Saturday, May 16, 2015

2015 Ogden Marathon Race Recap

Ogden Marathon Finisher Medal

Official Time: 4:08:45
Placement: 668th place (out of 2144), 3:57:40 48th out of 123 in men 45-49
Results: Here
Race Website:Here
Weather: Upper 30's, Rain with sporadic wind in the final miles.

Mile Time Comments
1 9:00 Reeling it in despite the gentle downhill
28:38Downhill gets a bit more intense. Go with the flow, but don't go nuts
38:30Same here -- starts to rain though.
48:28More gentle downhill. Wondering if I am going too fast.
58:39Getting chilly and the rain is getting worse.
68:43Wish I had my rain jacket. Still feeling pretty good.
78:55Course flattens out.
88:46Still doing okay.
98:56Feeling pretty chilled.
108:56Rolling hills here. Not bad but one of the more challenging sections of the course.
119:23More rolling hills here. 
128:52This is about the pace I wanted to run
138:51Looking for a bathroom. Half way done and feeling good and the best part of the course is around the corner.
149:17The serious hills start here.  Still feeling good.
1510:25Pee break. Hard to go with wet shorts and a fuel belt on. So cold.  Worst of the hills are here too
168:55*At this point my Garmin permanently lost satellite connection. All miles are done when I see the mile marker.
178:57More rolling hills but the fun begins soon
189:16Finally done with the hills, time to start the downhill canyon run
198:43Starting to kick it in
209:21Not sure why this one was so slow. I was hauling ass here, but again, my Garmin was not connecting at this point.
219:14More down hill
228:57Passing people left and right
238:20End of the canyon... going to be work from here on out.
248:58Hard to keep the momentum going.
2510:05Had the dry heaves. Literally had to stop, bend over and gag.
26.310:48Hauled it into the finish line.
Total Miles: 26.3 (approximately)


At this time this year I was sort of planning on doing a marathon in the Denver area.  However, I have a habit of taking stock of who is running / training on the bike trail where I live.  I saw one runner who was walking her dog and I stopped and asked her why she wasn't running.

Turns out she was injured.  Long story short, her injury was pretty substantial and she had bought an entry into the Ogden Marathon and wouldn't be able to run it.  The Ogden Marathon has a pretty generous bib transfer policy so I offered to buy it from her.  I wound up buying the bib for $60 and ponied up $25 for the transfer fee -- still a pretty good bargain for a 26.2 marathon.

Those that read this blog know that I've run this race before and I didn't have a very good experience with my performance (not the race).  You can read about it here.  I definitely wanted revenge and I definitely wanted to try a mostly downhill race for a PR attempt.


After work on Friday, I had to make the roughly 45 minute drive to Ogden to pick up my bib.  In 2013, I remember the packet pickup place was small, cramped and crowded. Parking was a pain in the butt too.  And to be honest, I really didn't want to spend much time there.

I was happy to see that they had moved the packet pickup to the Dee Events Center where they've been holding their Winter Racing Series.  This place had ample parking and seemed like a real marathon expo.  I wound up spending a good 15 minutes there looking around.

I went and got my bib and was surprised when the lady who was about to give me my bib said, "Wait a minute, you are special".  I was like, yeah I bought a transfer bib (I was half expecting a problem).  She said no that wasn't it and proceeded to hand me a special bag.  I was like "What's this?" and she replied, "I don't know, but we were told to give it to you."

Inside was a card saying thank you for your support to the Get Out and Live Foundation and a nice water bottle with belt.  Score!

I still don't know exactly why I got the water bottle but I have talked to the race director several times during the Winter Race series and I do blog about all my races here -- so maybe something connected.  Either way, I was pretty happy and it is something I'll definitely use.

The shirt was also a huge winner.  A very nice long sleeve with a zipper neck area.  Just a high-quality, super nice shirt:

They also had personalized bibs -- a nice touch too:

After trolling the expo and failing to find the race director, I opted to eat at Virg's Restaurant just right around the corner.  They served breakfast all day and I was hoping to score a mammoth stack of pancakes, hash browns and eggs.  Sadly, they really didn't have a good breakfast combo that I was looking for, so I opted to get a greasy fried fish sandwich and fries... .delicious:

I had tried to book a hotel in Ogden about a month before the race and didn't succeed.  Sure, I could've stayed at a Motel 6 but after my Casper marathon experience, I am so done with low rent motels.  So I wound up staying at the Hilton Garden Express in Layton.  I got a really nice deal on the room ($89).  Basically it saved me a trip back to Murray and I'd get a little extra sleep:

My goal was to get up at 3:15, eat, pack and be in Ogden by 4:15-ish at the latest.  I wound up leaving the hotel about 3:50.  I got about 3 - 4 hours of sleep.  I just couldn't fall asleep and it took a while for the room to get ice cold and I had some really strange dreams.  Also there were some kids running around in the hallway and people slamming doors.  Overall the hotel was nice though but needed a little TLC in some areas.

Anything a marathoner would need is right there.

In the morning, I ate my usual pre-marathon food: handfuls of Wheaties, a bit of Gatorade, an Arnold Palmer and of course a can of beets with the juice.  I almost gagged and threw up on the beet juice; I try to force it down fast because the taste is so vile (to me) and I almost failed.

I hit the road at 3:50 and it was smooth sailing to Ogden.  I found a parking spot fairly close to the  finish line and I camped out and listened to music for about 30 minutes.  Around 4:30 I headed over to the bus loading zone and boarded a bus that would take a 30 - 40 minute bus ride to the top of Ogden Canyon.

The Weather

Driving home after the race

Throughout the week, I've been tuned to the weather.  And nearly every day it changed.  First it was going to be 100% rain, then 20% then 50%.  I was ecstatic when Friday turned out to be a sunny / warm day, but you could tell clouds were coming into town.  

Saturday morning it was clear and only a few droplets were coming down.  I figured, "cool, it won't be as bad as it was in 2013".  None the less, I kept the phone in the car and loaded up my ITunes Shuffle with my favorite Korean girlfriends, which I haven't used in years, and lugged a ton of clothing crap up to the top of the canyon -- ready for anything.  Usually the top of the canyon is about 10 degrees cooler than Ogden itself and sure enough it was cold up there.

The Race

First off you can see pictures of the course at two of my previous posts: the 30K and the half marathon.  Also if you have time to kill you can watch the entire course unfold in this video:

I arrived at the top of the canyon at about 5:45 and the race didn't start until 7:15.  I found a spot next to a bonfire and tried to make myself as comfortable as possible.  Luckily, a woman dressed 100% in Boston marathon gear sat next to me and we wound up hitting it off until the race started.  Totally cool and it helped me pass the time.  I got her name but didn't get a final send off as it was a mass rush to the starting line.

Luckily it wasn't raining (yet) but it did snow briefly.

The race started at 7:15 and it was actually fairly sunny up at the top of the canyon.  However, there were some strong storm clouds over Ogden.  I decided to play it loose and tore of my tights and jacket (I was nice and toasty up there) and went with shorts, thin gardening gloves and two tech t-shirts (one long sleeved).

I hit the first 3 miles at a pretty controlled pace.  I hung with the 4:00 marathon pacer but I realized that he was going a little too slow.  While I hate going out fast and I sort of was worried about going too fast, I felt pretty good and this was the downhill portion of the course so I went with it and left him behind.

Also at about 3 miles the rain started.  It was just like dejavu from 2013's race.  It was cold and came down in variety of speeds and intensities.  Luckily there wasn't any wind, so it was just damp and cold.  I was suddenly regretting not bringing a garbage bag to wear or even my wind breaker.  I was starting to panic about recalling a guy's story in the bus about having hypothermia and having to be treated after the 2013 race.  Would that happen to me?

I felt cold, but I wasn't shivering.  I just hoped it wouldn't get worse or it would let up.  Sadly it didn't.  It pretty much rained the entire race, just like in 2013.

I enjoyed the downhill but I was still mindful that I needed the strength to handle the flats and the tough hills after the half way point.  I also wanted enough energy to run the downhill canyon.  I remembered shuffling down it at 10 minutes per mile (or worse) in 2013 when I could've been kicking ass.

The flats and rolling hills were challenging, but I held on and made good.  I sucked down gels at 5, 10, 15 and 20.  I was dying to the use the bathroom and I saw quite a few guys (and a girl or two) just pull off the course and in pretty much plain view use the bushes.  I tried to use the bathroom at many of the water stops along the way but each time there was a line 2 or 3 people deep waiting.  

I wound up crossing the halfway point (incidentally where the 3K+ half marathoners started) in about 1:57.  I was hoping for 1:55 but given the severity of the weather I felt this was good).

Being that this was my "A" race, I didn't want to waste precious time but at mile 14 I was considering using the bushes myself.  Luckily I found a vacant porta potta and found relief there.

Unfortunately that was about the time my Garmin decided it couldn't talk to the satellites anymore.  I am not sure if it was the heavy clouds or perhaps the surrounding mountains.  It had been complaining of lost connections for the past few miles and I suspect it just gave up.  The mile markers (in my Garmin's opinion) were off about .07 to .1 miles almost from the get go and I wound up clicking the lap button each time I first saw the marker.  So the splits listed above are off and for some reason I have way more than 26 clicks.  

Once I got over the hills on the course I headed down Ogden canyon.  I was totally ready to take on this as not only is it pretty it is all downhill -- about 1000 feet of gentle decline.  I wound up passing a TON of people at this point.  While my Garmin splits don't reflect the pace I feel I was making, it definitely felt faster and again, I may have been running faster miles, but I was clicking my Garmin at uneven intervals.

After the downhill, you are unceremoniously dumped onto the bike trail.  There was a pretty substantial crowd here and it was awesome to get a power boost.

I was still doing quite well, even at mile 23 and I looked at my Garmin, which was still recording time and figured I had an excellent shot at breaking 4 hours if I could just maintain my current pace.

Around mile 24 though, I ran into a hiccup.  It felt like there was a ball of phlegm in the back of my throat.  My stomach was already sensitive and trying to hawk it up was making it do somersaults.  But leaving it there was invoking my gag reflex.

No matter what I did, I couldn't shake it loose.  Then suddenly the dry heaving started.  Nothing was working so I decided to stop, pull of the side of the course, bend over and do something (not sure what it was) but it invoked a gag reflex that sent me into a 10 second long dry heaving spell.  I was hoping, actually, that I'd throw up but no such luck, foiled by my cast iron stomach.  I was able to just ignore it around mile 25 and it still felt weird long after the race had ended.


I wound up crossing the finish line 3:57.  I was overjoyed and despite being cold and sort of yucky, I was on cloud nine.  I knew that as soon as I finished the race I was going to start to freeze.  I did manage to eat an orange and grab some Powerade and a Coke.  I kept walking and somehow managed to not throw up or pass out.

I found the gear check and while I definitely wanted to partake in the post race festivities, I was wet from head to toe and starting to cool off by the minute.  

I was totally disoriented and wound up walking 100% the wrong way to my car.  I remembered parking near a bar but asking anyone in Utah where XYZ Bar is usually results in futility (most of the population here doesn't drink at all).  Luckily someone with a phone found it and directed me the right way -- completely the opposite direction.  By the time I reached my car I was shaking with cold.

Luckily I carry a down jacket in the trunk of my car, so I took off my wet clothes in the parking lot, turned the heat up to "11" and put on the down jacket and shivered all the way home.

I am super happy to break 4 hours (again).  I think the last time I broke 4 hours was in Vegas in 2011.  The continued build up in terms of mileage and having a course that had a downhill profile enabled me to run as well as I did.  In addition, this was yet another race where I did extremely well with the help of drinking / eating a can of beet juice.

I do apologize for the lack of course / post race pictures, but given the severity of the rain and being that I was trying for an "A" level performance, I opted not to carry it.  I definitely enjoyed my "Korean Girlfriends" on my shuffle though and they powered me through many tough miles.

I have no major injuries to report after the race (although my Morton's Neuroma acted up a time or two).  I am chaffed, of course, from the wet clothing but that resolves itself in a day or two.

 Final Final Thoughts

This race was done phenomenally well.  I have my doubts about the accuracy of the mile markers (some were missing too -- or at least I didn't see them) but the course support was excellent.  The volunteers really seemed to care for you and offered a ton of encouragement.  They were a well oiled machine through and through.  There was plenty of Powerade / Water and Cliff Bar shots.  They also had fruit and you have to really hand it to the volunteers for putting up with being out in the freezing rain.

I was also pleasantly surprised with the fan base.  There were just a ton of people rooting for you at some of the major intersections.  While you won't find throngs of people every 100 yards like a mega marathon, they were very enthusiastic and powering your way down the final stretch is empowering.

This race is also worthy of traveling to.  My understanding is that they had entrants from nearly every state and there were a lot of Marathon Maniacs there as well.  For non-Utahns the scenery is outstanding and worth checking out (I've seen the area a lot of times, but I still love it).

I wish I could've enjoyed the post race festivities a bit more.  I think most people just picked up their bling, grabbed some food and took off.  People were chilled and simply wanted to go to some place warmer.

If this fits into my schedule I'd definitely do this one again.  The course is suitable for a PR and while I am not a big fan of the wait at the top of the canyon, I always manage to make friends there.  I am just glad it didn't rain during the waiting stage.

Also, I am still ecstatic about finishing sub-4.... Hells Yeah!

1 comment:

  1. Awesome report! Looks like we both finished in 3:57 and had similar experiences. Here's my report: