I knew this race would be an experience to remember but I had no idea exactly how it would unfold. I knew that the long steep downhill and the few uphills would be challenging and maybe it might get hot during the last 6 miles. I knew that I had a chance to do well but also had a chance to make mistakes and blow up.
Jenny was running this race also so I would be thinking about her race while I ran mine and she would have a lot on her mind thinking about her dad who just had surgery (which went pretty well overall but took longer than hoped for) on Friday.
Start to 5 miles, STEEP!
6:36, 6:34, 6:17, 6:39, 6:50
Race started on time, lined up near the front after spending some of the morning camped out with Jenny on the ground inside the tent. Went out at what seemed slowly at first but the crowd spread out quickly and soon picked up some speed. It was pretty dark out but the moon was out and the city lights down below in the valley were beautiful (although I spent most of the time looking at the road). Concentrated on not pounding too much and taking the tangents around the switchbacks. During my third mile for some reason I thought I had slowed down to about a 7:10 pace but then the mile beeped and it was my fastest mile. I had splits written on my arm for 5, 10, 15, 20, and 23 miles for a 3:00 time, I was about 1.5 minutes ahead but knew I had just scratched the surface.
6 - 10 miles, up and over "Little Mountain"
7:31, 8:14, 7:48, 6:53, 7:28
Course had finally hit the bottom of the downhill about 5.5 miles then started the climb up "Little Mountain". I knew this stretch would be hard but also hoped that I would feel great the rest of the way after cresting it. Rob Murphy from the blog drove me (and my whole family) on the course on Thursday to point out details and give some advice which was a huge help. I'm not sure how different things might have been if I had gone in blind. Advice for this stretch was to do your best and not worry too much about pace. I felt like I was slogging up the mountain, but so was everyone else and I passed a few runners. Finally hit the top of the hill and felt wonderful, it wasn't easy but wasn't such a monster (that would come later!). Going downhill again I picked up some speed but couldn't quite get back my same speed on had on the first downhill. Then, at the bottom of the downhill there is a short out and back slightly uphill, which felt a lot hard than it should have and slowed me down. Fortunately I knew this was coming and knew how far the out and back was so that helped.
But, now I was about 2 minutes off the 3:00 time goal pace. I thought there was a chance to come back but didn't know how likely it would be. The splits were on my left forearm, written by Jenny with a pen (I had a pace Tat which I had forgotten at home along with the shorts I had planned to wear). But on my right arm was three characters that Jenny also wrote - "I", (a heart), and a "U" - so I still had something meaningful to look at on my arm.
11-15 miles, through the canyon
7:04, 6:53, 6:58, 7:28, 7:17
The next few miles felt pretty good. I don't remember what slowed me down on mile 14. A few people passed me and then I soon would pass them or would maybe pass them later. At this point I thought I could still get a PR and maybe beat my 3:06 time from February. About 3 minutes off 3:00 goal time, so I think that was the last time I looked at my left arm.
16-20 miles, things change
7:07, 7:20, 7:48, 7:28, 7:36
Coming out of the canyon I was starting to feel pretty good. From the course tour I knew there was a short steep uphill (which my wife and I were calling "Hogle Hill" because it sounded catchy). I had this idea that I had conquered the tough stuff once I went over that hill. Then, just after going past mile 17 and slowing down a little bit to grab some water, I had trouble getting going again. I had a sudden panic when I saw I was at just slower than an 8:30 pace and felt drained and finished. I had never crashed this early.
Then, a volunteer called out to me and another guy near me "You two guys are in the top 40!". This helped me to get going again and I slowly clawed my way back to under 8:00 pace. We hit a partial turnaround and were now on Foothill drive. I was doing the best I could to hold together. It was starting to get warm but it wasn't bothering me. It was a combination of being from Florida and being blessed with cooler temps than in past years.
8:15, 7:15, 7:43, 7:17, 7:27, 7:39, 1:34 (0.24 @ 6:25)
These splits were all over the place. It was mostly downhill with a little bit of slight up hill and some flat. I don't remember why mile 21 was slower, but mile 22 I had a view looking downhill which was inviting. The shade on South Temple was wonderful. Kept playing the passing game which really helped to pull me along. At mile 24 my brother was waiting for me and tried to offer me a bottle of water which I turned down (I did not recognize him which I learned the next day that it was him and felt terrible about, I must have been really out of it!). At about mile 25.7, Rob Murphy was there and ran along side me and helped pull me along. He pointed out the police car down the street where 26 mile marker was and the second to last turn was. With some encouragement I made it there and soon saw my family waiting for me near the corner shouting out to me. Last turn and I could see the time clock, gave it all I had and snuck in just under 3:11!
My son handed me a Ho-Ho which I had been eyeing the day before the race but did not eat. Rob pointed me over to where Sasha was and I said hi to him. There were a few other bloggers there also who I would have liked to have met and talked to but I wanted to head back out to the course to look for Jenny.
I was waiting around the corner from 26 mile point and it was soon about 3:40 into the race which was one of Jenny's hoped for goals. A minute later my brother texted me that Jenny was now at mile 24. He ran her in and must have helped out a lot because she still made it under 4 hours - 3:58, her last 2.2 miles were a lot faster than miles 17-24. Mile 17 had gotten to Jenny also, but she had a lot on her mind thinking about her dad. But she didn't quit and did the best she could and managed to get her second best marathon time!!!
After we had recovered and showered, eaten and rested, I took Sasha up on his offer to come visit at his home. We set up a time to meet later. Visited Temple Square and found a place downtown which sells authentic Belgian waffles which were exactly like the ones in Belgium which the yeasted dough and pearl sugar which carmelizes on the iron.
Drove down to Provo and had a wonderful visit with Sasha and his family. Arrived as his friends were helping to install a backup camera on the fast running van. My kids played with his kids and then my son Andy ran with Sasha and Benjamin for two miles while Thomas and I biked alongside. Ate a baby carrot pulled right from the garden which one of Sasha's sons offered me and had dessert of fresh raspberries and real whipped cream that Sarah made. Talked with Sasha about running, computers and church. Jenny and I both talked about hitting a rough spot at mile 17ish. "Ahhh yes", said Sasha, "there is a monster which lives there by the golf course". It was an insidious monster indeed, but maybe I'll come back some day and be ready for it :)
My kids were soon getting tired from a long day so we had to say good bye and head back up to Salt Lake. But what a great day.