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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

#81- The Big Cottonwood Marathon

This was my 3rd year running The Big Cottonwood Marathon. I love this race. The course is fast (if you run it right) and you it is hard to find a more beautiful marathon course.

I started a Marathon Maniacs team to get the team discount and was surprised when we had 100+ Maniacs sign up. With that many people, it was like a mini reunion! With so many club members coming to Salt Lake City, I wanted to make it as fun as possible.

First thing I did was plan a short 3 mile hike to Doughnut Falls in Big Cottonwood Canyon on Friday afternoon. I thought this would give people an opportunity to get a look at part of the course and see the beauty of the trails in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

 Meeting to head up the canyon.
 And we are off!
Had to get a photo at the falls!

 Hiking back down.

That black spot is a moose laying under a tree!
After the hike we headed to the expo. Where I picked up my packet and our team shirts.
 My cute Chicago friend, Erica and I at the expo!
 Eddie, Gerald, Dan and I at the Expo looking for that 26.2 PR!

 Look at me standing with this speedy group hoping their speed rubs off on me!
After the expo I scheduled a dinner at Romano's Macaroni Grill. We had a great turn out.

We had over 35 people at the pre-race dinner!
Inspired by Brian Wright's pre-race throwaway photo he posted on Facebook, I decided it would be fun to hold the first ever "Project Throwaway" fashion show. We had the contestants wear their best pre-race throwaway fashions and the group would pick the winner. I even had a trophy made for the winner!
 The first ever "Project Throwaway" contestants!
Dennis was the first "Project Throwaway" Winner! Gotta love that sweater!
After the dinner I headed home and got ready for the race. I wanted to be on the 4:45 bus to the start at Brighton Ski Resort.
It was cold at the start, so we all huddled together!

I love Dawn!

Maniacs chillin' (literally) at the start!

Another Maniac photo with more light!
Maniacs Joann, Mike and I
The race was supposed to start at 7:00am, but with some bus issues it got underway at 7:15am.
The unspoken goal was to see if I could break 4:00 at this race and my neighbor and friend Galen was nice enough to try and help me do it. We had ideal conditions and if you run the course smart, it's really fast.
My advice on this course is to go out easy. The downhill feels good and you can fly down it fast without even realizing it, but once you come out of that canyon around mile 15, look out!! I should have followed my own advice!
Galen and I running down the canyon still feeling good at this point!
 Around mile 7,  we saw a Moose!
It was about mile 8 or 9 when I started not feeling that great. Now, I was feeling a little nauseated at the start, but just shrugged it off as race morning jitters or being tired.
The worst feeling in the world is having to use the bathroom and 1) having a time goal and seeing long porta-a-potty lines; 2) having the area be a watershed area so no making nature your bathroom; and 3) knowing you are a good mile away from the next aid station! This is what pretty much happened to me 4 times!
 Starting to not feel so hot!
 Big Cottonwood Canyon is spectacular!

By the time we came out of the canyon, I had to stop 2 times. It was a time killer, but better than the alternative!
Once we got out of the canyon, my legs were shot. With all the stops I had to run even faster to try to make up some time, but that was a mistake as I was already pushing it to begin with.
That LONG out and back coming out of the canyon was BRUTAL. Nothing like running 15 miles downhill in shade only to run uphill with the sun broasting you for a few miles! Ugh! I lost my will to live at that point.
I was trying to stay with the 4:00 pacer, but while I love and respect the work the pacers do, one of the pacers was yelling very loudly every 5 seconds. He was trying to be encouraging, but instead he was overstimulating my senses and draining the life out of me. I thought it was only me that was annoyed by it, until others confided with me that they were trying to escape the yelling too. I asked him if he could possibly stop yelling so much and maybe only yell every few minutes, ya know, the less is more approach, but he did not go for it and I felt trapped!
Another bathroom break at mile 22 is where we said goodbye and I realized, my sub 4:00 was not in the cards that day. I was OK with it. I kept working hard in hopes of maybe getting a new PR (breaking the PR I set the week before).
Galen stuck it out with me pushing me along. When we hit the last mile I was hopeful, but tired. I gave it all I had and sprinting towards the finish line.
Sorry to the two walkers holding hands in the middle of the finish chute as I was sprinting for finish line. I can only yell at you to move twice before the elbows came out and I turned from runner to football player. It wasn't personal, but at that point in my head you were standing in the way of my PR. I see posts all the time about how walkers feel mistreated by runners, but holy hell, the consideration goes both ways! Don't hog the chute if you want to walk and hold hands!

I laugh at this photo because I was running as fast as I had the energy to go and yet it looks like I am jogging!
I crossed the finish line in 4:07:15! A :57 second PR from the week before at Nebo!!
While I didn't get my sub 4:00, I now know it's close!

 PR Baby!!

Relaxing at the Maniac tent after the race!
After the race, I organized a Maniac after party at Squatters. We had such a great turnout, there was not room for everyone in the private room. It all worked out well and everyone had a great time!
Maniacs at the after party!

More Maniacs!

Love this pic of Erica, Nikki and I

I finally got to see my pal Brian!
The next morning I took my friend's Laura and JC up to Doughnut Falls (as they had time to kill before their flights and did not go on Friday).

Laura and I

So, in short, Big Cottonwood was a big success! The race is awesome. Beautiful course, well supported, free race photos and a nice shirt and medal. Not much more one could ask.
I hope everyone had a blast because I sure did! 

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