During the week, I had felt some sort of a twinge in my posterior tibial tendon. I have had tendontitis with this before and was sort of worried that it would be a factor. I am glad it wasn't and in fact I didn't feel any problems with it but it had been in the back of my mind for most of the week.
I left Friday night right after work and headed up to Ogden. For my friends in the midwest, traveling through Salt Lake City on a Friday night isn't that bad... and I made the trip in less than an hour, despite going through a major city during rush hour (it would like going from Skokie to Joliet on a Friday night -- good luck on doing that).
The weather had been threatening rain for the past two days and when I got up there it was overcast and windy. Parking at the expo was kind of crazy, but I managed to find a decent spot. The expo was at the Union Station -- a museum for guns and trains. Most of the exhibitors were inside but despite the inclimate and threatening weather, there were some activities outside as well. I figured this was going to be a semi-small marathon, but I was impressed with the number of vendors.
After picking up my shirt and goody bag, I headed on over to IHOP. It wasn't very busy and I knew what I was getting. I toyed with going to Golden Corral but I knew I'd over eat and for a runner, there is nothing better than carbo loading on pancakes. I wish I had done a bit more research into what to eat for dinner because Ogden does sport a nice downtown area with some unique eateries that would've been worth visiting.
I stayed at the Comfort Suites and despite the hotel being a good distance from the race start the place was filled with runners. The room was pretty nice -- it wasn't cheap either, having paid close to $100 for it. Desk area, two queen beds, nice bathroom -- it was quiet and comfortable. They did have a free shuttle to the race, but not one on the way back. I toyed with the idea of taking it and bumming a ride with someone on the way back (I was solo) but I decided to drive myself to the race start rather than bothering a total stranger at the race.
I hit the hay at 9:15 or so and slept half way decently until about midnight where I tossed and turned for about 75 minutes. I had 3 alarms set to go off at 3:45 which woke me up out of a dead sleep.
When I woke up I looked outside and saw that it was raining -- from the looks of it hard. I thought about bailing on the race, but after all the training, money and effort, I figured heck... I can bail out if it is really bad...
I ate cereal, drank some Powerade and assembled my gear and left the hotel at 4:20. It was about 5 minutes to the race site and already people were filling up the parking lots. The rain was a slow spitting drizzle and it wasn't really that bad. Luckily I had bought some 33 gallon garbage bags and made an impromptu poncho out of one. I gave some more to people in the parking lot and after a 5 minute walk boarded a nice tour bus. They wanted you on the busses by 5AM and I was there in plenty of time.
It was about a 45 minute bus ride to the top of the canyon (elevation 5500 feet). I wish we could've sat on the bus until the race start (7:15) but after a long, windy drive they dumped us unceremoniously off at a cow pasture (minus the cows). It was like some refuge camp where everyone was huddled around smokey bonfires. The rain was intermittent but mostly a dull spit / drizzle. I found a place close to a bonfire, sat down with the 2500 other runners and made friends. You can look at the field here,
My poncho was working great and while it was chilly (probably low 40's) I was comfortable and warm. The field was muddy, but not sloppy and there were some left over cow patties so I sat on my gear bag. The bonfires were smokey, so it was like smoking a pack of cigarettes before the race started. My clothes and sinuses smelled of hickory smoke for the rest of the day.
I wish I had brought my collection of garbage bags up there. There were a lot of hapless souls that I could've helped out....
After 90 minutes of sitting around, the race started promptly at 7;15. At this point, the rain picked up. I put a sweatshirt in my gear bag and decided to go with: shorts, shoes, a t-shirt, a wind breaker, my garbage bag poncho, a winter hat, and two sets of gloves (a cheap throw away pair and some good ones over it). I am glad I went with the double gloves -- my hands were largely warm the entire race. My race bib was attached to my shirt, so anytime I went through a camera area I had to lift up my jacket & poncho to expose my bib so they could get my number. Hopefully they got some pictures of me.
The first 3 - 4 miles of the race were absolutely gorgeous. You are running by state parks with a rambling stream next to you. Lots of trees and lush green foliage. It was also largely downhill on a service road. I started out at an 8:45 pace that started to dip into the 8:30's thanks to the fast downhill start.
After 4 miles you head out into farm land. There are some rolling hills here that seemed mostly up rather than down. Attentive readers will recall that I ran a 30K race a few weeks out here so this wasn't new territory for me. In fact, I was kind of bored with it and I felt like it was work at this point of the race. Despite slowing down a little, I felt I would make it up once I hit the top of the canyon.
I felt comfortable even though I could feel like my pace was starting to suffer. For some reason my forearms were burning and I was fighting a growing cramp in my shoulder. I think I was super tense because of the weather -- wondering if I was going to go into shock from the cold / wetness. I also think I am going to have to find another hydration system other than my camelbak. I love how much water it holds, but I don't think it allows me to run naturally and I think that was largely the reason why I was hurting.
By the half way point, my shoes were soaked and my running shorts felt like a wet bathing suit. I looked longingly at the busses for the relay teams and thought about bailing on the race -- but I wanted my medal and I didn't want to have a DNF. Once you quit once, it gets easier to quit in subsequent races and I didn't want to set up a pattern. I kept telling myself at least it wasn't hot. Unfortunately, by mile 10 my pace had really suffered and people were passing me. At about mile 15 or so, the 4:00 group passed me, along with my dreams of a sub 4:00 marathon.
I reached the top of the canyon and here is where the downhills really started. There were a few portions that were fast downhills, and it wasn't painful, even for someone who's legs were shot. I had hoped to pick up my pace to the low 9's again but my legs and spirit weren't responding. For some reason, I couldn't get my gear and at this point I was just trying to finish. I felt hydrated and I was eating gels regularly... I guess it just wasn't my day.
The canyon section of the race were the best views of the course with towering canyon walls and even a waterfall. You can trace the area on google maps by going here.
After doing about 8 miles the course dumped you off onto the Ogden bike trail. I expected this to be a dull section of the run, but I was mistaken. There was actually some decent crowd support here and the twists and turns of the tree lined trail made it fun.
I was getting passed left and right at this point, and I was just in survival mode. While I wasn't passing many runners, I was passing walkers. I am guessing my pace was down into the low 11's or upper 10's. I just didn't have it today and whether I had gunned through the first few miles too fast, the weather, or I was just undertrained, I am not sure. Either way, I was frustrated but counting down every quarter mile made kept me going.
When I finished the race it looked like they had an awesome spread of food and drink. Unfortunately, I didn't want any part of it. I was tired, wet, buzzing on caffeine and sore. I kept moving and this was one of the few races where I didn't feel nauseated. I pounded a coca cola (wonderful!) grabbed another for the road and made the half mile walk back to my car. It was still raining and with teeth chattering I managed to find where I had parked.
I took a super long hot shower and hit up the Layton Golden Corral for my usual celebratory meal. I sucked down at least 5 Arnold Palmers and ate a decent buffet.
Overall, I am disappointed with my time. This course had a nice downhill profile (1500) and I was hoping to crack 4 hours. I felt like I was trained well enough to achieve this. I think some of my negative thinking got the best of me in the early miles and worrying about the rain and cold sapped my energy.
Today I have the usual soreness but I've certainly felt worse post marathon. I had some twinges in my achilles in the last mile but nothing to show for it today. My right knee is a little tender, but overall I am in good shape. I have some serious chaffing on my nipples (as expected -- imagine 4 hours of a wet technical shirt rubbing against them) and some redness under my arms (probably from the CamelBak straps).
The race was well run with some excellent food / water stops. I'd definitely recommend this race for those looking for a beautiful, well organized marathon. The 90 minute wait before the race wasn't very good and if it had been a torrential rainfall it would've been an absolutely miserable experience. Hopefully they address that.
You can see my splits and tracking here: https://www.runraceresults.com/Secure/RaceResults.cfm?ID=RCQW2013 (bib #12874). Also Zazoosh.com should have pictures posted of me (you can see me running with my garbage bag poncho).
Here are some of the photos I took:
Me: exhausted, wet and cold after the race
The medal & shirt
Notice the clouds over the mountains. Yup, that's where I ran
Where marathon legends eat!