I ran a marathon…a whole marathon! After half of a year of ‘run rest’ and what felt like so many weeks of injuries, I ran my first marathon of 2014. And it was a beautiful race. A group of us went out to St. George, Utah for the event. We had heard wonderful things about the course (mainly it was fast, as one of the group was trying to BQ). We flew into Las Vegas and spent a night in my favorite city (read with lots of sarcasm!). After a dinner at my favorite raw food cafe (Go Raw) and a quick morning run around Sunset Park and coffee at a great coffee shop (Sunrise Coffee) – both of which you should try if you’re in the LV area. Then we packed up and made the drive to Utah. On the way we made a picnic stop at Valley of Fire State Park. It was worth every winding, car sick minute to get there!
Upon arriving in St. George we had the most interesting hunt for vegan food (or total lack of!). We survived the evening and the alarm went off around 4:30 am to catch an early shuttle up to the start line. This marathon is point to point. We loaded a school bus and headed into the mountains. The bus ride was an experience in itself, as our driver was an older gentleman that talked to us the entire time and even made the bus sing a little happy song (I’m sure he made it up himself…he seemed like that kind of guy!). Too peppy at 5 am! The start line was amazing. There were dozens of little fires going and a sea of port-a-potties (more than I’ve ever seen at a race start). So, we huddled in front of one of the fires and waited for the line up to start.
….and we’re off….the main goal of this race for me was to finish. I was shooting for between 4:15-4:30. Brian was going to try to run with me the entire time and our friend Elliot was running his first full, so I figured he’d be with us the majority of the time also. Megan was trying to BQ and needed to run a sub-3:35. So, needless to say, she started in the pack ahead of us. She was on a mission! After a 20 min late start (waiting on the final batch of buses to arrive), the anthem was sung and the race started. There was a sliver of a sunrise over the red mountains when we started a bit after 7 am. It was so beautiful and the first 6 miles or so was a slow, steady downhill. It was a great way to warm up, as the chill in the air disappeared as we got through the first hour. The weather was picture perfect, but the most amazing part of this race was that every mile there was a fully stocked aid station. In fact, this was the best run aid station marathon I’ve ever done.
Back to the course, mile 7-13 we ran around/up a volcano, so there were some nice uphills. But after 13 it was net downhill the rest of the race. That made for an easy negative split. After losing the guys at mile 5 because I had to make a pit stop, I caught back up with them at 13. I honestly didn’t think I’d catch back up with them and had mentally prepared to run solo the rest of the time. But upon catching them I was quite happy! I stayed with them until mile 20, when I noticed the 4 hour pace group balloon guy. What?! So, my mission was to take him out (figuratively!) and pass that group. I worked until mile 23 to make up ground and did catch and pass them. (cheers all around!) At that point I dropped the guys and was running solo again. As we got into St. George I just wanted to hold my 9 mi/mile pace and cross strong. The last 1/2 mile Brian caught back up with me and we ran in together. Both of us finished within 30 seconds of each other, with a 3:56 clock time. Elliot was just steps behind us with a 3:58 and Megan killed her goal with a 3:28 and is Boston Bound! I’d definitely recommend this race. It was so well run (both support and course) and very fast. The scenery was unreal and the people were great. If I were lapping states, I’d totally run it again.
After the race we headed back to LV and I caught a flight to Portland to spend a couple of days with my sisters, their husbands, and the nephew.
I so enjoyed the visit to the Pacific Northwest and lots of family time! We had some lovely post-race easy runs and breakfasts at Sweetpea Bakery. I wish I had more time to spend there, but I was off to Chicago and Michigan for work on Tuesday. I spend a couple of days in Western Michigan (of course I stopped at my favorite apple orchard and picked a few Michigan Honeycrisps!) and then a couple of days with a friend in Chicago. I got in my long run on the lakeside trail along Lake Michigan. I was joined by hundreds of other runners who were in town for the Chicago Marathon…which I hope to do next year!
Then on Saturday it was back to Arkansas. So, in that ten days I had 5 flights, visited 9 states with my travel (drove through or visited AR, OK, NV, AZ, UT, OR, IL, IN, and MI!), ran a sub-four hour marathon, and got to visit with family and friends near and far. It was a good week! Next Marathon – Maryland in November!