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Monday, August 19, 2013

#58- The Park City Marathon

I have a love/hate relationship with the Park City Marathon. I love Park City. It is a beautiful place to run, but if you are looking for a marathon like most marathons in Utah (the kind that starts at the top of some beautiful canyon that you get to run down), think again! The Park City Marathon is hard!
Our race weekend began on Friday with a few Maniac friends for dinner at Red Rock!

Maniac Dinner at Red Rock in Park City! (Photo by Teresa Baker)
After dinner we had a girls slumber party at Teresa Baker's (my partner in shenanigans) Park City condo. Donna Loud, our friend from Sarasota, FL, Marci Jenks, Teresa and I all had a really fun evening talking and drinking wine (seltzer water in a beer glass for me- it made me feel like a grown up too! Hee Hee) until it was time to hit the hay. Donna and I had a 3:45am wake up call for the full marathon. Teresa and Marci were the smart ones, they got to sleep in a little as they were doing the half marathon.
The best kept secret of the Park City Marathon is the early start. The early start begins at 5:00am (hence our 3:45am wake up call). It is primarily for those walking the race, but a few of us slower folks like to beat the heat and start with them. If you want to qualify for an age group award, you will not qualify with the early start. I knew I was not in the running anyway, so why not! It is pitch black out when we start, so we got out our headlamps and flashlights and prayed we would not get lost in the dark (which I do every year).
There were not as many people at the early start this year and a lot of them were walkers. If we were going to run/walk, I would need to pay close attention to where we were going. As we all started off Donna and I paid close attention and we never got lost!
The best thing about the early start is being the first one in the port-a-potty! No lines and it's clean! We didn't hit the first open aid station until about mile 7 so we carried our own water and fuel and were just fine.

The Elevation Chart Speaks for Itself!

The first 16 miles of the course are climbing. At some spots the grade is gentle, almost to the point of feeling flat, but at around mile 10, I started feeling like I had run much further. The elevation didn't help (starting at 6400 feet is hard even for us Salt Lake City folks). Donna, being from Florida was doing great considering there are no hills or elevation in Sarasota!

Donna looking strong about mile 12!  See the horse?

Me around mile 12.
 At about mile 12, we begin the harshest of climbs to Deer Valley. Donna and I were doing shorter intervals at this point just to get up the hill with out spending all of our energy. Once we hit Deer Valley at mile 16, we would get to go downhill.

Is Donna getting the thumbs up or is that horse telling us to get up that hill?!
Every year the chicken man is at the aid station at around mile 15. I look forward to seeing him every year!

Donna and I were so happy to see mile 16! It is so nice to run downhill after running uphill for so long. My legs had to adjust, but it still felt awesome!

At around mile 23, you hit the iconic barn in Park City!
As we made our way down the rail trail, it was getting hot. There were a few times we would hit some shaded areas with pockets of cold air that felt heavenly!
At mile 25 you start winding around the condos at New Park. It is the longest mile ever as the road is very windy. You know you are close, but you can't see the finish. Every turn you hope to see it and are disappointed until it shows up in front of you!
Finally finishing! (Photo by Terry Schmidt)

Donna Finishing! (Photo by Marci Jenks)
As I came through the finish line I saw my friend and co-worker Laura and her husband Terry, cheering me on as they did last year! If you follow my blog, you may remember that last year Laura was pregnant and went into labor while at the Marathon! This year Terry ran the half with their daughter Violet! Happy 1st Birthday sweet girl!

Laura, Violet and I at the finish! (Photo by Terry Schmidt)
Now I do have to give SUPER mad props and THANKS to Teresa Baker! Not only is her hospitality top notch, I was joking with her and Marci that since they were running the half, that I expected a cold Diet Coke to be waiting for me at the finish. Right as I crossed the finish line (and I mean right after, I didn't even have my medal yet), I saw Teresa's arm shoot over the barricade with a 32oz cup of heaven!! I HAVE THE BEST FRIENDS IN THE WORLD!!!!! I LOVE YOU GUYS!!
As we watched other runners come in we saw our friends Sue Mantyla (who won her age group), Sandy Straley (who got 2nd), Galen Garrison and others!
Maniacs at the Finish! (Photo by Teresa Baker)

After the race we headed back to Teresa's condo and put on our swimsuits for a quick dip in the pool before heading home.
As much as the Park City Marathon kicks my butt, I sure have a great time with my friends when I run it!

Since Park City is known as an artist community (you can see quite a few works of art along the course), each medal is made by hand by a local glass artist.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Jupiter Peak Steeple Chase!

Website description: "An endurance race for the trail warrior. This event is a long time Park City tradition, a 16-mile +/- trail running loop on challenging single track trail with 3,000′ of elevation gain."
One would have thought that the description alone would have been enough to detour me from doing this race, but since it wasn't even a full marathon and it was the first race of the Triple Trail Challenge, I had to do it! In fact, I was looking forward to it! I was not prepared for the pain I would endure.

Elevation Chart for the Jupiter Peak Steeple Chase
It all started out fine and dandy. Our Maniac crew all met at the start ready to conquer.

Utah Maniacs! Kim, Sue, Me, Kat, Galen, Earl and Bob before we were bloody, blistered and chaffed!
The race started about 8:15am, so there was plenty of time to check in, check out our jackets (that we would be receiving upon completing the Triple Trail Challenge), and use the potty before the race.
Once the race started we took of up the steep and rocky trail. I went about 400 meters and was already feeling tired! I knew it was a long way up, so I started hiking rather than running. Stronger runners in front of me and behind me were doing the same, so I didn't feel too much like a slacker.  
As we went along, I started getting concerned about the time limit. You had to make it to the 6.5 mile aid station in 2 hours, or you would be turned around. This seemed like it would be easy, but hiking is different than running especially when you are climbing a freaking mountain!

As the time ticked away, we saw the first place male come sprinting down the mountain! How in the world did he get up the mountain so fast? How is he running so fast down the mountain with all the rocks and roots on the trail? He was going so fast, if he fell, there would be serious consequences!
With 10 minutes to spare, I was so glad to see the 6.5 mile aid station. Then I saw Jupiter Peak and I wanted to cry! Now the really steep part of the peak is not that long (maybe a 1/2 mile), but the loose rocks and my fear of heights made my heart rate skyrocket.
I tried to keep my head down as looking up made me dizzy and looking back made me dizzy. I just put one foot in front of the other and held on to rocks as I went up. I should have looked up a little though because before I knew it, the ladies behind me were yelling to me that I was off course! Ugh! Luckily, I was able to get back on the trail (if that's what you want to call it).
About half way to the top of Jupiter Peak! This photo does it no justice! It was steep and scary!

Thank goodness for these ladies! Without them, I would have been way off course!
I was so happy to finally get to the top! My legs were on fire and my heart was about to jump out of my chest!
Earl and I ringing the bell at the top of Jupiter Peak!

Once we got to the top, I knew we had one more climb to do (thanks to Teresa for the warning). We ran down the peak only to climb another. This peak was not as steep or rocky so it was manageable, until a few of us missed a turn on the trail and got a little off course again. Luckily again we figured it out early enough that we didn't have to do too much backtracking. When we went back, we all laughed at the HUGE blue arrow on the ground, wondering how all of us missed it. We got back on track and finally hit the other peak. Now it was time to make up some time and book it down the mountain... or so I thought.
I thought going up the mountain was going to be the hard part. I was not ready for what came with running down! The really steep parts left me shuffling and praying I would not trip (I would eventually trip 3 times, but through the grace of God I did not fall). The not so steep parts were rocky and rutted so the trail was like running in the bottom of a "V". Even wearing my Hokas, my feet and ankles were taking a beating. 
The first time I twisted my ankle really bad, I got a little nervous and slowed way down. By the time I did it the fourth time, I was petrified to run. I just wanted to get off the trail before I broke a bone or worse. My head got the best of me. Not to mention, my Camelback was not tight enough on me and the bouncing chaffed my back up so bad, I had to stop at the aid station to ask them to bandage it up!
I could also feel the pain of the two HUGE blisters that had formed on my big toes, so putting pressure on them while running down hill was torture! I was ready to be done.
When I could see the parking lot from the trail, I was happy. I just needed to make it off the trail. It was kind of a surprise when I stepped off the trail onto a paved road. I looked up and saw the finish line about 200 meters away and I was so happy!
When I crossed the line, all my friends were there cheering as I stumbled over to sit down. I was a little glad to see that I was not the only one who had a tough race! Kim, Sue and Bob all took pretty nasty spills and were all bandaged up.

Galen, Sue and I getting ready to leave.
After a little relaxing we headed off to find our cars. As Sue and I have no sense of direction, we followed Galen, but Galen wasn't sure how to get to the parking lot either! We must have looked a sight as a nice lady pulled up and asked us if we needed a ride. We said "YES PLEASE!" and jumped in her car. Runners are just the BEST! We made it to our cars and headed home, though not before stopping for lunch! Galen and I stopped for lunch at the No Worries Cafe- thanks for the recommendation Teresa!
I usually say a race was fun, even if I have a bad day, but this was not fun! Only because I am still suffering from it. I might think it was fun after I heal, but for now, the Jupiter Peak Steeple Chase is a one and done for me! Lord help me make it through the Mid Mountain Marathon! :-)
WARNING!! IF YOU DON'T WANT TO SEE MY BATTLE WOUNDS, STOP READING NOW! Here are my souvenirs from the Jupiter Peak Steeple Chase:

Most painful blister EVER!

Not as Painful but huge!

Combine sunburn with what feels like someone took a cheese grater to my back and that is what you have here!