Last year when I ran the Big Cottonwood Marathon, it quickly went to the top of my favorite Utah Marathons (and we have a lot of GREAT ones). So needless today I was looking forward to this year's race.
On Friday night I started the festivities with visit to the expo, which was a change from last year as they only has a packet pick up last year. After the expo I headed to the Olive Garden for a fun Marathon Maniacs dinner.
Maniacs at the pre-race dinner.
At the dinner I met up with my Sarasota friend, Donna Loud. After the dinner we drove back to Bob and Teresa Baker's house. They were so AWESOME opening their home to us. I don't live far, but the Bakers live less than five minutes from the bus pick up/finish line. They invited me over for a weekend staycation!
I woke up Saturday morning at 3:30am. Donna and I wanted to be on the 4:30am bus. Once we had our breakfast and were ready to go, I drove us over to the bus pick up.
We got on a bus with no issues. People on our bus seemed pretty excited. Then about 3 miles from the start, the third bus up the canyon got stuck as it tried to make the hair pin turn up Guardsman Pass. All the buses after it could not get to the start. There was one bus ahead of the bus I was on. Everyone was sitting on their buses when I saw a man jump of the bus in front of us and run over to the stranded bus. I laughed out loud when I saw it was none other than my pal Galen! MANIAC TO THE RESCUE!!! At this point people were getting off all the buses to try to see what was going on or to help. Runners were actually trying to push the bus off the road, but it would not budge.
This bus is stuck on the road leading to the start.
People on the buses were getting antsy and there was talk to start walking the three miles to the start. This never crossed my mind for four reasons:
1) It would mean running three miles UP the steepest part of the course;
2) It was cold out there;
3) It wouldn't matter how fast you got up to the starting area, the race could not begin until the bus was moved. It was best to stay on the warm bus until the problem was resolved; and
4) That would just be stupid! ;-)
I was impressed how quickly the RD's got the problem resolved by having runners walk up the hill about a quarter mile where the two buses that were already at the start came back down to a place safe to turn around and pick us all up. They also got the bus moved off the road much quicker than expected. The race only started 25 minutes late which could have been much worse!
There were lots of Maniacs at this race! I tried to get as many Maniacs together as I could for a photo, but with the bus thing, the original plan went out the window. I tried to get Maniacs together when I saw them.
Maniacs at the start!
Before we knew it the race had started. We started running down Guardsman Pass which is really steep. I could feel it in my quads in the first two miles!
Runners winding down the canyon!
There is no road marathon I have ever run that is more beautiful than the Big Cottonwood Marathon. Big Cottonwood Canyon is just beautiful and we would be spending the next 17 miles there.
Running 17 miles downhill seems like a dream come true, but for those not trained for so much downhill running or not used to the high altitude, it can be a quad/lung busting killer.
I was feeling really good. I knew I was running pretty fast (for me) when I hit the 10k in 55 minutes! I tried to slow up knowing I would regret it later if I went too fast down the canyon. When I hit the half in 2:07 (even after a bathroom break), I was still feeling great!
The leaves had not changed yet like last year, but the course is still BEAUTIFUL!
A little waterfall on the course.
I was moving down that hill!
This is about 2 miles from the bottom of the canyon.
Me at about mile 15.
Me coming to the bottom of the canyon!
At about mile 17 we left the canyon. I really like the change in the course this year. While there were not as many rolling hills, there was some long stretches of very gentle uphill. Now, if I was just out on a run I would probably not notice that I was going uphill, but after running down the canyon for 17 miles, even the flat sections felt hard.
I was still feeling pretty good at mile 20. When I got to mile 21, my watch said 3:30! I was so happy. A PR was right there! I kept plugging along.
It was getting hot out there at this point which was staring to wear on me. At mile 23 I hit the aid station for some water and a little Gatorade. When I left the aid station all of a sudden, I could not run. My legs just would not go! The wheels fell off!
My legs felt a little crampy, but I was not in severe pain. I just could not run. I walked until I felt like I could start running again and then I could only run about 20 seconds. This continued for the next 2 miles.
Right after I passed the mile 25 mile marker, I knew my PR was out the window. I wanted to cry. In 61 marathons, I had never hit "the wall" that hard. I needed a distraction. I pulled out my phone and called Teresa (who was at the finish line). I asked her just to talk to me (she gives great pep talks) and get me through that last mile. When she talked to me, I could actually run. She told me that she was sending Bob out to run the rest of the way with me! What a sight for sore eyes he was! Bob ran with me until I turned the corner to the finish chute. Teresa was so great too. As I approached the chute she yelled "I am going to get you a Diet Coke right now!" and she did!
So glad to be done!
I finished the race without a PR, but it was the fastest race I had run all year. I guess I can't be too disappointed.
Donna and I at the finish! Donna kicked some butt and got her a PR!
We were pretty wiped and only stayed about 10 minutes at the finish line. We headed back to the Baker's where I has the best post race shower EVER. If you have never been in a steam shower, I highly recommend it! I just sat in there with a cup of herbal tea. It was AWESOME!
After our showers, the Bakers took us to lunch at Cafe Rio and then we came back to their home for a nap before we were all heading to University of Utah football game.
After a nice nap, we hit a few tailgate parties for some more great food!
Me, Kami (one of our co-workers), Teresa and Donna at one of the tailgate parties we attended before the game.
Had a fun time at the U of U football game!
The game ended after midnight so we headed out a little early as we had all hit the wall of tired. We headed back to the Baker's house for a much needed sleep!
Sunday morning we said goodbye to Donna as she headed back to Sarasota, I packed up my stuff, picked up my dogs and came home.
I would just like to say a HUGE THANK YOU to the Bob and Teresa Baker. I am VERY fortunate to have such generous and AMAZING friends. I can't thank you enough. You gave me a 5 star staycation!! I LOVE YOU GUYS!!
What a great race and a great weekend! It was so fun to see so many Maniacs! I hope you all had a great time!