Sunday, June 17, 2012

St. Joe River Marathon

The subconscious couch potato in me can't believe that I just completed my eighth marathon. But I did! Even though I didn't train for it as much as I would have liked, I indeed managed to cover the 26.2 miles and finish upright and smiling. Here is the story.

My high school friend Denise (and her husband, Tim) have settled in Idaho in recent years. Of course, I wanted to visit them and their beautiful surroundings. And, as an aspiring 50-stater, I was not about to make a trip all the way to Idaho without running a marathon. Furthermore, it was high time that my young family finally took a big vacation. Since Isaac was born (40 months ago...) we have not all been away together for more than two nights. So when Denise told me about a nearby marathon, Chasen cashed in some of his frequent flier miles and we began planning. 

I am proud to report that Isaac did an amazing job oh his first airplane experience! We experienced lots of delays and ended up going on three flights rather than two, thus arriving five hours later than planned. But he was a CHAMP and we were over the moon. Finally getting to Spokane was like the dessert at the end of a good meal. We drove on over into Idaho and settled at Denise and Tim's house in Moscow. 

  This is the view from the upper deck. Just lovely!
We explored Moscow on Saturday, and then the three of us, plus Denise, drove on over to St. Maries for the night. I was to do the early start (a first!) and Denise was going to run her first 5k, so we got a separate room from Chasen and Isaac. We stayed at what we called a "no-tell motel," but it was actually exceptionally clean and just a few blocks from the start of the race. And sweet Denise went to the start with me even though her race didn't start for a few hours more.

     Here I am outside of our room. I like the Idaho-shaped signage.

There literally were not more than a dozen people out for the early start, which was fine by me.

I really did not appreciate this sign, but I also thought it was funny.

I truly think that I am just "over" the large marathons. There is just something about a tiny race ran out in the beautiful scenery of the countryside that just makes my day. And they usually take you to areas that you would otherwise probably never go. Ever since the Frisco Railroad Run Marathon (#6 for me) I have felt this way. It's not to say that I'll never do another large race, but they're just not my preference. 

This marathon began in the small downtown area of St. Maries, Idaho and then wove through a bit of a residential farming area. This all lasted no more than three miles, and then it ran the rest of the way on a gravel road alongside the St. Joe River. The scenery was top notch!

This is an example of a non-riverside stretch of the course.

An out-and-back course always, always makes me happy because I feel that I "only have to get halfway and then just run home." It works well in training, so finding a marathon like this was amazing. For the first half I ran for .20 mile and walked for .05 mile. I was doing just fine and got to the halfway point at about 2:56 with no issues. It was just a Sunday stroll! I was so pleased since, like I said, I felt a bit unprepared. 

Boiled potatoes and salt - brilliant! Thank you, Idaho!

After I passed the halfway point and turned around, I did a bit of pondering. With five days to go in our big, family vacation, I made the decision NOT to "kill myself" out there and perhaps end up with swollen, tender, black toenails, huge blisters, and any more soreness than was absolutely necessary. So I eased up a bit. For the first half I was barely aware of the beauty of the landscape. During the second, half, I took it all in!

One of the only non-aid-station people on the course took this photo for me at mile 14 or so.

It was overcast and in the 50's at the hottest. And it was flat as a pancake out in the country!

The St. Joe River was beside me about 99% of the time.

It was just too beautiful to not take lots of photos. It sure beats my training areas!

Getting closer to the residential farming area - Chasen, Isaac, Denise, and Tim were out in full force.

What's not to love about St. Maries, Idaho? Just a few short miles to go!

Once I decided to take it easy, it was truly like I had been given the gift of sight. I really, really enjoyed this race and got my money's worth out of the fabulous course. My "pit crew" was in several spots and made it an even better experience for me. Isaac enjoyed throwing rocks into the water and just "being a boy" out there, which is something he wouldn't have gotten to do at a big city race!

Here is a very happy, outdoorsy boy. [Please excuse the idiocy of the iPhone]

Just like at the Frisco, I arranged with Chasen to have Isaac right by the finish line so we could run in together. Unfortunately, it was kind of a long chute and Isaac was NOT happy about it. 

Oh well - at least one of us was happy about it!

Nice photo opportunity... kinda like a red carpet for marathoners.

When we were still at Denise's house, she looked up the results from last year's race. With such a small field (about 60 marathoners) there were few people in each age group. I really thought nothing about it since I am such a turtle. They began to call out the names of the winners, three deep in each category, and Chasen headed to the car to get Isaac loaded up. Denise, Tim, and I stood around for just a second and then --  oh... my... goodness... I SCREAMED when they began my age group with "In second place is Susan Stout from Southaven, Mississippi." Holy cow! That tells me two things: 1) there was only two of us, and 2) I PLACED IN MY AGE GROUP!!! All of a sudden I had lots of energy and sprinted up to the podium to get my award! MY AGE GROUP AWARD for 6:28:26!

Just a little bit happy... :)

Maybe next time (if there ever is one) maybe I can show a bit more emotion. LOL

You can't fake that, folks. I was stunned.

On Facebook I captioned this photo "Shut the front door!" It was oh so unexpected.

I was on cloud nine prior to receiving that award (and gorgeous, hand crafted medal) but after that - wow. You couldn't have slapped the smile off my face. Just five minutes prior I wanted nothing more than to go get an ice bath. Nope, not anymore! It was celebration time!

Don't judge - I just ran 26.2 miles.

Here is sweet Denise (the 5k runner!) and I outside of our victory meal.

We said our goodbyes to Denise and Tim and headed back to the no-tell motel for the night. We had a big vacation ahead of us and thought it best to get some rest before moving on to Phase Two.

First order of business: ice bath.

My new New Balance did such a good job for me out there! I had no black toenails (!!!), no blisters (thanks to duct tape) and no 'chiropractic issues' in my feet. What an amazing day!

After a nap we toured St. Maries and ran into Paul Bunyan himself.

And we visited the playground across the street. My good boy deserved a little fun.

We got to watch the sun set over the mountains.

Seriously, if you are looking for a flat, scenic, small race, this is the one to pick. I really couldn't help but smile out there, and a lot of it had to do with the visual efforts of the race director and crew.

"Upriver Ambulance Fleet" aka rusty tractors.

Each mile marker was a hand painted sign. Such a nice touch!

Roadside deer had both a race bib and running shoes on. 

The sign says "No Fishing From Bridge." As if!

Fishing pole with running shoe as bait. Ha!

Action shot. See my new Garmin?

After this glorious day we headed to Glacier National Park. (photos to come) Thanks for following this subconscious couch potato's journey.


gabsatrucker said...

congrats!!! What an amazing course, if I ever consider running marathons again I'm adding this one to the must-do list. You look absolutely gorgeous on the award pics :-)

Rachael Piazza said...

I got a lil teary eyed reading this... I'm so proud to have u as my friend! Congrats on WINNING marathon #8 <3

Road Warrior said...

That's so awesome, Susan. Two things of bling to add to your medal rack. Congratulations and I hope you had a great time out west!

Petraruns said...

You did SO well out there - fantastic result Susan! Sounds like the whole experience - marathon, AG winning and the holiday was fantastic for you all. Worth repeating! So funny for me though that you would go somewhere cool on a holiday. I'm desperate for somewhere WARM!

PLANET3RRY said...

Totally Awesome!! I knew that you'd do great with all the races this spring. I love it when a Race Director puts cool touches to the marathon (Deer with shoes, hand painted signs, etc)... one of the reasons why I love Flying Monkey. Well done my friend!

Denise said...

Thanks for the inspiration Susan! I wouldn't have gone to run the 5k by myself (wouldn't have even looked for one!). Now, I am ready for the next and will have no hesitation signing up for all the local ones. :) It was a great visit and very special to me to run in the same race as you and get to cheer you on!

CewTwo said...

I just love your enthusiasm!
A good half for me is in the 2:30! For you it was an easy achievement.
I love going elsewhere for runs. I either want to run a good race name/event or in an exotic place! I thonk you chose such a wonderful one!
Congrats on # 8 and Congrats on 2nd place!
BTW... This year? The Big Sur half in November for me!

Anonymous said...

CONGRATS!!!!!!!!!!! =) -Heather

Susan K. said...

GREAT Pictures, SS!!! I cracked up at the ones of you & your sweet boy at the finish line...tee hee.

I am SO very proud of you! You & your running...just amazing!
Way. To. Go!!!!! SS FTW!!! ♥