I remembered to post this on RunnerForums.com, but did not publish the post here.
Race Date: 03/29/2014
Location: Hurricane, Utah
Start Line Temperature: Approx. 40° F
Weather Conditions at Start: Clear, calm skies. Surprisingly – 0 wind.
Start Time: 8:04am
In an attempt to alleviate any stress for packet pickup, the wife and I took Friday off, so we could head up to Hurricane, Utah earlier than after work. Getting into Hurricane without issue, we made our way to the location that was holding packet pickup. Apparently, this place was very popular for events.
Parking in the lot next to the address we were given, we checked out what looked like a Triathlon bike exchange point, or cyclocross bike storage area. Tents were set up, with bike related vendors, as well as announcers talking about their event. OK, no problem. We’ll just go inside and get my packet.
All of the doors were locked on the parking lot side of the building. There were no signs directing marathon runners to any particular entrance. We walked around the entire building, there were no signs anywhere, and each set of doors was locked.
Finally, we made it to the far side of the building, and I tried each of the doors to that entrance. It seemed pointless, as the place looked shut down. Fortunately for me, I tried the doors, as there was a way in!
Packet pickup was just down the hall and was very quick. There were no vendors to check out, just a simple in and out, getting my bib and safety pins, a paper course map and my event shirt, with draw string bag.
Heading back toward St. George, we made it to a late dinner, and back to the hotel. It was not the worst Race Eve night sleep I’ve ever had. The Lexington Center Hotel & Conference Center has comfy beds and was pretty quite that evening.
The next morning, final race preparation took place. Trying to keep my daily routine as normal as possible, we headed to the dining area for the hotel’s free breakfast. A couple, moderately OK peanut butter and jelly sandwiches later, and we were nearly ready to go. I gave all of my gear a last once-over before the short, 20 minute drive to Hurricane.
Once again, we found ourselves at a very popular start line venue, fortunately for me, there was a ball propping one of the doors open. I was able to warm up, and stay warm, in the heated hallways with a number of other runners.
When it was a few minutes from the scheduled start time, we started congregating at the start line, as the announcements were being made. We were given the signal about 4 minutes after the scheduled start time… and we were off!
I was a little confused as to why a chip timed event was not starting over a timing mat. Oh well, will have to see how the finish was, before worrying too much. Besides, 26.2 miles laid before me, what’s the point in stressing a couple feet from the start line?
I found a comfortable pace, within a group of friends that were joking around as we made our way down the course. The first slight up-hill had them exaggerating over the extremeness of the first climb of the day’s race.
Through the first 5k, I felt great. My pace was comfortable, legs were strong and breathing was easy. I managed to not even have a hint of desire for a drink until almost the mile 5 aid station.
By the time I reached the mile 5 aid station though, the different food for breakfast was starting to be rather painful in the intestinal area. Making a quick stop, I was thankful to be the first runner in distress at that station.
Getting back to speed, or what I thought was my previous pace, I moved along quite well. It did not take me long though, to realize I was speeding along a bit too quick. Catching up to those runners I was with before my stop at mile 5 should not have happened so easy.
Just past mile 7, we reached the peak of the first half of the marathon. The next nine and a half miles would be downhill, with some minor, minor climbs. Letting gravity do the work, I just focused on turn-over and keeping a foot in front of me, so my face did not meet the ground.
Through Sand Hollow State Park, there were no mile marker signs, which started a conversation between another runner (Des Moines) and myself. We parted ways, for now, and kept running our races. That mile 7.2 descent was a blast.
Up to the 18 mile mark, my average pace was sub-9ish. That last mile before the climb, Des Moines and I were lost in conversation and ended up speeding up a tad too much. The 500 foot climb, that I did not think would be a problem, ended up slowing me way down. Way, way down. My first double digit minute/mile pace occurred up that hill.
It did not seem so bad when looking at the elevation map, nor did it look so bad while driving up it. Apparently, this is hindsight talking, a 450 foot climb over the course of 2.75 miles – at mile 17 of a marathon, is tougher than I thought.
The remaining miles were a run/walk, which was more and more draining, as the temperature climbed a bit from the start time 40. This strategy helped me keep from completely killing my overall race pace.
My wife was meeting me at random points throughout, to snap some race photos and refill my hydration system with some Gatorade that I knew was mixed how I like it. At one of the stops, there was a guy being assisted next to her car, as it was his first marathon and we later confirmed, he had to pull out with bad cramps around mile 20.
A little ways beyond the 20 mile mark, we ran through some nice neighborhoods, saw some gorgeous horses, chickens that were making sure weeds were not a problem, and some wide open fields. It was nice to have some scenery, after some of the less eye catching portions of the course.
One of the aid stations beyond mile 20 though bothered me. Well, not the aid station, but the race organizer that stopped by to chat with the aid station volunteers. He was referred to as ‘Righteous Dad’ by one of the girls at the aid station. My problem with this ‘Righteous Dad’ was his situational awareness.
When a marathon is being ran along narrow 2-lane roads, with runners who don’t know which side of the road they want to/are supposed to run on, and is open to traffic, it is not a wise move to park at a 15° angle, blocking oncoming traffic and funneling runners into a 24″ wide space between your truck and the aid station. Aside from traffic swerving around him, luckily avoiding runners, runners were severely hampered entering and exiting the aid station, as the runners getting liquids were held up by those in front of them, trying to get past the truck.
I saw this same guy facing the wrong way in traffic at a number of stops the rest of the race.
At mile 24, a volunteer helped keep me on course in a section that had a strange dog-leg bit of routing. Only 2.2 miles to go, so I forged on ahead.
Joking with some volunteers, I kept myself going and finally rounded the last corner.
Seeing the finish line, as it usually does, energized me and let me find that last bit of energy I had put away for a final push toward the finish line.
Crossing the finish line, I was shocked that I managed a 4:19:07. Another 20 minutes off my last full, which was absolutely not my goal for the day. I just wanted to take it easy and finish injury free.
Gathering my medal, stopping my watch and taking a drink, I was glad to be done! I went inside, grabbed a banana and some pizza, then wandered back out to cheer on more runners as they finished.
– Small race
– Well supported (despite ‘Righteous Dad’)
– Challenging course (who wants a cake walk?)
– Friendly and encouraging spectators, even if they were a bit sparse
– Course signage was… lacking. I started out thinking there was no signage anywhere, which led me to run faster than I planned, so I could keep people who (seemed to) know where they were going in view. By the end of the race, I realized the orange and white traffic pylons were the course markers. One before the corner, one after the corner, to let you know where to go. This was good, except when we were leaving, we went backward on the course to cheer on runners, and saw people cutting the course at mile 24, where a volunteer kept me on course.
– Race photography. I saw photographers taking photos of people before me and heard them clicking away after I ran past. When I approached, she put down her camera and smiled at me. Good thing my wife brought the camera, or I wouldn’t have any photos from the race itself, just two photos from the finish line.
– Timing wasn’t exact. Everybody’s start time was based off gun time. This wasn’t a major deal, I suspect, as there were only 180 starters, so there was not a large difference in crossing the start line from the first to last runner.
– Runners running all over the place. Down a two lane road, there was a group of 5 ladies (Marathon Mommas they call themselves) running 5 wide, blocking all traffic. Another time, there was a couple blocking one lane, as cars were trying to use both lanes. Some better instruction on where runners should be – as well as runner common sense, would be good.
SandHollow Marathon 2014 was a good and enjoyable race – despite that climb at mile 18. I definitely don’t regret signing up for $39. If I was to actually train – I know, I know – I keep saying I am going to do that at some point; if I was to actually train, I feel that I could do a bit better here. This race did show me that I have a sub-4 hour marathon in me, as long as I can keep moving, and don’t let a hill slow me down that much.