In 2015, I ran the Ogden Marathon for the first time at the suggestion of a friend. He was talking about how amazingly scenic, and fast this course was. Offering me a guaranteed entry code, I had to make use of his generosity, and entered.
I wanted to make my 2015 Ogden Marathon attempt my first sub-4 hour marathon. Due to snow at the start, and heavy rain the entire race, I missed that goal by 20 minutes. My primary goal (aside from the standard injury free race) for the 2016 running of Ogden’s marathon event, was a sub-4 hour marathon on that course, secondary was just being faster than 2015. Reasonable enough, given my faster times lately.
Checking weather reports for two weeks leading up to the race, everything looked like an amazing weekend for running. Packing our bags, and rolling out of Vegas early on Friday morning, we had a good, trouble-free drive North to Ogden. A couple stops for fuel, and food aside, we barely had to slow down.
Before we knew it, we were arriving at the athletic compound housing Ogden Marathon’s Race Expo & Packet Pickup. Parking looked to be a challenge, however, we lucked out and found a spot RIGHT up front. Heading inside with our bib numbers, we walked straight up to the bib line, received our bibs, walked a little further, received our bags & shirts, then wandered the Expo for a short while, before heading to the hotel.
Arriving at the always cool Ben Lomond Suites, we walked into the historic lobby, were greeted by amazingly friendly staff, wearing Ogden Marathon shirts, checked us in & let us know of the 3am start time for breakfast! Talk about a nice perk. A brief elevator ride took us up to our floor, where we were again greeted by an interesting hallway layout, leading to our very comfortable, two-room suite.
Following an absolutely delicious dinner of pizza and spaghetti, we laid out our running gear, checking, and rechecking to make sure we had everything. Despite all of this, I nearly left my timing chip on the table next to my bags! Thankfully that did not happen.
A quick time machine mimicking sleep transported us to the wee hours of Saturday morning. I had stressed about waking up at the right time, since my phone was displaying an hour ahead of Utah time, despite my turning off automatic updates for time, it still was not picking up the proper time. Managing to get things figure out, I was awakened by my irritating alarms, on time.
Things seemed to be working out better already, compared to the last couple weeks. I was able to eat my Sun Chips (French Onion flavor) without feeling sick. Realizing that I forgot my warm up pants, I hoped for warm-ish weather at the start. The rest of my running clothes went on, and down the elevator we went.
Walking out the door of the hotel, a line of buses went on for as far as you could see. While debating which bus was for which distance, a running friend from our first Ragnar Relay in 2010 yelled to me. Joining him on his bus, we talked running, shoes, goals, etc.
Arriving at the start line, windshield wipers were going crazy trying to keep the glass clear of the rain. Regretting my decision to not find my TCS NYC Marathon poncho, or bring a space blanket to the start, I threw my hood up, and found a fire to stay warm by.
During the multi hour wait to start running, my mohawk had already been killed by the rain. With half an hour left to the start of this year’s marathon, we had to strip off our outer layers, pack them away, and toss them on the gear check bags. Again, not having a space blanket, or a garbage bag was a regret that came to the forefront of my mind.
Before we began the herd migration toward the start line, my rain soaked body began really feeling the chill of the morning, along with the feeling of socks already storing rain for the next drought. Fortunately, the wait was nearly over. Throngs of people began the slow shuffle onto the road, careful not to slip in the mud, or step into large puddles that littered the ground.
Weaving through the crowd, I overheard some funny comments about the pace group sign, “5:30, is that our pace?” And, “We will be done by 5:30pm this evening?”
Finding the 4:00 pacer, I figured that would be a decent place to start the race. Of course, a downhill start, my anxious legs, disallowed me from sticking to a 9:08.5 pace.
Cruising down the hill, I found a comfortable pace, not pushing it, just letting gravity do the work. Maneuvering through runners ahead of me, I didn’t even realize we were nearly to the 5k point as quick as we were.
It did not take long to be completely soaked, and run up to the 3:45 pace group. I tried to stick with them for a bit, but was unable to, as my legs were feeling good, calling for me to not slow myself down. So, I let my legs do as they wanted, moving beyond that group.
Despite this being my third marathon in three weeks, and fourth in five weeks, I was feeling good, even enjoying the light rain. Feeling so good, in fact, that I caught up with the 3:35 pace group?! How did that happen? Rather than pushing beyond them, I chose to hold their pace for a bit. No sense in really blowing my legs up, if I could help it. My mind went to the possibilities, if I could hold that pace until mile 23, then see what was left in the tank, I could nail my third full marathon PR in 2016, and second in three weeks. What was going on?
We made the right turn toward Huntsville, taking a right-to-left side wind into a head wind. We tried grouping closer, before I pulled away, knowing I would need to make a stop soon.
By mile 8, I had to use the facilities, fortunately it was a quick, stand up stop. Exiting, I tried to avoid my Mt. Charleston facility exit pace, and hold a nice, steady clip. Wanting to catch back up to the group, but not sprint to them, my slow, reel-them-in strategy went into play.
As my watch beeped for mile 11, I could see the red and white balloons of the 3:35 pace group before me. Awesome! Unfortunately, nature called again, dang the cold! Another quick stand up stop behind me, I tried to keep the same strategy in motion.
Going through the half marathon start, I heard the announcer talking about the race, then pulled the mic away from her mouth, but not far enough, before asking for a pair of gloves because, “I’m freezing.” Couldn’t resist asking her, in a sarcastic tone, “You’re freezing?” as I ran past.
I was approaching a section of course that I ran quite well last year, the biggest climb of the race. Pacing next to a lady who was running her first full in a decade, we started chatting some, as much as my frozen mouth would allow, anyway. It was a nice break from silent, solo miles. We commiserated about the weather conditions, and joked about her come back being this race.
At the next aid station, she stopped to hydrate, I slowed to a walk, to not get too far ahead. It only took a moment, then we were back at a decent pace. She was trying to get some calories, but was unable to open the packet. She was making plans to stop at the next aid station, I figured I would keep going a little, as I picked up a few rocks in my shoe somehow, that wouldn’t move to a less annoying spot.
While putting my shoe back on, she made it past me, I think that was the last I would see of that race partner.
Trying to motivate myself to continue, I was thankful for my generic Buff. If not for having put it on to keep my ears warm, the sharp, needle-like rain would have been slamming straight into my ears. To make up for that, it went sideways into my eyes, around my sunglasses. Pools of water sat on my lower eyelid, making it difficult to see. Water sitting on the roadways had white chops from the wind! It is no wonder, posts on Instagram following the race, included a SCUBA suit as appropriate race attire for the 2017 Ogden Marathon.
Frustration, and miserable cold wore down at my will power. I could have kept running, physically. Mentally, I was done. With back-to-back-to-back marathons, for the first time in my running history, I needed a break. A DNF was so appealing, to get out of the rain, as was picking up discarded garbage bags, and space blankets, to try and keep some of the rain off of me.
Pushing those thoughts away, I kept moving forward. At mile 19, my watch beeped, overall pace 8:44, current pace, 8:15. Awesome, still on pace for a sub-4 hour full marathon! I saw the mile 20 sign, checked my watch, still at 19.00 / 8:44 / 8:15. What the heck? Found out at the end, another runner had her Garmin Forerunner 220 freeze mid-race as well. I tried to reset my non-responsive watch, unsuccessfully, while running. Had I held the power button down for another 5 seconds, the watch would have reset, and allowed me to resume the run.
Coming down the hill a little more, watching the normally lazy river roar, with tricky looking rapids, along side the course. I contemplated jumping in, to make it down the course more quickly. Tossing that thought aside, my attention was captured by a new water feature on the course. The intense rain gave birth to a big waterfall to the right of the course.
A few runners, myself included, stopped by to take photos of the waterfall, and selfies with the fall in the background.
Feeling refreshed mentally, from nature’s entertainment, I tried to pick the pace up, to an easy run. Unfortunately, my body was not 100% with me on that. Due to a normally controlled case of exercise induced asthma, constant breathing of cold air irritated my throat like crazy. Every time I tried to run, breathing made me feel like I was going to throw up. Walking was more painful in my cramping calf. Conundrum of the day, run & risk throwing up, or walk & deal with the pain?
I opted for a mixture of both, working toward the finish as quickly, and issue free as I could.
Being that I was wearing my Mt Charleston Marathon tank top for this race, I had spectators commenting on doing this race, after the other. They made comments about doing both halves, and were right in their assertions of my craziness – can’t be a Marathon Maniac & Double Agent, without a bit of crazy!
In 2015, the next turn was at a ‘bacon stop’ where spectators cooked & handed out bacon to the runners. I did not know they were sharing last year, just thought they were taunting us with bacon. Looking forward to a salty snack, I was disappointed to see they were not there this year.
Ducking down onto the running path, and into the tunnel, we were not as inclined to stop, and slow walk this year. The rain had nearly stopped at this point in our race. Exiting the tunnel, there was a gentleman offering “Mormon Muffins” from his restaurant. Risking it, I took one, to try and help my throat & get some calories all in one. It was a moderate success, the muffin tasted like graham cracker cornbread, and did not upset my stomach, while slightly helping my throat.
Run/walking down the course, I kept going, biting my tongue as I saw a sign held by co-eds one of which stated, “You look better from behind”, it took my remaining will power to not comment about their looks (which weren’t bad at all).
Another aid station was ahead, planning to skip it, I spotted my favorite breakfast snack! Grabbing a bear claw, I enjoyed it immensely. Halfway through the treat, the 4:15 pacer went past me. I tried to keep up with them, as we were so close! Not wanting to lose the food, or run while eating, I let that notion pass.
Two turns left.
Left down a block, at the end of which, they gave us dry towels last year.
Left, back tracking the road parallel to the main drag for a few blocks. Runners around me were being cheered on by strange, and familiar spectators alike. Kids ran with parents, while others used noise makers & held signs.
A group of Pepsi people were giving out American Flags to runners, as they passed. Not trusting my hands to keep hold during the transition, I opted not to grab one. Approaching the finish line, I saw a flag lying on the ground. I couldn’t leave it there to get trampled, so I leaned down, swooped it up, and crossed the finish line, flag in hand.
One of the volunteers graciously adorned my neck with a 2016 Ogden Marathon Finisher’s Medal. For a second consecutive year, this medal was definitely earned.
A difference between 2015 and 2016 that I noticed included less enthusiastic/decorated aid stations in 2016. 2015’s volunteers went all out at each aid station, music, costumes, awesome sets, it was great.