Sunday, April 19, 2009

Salt Lake City Marathon Race Report

As I hit the final hill of the course after having a gradual downhill for the majority of the race, my mind gave me that scream that all runners hear "What the Hell are you doing?" I smiled as that thought occurred then picked up my pace. As we got within a mile of the finish, the number of spectators increased and the final 1/2 was wall to wall people. We entered the corral where the finish was and as I crossed the finish line under my goal time, I realized that I had accomplished what I had never even considered a possibility a year ago...I had run 13.1 miles completing a half marathon.

Here are my thoughts on the course and what I learned.

The weather has been so up and down lately that I wasn't clear on what I would actually wear until about 4:45 am after I had showered. I carefully kept track of the weather reports all week and they all shared the same story. The forecast called for mostly sunny skies with highs in the low 60s. That meant it would be mid 40s to start the race and mid 50s at the conclusion. I threw my jacket over my technical shirt and workout pants on over my shorts. Breakfast included a couple mini bagels with peanut butter, a nutrition bar and some Powerade. I printed off the map the night before so I knew for sure where I was headed and about 5:30 am we stepped out the door to go up. Shera dropped me off around 6:20 am as close to the finish as she could which saved me having to get on the TRAXX or the bus to get to the start.

My first course of action. Get in line for the port a potties. At 6:30 am, the lines were only a brief 5 minute wait which I was grateful for. By the time the race started, some people had been in line for 15 minutes. Next was get a small glass of water, get my gear checked and get up to the race start. I made my way up to the middle of the pack, thinking that would be a good place to start. I wasn't expecting to break any records and felt that the middle would be a great place to start. The time ticked down, the race official gave the word and the gun sounded. The race had begun...for those that were at the beginning of the race. For those of us in the middle, we just stood there waiting for the line to start moving. It took about 8 minutes to get the timing mat and the beginning of the race.

My months of preparation was about to be tested. Would I resist the urge to run at my top speed because of the adrenaline flowing through my veins? Would I get into a pace that would allow me to go down hill without overdoing it and still have reserves for the inclines? Those were the thoughts as I started running. The going was slow the first 1/2 mile as people spread out, the slower runners moved to the back and those who were having shoelace issues moved over to the side. I felt good.

Before I knew it, mile 1 was complete. I knew the time displayed was off, so I checked my own time to see I was running at a 7:15 pace...way too fast for the start of the race. I wasn't planning on being that fast anywhere in the race. The goal was to finish under 2 hours. I calculated that I just had to be around 9 min/miles to hit that mark. Seeing the time and feeling that I wasn't overdoing it, brought the possibility of a hour 30 minute finish to my mind. I backed off my pace a little and settled in hovering between 7:45 and 8 minute/mile. Miles 3 to 9 were a blur. I had a little overly strong gatorade at mile 4 that caused me to cough. I had a gel at mile 9 with some water at the aid station.

The course continued relatively flat until 10 1/2 miles into it when we turned a corner and saw an incline that lasted about 3/4 mile. It wasn't a welcome site, but I was feeling good and just kept moving forward. I spotted my friend in front of me and inched up to where he was. Apparently he had started closer to the front, so he started the race about 6 minutes a head of me. We were both running faster than we had trained. I mentioned this as I passed him and made it to the top of the hill. Rounding the corner, the route went downhill for the last 1/2 mile before turning the corner for the final finish. The adrenaline kicked in and I finished the race with a 1 hour 49 minute time.

The adrenaline and endorphin rush was still lingering around as I received my finisher medal and picked up some post race food. I had finished the half under my goal time and my legs didn't fall off...all good things.


  1. Wow congrats on a great finishing time! It sounds like you ran a strong race and had a good time!

  2. Congrats! Sounds like you were well prepared and ran a great race.