that this was going to be a breakthrough race.
As we hit the downhill section of the run after mile 14, Fritz picked up the pace and started to pull away. It seemed like I was holding a consistent position behind Jon and Taylor. I don't remember exactly when, but as I was closing the gap between Jon and Taylor, Jon peeled off for a bathroom break--I shouted my apologies for the tough break as I passed. (Apparently, that was just the beginning of some tough stomach issues for Jon.)
Earlier in the race I had the naive thought that I was going to beat Fritz on the day, but he continued to gap me on the downhill segments. I was surprised to be gaining ground on Taylor, who I expected to have a low 2:20 effort on the day. I was a bit disappointed to see Taylor fading--his face was covered in salt as I passed and I could tell his body was shutting down around mile 18 or 19.
As I approached mile 20 I continued to think positively about a fast last 10K, but when it came time to go, I just didn't have it. My pace gradually slowed all the way to the finish line. At mile 23 my right hamstring got really cranky and I had to slow the pace even more to avoid a hamstring pull that would end the race early. There was nobody in sight--Fritz had decidedly left me in the dust and I couldn't hear shouts from the crowd for runners behind me. On a couple of occasions I asked people if they could see people catching me, because I knew I wouldn't be able to respond to any type of kick.
The sight of the finish line of the marathon never gets old. I lopped to the finish and was so glad to be done.
--My use of testosterone--
Some of you have read my post on Facebook and know that I have been using doctor prescribed testosterone since August of 2013. I met with doctors after the Timpanogos Half where I collapsed 50 meters from the finish line due to dehydration. They ran blood tests and among other unhealthy levels, they noticed that my testosterone level was low--under 200. They suggested that they could prescribe a testosterone regiment that would keep in mid to upper range for my age (between 600 and 900)--I was feeling afraid of racing, afraid of not being able to run, and decided that I would face the risks of shutting down my body's own production in order to feel healthy and be able to run.
I struggled with the idea of running races while taking the prescription and justified my participation as "under doctor's orders" and "just wanting to have healthy testosterone levels." After running a few races on the circuit and feeling guilty, I decided that I would avoid circuit races and competing in USATF events to avoid dealing with the reality that I may need to gear up for a time of depleted stores while my body attempted to figure out how to produce its own testosterone if I wanted to compete.
Prior to the St George marathon, an individual with whom I had shared my use of testosterone reported me to the race director. The RD sent out an email to all of the elite athletes reminding us that the marathon was a USATF sanctioned event and that the use of PED's was prohibited. I contacted the RD and shared my situation--prior to running the race, my T-level was 260 in my last blood test--but I couldn't guarantee that my use of testosterone wasn't enhancing my performance. She allowed me to race as long as I didn't accept an award at the end. That felt more than fair.
I realize that it isn't very heroic of me to have gone as long as I did taking the band substance. I take accountability for the justifications I used knowing that the rules were are very cut and dry. There are not many circles where my use testosterone matter to anybody, but the competitive local running community deserve an apology for my lack of integrity.
To be clear I ran the following races while taking testosterone:
- Top of Utah Half - 6 place over all and 1st in age group
- St. George Marathon 2013 - 8 place over all and 2nd in age group
- SLC Winter Series 5K 2014 - 3rd over all and 1st in age group
- Hale Freezes Over 5K 2014 - 1st over all
- Striders Half Marathon 2014 - 1st over all
- Boston Marathon 2015
- Hobble Creek Half Marathon - 1st over all
I apologize to all of the athletes who competed in these events who were negatively impacted by my participation.
Well it's clear that racing on a competitive level isn't an option. I have a demanding work schedule that has made my half-hearted efforts to really figure out a way to get off the prescription challenging for me. I have appreciated the extra energy and to be even more transparent for my ability maintain a healthy love life with my wife (TMI).
Well there you have it. There is more to the psychological, physical, and emotional story than anybody wants to hear. I'm not looking for sympathy--it's simply my experience. I prefer to live life without secrets and I'm grateful to have "come out of the closet" if you will.
I respect and appreciate the local running community and intend to do what I can to have a positive impact going forward.