It was a dark and stormy night . . . oh, wait. No it wasn’t. It was a beautiful, crisp, clear day. Perfect running weather. And run we did. We shot right out of the gates, so to speak. We were going fast enough to see a moose (which they say you have to be near the front to see). Of course, that was before we even hit the first mile marker, so it probably doesn’t mean much. It was still cool. It was also cool that before the race started we got to talk to some of the missionaries who were helping out at the start line (and running the marathon relay) and it was also cool to meet some really crazy marathon runners, like those who are trying to run a marathon in all of the 50 states and DC and those who have a goal to run 52 marathons in one calendar year (that’s 52 in 52, just for the record). It was cool to see the president of my stake growing up at mile 7 and to remember that he was the president of the Anchorage mission now. (It was quite the adrenaline rush: “Hey President Lewis! I’m from Bountiful!” “Oh, you are?! See you at the finish line!” I’m pretty sure I sped up to under an 8 minute mile for the next 1/2 mile at least.) It was even cooler to talk to him afterwards and to find out that he ran the Anchorage marathon in 1999 with Team in Training–I’m assuming in memory of his son, Jimmy, who died of leukemia around that time.
What was not so cool was the part when we underestimated the tank trails. Seven miles of gravel are not as kind to your feet when you’ve already run nine miles. Even after we got back on the open road our feet were aching. It may have seemed logical to walk a little bit, just until our feet stopped hurting, but by that point it hurts worse to walk than to run, so we kept on keeping on. Except for the parts when we had to stretch out our muscles lest they somehow collapse into themselves and become bowling balls in our legs. And so we went for nine or so more miles, until we reached Insult Hill. Yes, they stuck a hill in the last quarter mile of the race. And it was steep. Not long. Just steep. Lots of people walk it. Our teammate, Ana (pictured with us above) said that when she first saw it she stopped dead in her tracks. It is the point in the marathon when people begin to cry–that is, if the lady sitting by the side of the road at mile 25 thanking all of the TNT people for helping her become a leukemia survivor didn’t get to them. That was the closest I got to an emotional breakdown. But we were tough. We agreed that if nothing else went well for us during the marathon, the least we could do was show that hill who was boss, and show it we did. We busted up that hill like it was nobody’s business. After that it was a piece of cake. The race ended on the track of a high school, and as we came down the home stretch we watched the clock tick away the seconds and pass our goal of 4 hours. Kind of sad, but we’re over it. We sprinted the last straightaway and held hands as we crossed the finish line. 4:01:15. Excellent. We felt great about our time. We didn’t feel so great about the fact that they forgot to set up the “Get Your New Legs Here” tent at the end. Or the fact that we would have had to wait 20 minutes to get a massage. But we agreed that we will do it again. We can beat 4 hours. Wait and see.Special thanks to Ana’s husband, Greg, and Lizzie, Alan, and Tyler Skinner for taking pictures and meeting us at the finish line.