Timing is a funny thing. Just this morning I got a notification from facebook reminding me that exactly two years ago I ran my first half marathon. In Ogden. In pouring rain.
Two years later I was back for the full distance. In Ogden. In pouring rain. Maybe I’m just cursed to never run this race in dry conditions?
My husband and I drove up to Ogden on Friday afternoon to pick up our packets (you can only do this on Friday from 10 am to 8 pm). Pick-up was a breeze and we were in and out in about 10 minutes. The expo was on the smaller side and had the usual vendors. Plus an outdoor inflatable slide for the kids outside in the parking lot. Luckily, we have some friends who live about 15 mins away from the race start/finish and we were able to cook some pasta, hang out and get some extra sleep before we had to leave the next morning.
Lots of races in Utah have early starts. We were up at 3.45 am and out of the house by 4.20 am. Buses left from downtown Ogden between 4.30 am and 5.00 am and if you missed those then there was no other way to get to the starting line. We found parking pretty easily – the race booklet has parking lots clearly labelled – and walked a couple of minutes to the school buses. The street was packed with people – a little of 2000 full marathoners and even more (3500) people doing the half. We soon got on our bus and headed up the canyon to the start. At this point I ate a Nature Valley granola bar and then tried to get a little sleep on the 40 minute ride. I never really eat a ton before my long runs or races so this was enough for me. I had four Gus with me for the actual race that I planned to take every 5.5 miles.
At this point the weather seemed pretty ok. A little chilly (I think it was around 40F) but no rain. We had an hour and a half to kill (the price you have to pay to get those downhill canyon miles) so we hung out in as many layers as possible sitting on the silver foil blankets that we got after Twin Cities. The porta-potty situation was ok. I spent about 10 minutes in line just before the race started. At 7 am we had to put all those lovely warm layers in our gear bags and then head to the road for the start (the holding area was literally a field and gravel lot on a farm). My husband and I parted ways at this point (he was hoping to run 3.20ish) and I placed myself in front of the four hour pacer. And before we knew it we were off and running towards some dark and ominous looking clouds.
The first eight miles were all slightly downhill, running along rural roads – past fields, farmhouses and not many spectators. I tried to run an easy pace – my feeling is that in those first few miles you should feel as if you could run that pace forever – and not get distracted by all of the people passing me by. I needed to run my own race. The temperature felt OK – I was wearing a long-sleeved top and some gloves and I think that was the perfect combination for me. Other people – I think panicked by the weather forecast – ran the whole thing wearing plastic ponchos. A little after mile 2 the rain started – light at first but then progressively it got heavier until I was soaked through. But I had over 20 miles to go so I just forgot about the rain and just focused on math. Yes – math. Personally, thinking “I have 20+ miles to go” freaks me out so I like to break the race up into sections -> 4 x 6.55 miles sounds so much more manageable. At mile 8 you are almost one third of the way through – and that is basically half way!
Mile 1: 8.55
Mile 2: 8.53
Mile 3: 8.34
Mile 4: 8.28
Mile 5: 8.41
Mile 6: 8.39
Mile 7: 8.45
Mile 8: 8.44
Everything was ticking along nicely. I was feeling pretty good – the only slight concern was my calf (the one that I strained way back in Jan/Feb) was a little tight but it behaved itself until the end of the race. The next section and some rollers and wound its way around Pineview reservoir. The views on the course were pretty spectacular – rolling green hills, mountains and low clouds giving it a magical and decidedly un-Utah feel.
Mile 9: 8.47
Mile 10: 8.46
Mile 11: 9.04
Mile 12: 8.50
Mile 13: 8.51
I passed the half way point (and the start of the half marathon – that race starts at 6.45 am so you never really run into those runners) in 1.55.30. There were a whole bunch of people there and I knew what was in store from my previous race two years ago. First up a 120 ft hill which wasn’t a big deal at the start of a half but was a bit more work in the middle of a full marathon. I decided I wasn’t going to walk but shuffle my way up because after that it was pretty much all downhill to the finish.
Mile 14: 8.42
Mile 15: 9.04 (hill mile)
Mile 16: 8.42
Mile 17: 8.58
Mile 18: 8.26 (230 ft drop in this mile)
Mile 19: 8.46
Mile 20: 8.41
Mile 21: 8.40
Mile 22: 8.28
Mile 23: 8.41
Running these downhill miles (and this is the section were most of the drop in elevation occurs) was pretty nice at this stage of the race. I didn’t start feeling really tired until mile 22 so it was nice to have gravity helping me to the bottom of the canyon. This was also one of the first races where I didn’t carry my own water and it was awesome. There were drinks stops every 2 miles (with powerade and water) and the volunteers were great at getting those out to the runners. I did have one guy come to a complete stop right in front of me to get a drink and I almost ran in to him – please move a little to the side. My gus were in my flipbelt but they had two separate stations for handing out Clif shots.
The final sections was along the Ogden River parkway. It was a little rolly but mostly downhill although it did get a little crowded. I remember when I ran the half that I felt like everyone was passing me at this point and that is pretty demoralizing. This time although I felt pretty tired I was catching people ahead of me and playing my number game. Only 2.6 miles to go – that means I’ve run 90% of the distance. I can run 2 miles.
The last mile got us onto the city streets before we turned and saw the finish line – from about 0.75 miles away which feels like forever in a marathon. I just dug deep and had my eye on the prize. The only downer was someone decided they would run to the finish with their kid – unfortunately the boy was paying attention and almost ran in front of me. I think at this stage of the race there only thing I could have done was to run right through him. I get that it’s an important day and you want to share it with your child but please be a little considerate of your other runners.
Mile 24: 9.08
Mile 25: 8.59
Mile 26: 9.02
Final time: 3.51.13 (second half in 1.55.43).
I was pretty happy with my time. I had hoped for 8.50-9.00 minute miles and I ended up at a pace of exactly 8.50 min/mile. The last 3 or so miles were pretty hard which is probably due to the lack of volume in my training but considering the lead up to this race I couldn’t have hoped for it to go any better. Now I just have to wait for my quads and calves to stop aching.