My alarm went off at 2:50 AM. That is early, even in marathon world. The race starts from the top of the canyon and winds down, so you have to be bused from the finish line to the start line. Knowing me and getting lost, I wanted plenty of time to drive to the first 4:00am bus. You could get on the buses from 4:00am – 5:00am, but as Ricky Bobby says, “if you aren’t first you’re last.” Also I’m nervous ok!!! I just knew I would feel better if I was on the first bus.
Kindal had run this race the year before. We talked about how we both get car sick and she’d mentioned she had wished she would have had non-drowsy Dramamine. So I went ahead and took some about a 1/2 hour before we got on the bus.
I knew once we got to the top after our 50 minute bus ride, it would be COLD. So I brought additional throw away sweats to wear until the last second. The race was great and also provided gloves, hat and mylar heat sheet in the bib pick up bag. It was around 30 degrees while we waited.
On the bus ride up, I sat next to Larry. Larry is 78 years old and lost count of how many marathons he has done after #50. His wife was doing the half marathon. She walks it with a 15 minute mile pace – which is some freaking fast walking. He brought a chair to sit in for the 2 hour wait and even had a bib number on it for gear check. Very smart! It was great talking to him.
While we killed time, I felt warm and used the restrooms about 37 times. Even though we were there around 2 hours, the time flew by. Everyone took photos, learned about each other’s journeys and compared war stories. Run chat is the best.
As we lined up to start, I tossed the jacket and sweats & left my gloves & sleeves on. We started right at 7:00 am. My coach and I had made a plan to run this race very conservatively because I knew I wasn’t fully recovered from Chicago. She advised 7:40-7:50 pace for the first half the race. I was SO glad my Garmin was working well because it would have been tough to monitor your pace. The downhill was steep and the pounding on my joints was noticeable after about the first 8 miles.
I tossed my gloves at mile 3. Once we got into the sun, it wasn’t very cold. At mile 5, I took my first gel. A Huma Plus. The plan was to alternate Huma Plus with Glukos. The Huma Plus has slightly more sodium in it, and knowing it was going to be hot, my coach wanted me to front load the sodium and electrolytes. That was SO smart. I think I tossed the sleeves at mile 7. I could feel my core temperature rising pretty quickly and tried really hard to acknowledge it without freaking out.
People were FLYING by me in the first half. That was actually really upsetting, which surprised me about myself. I knew I would be passed, but it felt like EVERYONE was passing me. I felt like I was running so slow. Even though I kept telling myself I would pass them the second half, it was still hard not to get flustered. I just repeated to myself to stick with my plan and let the miles come to me.
Miles 4-7 I had a terrible cramp in my neck and along the left side of my back. It even snaked down into my stomach. I was glad it wasn’t in my legs and worked really hard at relaxing and breathing through it. It went away eventually, but I had extreme soreness there post race ha!
By mile 9, the top of my left foot was in pain. I knew it was the pressure of my shoelaces at my ankle on the left foot from my feet jamming into the cement going downhill. I started worrying a stress fracture would form there and I’d have to deal with a stress fracture on the OTHER FOOT!
The rational part of my brain won out though, and I knew it would stop hurting the moment we hit a flat or hill of any kind.
I took a Glukos gel at mile 10. I did a great job of getting water at the aid stations. They had paper cups, so I would grab two waters and pinch the tops shut. Then I would suck the water from the corner of each cup. This way, I could stay on top of my hydration.
Miles 14-20 where definitely the challenge of this course. By mile 14, my lips and mouth were so dry it tasted like I swallowed sandpaper. I worked hard to increase my consumption of water and even took a couple aid stations to walk so that I could really drink water.
I took another Huma Plus gel at mile 15. We had hit some inclines at this point and I was feeling strong. I could see the top of each incline from the beginning of it, so that made it easy to keep clipping along.
Miles 15-20 I passed so many people. I’m not saying this as a brag. But whoa. People who had passed me VERY early and at a very fast pace were limping along, sitting on the side of the road, ect. I think if you run this course it is very important to go out slowly and not count on “banking time” in the first half too much or you could risk blowing up. If you know you are comfortable with downhill running, or you take the risk and it pans out, it is a perfect course for you. Although there were no spectators along this course until the very end, the race was causing a big back up in traffic. There were pilot vehicles from the race crew leading groups of cars up and down the mountain. Around mile 18 we got an especially fun group of cars. All of the passengers were hanging out the windows and cheering, honking horns and shouting. One car with a group of boys in it told me I was the hottest girl they’d seen so far in the race hahaha!!! Despite this being a blatant lie, their enthusiasm and flattery cracked me up and was a great distraction.
Mile 19-20 I really took care to hydrate and get my entire Glukos gel down. I could feel my body temperature getting hot and my glutes and hamstrings where wanting to cramp. I just kept telling myself to stay loose and focus on my form.
Miles 20-24 were dark. I knew I needed to hit mile 24 by 3:12 to make my BQ time of 3:30 and that was hard. The decline tapered off by mile 23 and we were running on flat ground. It felt great at first, but got hard very quickly. I was dying for a change of terrain – incline or decline or SOMETHING! There were spectators from about mile 24 on. Not a lot, but some. Very different from Chicago. I was very warm and started dumping water over my head to keep cool. I did sip some Powerade around mile 23-24. I knew I needed to book it for mile 25-26.2.
You can see from the elevation chart below, the hills on the second half the course aren’t crazy terrible. However, those little bumps feel like mountains after 5,000 elevation drop.
Mile 26 my legs wanted to cramp up so badly. I look at my pace now and am mad at myself for not running just a little faster. But I remember hurting so much. Hopefully in time, I will get better at racing the part of the marathon.
I sat on the grass and called my parents and John and texted my coach. Tomorrow’s blog will have all the post race treats and fun.