I did it!!
I can’t believe I actually did it! I was getting quite nervous leading up to the marathon, but it turned out to be really neat, and a lot of fun (yes, fun!).
The last 3 miles were really hard, but in all honesty it wasn’t nearly as bad as I have heard it could be.
I do think I had some extra help doing it. As the marathon started I prayed that my legs and back would be strong enough for the marathon and that everything would go well, and I really think that God gave me extra strength to be able to have it be as enjoyable as it was, and to have a really quick recovery.
So here’s the long story:
The race started at 7:00 am, and in order to get the 2000 half-marathoners and 2000 marathoners up to the starting points on time, we had to get on the busses at 4:30 am. That was a little annoying, but honestly I wasn’t sleeping anyway…
The ride up was fairly uneventful, except when a couple busses (including the one I was in) took a wrong trun and had to turn around… Ever been in a bus doing a 10-point turn? On the first back-up the back of the bus started grinding on the (higher) ground, and then the engine quit. That was a little interesting, but the bus driver merely muttered to himself and restarted the engine and we continued on our way.
The next part was waiting at the starting area for about an hour while everyone was carted up. It was really cold up there, but there were lots of fire-barrels set out, and volunteers kept the fires going, so we kept pretty warm. I had a chance to talk to several others up there–there were a lot of first-timers like myself, and lots of really experienced runners–one person had been running for 12 years and this was his 39th marathon!
When the race was ready to start, they had us get in according to our estimated time–the area right behind the starting point was for those running a 6 minute mile or better, and then there were sections for 7, 8, 9 and 10+. I was in the 8 minute mile section.
The race itself really was a lot of fun! The first few miles was quite easy and it was really cool to see the mass of people stretching on for such a long distance–it reminded me of the army of Helaman, as our group was about that large…
Another thing that was kind of funny while the runners were still packed was hearing all the garmin watches go off at 2 miles. I had mine set to give an alert ever two miles, and apparently I wasn’t the only one to have done that…
For a lot of the race I had to be careful to not try to run too fast. I tried to concentrate very much on taking it easy and just enjoying it. However, I do tend to get rather competitive and it sometimes took a fair amount of effort to not be bugged by someone passing me.
The course is really nice–virtually the entire race is at a pretty easy downhill grade. You head down towards a lake, and run around it. Somewhere in there is the halfway point, where the half-marthoners started. There was a live band playing the “SpyHunter” theme, which I thought was pretty funny.
After the lake there is an uphill stretch to get you into Parley’s canyon (I think that’s what it is called). Then it’s downhill again through the canyon, and into Ogden. Even most of the course in Ogden is rather nice–it is on a riverside trail. Finally you turn onto the last stretch (about 3/4 mile or so), and it’s straight down the street to the finish.
A couple things that helped me with the marathon: One was definitely my mp3 player. I do want to get to the point where I don’t need it, but for this first marathon it was really helpful to have some music playing while I ran.
Another was when there was steep downhill (to the point where you are more trying to control your run and/or slow down), I would try to run just to the side of the road rather than on it. That way I would be on gravel or sand, which was obviously much nicer on my feet and knees than the asphalt.
The third was a hint from someone I chatted with on the marathon, and that was to walk a little at the aid stations rather than run straight through them. This did help a lot, although I worried a little about walking through the last couple aid stations–I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to start running again…
This marathon was really well organized–there were lots of aid stations along the whole course. For most of it the aid stations were about 2 miles apart, which at the very beginning seemed almost too much. By the end of the race, however, they had them about every mile, and that just wasn’t nearly close enough together.
The very best part had to be coming out of the canyon. At that point you have about 3 miles left, and the race is getting really, really hard. But right there was my family cheering me on (thanks a TON Em for getting that put together–it was sooooo encouraging!). And then at the finish they were there again, cheering me on! That helps out so much, it’s hard to believe.
I actually finished the race relatively strong, although when I stopped running after the finish line I realized just how tired I was. They had a separate area for the runners to rest/stretch in after finishing before going back into the crowd. That was actually quite nice. They herd you into this blocked off area, and someone hands you a water bottle, and then someone else hands you a bag of ice. There were 3 or 4 stands there that gave out some snacks to eat (Jamba Juice was handing out small smoothies, which was exceptionally nice).
My official finishing time was 3:45:45.90.
My rankings are as follows:
Division (30-39 male): 58 / 136
Gender: 295 / 933
Overall: 401 / 1693
For a first marathon, that really is pretty good (if I do say so myself). My pace was about an 8.5 minute mile. As I said earlier, I do think God gave me some extra help, and I also had a ton of encouragement/excitement from Emily and Rosanne especially–thanks a ton!
I’m definitely going to do that again. Emily and I are now planning to work towards qualifying and running the Boston Marathon (In order to qualify, I’ll have to do a marathon in less than 3:10, which is about a 7 minute mile pace).