City of Trees Marathon: A Beautiful Race

What: City of Trees Marathon

When: Sunday October 9

Where: Beautiful Boise, Idaho

Course: Awesome

Weather: Even better, the best I’ve ever had for a marathon

Time: 3:59.09

Finish: 20th of all women, 2nd in my age group

Synopis: Why don’t more people run this amazing race?

Fun Factor. Is it possible for a marathon to be fun? That’s what I asked myself last week. So I was paying close attention to this possibility when I ran the City of Trees Marathon this past Sunday, a race that was fairly low on the pain scale comparatively speaking. Though the first half can be enjoyable, there is a still the anticipation of pain. As the race proceeds and physical exhaustion and body aches start to set in, the mental battle begins. As rewarding as the experience is, even after completing 15 of them, I can’t say marathons are fun. At least not in the same sense as a trip to Sun Valley or relaxing day at a spa. But they always say that triumph arises amid difficulties, and I’d say marathons fit the bill.

Competition. I thought it was my competitive spirit that drove me to finish a race under a certain time or at a specified pace (and when I passed the gray-headed lady at mile 24, I will admit my pride did play a part). But I really think the drive to reach a marathon goal is more about pain management and survival. I ran with my friend, Chris, during the first 12 miles of the race – which was so awesome! But when he slowed down to conserve energy, I thought to myself, “If I slow down, too, I’ll only be on the course that much longer.” Another way of looking at it? More minutes of pain. I was really tormented because he always jokes about how “his running partner taught him to leave his partner behind,” but if I were in his shoes (and I have been, many times with other friends), I wouldn’t want someone to slow down for me. If nothing else, I don’t want to have to maintain an unrealistic pace because someone is pushing me to do it.

Small versus big. I’m a big race girl. The crowd support and plethora of fellow runners motivates me, especially towards the end of a race. But I’ll also admit that a smaller race allowed for more intimacy. I met people before the race who I cheered on at the end. I feel like a made new friends, all because I could actually remember a face on the course. It was nice not to trample over people at the start, and to hop in a car parked at the finish line when the race was over.

Home versus hotel. I can’t say that sleeping in my own bed has a real advantage; after all, I have a seven-year old and two dogs who wake me up at least once or twice pretty much every night of my life (the night before the race included). But it sure was nice to wake up and eat breakfast in my own kitchen. Especially after the horrific search for food prior to the Marine Corps marathon, when I finally a hotel breakfast bar that let me partake.

Unexpected pain. Large or small, home or far away, you’ll always be greeted by unexpected pain in a marathon. I started this race anticipating my hurt hip (ITBS) to cause some serious problems. I was also ready for my usual quad tightness that makes those last 6 miles seem impossible.  Instead, it was my knees which screamed with pan for the last half of the race. And I rarely have knee issues. Go figure. You simply substitute one discomfort for another.

Friends and family. I have already admitted my love for crowd support, but friends and family were even better. Luke and Rob rode their bikes with me during miles 15-17. At mile 18, when the race got lonely and uphill, I looked up to see my friend Jodi greeting me. Those two miles she ran with me made a huge difference. Chris’s family cheered for me along the entire course  and even made a sign with my name on it. Last but not least, Luke held my hand and ran with me across the finish line, and there’s nothing in the world more special than that.

Melinda Hinson