Ogden marathon recap

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.

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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.

My friend captured my very wet finish.

My friend captured my very wet finish.


My new found interest in meteorology

Race week is here! And I am suddenly interested in the weather forecast for this Saturday. I am checking on the hour to see if there is any change in the forecast. Spoiler alert: it is meant to be in the low 50s and raining. This is a little bit of a flashback for me. My running story basically began a couple of months after I turned 30 back in 2012 (and if you can do math I’ve just given away my age). I decided for my thirtieth year that I would run a half marathon. It seemed like I was the only one in my friend group who hadn’t run a half marathon. I signed up for a race in October and started increasing the frequency of my runs in November before starting Hal Higdon’s novice half marathon training plan in January. I followed this plan to a T – literally not missing a single run. Come race day I was as prepared as a first timer could have hoped. Nervous to run 13.1 miles for the first time. The one thing that I had not prepared for was the weather.

A couple of days before the race I received an email from the race organizers warning about high temperatures and advising us to think about our hydration. Then Utah May weather happened and suddenly it was forecast to rain. And it did. A lot. Non stop. While we were waiting at the start line it was a light drizzle, but on cue as soon as we put our gear bags in the truck it started to pour and I was soaked before the race started. And it did not let up for the entire race. I was so wet that my shoes were squelching at every step. My legs were numb, and I tried to negotiate around the most flooded part of the road. It was pretty miserable. To make matters worse, I finished slightly faster than I had been expecting (no – that isn’t the bad thing) but my husband was late to find me (surprisingly he didn’t want to wait around in the rain to watch people finish) and they had totally screwed up the bag collection so that I couldn’t find my dry clothes for over half an hour. I don’t think I stopped shaking from the cold until half way through my very hot post race shower.

So this Saturday I’m returning to the site of this first half marathon – this time to take on the full. It looks like my Ogden curse will continue because after a week of pleasant temperatures it is forecast to rain. Again. Right now, I have no idea if this will be a couple of showers later in the day (fingers crossed) or non-stop torrential downpour like my last experience here. Start praying to the rain gods that we’ll be spared the worst of it!

On the plus side -> after last week’s struggles I am finally starting to feel good. Sunday’s 10 miler felt amazing. I managed to nail even splits on my recovery run (and actually keep it slow). And today I got in a couple of quick miles before breakfast. Now all that stands between me and my marathon is another rest day and a two mile shake out on Friday morning.

Sat: Rest

Sun: 10 miles at 8.43 min/mile pace

Mon: 3.9 miles at 9.29 min/mile pace (9.27/9.26/9.30/9.32)

Tues: Rest

Wed: 4 miles at 8.18 min/mile pace (8.49/8.08/7.43/8.34)

This week has been all about rest, extra sleep and carbs (rice/potatoes/pasta). I don’t really get the taper crazies. The only thing that happens is that I get extra freaked out by any slight pain, so I have been wearing my compression socks night and day. But as of right now my body has no complaints -> which is a miracle.

I do have some goals for the race but am trying to go into it as relaxed as possible. My worries about a tight calf went away after drinking some champagne at a work function yesterday afternoon. So here goes.

A. Finish in one piece.

I think after this training cycle getting to the finish line without injury would be a total victory. I know that marathons hurt and I’m ready for that but actual injury – no thanks.

B. Enjoy it.

This one might be a little weather dependent. Back in February/March I couldn’t run. On Saturday I plan on running 26.2 miles. That is an achievement in itself. I need to enjoy the process. Luckily, and because of my shortened training schedule I didn’t suffer any burnt-out while training for this race and I am excited (if a little apprehensive) to get out there and do it.

C. Run even splits.

Really I should say don’t hit the wall too hard. In my first marathon I managed a 2 minute negative split and I would like to take the first couple of miles to warm-up and then keep as consistent a pace as I can manage.

D. Time goal.

You knew there had to be one in here somewhere, right? These are a little funny for me – putting it out there and hoping you don’t end up looking like an idiot. In reality I am hoping to finish sub-4. My plan is to run between 8.50-9.00 minute miles. The race is pretty much all downhill but not too steep so it’s a perfect course to run fast. Looking at my long run paces (a 20 miler on the flat at 9.13 min/miles) I think it is possible. But this is my D goal so if it doesn’t happen I won’t be that sad about it.

Wish me luck! And no rain.

And good luck to everyone running this weekend.

One week to go!

My oh my it has been a bumpy road. Twelve weeks ago I was still in the middle of my run-walk training to recover from a strained calf muscle. Now, I have one week to go before I drive up to Ogden and pick up my bib for marathon number two. To say that this hasn’t been ideal marathon training would be the understatement of the year. My mileage has peaked at 34 miles, although I did manage to sneak in one 18 miler and one confidence-building 20 miler. I’m pretty sure that I can finish but other than that I have no real idea of how bad (or good – think positive) it could get.

It’s also been an interesting couple of weeks. My runs out east didn’t come with the magic sea level bump in pace. However, as soon as I got back to Salt Lake I had one of my best running weeks in a long while.

4/27: Rest

4/28: 4. 4 miles at 8.15 min/mile pace (including one 7.56 min mile – my first sub-8 on a regular training run in a long time)

4/29: 8.1 miles at 8:14 min/mile pace (including four sub-8 miles in a row!)

4/30: Morning yoga class

5/1: 3.9 miles at 9.22 min/mile pace

5/2: 16.2ish min miles at sub-9 min/mile pace

5/3: Strength workout

I can’t believe how well this week went. My runs on Tuesday and Wednesday felt effortless. Paces that I have been struggling with for a while seemed easy. I was running without pain – anywhere. I even tried to slow down my easy run on Friday and came back feeling refreshed and finally understood the reasoning behind recovery runs (thanks to Allison). The only major fail was on Saturday. I asked my husband to drop me at work so that I could run some downhills to mimic the marathon course. In my rush to get ready so that he could get started on his day I managed to forget my Garmin. Sh*t. I had a couple of routes in my head and could make a rough estimate of distance. Plus I passed some clocks on the way around and could guess how far I’d gone. I was feeling a little tired at the end and hoped that I hadn’t underestimated the distance – I didn’t want to feel so tired after running 12 miles! I mapped my route on runkeeper and it popped out 16.2 miles which I finished in somewhere between 2.15-2.20, which put me around 8.40ish pace. But who knows! I was FINALLY feeling good and hoping that I might make it to the start line in one piece and even put in a decent performance. Now I just had to make it through a two week taper.

Recovery drinks and stretching on the porch. Taper time.

Recovery drinks and stretching on the porch. Taper time.

And then running decides to mess with you.

5/4: 4.5 mile run commute at 9.11 min/mile pace

5/5: Morning yoga. Bike commute to work.

5/6: 6.2 miles at 8.19 min/mile pace (8.44/8.48/8.16/7.54/7.52/8.16)

5/7: Rest

5/8: 3.9 miles at 9.40 min/mile pace

My Monday evening run home was actually pretty pleasant. I had to really talk myself into doing it and not just catching the bus home and postponing it until the next day. This is also a downhill route (642 ft drop in elevation) and I tried to keep as relaxed as possible. Yoga was all about the shoulders on Tuesday and my bike ride in felt surprisingly easy (going home is always fun -> 642 ft drop in elevation). On Wednesday I woke up with a slight ache in my foot. I ran and it seemed fine (although the run itself felt a lot tougher than the almost exact same workout last week), but later in the day it got more achey. And it was the same on Thursday. My initial reaction was stress fracture/response – mainly because I’ve been expecting a serious injury to pop up in this crammed marathon training schedule. However, I am 99% sure that it is a recurrence of plantar faciitis which I had last May (took two weeks off and it went away) and just a couple of weeks ago (randomly resolved itself after one week). So I have been stretching and rolling my calf (non-sprained side) for the last three days. I can feel a tender spot that seems a little knotty that I am trying to work out. I also popped a vitamin I last night and that has helped tremendously.

My plan for the next week is to take it easy. No more bike commuting. Four more scheduled runs. Lots of sleep. Short runs. Stretching. Foam rolling. The stick. As of this very instant I am still planning to run the marathon. But if I feel like my body isn’t up for it I will pull out at the last minute. I should know by the middle of next week what is happening and then I’ll come up with some race goals. I like the idea of tiered and non-time related goals as suggested by Jane Likes to Run who is running the Eugene Marathon this weekend.

Come on body – hold it together!

Our final days in New England

Next state: Maine. I don’t know if I mentioned this before but my husband loves beer – making it, talking about it, reading about it (honestly our bookshelf has some interesting titles), visiting breweries and drinking it – obviously. As soon as we decided we were going to be in New England for a week he was planning out the breweries that we were going to visit. We had our first taste in Portsmouth but were now heading to a new beer mecca – Portland, ME. We had breakfast in hipster hotel – they had birds on everything in the breakfast room (the lightshade was a bird cage) and then headed straight to Allagash brewery. You can visit here and get a free flight (4 x 5oz) of whatever is on tap. Pretty sweet! And we also got a tour – at this stage I feel like I could give a brewery tour.

This was our tasters at Maine Brewing Company.

This was our tasters at Maine Beer Company.

And conveniently, there were three other micro (or maybe nano) breweries in an industrial building right across the street: Bissell Brothers, Foundation Brewing, and Austin St. Brewery. They were all great (especially the IPA at ASB) and you could get a 50z taster for $2. We spent most of the afternoon here – these places were surprisingly busy for a random Friday afternoon in April. After all that sampling we needed a nap before dinner. We went to the Green Elephant in Portland which is hands down the best vegetarian restaurant I’ve ever eaten at – I had a delicious panang curry followed by a vegan chocolate mousse-pie-type-thing that was amazing. Luckily, the restaurant was right by the Portland Art Museum which has free entry on Friday nights, so we had a post-dinner art stroll. We also ate at Duck Fat which has amazing Belgian style fries and 5 minutes from our hotel, and Gorgeous Gelato which has, well, gorgeous gelato.

Saturday morning was long run day. This was a cut back week so I had a 13 mile run scheduled. I made my way down to the bike path by our hotel and was able to run by the water for the whole time. I even spotted a bald eagle hanging out (but didn’t manage to take a photo). It was a great run – 8.36 min/mile pace – finishing less than two minutes slower than my half marathon race last month.

Our plan for Saturday was to head to Freeport. The home of LLBean – unfortunately their giant shoe was being replaced although we did see the shoe-car driving on the interstate. And the home of one of the best breweries in Maine – Maine Beer Company. More tastings #itsahardlife.

Then one of my favorite things to do: go look at lighthouses! This was Portland Head Light just a little south of the city.


On Sunday we made our way back to Boston – and stopped by another lighthouse -> Nubble Head.


And because we had an hour before we had to make it to the airport we decided to stop in Salem, MA for coffee (for J), pastries and some history. They have a lot of really tacky witch-related stuff but I did like the memorial to those people who were killed during the Salem Witch Trials, and following the red line (I almost typed yellow brick road) to Salem Maritime National Historic Site.

Each bench is dedicated to a victim of the hysteria.

Each bench is dedicated to a victim of the hysteria.

Ye olde storage building. I thought it was striking.

Ye olde storage building. I thought it was striking.

The Friendship. Get it? Friend-ship.

The Friendship. Get it? Friend-ship.

US Custom House. Salem was one of the most important ports in early US history.

US Custom House. Salem was one of the most important ports in early US history.

Ominous clouds and our last view of east coast water.

Ominous clouds and our last view of east coast water.

And with that our New England adventure came to an end. We had it all: Boston, beaches, beer and………… damn! history doesn’t begin with B.

Heading north

After my beach run in Cape Cod we decided to head north. Our final destination was Portsmouth, New Hampshire – as suggested by DarlinRae and PirateBobcat. When I was planning our trip out east there were two things that I was interested in: beaches and history. Cape Cod took care of the beaches and our next stop was Minuteman National Historic Park between Concord and Lexington back in MA. Learning about the American Revolution back in Ireland – we got the basics tea party, British were bad, George Washington and that’s about it. Now we were getting the real deal.

Ye olde tavern in Lexington.

Ye olde tavern in Lexington.

I’ve visited my fair share of National Park Visitors’ Centers and I have to say that the one at Minuteman was pretty cool. They showed two amazing films – one aimed at kids with muppets singing a Steve Martin song about Paul Revere and another multimedia presentation describing the events leading up to Paul Revere’s famous ride to warn about the Redcoats. Then we followed the historical trail past some historical homes out to north bridge where the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired.

Yet another olde tavern. Check out the painted sign!

Yet another olde tavern. Check out the painted sign!

THE bridge.

THE bridge.

We did a little detour out to Essex, MA to get our seafood fix – crabmeat roll for me and lobster roll for J. Then we hit the most hipster hotel in Portsmouth, NH. It was a beautiful hotel and really close to downtown.

Blue Mason glassware. Yellow rotary phone.

Blue Mason glassware. Yellow rotary phone.

First stop: Eagle Earth Brewings. About a 5 minute walk from the hotel. A hip little microbrewery with some awesome beers. We ate at a restaurant called surf that overlooked the harbor: great scallops to start and amazing portabello-stuffed flounder.

Beer flight.

Beer flight.

Next morning: morning run in state number two. It was windy and in the 30s! J and I ran to the harbor – his first run since Boston.


IMG_1381The naval shipyard was across the water and you could see a submarine moored. I wanted to take a photo but I was afraid of being arrested. We also saw the last remnants of Portsmouth’s snow pile. Pretty glad I wasn’t here in January. Portsmouth was a cute little town – a smallerĀ  version of Portland, ME – our next stop.