Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Utah Valley Marathon...Pain You Enjoy!

Here's my recap of the Utah Valley Marathon. I had set up a A, B, C goal.
A: 3:15:00 or better finish thus qualifying me for Boston
B: Under 3:30:00 for a rocking new PR
C: Finish the race in one piece because if I am pushing for C, something seriously wrong happened.

In a nutshell, I missed A, but hit B. My finish time was 3:28:14.

Now, you can either click on to something else or read my marathon of a race report. I figure after 6 mos. of training for this thing, I have the right to be a bit long winded.


To an outsider, running must be one of the ultimate forms of self-torture. I must be doing some serious penance for the amount of time I put on the road and the pain involved in that process. And yet somehow, I keep returning again and again to this process. My wife has commented that she thinks I lose more and more brain cells the longer I am involved in running because I keep returning to it.

She may be on to something......wait, what were we talking about?

It's been long in coming, but the Utah Valley Marathon is now behind me.

A little background on my training.
  • Miles ran in preparation for this day: 1000+ I don't have an exact figure because my Garmin died at the first of the training and I had to ship it off to get the battery replaced*.
  • Pairs of shoes that succumbed to my many miles on the road: 2
  • Number of discussions I had with the wife about where my priorities are: 2 
  • Number of other races I have done in preparation for this one: 3
  • Likelihood that I'll return to run this course again: High. Although next time I'll just pace it.
  • Number of days after a long run that I waddled around pretending that I was purposely walking slow to enjoy the scenery: Too many to count.
Yes, I stole this off their website, but this gives
you an idea of how packed it is.
3 weeks prior to the race, a group of us ran 21 miles of the course just so we could get a sense of how to best prepare for the race. We were not a lone in our idea. We passed (or were passed) by many different runners along the course of the run. It was a good mental prep for what was in front of us.

The days leading up to the race involved the following:
  • Stressing about and checking the long range forecast for the weather at least 5 times a day
  • Chatting with various elite runners that I know about race strategy
  • Talking to running store owners about hydration, nutrition, strategies, etc.
  • Waking up in the middle of the night thinking that I had missed my wake-up time for the race that was days away
Here's what it was like:
  • Temperature at the start of the race: 48-50 degrees. This normally would a pre-cursor to a hot day, but a cold front was moving in so it kept things from getting above 70 at the finish line.
  • Number of runners crammed into a small side street in a small town up a canyon: About 3,000
  • Time I needed to qualify for Boston: 3:15:00
  • Number of hills: A helluvah a lot more than I remembered. There was the "roller coaster" at mile 8-10, another at 12, another and another and another at 16 and then another after that...
  • A headwind of anywhere from 10-25 mph for about 10 miles of the course
The weather was gorgeous and the run through the canyon is very scenic and nice. Unfortunately my mind was focused on keeping pace and wondering where these new hills came from. I had a strategy to take a GU every 5 miles and suck on some Stinger chews periodically.

I originally started with the 3:15 pacer, but realized after about 2 miles that I just wasn't up to the pace knowing that many runners start way too fast and then crash at the first set of hills from 8-10. I backed it off and kept my pace at about a 7:30 pace. The pacer was running about 20-30 seconds faster knowing that the hills would slow things down. It's a common strategy. My strategy was to just maintain the 7:30 pace as often as I could and keep my cadence steady up the hills. 

I kept the pace as long as I could knowing that 3:15 wasn't an option, but maybe 3:20 or 3:23? At mile 22-23, the 3:25 pacer passed me. Looking back, I probably could have kept up with him, but I felt rather deflated when he went by. Coming into the finish chute knowing that I was under 3:30 was an incredible feeling.

So, what's next? I have a couple ideas. For now, it's try to rest and recover.

Note: If your Garmin battery every dies, don't ship it to Garmin. I found a place that does it for 1/3 as much and the turnaround is a couple days. Just search on ebay.

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