The weekend sort of went by in a blur, despite the fact that I was trying to savor every moment. The weather forecast had called for sunshine and warm temperatures on race day, but on Friday afternoon when we drove the course it was cloudy, cool and rainy. I was getting excited as we drove and I saw how much downhill there was. Here is a picture of the starting line area the day before:
After we drove the course, we headed into downtown Ogden where I picked up my bib number and packet, as well as the bib and packet for my friend. The race expo seemed a little small and cramped, but it was still fun to look at all the cool running and fitness paraphernalia and feel the vibe of anticipation of all the runners around us.
On Friday night we spent the evening with our dear friends, Marsden and Lynette. First, Marsden and I went to the Wasatch Running Center to pick up a few last minute items, then we all went to dinner at a pizza buffet where the kids ate like they were the ones doing the carbo-loading! After dinner it was back to their house, where we all got an early night, relatively speaking. After taking a shower, I had the kids down and myself in bed by 9pm, with the alarms set for 3am. After a bit of a restless night, I got up with the alarm, ate the snacks I had laid out for myself the night before, and started getting ready. We were dropped of by a family friend at the shuttle loading area in downtown Ogden, where we then had to drive up the canyon to the starting point. As we were getting onto the buses, it was raining, but when we arrived at the starting line area the sun had come out and the clouds were breaking up.
I have to say that as the day began, I was feeling great. Mentally and physically, it was the best I had felt in a long time and I was eager to get going and get some miles under our belts. The worst part of the entire day was the time from waking up at 3am up to the race start, which ended up being around 7:20am - a long wait with a lot of standing around. With almost 3000 marathoners, Marsden (who has now run 14 marathons himself), talked me through the start of the race. At his suggestion, we waited near the back of the pack and when we started out, there were only a few people behind us. As we got going, though, the crowd thinned out and we made our way closer to the middle of the pack. The first 8 miles or so literally flew by. It was almost all downhill and I was feeling SO good. Marsden mentioned a few times that we were probably going a little too fast, but I was having a hard time holding myself back even though I knew it might hurt me in the end. Looking at my splits on my Garmin post-race, I saw that during that first 8-10 miles we averaged about 9 minute miles. We walked through every aid-station, taking a few sips of either water or Powerade. I also had to make a stop at a port-a-potty around mile 7, thinking I was going to "lighten my load", but after a failed attempt had to make another stop around mile 11. Moving on from there I felt better and got a bit of a second wind. At around the midway point there was a long, curvy hill. As we approached and I was starting to slow from fatigue, we took a walking break until we reached the base of the hill, then we picked it up and started running. This was one of the high points of the race for me mentally because I was able to overcome my body's desire to slow down and run up the hill while everyone around us was walking. After making it up that hill, we made our way around a reservoir and the scenery was breathtaking.
The second half of the race was a lot more difficult physically, but it was made great by my wonderful running companion who kept encouraging me and talking me through the rough patches. He made it so fun as he talked with everyone around us, from the other runners to the volunteers on the sidelines, which helped keep me entertained the made the time go by a little faster. From miles 18 - 23 I still felt considerably decent. We had continued walking through every aid station, but the sun and the heat were definitely something I wasn't used to. I was SO THIRSTY! I took sips/chugs of the Powerade at every stop, then only ran from there just to get to the next aid station and get another drink. Some of the stations had orange slices, which turned out to be one of my favorite things. The drinking was making my stomach hurt, but the juicy orange was just enough to quench my dry throat without too much liquid going into my gut. At around mile 23, after having run through two different canyons, along a raging river and past a beautiful reservoir, the course left the road and entered a city park pathway. We wound our way around and up and down small hills for a couple of miles. This was probably the hardest part for me. I had completely lost my steam and my hamstrings were so tight I wanted to cry. I did, in fact, a few times. Partly because of the pain, partly because I knew we were almost done. I also knew at this point that I wasn't going to make my goal of being under 5 hours, which was disappointing, but I tried to acknowledge and focus on the fact that I was definitely going to best my time from my first marathon, by a pretty decent margin.
With the help and encouragement of Marsden, we ran in the last mile to the finish line. I had started my Garmin at the exact moment we crossed the start, and had set the alarm to alert me at exactly 26.2 miles, which ended up being, at least according to my Garmin, a little ways before the finish line. At the point that I stopped my Garmin, it said I had done 26.2 miles in 5 hours and 22 minutes, which is about 28 minutes faster than my first marathon time. When I checked the race results online, my chip time was 5:32. Either way, I am happy with the outcome. I couldn't have asked for more perfect running conditions or a better running companion. And now, of course, I have ample room for improvement for my next marathon experience! I am also surprised at how well I've recovered. I am sore, no doubt, but what hurts the most is my searing sunburn...next time - note to self: DON'T FORGET THE SUNSCREEN!
I relied on caffeine to function the day after the race...