Running, charity and all that laces them together.

Running, charity and all that laces them together.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pocotello, Idaho Marathon

Dear Friends, Family and Neighbors,

As we slid through the clear skies from Dulles, through Salt Lake City, UT, to Pocatello, ID, I am thunderstruck (again) by our great country; from its sheer size to its sweeping contrasts in topography, ideology and ethnicity.  (I love this country!)  Yup, another marathon done (Pocatello Marathon, state #28, marathon #39).

Pocatello Gate Agent
Ha, ha, another lucky gate agent gets to pose with me.

Southern Idaho unfurls abruptly from the Wasatch Range (east) and the Oquirrh Mountains (west); we fly straight through the valley in our tiny propeller plane north to Pocatello (plane switch in SLC).  All of a sudden, the land flattens and widens, and we quickly descend into the fifth largest city in Idaho.
Downtown Pocotello
Historic downtown Pocatello.

Before Europeans arrive in the early 19th century and set up fur trading posts, this area was populated by the Shoshoni and Bannock peoples.  Trade between the Europeans and the Native Americans ensues and expands exponentially when Hudson's Bay Company establish set trading locations to buy/barter manufactured goods (knives, kettles, beads, needles, and blankets).

Around 1860, gold is discovered in Pocatello and its' surrounds.  The first large immigration wave begins and the railroad comes up from Utah. Residential/commercial development starts.  Once the gold rush subsides, the region gives way to ranchers and farmers.  Hello potatoes (and lentils, sugarbeets, alfalfa hay, dry edible peas and beans, hops, plums/apples and wheat)!

Denise and me
Posing with Alexandria friend & fitness expert, Denise Austin.
Runners receive a sack of potatoes as part of our swag.

** Factoid #1:  Meriwether Lewis and William Clark traveled over the Lolo Pass to enter Idaho in September 1805.

**Factoid #2:   Famous Idahoans include Sacagawea (Native American guide), Picabo Street (Olympic skier) and Lana Turner (Actor).

And now, without further ado:

The Running the Gap Idaho State Journal
Pocatello Marathon
(its name as long as the marathon...)

Race monrning sunrise
Looking towards the ESE.  Race morning sunrise.

Race morning starts out crisp and cloudless.  Amazingly dark (given the zillion stars close enough to touch) and silent.  Even with 500+ runners, it is quiet, as if everyone agrees not to disrupt the magic of the morning.  Wind rustles tall grasses along the roadside, goats bleat off in the distance.  I meet up with past running friends.  The 50 State-ers (group whose membership has, or is on their way to, completed/ing a marathon in every state) are there, as are the Marathon Maniacs (group whose goal is to run an insane amount of consecutive marathons, making my one-a-month+ seem tame) are omni-present.  Not too surprising, I guess, that I'm a member of each club.

Leah, Ken and me
Friends from Florida.  Ken will pace a group to the finish line.

We travel by bus from Pocatello out to the start; at 6:15 AM, the gun goes off!  We begin our descent down narrow canyon roads.  The roads aren't closed off to traffic, but this poses no problem.  Runners from behind congenially alert runners ahead with a  "car back" warning.  This adds to the friendly spirit of the race as the call travels up the line.  Dawn breaks and the sun crests over the tall hills we are now running between .  A creek runs along the side.  The roads have such great names: Antelope, Buckskin and Hoot Owl.  Horses and farms are everywhere; rectangular hay bales pile 7 to 10 high.

Idaho Mountains
Running the gap.

The wheelchair and hand cycle participants start first, and will finish (so I overhear) in about an hour and a half.Wheel chair/Cycle Participants
Hand cycle participant at race start.

The Good

The Marathon.  With gorgeous scenery and a 1,500' elevation drop between miles 1 and 14, it is easy to feel pretty darn good.  Running by perceived effort (the first 10 miles relaxed and getting into a good rhythm - 70% effort -, the next 10 miles feeling good and in the groove - 75% effort, the last 6 miles keeping it together and counting down the miles - 80% to 100% effort), the miles fly by.  I stop to take a few pictures.  I chat with fellow runners.  I end up running my fastest marathon since St. Jude's marathon in Memphis, TN - 12/09.

Race Course
Along the course, about mile 8.  Notice the runners in the bottom left. 

The Bad

The Marathon.  Once the course flattens into gentle rollers at about mile 14, I can't breathe.  With the elevation still topping 4,600', I feel like a goldfish floating sideways in a bowl of murky water.  Unable to get enough air to sustain my pace, I start to fail, and fast.  Accepting that the altitude has gotten me, I slow down, and even stop and walk for about 8 steps.  I shake it off, admonish myself to get it together, and push on.

The Ugly

The Return Trip.  Leaving Pocatello on time, and Salt Lake City early, I am fired up to land back at Dulles at a decent hour (11PM).  Didn't happen.  There is not one, but two medical emergencies.  One forces us to land unexpectedly in Chicago and the other to wait to deplane in Dulles (1:30 AM).  Both descents are rapid, where we bank hard and land quickly.  The first was emergency is serious.  A 33 year old woman in first class has a heart attack and isn't breathing until a fellow passenger preforms CPR.  They yank her from her seat and onto the floor, prop her socked feet up, and pump her chest for what seemed like forever.  She leaves the plane breathing on her own; I hope she's OK.  The second emergency isn't as medically serious.  It is stress related due to  a less-than-lighthearted mother/ teenage daughter conflict.  During the flight, there is lots of back and forth name calling between them.  

Sponsor Highlight

Bonitt Builders.   With the tag line of 'We build it Better,' Murray Bonitt does.  With his top-notch gang,  he tackles both residential (our home) and commercial projects (latest - Virtue Feed & Grain in Old Town).   We love the work he did for us... and we're still friends!  Murray listens.  He knows old structures and does what is right by it.  And, he doesn't bother us with pesky change orders.

**Kudos to Murray and his team for the well deserved recognition in the current issue of Home & Design (on the cover, no less), and the 2011 "Washington Award" for residential construction, as featured in theWashingtonian this past summer.   

That's it.  You made it to the end (except for a couple more pictures)!  I'm off to Bristol, NH next for the New Hampshire marathon (state # 29, marathon #40) on October 1st.  I'm then back in Alexandria to run the second annual Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon on October 2nd.  See you there.

Be well-  Brooke 

Mountains in Pocatello
Scenery a few miles outside of town. 

A mile or so in. 

Upcoming Races
(the rest of 2011) 

Oct. 1: New Hampshire marathon
Oct. 2: Woodrow Wilson Bridge 1/2 marathon
Nov. 5: Savannah, GA marathon
Dec. 10: Rehobeth Beach, DE marathon

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