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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

#42- The Big Cottonwood Marathon

Let me start out by saying that I almost did not run this race. It was one of the three new marathons starting in Utah all within a couple of weeks apart and the week after my favorite Utah Marathon, Top of Utah which I wanted to stay healthy for.

Another thing that almost kept me from running this race was the price. $95 for an inaugural race is a little high for me when there are lots of other races to choose from. Before I lay out that kind of cash I want to see race reviews, medals and swag from previous years, etc.

THANK GOODNESS I bit the bullet and registered! I think I have a new favorite Utah race!! The inaugural Big Cottonwood Marathon was AMAZING!

The fun began the night before with a Maniac/Birthday dinner. I could not think of a better way to spend my Birthday than with a fun dinner with my husband and my Maniac friends! Dinner + Presents = WHOO HOO!

Fun Birthday Dinner with the Maniacs!

After dinner we went home, put out my "flat Angie" and went to sleep. That 3:00am alarm was going to come to fast.

I met my friends Teota and Galen at the Bus pick up at 4:30am and we got on the bus with a few other Maniacs, Cindy, Kat and Valerie and headed up to the start at Brighton Ski Resort. It was still dark so we couldn't see any of the course on the way up. I was a little nervous as I was having some pain in my left foot and was scared it may give me trouble, but I tried to put it to the back of my mind.  

Once we got to Brighton, it was pretty chilly. The race was prepared and handed out foil blankets to everyone! That made such a difference. We all took one and looking like a bunch of baked potatoes, we found a building to huddle against and we all kept pretty warm.

Kat, Cindy, Teota, Galen and I at the start.

We were all on one of the first buses to the start, so we had first crack at the port-a-potties. No lines! It was still pretty early though and I knew I would probably have to pay another visit before the start. We all chatted while we were waiting and before you knew it the race was getting started. Teota and I decided (since the race was chip timed) to pay another visit to the port-a-potty before we crossed the timing mats, so we were one on the last people to start.

I was glad I had clipped my small headlamp to my hat (I usually only use it for the port-a-potty as they are always so dark) as it was pitch black when we headed down the canyon. I held onto my foil blanket for the first couple of miles as it was still pretty chilly.

When the sun came up, it not only warmed up, it was like a dark curtain was opened to reveal a spectacular show! The one thing that pushed me into signing up for this race was the beauty of Big Cottonwood Canyon. I knew that no matter if  everything went wrong with the race, the beauty of the canyon would not disappoint. The beauty in Big Cottonwood Canyon is breathtaking in the fall. All the leaves are changing and it looks like something out of a painting.

Not only was this course beautiful, it was fast! Teota and I were trying to go easy down the canyon, but we were way ahead of pace the entire time. I knew once we got out of the canyon (at around mile 14.5), the race would get tough. I have run that area with my friend Teresa many times and there are a lot of rolling hills around there!
Teota and I coming out of the Canyon.

I was right. Once we left the canyon the course got harder, but I felt like I had saved enough juice to run strong the second half. I knew Teota and I were both on track to run a PR (personal record) if we could stay on track. At around mile 20, we were hauling down this nice downhill section (which felt good after a long bit of uphill), when we stopped at an aid station. I had such momentum, I stopped very quickly. I thought Teota was right behind me, but I lost her at the aid station (sorry T)!

This was the longest .2 of my life!

At that point I knew that if I kept steady, I might actually get a PR! Then came mile 24. I was plugging along checking my Garmin relentlessly when I stepped down on my right foot and OUCH! Mind you, my left foot (which I mentioned earlier) gave me no trouble at all. The road was cumbered at places so I thought I may have just strained it a little. I stopped and took a quick walk break, just to try and shake it off, but when I started up again it hurt worse.

Hey! That's me!! They used my quote on one of the signs! I thought this was sound advice. :-)

I was still ahead of PR pace, but as I hobbled, running until it hurt then walking a little, I noticed my PR slowly fading away in those last two miles (which by the way were all up hill)!

When I finally reached mile 26, I looked at my Garmin and to my surprise, I was still ahead of pace! That .2 miles were the longest ever! I searched for the finish line and could not see it. I started asking spectators where it was and they all would say "just around the corner". When I finally saw it, I dug deep and ran towards it! At that point I knew that PR was mine!

I spotted the finish line and I knew I had a PR by 4 minutes!

When I saw Galen cheering me in, all I could say was "PR! I ran a PR!".

I crossed the line and got my medal and asked for a medic to look at my foot. I thought I might have developed a stress fracture. They took me to a white folding chair and I sat down and let two handsome firemen examine my foot. Helloooooo!

I am a damsel in distress! Help me! Hee Hee!

After the initial exam and ice, my foot felt fine. I could walk without pain. An xray two days later confirmed that my foot was not broken.Yay!

A few minutes later I saw Teota come in! Whoo hoo! While we were all tired, we all really wanted to see our friend Marci finish. This would be the day she would qualify for the Marathon Maniacs! As we waited I saw a familiar face across the chute. My husband!!! He came to the finish! Even though I had finished, I was so glad to see him. He does not run and thinks I'm a nut, so it always means a lot to me when he comes out to support me.

My husband, David and I at the finish!

Then it happened. Here comes Marci! Whoo Hoo! She did it! We all cheered for her and welcomed her to our crazy club!

Way to go Marci!!

Galen, Marci, Teota and I at the finish!

This race was so much fun! I am so glad I decided to do it. Yes, it was a little more than I would like to spend on an inaugural race, but was it worth it? Every penny! The not only gave great shirts and medals, all of our Zazoosh photos were INCLUDED in the race price! AMAZING!

If you want to run yet another awesome race in Utah, Big Cottonwood is my new fave!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

#41- The Top of Utah Marathon

It is no secret that the Top of Utah, in Logan, Utah is one of my favorite races in this state. This year's race was held on September 15th, a perfect time of year to run. The weather is cooler and the leaves are changing color. Combined with the already beautiful scenery, you are guaranteed one of the most beautiful runs you could ever hope for.

My race weekend began as usual, after picking up Teota, Marsha and her friend Amiee (who was running her very first marathon), we headed off to Logan. Once we got there we dropped our stuff off at the Super 8 Motel and headed for the expo to pick up our race packets. While there we ran into some other Maniac friends.

Sue Mantyla, Mary Lenari, Me, Jonathan Crampton, Marsha Monson and Amiee Snow at the expo!

After the expo, we met some more Maniac friends for dinner at the Firehouse Pizzeria.

Maniacs after dinner!

After dinner, I headed back to the hotel and got ready for the early 3:45am wake up call.
At 5:00am we were on the bus heading up Logan canyon! When we got to the start it was pretty cold, so we found a few Maniacs and huddled together!
Maniacs at the start.
Teota and I with the "official" Race Starters.
We were lucky and didn't have to stand around to long before the gun(s) went off!

Top of Utah has some of the most beautiful scenery anywhere!
Having fun and taking lots of photos!
Teota at the flag water stop!
This was my third year running this race and one reason I love it is that the course feels relatively easy to run. Not this year. I felt like I had never run in altitude before and was sucking wind. I thought it was just me, but Teota said she felt the same way.
Teota and I with John Bozung. He ran his 330th marathon that day!
We just plugged along the course as best we could. Poor Teota had the blisters on her foot break at around mile 16, so we stopped at her friends house (which was conveniently located right between miles 20 and 21) for her to get fixed up. After that we were off again!
At about mile 23 Teota's feet were hurting and she told me to go on and meet her at the finish, so I did. I thought I might still be able to squeak out a sub 5:00 run, but once I got to the 25 mile mark, I just didn't have it in me and I came in at 5:03. I was kind of disappointed, as I usually run this course faster, but I was still happy and still hold this race as one of my favorites!

Teota and I at the finish!
Teota came in just a few minutes after I did. We went back to the hotel and picked up my car and drove it back to the finish area. Teota left with her friend and I went to find Marsha (who we saw running in on our way back to the hotel).
Once I found her, we waited to see her friend Aimee finish. She had a tough time, but she did finish her first marathon surrounded by her children. It was so sweet!
Marsha and I jumped in the car and drove home just in time to make it to the BYU vs Utah football game! What a great day!


Thursday, September 6, 2012

#40- The Pocatello Marathon

I love the Pocatello Marathon! This was my third time running it (I did miss last year to run in Colorado and mark that state off my list) and I just keep coming back! I have some personal ties to Pocatello. My father was born and raised in a small town about 10 miles outside Pocatello called Inkom (which we run through) and my mom and dad met in Pocatello. With both of them gone now, I feel a special bond to them when I run there. Besides that Pocatello puts on one heck if a race! Here is what I love about the Pocatello Marathon:

1) The race is only a 2 1/2 hour drive from home. This make for an easy road trip. Being a holiday weekend, my friend Teota and I drove up on Friday and my husband drove up on Saturday after the race and we were able to make a nice little "staycation" out of it.

2) The host hotel is right off the freeway and easy to find. The expo and the race morning bus pick up is there. You roll out of bed and the buses are right there to take you to the start!

The Clarion Inn was this year's host hotel. It was clean and convenient.

They also had a killer pool and hot tub! This was nice after the race!

3) The entry fee to this race (when you register early) was only $45!! The race alone for that price was great, but look at all the swag I got for that price!

The $45 entry fee got me my race bib, a long sleeved tech shirt, a Pocatello Marathon duffel bag, a HUGE finisher's medal and a 5lb bag of Idaho potatoes!

4) Meeting new Marathon Maniacs! It is always fun to run as a Maniac or 50 State Club member. You meet some of the nicest people! The pasta dinner at the race was not very good the last time I ate there, so I opted to organize a Maniac dinner elsewhere. We didn't have as big a group join us as RSVP'd, but we had a great time anyway!

Our little Maniac dinner! Jim Roche, Me, Teota Dangel, Susan Hayes and Tom Scott!

5) The race starts at at an elevation of 6,000 feet at a working farm. There is a red barn out front as we got off the buses. It was pretty cold up there so we got together with a few other Maniacs and took the traditional group photo.

Maniacs at the start!

Tom Scott and I at the start!

As we got colder, someone noticed people coming out of the barn. "We can go in there?" I asked. "Sure!" someone else answered. We ran into the barn to escape the wind and it was not only toasty, it was full of the cutest baby goats ever! After a few minutes of goo gooing and gaw gawing, the owner said we could hold them!

This is when I first saw these cute babies!

Teota with the babies!

That's it! I am snuggling me some baby goat!

Teota did too!
Nancy Marino, Larry Macon, Teota and I with our new friends!

6) The course is awesome! The first ten miles are downhill and beautiful! The rest of the race is challenging if you go to fast down the canyon as the second half is rolling or a gentle uphill so subtle you won't know it, but you will feel it!

These guys made me want to knit!

My favorite part of the course is mile 15. This is where we run through Inkom. My Uncle Dennis (my dad's brother) and my Aunt May have lived in the same place for as long as I could remember. I have many fond memories of fun summers at their house as a child. It makes my race to see them out cheering for me!

7) The finish! Pocatello's post race food is the best! Pulled pork sandwiches, baked potatoes with all the fixins', ice cream, chocolate milk, Great Harvest bread, etc.! The medals are awesome too!

Maniac ladies at the finish!

My goal was easy, to finish sub 5:00 (I did! 4:55), but Irlan hit Ten Stars! Wow!

Close up of the bling!

The Pocatello marathon is a must do if you want to run a Idaho marathon! I am sure to be back next year!