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Monday, July 31, 2017

#123- The Deseret News Marathon

Pioneer Day is a state holiday in Utah. It is celebrated on July 24 each year to commemorate the entry of Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers into Utah’s Salt Lake Valley in 1847, so as you can imagine it's kind of a big deal here. 

The Deseret News Marathon has been run every year since 1970 and is the oldest road race in Utah. It is always run on Pioneer Day so most years it falls on a weekday and since I don't like to take a vacation day for a local race, I have not run the race in 7 years. Since I have the Yeti 100 coming up in September, I figured I could use the miles and since I got a free bib for working an aid station last year, it was time to give it another go!

The race starts at 5:30AM. That means the buses leave at like 3:30AM. Man that is hard, but if you know July in Utah, you know that it gets HOT here and you want to beat the heat as much as you can. Those last miles are scorchers

Ran into my pal John Bozung on the bus!

When we got up to the start, the temperature was mild. Not as cold as I thought (which worried me for what was to come). We gathered for a quick Maniac picture, hit the port-a-potty and the race started while it was still dark!

Maniac group photo!

The race started in the dark!

Starting at the top of Big Mountain, the first few miles are fast on this course. It is easy to go out too fast. I used a strategy that I know doesn't work, but just wanted to get out of the canyon before it got too hot.

Deseret News Marathon Course Map

You feel like you are flying until you get to mile 7. That is where you have this long climb for about 3 miles until you hit Emigration Canyon. I wanted to save my legs, so I ran-walked this stretch. Once I hit mile 9 or 10, I was flying again.

The scenery on this course is beautiful! 

Around mile 7 you start the long climb!

I took advantage of the walk breaks and took some photos of the scenery!

Now remember when I said I was using a strategy that didn't work? Well even with 2 bathroom stops and run-walking the hills for 3-4 miles, I still hit the half at just under 1:50! That would have been fine if I was stopping at the half and not getting ready to run into what felt like an oven once we left the canyon at mile 15.5!

So great to see my friend Christy working the aid station as we came out of the canyon!

Now, when I got to the aid station just before mile 16, I was still feeling pretty good. We had a lot of cloud cover, so the sun was not beating on us and it was still pretty early. It was so humid though. By the time I hit mile 17, I was overheating. I stopped at the mile 17 aid station and sat in a chair for a minute just to get cooled off. 

When I got out of the chair, I ran about a half mile when (no matter how much I slowed down) my heart rate was out of control and I was really dizzy. I stopped on some grass under a tree and laid in the shade until I could cool off and get my heart rate down. I felt like I was DONE!

Laying there in the grass, I looked down at my Canadian Marathon Maniacs shirt and thought about my friend Robert Merriman, who just last week had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his brain. He is a crazy Canadian, so I wore that shirt to honor him. I know that he would much rather be having a hard day on the road, than laying in a hospital bed fighting for his life. No matter how crappy I felt, I at the very least could run, walk or both to that finish line- and that I did.

We ran past the 2002 Olympic Stadium (see the torch?)It is now home to the University of Utah football team!

I was still feeling horrible, so my new strategy was to run 5 pylons and walk 2. I did this for next 6 miles. It was so hot and I started feeling dehydrated. At mile 23, the LDS missionaries were running an aid station. I grabbed some water and drank some and poured some over my head. 

There is one cool part of the marathon. Just before mile after mile 25, you turn the corner and for one block you are running ON the parade route! There are hundreds of people cheering for you as you run alongside the parade floats. If there is one time you suck it up and run strong, it's on that block!

Now the map shows there is supposed to be an aid station at mile 25, but I didn't see water again until about mile 25.5 (that's 2.5 miles in the heat at the end of the race with no water)! I was DYING at that point and was glad to see them, but at that point we were a couple of block from the finish!

I was on track for a sub 4:00 at the half, but ended up with a sub 5:00 at the finish! I did not run smart, but I got it done!

Running to the finish!

Great to see some Maniac friends! These crazy guys ran 3 marathons this weekend!

After the race I headed straight back to the car and headed straight to work (don't worry, I showered in the gym at work! LOL!)

Back in the office after the Marathon!

Here are some good things about the Deseret Marathon:
1) Early start. Getting done early makes it worth getting up early.
2) Beautiful course (for the first 16 miles).
3) Of course all the volunteers!

Things that will keep me from ever doing this race again:
1) Hot water at the aid stations. When you know it will be 90+ degrees, supply the aid stations with ice to put in the water jugs so runners are not drinking hot water! Grrrrr!
2) Lack of aid stations the last 6 miles. Deseret Marathon- You have been doing this race long enough to know how hot it is. AID STATIONS EVERY MILE FROM 20-26! I don't want to carry a water vest on a road marathon. Also, make sure what aid there is, is in the proper location according to your course map! Grrrrr!
3) Foothill Drive- I just lost all will to live running up Foothill Drive.
4) How about closing 400 S. so we don't have to dodge cars as they drive right behind us and in front of us! Grrr!

Most of these things I could brush off, but when it is so hot, these things can become safety issues for runners. I think next year instead of volunteering at the race, I will set up somewhere to make sure runners have cold water. I might even grab a couple bags of ice for those aid stations from mile 16 on. If the race won't do it, we as runners could help out! 

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Mad Marathon and Half! Marathon Maniacs/Half Fanatics Signature Race Series #3!

Last year Bart Yasso introduced me to the Mad Marathon and I am forever grateful. It is not only one of the most challenging marathons I have ever run, but there are few places more beautiful and quaint than the Mad River Valley and Waitsfield, Vermont in particular, so I was overjoyed when Marathon Maniac founders, Tony, Chris and Steve told me that they picked the Mad Marathon as race #3 of the Signature Race Series!

Since the packet pick up started on Friday, Garret and I flew to Boston and then drove 3 1/2 hours to Waitsfield. It was a nice drive, but I had been up since 2:15AM, so we were happy to get there and get some sleep.

Garret and I in Boston! I look tired because I was! 😉

When we arrived at the Tucker Hill Inn Bed and Breakfast around 10:30PM, we were a little scared that nobody would be there to check us in, but true Vermont fashion (totally chill), the keys to our room were just sitting on the counter with our names on them. 

Our rooms were clean and quaint, they served a wonderful breakfast every morning, and the innkeepers, Kevin and Patti Begin were warm, friendly and accommodating.  I totally recommend this place. 

My room

The lounge area was nice for just hanging out or working on my computer.

The grounds were beautiful and there is a really nice trail head on the property that leads you on a gorgeous trail, perfect for a run or hike. 

On Friday the packet pick-up didn't start until 4:00PM, so Garrett and I drove down to say hi to Race Director Dori Ingalls and offer any help they might need, but they were pretty much set up by the time we got there, so we took a walk around town. We walked about a mile down to the first covered bridge (if you remember my post from last year, this is where Bart Yasso jumped into the river during the shake out run!) It was only 75 degrees out, but the humidity was stifling! I wanted to jump in the river again, but we had to work later so we headed back to check out some of the shops in the area.

Covered Bridge Selfie

One of the shops we went into was a little embroidery shop called Whippletree Designs. The owner Heidi Boettger, was not only friendly and warm, but when I asked her if she could embroider my name and Marathon Maniac number on my jacket, she did it beautifully and at a great price!

Whipple Tree Designs

Not only that, she turned us on to The Mad River Taste Place. This place had only been open for two days, but offered a wonderful selection of local cheese, beer, wine, bread and meats just in time for lunch! Thank you Heidi for the recommendation!

Garrett got the cider flight and I got the flight of the same thing! The Three Cheddar Board was AMAZING!

There are moose in Vermont! 

At 4:00pm the packet pick opened and Garrett and I set up shop. There were not many people stopping by, so we chatted with Bart Yasso and Chuck Engle for a couple of hours (who were there greeting folks) until we all made our way across the street to the park for dinner with Dori, her husband Ian, and some of the other volunteers. It was a great time.

After the band stopped Garrett, Chuck and I ended up back at the Tucker Hill Inn bar drinking wine (thanks Chuck) until we were joined by Tony, Chris and Steve. It was a fun time.

The next morning we were back at the packet pick up ready to greet all the Maniacs and Fanatics!

Garrett and I at our tent ready to go!

So fun to see Carol!

After the expo, we headed back to the Tucker Hill Inn for the Maniac/Fanatic dinner I planned. Again, the folks at the Tucker Hill Inn did a great job. They gave us the entire bar and patio area for the 50 or so dinner guests we had come.

The rain held out for most of the dinner and there was lots of good food and conversation!

After dinner, I went to my room and got ready for race day!

Flat Angie ready to go!

On race day, Dori made sure we were set up! We had some VIP perks and I know everyone appreciated it! Before the start, we gathered for a group photo, and out own Jim Diego sang the God Bless America!

Maniacs and Fanatics at the Finish Line Barn before the start of the race!

Jim knocking it out of the park!

The "Big 3" and I!

I went into our private port-a-potty (one of the VIP perks Dori gave us) and when I came out, everyone was gone! The race had started about 5 minutes early so people scattered to get to the start line. I was running the half and since it was chip timed, I wasn't too concerned. I started the race with about 3 or 4 other people and we were off.

Now, like I said at the beginning, I ran the full last year and that course was HARD! So many hills!! Let me say this, the half was HARD too! Both races would make you want to die if it were not for the spectacular beauty of the courses. I say the same thing about the Mad Marathon and Half as I said about the Kauai Marathon- if you are going to suffer, suffering in Paradise is the way to go!

Dori called the farmer and him bring the cow out for us to see! People said she was smelly, but I thought she was beautiful!

Another covered bridge. 

I couldn't help but thing of the "Tunnel of Trees" in Kauai when I ran through this.

Love this barn.

Baby cows!! ❤❤❤❤

Lots of silos.

When I got back to Bridge Street and I saw the first covered bridge we ran through, I knew I had about a mile to go. The only problem was, I knew it was all up hill and I was hot and tired. When I saw that finish line I was pretty happy! Not only because I was finished, but I knew I would get one of Dori's famous hugs!

Race Director, Dori Ingalls greets EVERY finisher with a hug!

I went straight from the finish line to the Maniac/Fanatic tent to start handing out the beautiful Signature Race Series medals. I was surprised to learn that I was 3rd in my age group!

My fellow AG winners

The Prez won his AG!

I felt like I was at a Disney race with all that bling!

Jim and I after the race!

Jim Diego and I sporting our stripes!

So great to see JC at the race! JC won his bib through my Team Challenge Race Auction!

Jim's photo bomb is the BEST!

Rosie was the resident dog at the Tucker Hill Inn. What a sweet pea!

After a shower and some lunch, we decided that we had to do something every tourist in Vermont HAS to do- hit up the Ben & Jerry's factory tour which was a 45 minute drive form Waitsfield! 

The tour was only $4 and uneventful (it was loaded with bad jokes too), but let's be honest, we were there for the ice cream and it did not disappoint!

Yep, #1 and #2 were half baked!! LOL!

ICE CREAM!!!! ❤❤❤

This sweet little family was crossing the road at the Ben & Jerry's Factory. ❤

Tony, Garrett, Steve and I wound down the day with some take out pizza from American Flatbread! This place is so popular that you have to put your name on the list at 4:00PM if you want to get a seat. They were really great and let us get an order to go 15 minutes before closing! The pizza was AWESOME and just relaxing with friends in the lounge eating it made it even better.

Pizza from American Flatbread

The next morning Steven and I had a date with the trail behind the Tucker Hill Inn! We met in lounge the at 6:00AM and headed out. We headed up the dirt road for about a mile until we realized that we must have missed the trail head somewhere. We went back down and laughed as we found the trail head about 100 yards from the front door of the inn! LOL!

We were lost, but didn't care!

The Prez and I stop for a selfie while trying to locate the trail head!

Now we are on the trail!

The scenery was beautiful!

After the hike we got ready to hit the road back to Boston. Before we left we stopped by the covered bridge for one last selfie! LOL!

One last bridge selfie. Sniff.

We made it to Boston, but before we went to the airport, we HAD to hit Wagamama for lunch!!

Lunch at Wagamama with the boys! 

I felt a little guilty eating Chicken Katsu Curry without Patti K!

After lunch we headed for the airport and home. 

It has taken me a while to write this post for a couple of reasons. One, I have just been busy with other stuff, but this was a difficult piece to write. I LOVE this race. It holds very sweet and tender memories for me with people I care for deeply. I wasn't sure if this year, I could handle it, but it was just fine. I must be a friend to keep a friend, and I did my best. I cannot thank Dori, Steve, Chris, Tony and Garrett enough for their friendship and having faith in me to do a good job.

This race is one of my favorites and if you want the ULTIMATE Vermont experience, the Mad Marathon is not a choice, but the ONLY choice in my book!