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Friday, September 15, 2017

#126- The Big Cottonwood Marathon!

So, there is not much more I can say about the Big Cottonwood Marathon that you haven't read in my last five race reports. Yep, this way my 6th year running so my legacy status remains intact and like every other year I run, I freaking LOVE this race!!

Every year I put together a Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics team and try to be a good hostess and set up a dinner, an after party and some other activity for out of town folks to enjoy. Utah is a beautiful place. Not a place to zip in and out of if you have the time.

I took Friday off work so I could fulfill my Revel Ambassador duties and work at the expo. Fellow Ambassador Maria Crawford and fellow Maniac Ed Childress were crashing in my little one bedroom apartment, so before I went to the expo, I picked Maria up at the airport and we met Randy Brinkley (the Half Fanatic Ambassador from Oklahoma City) for lunch. There we saw a a few other Maniacs! 

Randy, Marlon and his friend, Maria and I in front of Easy Rider!

After lunch, we hit the expo giving out shirts to all the runners!

Manning our post!

One thing I love about volunteering, is that I get to see my friends when they pick up their packets!

 It was great to see my Nebo pacing buddy, Heather again! My sweet friend Jenn hurt her foot and was in a boot! No running for her. 😢

Jorge and the Skinner's at the RYR pacer booth!

After the expo, we had a smaller than usual dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory downtown. The food was good and reasonably priced.

At the pre-race dinner!

Revel gives every team over 12 people a 10 X 10 tent space at the finish. You have to bring your own tent though and cannot set it up until after 8:00PM, so after dinner I enlisted my friend Rob, Ed and Maria to help set up the tent as there would be no time to set it up in the morning. 

I was sure glad to have their help as there was no way I could have set it up alone. I though our tent came with weights to weigh it down, but it didn't and it was a little breezy. Rob gathered some big rocks and put them in the weight bags and it seemed to work fine.

Our Maniac/Fanatic tent ready for race day!

By the time we got home, it was getting late and we had an early wake up call. Rob went home and met us in the morning at 3:30AM!

Flat Angie sporting her legacy bib and ready to run!

Since Ed and I were the only ones running the full marathon, when we got to the buses, we said our goodbyes and got the bus up the mountain! I was excited to see my sweet friend Briggs and we sat together and caught up!

Once we got to the start, we tried to stay warm, hit the bathrooms and before you knew it, we were off!

Marathon Maniacs at the start!

Always great to see Dave and Cade!

Two of my favorite local Maniacs John Bozung and Galen Garrison. Between the three of us, we have run somewhere close to 800 marathons! This was #126 for me and I ran the least in this group! (Photo credit: John Bozung)

So excited to see these cuties Meridith and Remi!

Now, let's talk about the course. People flock to this race for an easy BQ or PR. I have never run the half, but looking at the course, it is entirely possible to run a PR on the half course, but I would like to talk to you about the full marathon, where if you don't run smart, this course will eat you up and spit you out.!

Big Cottonwood elevation chart.

People underestimate the marathon course here. There are a couple of factors that people either don't know about, they know about them, but ignore them, or they know about them and don't think it will be a problem on the course and running smart only 3 of the 6 times, I pretty much know what I am talking about. Yes, this course is fast, but here are some things to keep in mind when you run this race:

1) The marathon starts at Guardsman Pass. Guardsman Pass is at almost 10,000 feet above sea level. If you are a sea level dweller, you may have some issues with running at such a high altitude. Dizziness and nausea are among the main complaints. 
Heading down Guardsman Pass.

2) There is lots of downhill. Now this is why most people run this race. You always run faster downhill than up and when it comes to getting a BQ or a PR, gravity is your friend. Well, that is if you are experienced in running a lot of downhill, but running 19 miles of downhill can SHRED your legs, especially if you have not trained for running this much of downhill. After about 10-12 miles, my legs start getting wobbly!

3) Running downhill makes you go fast! Why is this a problem? It's not, if you are an experienced downhill runner with a lot of downhill miles under your belt. People tend to fly down the canyon way faster than their goal marathon pace. It feels great, but believe me when I say, you go out too fast down the canyon, you will pay for it later.

Trying to run this race smart, I stayed with the 4:25 pacers (fellow Maniacs Matt and Christine). The pace felt slow (even when we were a little ahead), but I held back (and took selfies).

I see moose on the course every year! This year I saw two! 😲

Having a blast down the canyon! (Photo credit: Seth Kramer)

The Big Cottonwood Marathons is one of the most beautiful marathons around. I must have 20 pictures of this mountain. Even in training runs I stop to take a photo when I come around the bend to face this big, beautiful mountain. (You can see how huge it is when you compare it to the runners below.)

Peace Baby!

4) Wasatch Blvd. (aka The Boulevard of Broken Dreams). If you went out too fast down the canyon, here is where your dreams of that BQ or PR can be shattered. After 19 miles of down hill , your legs are trashed and you hit Wasatch Blvd, a 2 mile out and back climb that looks like nothing if you were to run it on it's own, but with no more shade of the canyon and trashed legs, this is the hardest section of the course. There is a lot of walking and this year in particular, a lot of puking.

Running the canyon smart meant I still had legs to run Wasatch Blvd!

You are probably at this point asking yourself why I love this race so much? Simple. IF you watch your pace and DON'T run too fast down the canyon, you WILL have legs left to actually run Wasatch Blvd and you can keep that PR and BQ in your hands! Running down hill is fun, but there is a strategy in doing it. This is something almost every runner walking on Wasatch Blvd forgot. This is a super fast course, but only if you run it smart. 

Revel races also have great swag (we got socks this year), beautiful shirts and medals, free photos (not just 1 or 2. I had 25), super well organized and ALWAYS a beautiful course!

With the Yeti 100 coming up, my goal was to come out feeling good. It has been a rough year for me, so finishing this race with my fastest time of 2017 was just what I needed to get that fire burning for Boston 2019!

So proud of my friend Rob! I suckered him into running with me and on his 4th Marathon he got an almost 15 minute PR in the half!! Well done mate! 👍

After the race we chilled out at our tent and hung out with friends!

Josher and I ALWAYS need a selfie together! In fact, we were both taking one at the same time here! LOL!

Fellow Ambassador Nikki rocked the half this year! She already earned her BQ!

A few Maniacs and Fanatics at the tent!

After a nice shower and a nap, we met up at the Beerhive Pub downtown for burgers and beer!

A great way to celebrate after the race. Friends, burgers and beer! 🍔🍻

I LOVE the Big Cottonwood Marathon and Half! Our team for next year is already open! The team is open to club members and club members in training! We would love to have YOU on the team next year!! 

Register early for the best discount HERE! Want to save even more money on a Revel race? MM/HF Team members are getting the scoop on a great opportunity. PM me for more details.

Monday, September 4, 2017

#125- The Pocatello Marathon!

I love the Pocatello Marathon! Not only is it a great race with a fast course, great swag, $40 entry fee (if you register early), it's 2.5 hours away from Salt Lake City and I have family there so it is a good excuse to come for a visit. When I got the offer to pace the 5:00 group, how could I say no?

I left town at 4:00PM, which was probably a mistake with all the holiday traffic. The usual drive took an hour longer than planned. So I got right into the packet pick-up at the Clarion Inn (the host hotel), grabbed dinner at the race pasta dinner (which was comped for the pacers) and our pace leader Jim came in to give us the low down on the race. We took a few pictures and I headed to my Aunt and Uncle's house, where they were good enough to give me a bed for the night.

Got to the packet pick up and ran into a couple Yeti Trail Runners, Eric and Paige!

Pocatello Pacers at the pacer meeting.

Idaho is famous for it's potatoes, so along with a back back and nice long sleeved t-shirt, we also received a bag of potatoes!

My bag of Idaho potatoes! 

When I got to my Aunt May and Uncle Dennis's house, I got caught up with them and got ready for race day!

Flat Angie ready to run!

Aunt May and I

My alarm went off at 4:15AM and I was out the door to catch the 5:15AM bus to the start. After the shortest marathon but ride I have ever been on, we were off the bus and standing in a long line to use the Port-a-potty. By the time we got in and out, we had just a few minutes to get the Maniac photo and the pacer photo and get into position to pace. At 6:15AM, we were off!

Maniacs at the start!

Course Elevation

The first half of this course is fast. You lose about 2,000 feet in elevation. 

The sunrise was so beautiful coming over the mountains as we started.

At mile 13 we run into Inkom where my aunt's, uncles and cousins live. At around mile 16 my sweet Aunt and Uncle came out to cheer my on!

So great to run with my good friend Galen again!

My sweet Aunt May and Uncle Dennis cheering for me!

The second half of the course is tough. You are no longer in the shade of the canyon, you are now running along some railroad tracks where where sun is beating on you and the course is a lot more hilly than the first half.

I pace this at an even effort and found this to work well for this course. I picked up a few people along the way and had a great time encouraging those who were struggling to keep with me as I approached them walking. I was hitting my splits within 15 seconds on the last 6 miles, but when there was no 26 mile marker, I got nervous and sped up a little for fear of being late. I went a little too fast, but still came in at 4:59:05! 

This was a good though as a man I ran with for a little while was trying to break 5:00, but when I sped up at the finish, he tried to stay with me, but finished a few seconds behind me. He came up to me after and thanked me for pushing him those last few miles he hit his goal with seconds to spare!

The best thing about pacing is helping people reach their goals. I had two more people come up to me after the race thanking me for pushing them. That is a great feeling!

Crossing the finish line 50 seconds hot!

Another great feeling was eating the post race food. This race always does a great job. Sizzler was a sponsor so there was steak kabobs, baked potatoes, rice, watermelon and other good treats!

I started eating before I took this picture, so this is my half eaten post race food! 

Another one in the books!

The swag!

If you want a great race at a great price, you can't beat Pocatello! If you are even thinking about this race, register now for the best price! 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Pacing at The Timp Half Marathon and the Hobble Creek Half Marathon

OK, So I got a little behind and never got my Timp Half Marathon report done, so I am combining this post with the Hobble Creek Half Marathon that I pace at last weekend!


So excited to get a few pacing gigs with RYR Pacers this summer! Paced the 2:10 group with my pal Adrian and as you can see we had a blast!

This course is a beautiful and fast!

Added a Canadian Flag in honor or our friend Robert who is battling brain cancer!

Starting selfies!

My awesome pacing partner Adrian!

Rocking the National Anthem!

Smile runners!!

This 11 year old little dude named Bram, hung in with us until the end to finish his first half!

So great to see sweet Meredith at the finish! 

Lucy ran with us too and did great!

Great to see Carl too!

Some Run4Fun group at the finish!


This race is run down Hobble Creek Canyon. I ran this race in 2009 and it was so disorganized I vowed never to run it again. This half marathon has been around since 1994 and it still has issues. The race started late, there were no announcements letting people know when the bag drop was leaving so when the race started (which nobody in the back heard anything), people were running down the canyon holding their drop bags!

Once the race got started everything was great. The volunteers were amazing and the course is awesome with some nice fast downhill in the first half and some nice rollers in the second.  

Our little pace team! This race we paced solo. I paced the 2:30 group, which was hard! Going slow down the hills is tough when you want to open up and go!

My friend Martin was kind enough to drive me to the race! He is from South Africa, so we talked about running the Comrades Marathon, which is on both of our bucket lists!

Pre-race selfie!

I felt so bad for all the people that had to run with their bags down the hill when the gear check truck left unannounced! People eventually started placing their bags at mile markers in hopes someone would bring them down!

Around mile 5 I picked up Jacqueline! This was her first half marathon and she thought she would  finish in 3:30. I could see in the first couple miles with her that she was physically strong enough to stay with me. I just had to push her through the mental sections. When we got to mile 10, she had to call her family to tell them that she was finishing ONE HOUR ahead of schedule! As 8/22/17, results are still not posted, but she came in well under 2:30! I was super proud of her for staying with me!
The Hobble Creek Half is a nice race even with the minor organization issues. Everyone gets a medal, but if you are one on the top 100 men or women, you get an "Elite 100" medal which is pretty cool. I would run this race again.