The St. George Marathon continues to be my favorite race ever. It took me about 10 months to try out a marathon again after the last one, Tucson, and I’m happy to say I’m back! Saturday reminded me that I am still a strong runner (even though I had forgotten this big time in terms of the marathon) and it reminded me of why I love races so much. It just took me 8 other tries at the marathon to get a little bit smarter about my pacing and fueling strategy and while yes, there will still be plenty of crazy hard and not so great marathons in the future, I think Saturday taught me a lot.
This year my absolute favorite part of the whole thing had to be seeing these three along the way. They gave me just the boost I needed before Veyo (the largest hill of the entire race), emotional energy for the last 5k and excitement to finish off the last .2 miles. They were also at mile 16 but I just barely missed them—> Andrew was running up a huge hill with Knox on his shoulders and Brooke in the stroller and I ran past right as they got to the top but I felt their cheering.
I teared up every time I saw them and felt an overwhelming amount of love from them. Last year I had a lot of GI issues right before this marathon so my doctor told me to sit it out… my dating life was at an all time low and I remember just sitting on my couch the morning of the marathon and crying like crazy. On Saturday I felt so much gratitude for what this year has brought me and how much different this first Saturday in October was compared to that first Saturday in October of 2015. Don’t know how the heck this all happened but I say about 500 prayers of thanks a day because of it.
Healthy heart, healthy body, healthy brain and healthy gut for the first marathon in the history of me.
Let’s start at the beginning (FYI this is going to be A LONG post). Friday night I got into bed at 9 pm and was scrolling through Instagram while completely nervous before falling asleep and I came across this from Lauren Fleshman. It was exactly what I needed to read to help me fall right asleep instead of staying up and worrying. I wanted to live in better conditions than freaking out over a race. It worked.
My alarm went off right at 3:55 a.m. I woke up feeling really awake. Even though it was so early, I still got around 6.5 hours of sleep plus on Thursday night we got a ton of sleep too. Andrew stayed up watching the BYU football game so I don’t think he felt the same as me;) But he was up right away already starting his pep talks. I got dressed real quick, grabbed my stuff and we were off to the buses by 4:25 a.m. I ate my first plain bagel in the car and drank a full bottle of water.
Andrew makes the best coach. As we were driving he had nothing but positive things to say and how proud of me he was. Then he told me to REALLY REALLY try to hold back. He knows (like we all do ha:) that I FLY and DIE in most of my marathons. We were talking about paces and I said I really wanted to run 7:15-7:20s and just hold on for as long as I could (aka fly and die for my current fitness level). He told me he would LOVE to see me hold back until mile 16 and then go for it. Usually when someone tells me to do that I just shake my head and nod and tell myself to continue to do what I always do. When Andrew said it… it sunk in and I felt so good about this plan. I determined to run about a 1:40 for the first half and then let it go. For where I was with my training that sounded like an easyish effort and then I could let myself see what I could do.
We said our goodbyes and he went back to where we were staying and texted me the entire time until the gun went off.
When we got to the bus line-up it was raining really hard!!! I was happy about that because I think it cooled things down outside a bit. I found Josse and her mom and one of our friends and we jumped on the bus. One of the many reasons why I love the St. George Marathon… it is so incredibly organized. Every part of it. They make it so easy for the runners to just do what we love to do—> run. They do everything else for us so we don’t have to stress.
Thanks Josse for the picture.
The bus ride took about 40 minutes (I think) and before we knew it, we were there at the start, waiting. We just sat and talked and saw a few friends. St. George sets up a bunch of fires to keep everyone warm, they have plenty of water, gatorade and a million porta potties. I think the longest we waited in line for one was about 6 minutes.
We laughed about some of our favorite moments from training and neither of us felt very nervous, it was marvelous. There have been many starting lines where I was too nervous to even talk… I think I am done with those because that is not fun for me. I drank more water and then ate a Honey Stinger waffle about 30 minutes before we lined up in our corrals.
KATIE rocked her marathon. I was so beyond happy to see her at the beginning! Way to go girl!!!
The National Anthem was absolutely beautiful and I was so ready for that gun to go off to get started on this course. The race started at 6:53 and we were all off!
PS there was a lady at the race that had done this marathon EVERY SINGLE YEAR that it has been around—> that is 40 times!!!
I set off with the girls and our first four miles were 7:37, 7:38, 7:21 and 7:21. I didn’t talk to anyone (Josse and I talked about this before the race so she knew I was going to be quiet:) because I really wanted to conserve energy. I wanted those miles to be about focusing on my form, my breathing, my rhythm and doing the opposite of what I normally do on race day. At about mile 4 I fell behind Josse and one of my friends because I knew I needed to slow down a bit because I started to feel like I was going too fast for my goal of holding back.
The next few miles were a 7:33, 7:14, 7:17 (major downhill for those two miles) and then I saw my crew. Andrew was standing there holding both kids and they had a sign for me. It was the huge boost I needed before going into mile 8 and part of mile 9—> About 290 ft of UP, aka Veyo (Mile 8 was 8:32 and mile 9 was 7:48). It is kind of a scary hill when you look at it (okay really scary) so I don’t look at it. I don’t even care about my pace on this hill, I just care about getting up the dang thing alive without wasting all of my energy. I count steps during this part for awhile because it distracts me from thinking about how you have 18ish miles to run after this killer hill—> not good for my mental game so I think about anything other than that.
Oh and these three were an amazing distraction. I slapped their hands while I went by and Andrew and I said a few words and then I was off. They drove about 45 minutes to get to this spot for the few seconds I would see them but those few seconds sure meant the world to me.
I didn’t get out my phone for a while but I’ll tell you what happened from there. The next few miles were an 8:03, 8:20 (76 ft of climbing but my heart rate felt high so I pulled back a bit), 7:48 and 7:27. I didn’t listen to music for the first half of the race. I actually didn’t want to listen to anything that entire time because I knew a fast beat wouldn’t help my game plan for the day and the scenery of this course is incredible. I just wanted to soak it all in, including the bright pink clouds from the sunrise.
Once the sun came up, we had a few miles with the sun behind the clouds, some areas that were shaded from the mountains and then a lot of time with the sun right on us (and I kept telling it to go back behind the clouds again). A few of you recommended wearing a visor so I bought one on Friday night at the expo (it is a St. G Marathon one) and absolutely loved it. I am now a running visor addict and will slowly be building up my collection. It kept the sun from my eyes and face while letting the heat from my head escape. Perfect.
I got to the first half at 1:40:41 miles and felt proud that I truly felt like I had practiced patience in the marathon. It was amazing. Usually I wonder at this point how I am going to hold my pace for ANOTHER 13.1 miles but Saturday I still felt fresh and like it was time to really pick it up a little bit. I was still a little cautious and told myself to get to work now but to REALLY let go at the 20 mile mark. Maybe I held back a little bit too much but I would rather have had that than bonking from going hard too early.
Josse. My dearest Josse. Before the marathon we made the pact to run together if we could but if one person was having an amazing day then to let them go for it. She was ahead of me for a little while so I assumed she was going to crush it but at the top of one of the hills (I think around mile 11) I caught up to her and ran beside her for a few minutes and then we separated again. She had been really sick the last few weeks and her body just wasn’t in for the marathon on Saturday. She has done 33 marathons now (along with a 3:01 on the St. George course) but it just wasn’t her day. I kept looking back to see her (she did finish even though she felt so awful!!!) but I lost her. She is a strong woman and we have a whole lot of races together in the future. At the finish line we talked about how amazing our training was together over the last few months and sometimes the Marathon Gods are just angry and things go awful. I’m so lucky to have her.
This is my favorite part of the entire course. It is about mile 15-16 I think and it is stunning. There were people paragliding, drones and and even a helicopter going over us towards the beginning. Andrew made it to this point but I just missed him although he saw me so he packed the kids up to make it to his next spot. Splits 14-19 were 7:32, 7:14, 7:11, 7:18, 7:26, 7:42)
I managed one really awesome selfie while I was out on the roads. I’m sure you are happy about this.
Let’s talk fuel. I think I consumed about 600 calories before the race (more than usual but also I took them earlier than normal to avoid stomach cramping) and I have fallen in love with huma gel (100% all-natural ingredients and 100 calories per packet) and my electrolyte drink. I decided to avoid gatorade (I think it drives my stomach nuts while running) and carry a small water bottle of my clean energy drink with me.
It was so nice to have little sips along the way throughout the whole race and plenty of water.
I took 3 gels along the way (I think mile 8, 12 and 20… I was a little off from what I normally do) and like I said yesterday, huma gels are SO much easier on my stomach and they taste a whole lot better than gu too. I looked forward to eating them rather than my normal FORCE FEEDING during a race because the fuel is so hard to ingest, the weird texture and the flavor is too sweet. Two of my gels had caffeine in them too.
I drank one cup of water and then poured another cup of water on myself and then sipped on this drink for the entire marathon. I’m in love with it. It worked perfectly for me. I found Vega a few months ago and it has been a really good thing for my running. The electrolytes helped with all of my summer running and I loved the energy this one provided.
Mile 20 was where I decided it was go time. 20-26.2—> 7:06, 6:58, 7:20, 7:02, 6:58, 6:58, 7:09 and 1:11 for the last .2. For the last 8ish miles of the race I was never passed but felt really strong and kept going. I was waiting to hit a wall or feel that low low low that I normally feel but it didn’t really happen until about the last .5 miles that I started feeling pretty tired. I saw Andrew and the kids at mile 23 and said our hellos and I was excited to see them again in just another 5k. I blasted my music back on and got to work.
Really, the hardest miles throughout the course are in the first half and then a nice hill in mile 19 (that one burned nicely) and then the last 2.5 ish miles that are flat and hot in the city. By the time you get in the city it is hot (it was about 76 degrees while I was there) but the course support is fabulous. They have bags of ice they hand you (I stuff them in my sports bra and it feels so nice), cold towels, lots of water, people spraying you with water, otter pops (I had a grape one:) and the whole town is out watching and cheering us on. The last 2ish miles are hard but all of the energy from everyone out makes it also the most fun part.
The cheering crew got to mile 26 a little bit before I got there and waited!
I was so happy to see them and they could cheer crazy loud.
And just a few more pics from the last little bit.
The beautiful finish line. This finish line made me excited about marathoning again. After a few pretty hard marathons of either being in a med tent or being so ridiculously cold and not really being able to walk afterwards (Boston… I’m looking at you;), it felt pretty amazing to finish a marathon strong. It brought back my love for the marathon which had been gone for awhile.
I finished in 3:15:14. I followed Andrew’s advice and finished strong and happy rather than my normal shoot out fast and hold on to dear life and feel like heck those last 7ish miles. It really worked out well for me to run like that and now the goal is to run smart (for me… we all have different strategies that works best for our own bodies) but for those paces to get faster… aka my hold back pace will feel the same but be faster and same for the push-it phase.
What all the splits look liked together:
Splits: 7:37, 7:38, 7:21, 7:21, 7:33, 7:14, 7:17, 8:32, 7:48, 8:03, 8:20, 7:48, 7::27, 7:32, 7:14, 7:11, 7:18, 7:26, 7:42, 7:06, 6:58, 7:20, 7:02, 6:58, 6:58, 7:09, for the last .2 it took me 1:11. 3:15:14—> average pace of 7:27
First half—> 1:40:41
Second half—> 1:34:33
The last 10k of the race was my fastest portion which I was really happy about.
It’s always fun to see what your heart rate is throughout a race… those last few miles were high!
It was crazy easy to find the family after the race and grab a bunch of drinks before we just sat down in the grass talking (after a huge hug from Andrew… I don’t know how he didn’t mind hugging me after a full marathon ha:)
Love this medal.
A nice smoothie cheers.
This sweet friend of mine brought me a donut (she is quite the marathoner herself!!!). We used to live by each other so I was very excited to see her again! PS Knox met her and five seconds later they were best friends… I’m telling ya, he is the friendliest!
I was so happy to see Beth again (we first met at the Tucson marathon last year)!!! It was her husband’s first marathon and she is off to do the Chicago Marathon this weekend! GOOD LUCK BETH and all of you running the Chicago Marathon!
PS having Brooke on my shoulders was not my idea… I will do whatever it takes to keep those kiddos happy though when they woke up at 6 something in the morning to come cheer me on—> including hanging out on my shoulders!
And to leave you finally with a bunch of random things about this marathon and marathons in general!
*The less I look at my pace and the more I listen to my body during a marathon the happier I am. I love to have a general idea of where I am at and to help myself slow down in the beginning. Really tuning in with my body (not listening to music for the first half really helped me to do that), being okay with people passing me and practicing patience are my new go to for this distance.
*There are 17 aid stations along this course. The volunteers at each are so nice and usually on both sides of the street. They have water and gatorade, some have gels/bananas and a lot of them had volunteers with Vaseline and IcyHot for the runners. The amazing spectators at the race always have stuff for the runners too… I had an otter pop and a lifesaver mint (it sounded so good at mile 24 ha).
*I’m sore but not bad at all… I want to run again already but have to remember that even if I’m not sore—> the marathon causes a lot of wear and tear on our muscles all the way down to our cells. Recovery is a must and I’ve really got to take a few days off and when I do start to run again, keep it extra smart. I hate injuries and don’t want to set myself up for one by jumping back in too fast.
*This course. I really can’t recommend it enough. I know I haven’t done a million marathons all over the place so I guess my opinion doesn’t matter too much but really… it is my favorite. It is stunning and the town makes a huge deal over it. The whole thing just makes me happy and maybe it is because it is in the city that Andrew and I are both from;) PS I told you that we went to the same elementary one year right… I bet we saw each other:)
*If you aren’t going up in this marathon, you are going down for sure (except the last little bit is flat). Make uphills and downhills your very best friend during training.
*My average cadence was 166 steps per minute. Something I continually need to work on.
*Being positive all week leading up to the race really did make a difference. I was nervous the night before the race but other than that I had decided earlier that it wasn’t really fair to my family to be a mess for weeks leading up to the race just because I was nervous. It wasn’t going to help my running or make life any better (for anyone involved) so I got over it. Less pressure on myself = heaven.
*I used to think I was only a good angry runner so I asked Andrew to be a jerk for the first time in his life the night before the race but he didn’t know how. Turns out I like being a happy runner more than an angry runner!
*Don’t lean back on those downhills… that will kill your legs by the end. Try to stay perpendicular to the downhill!
*It’s sad but I think I’m already thinking about this marathon next year. Let’s all meet-up there mmkay?
*I LOVE that you don’t really make any turns on this course. You are on one road the entire time until the final 2ish miles and even then you just make a few turns. No thinking involved for me:) Just run. One foot in front of the other.
*Don’t be afraid to dump water all over yourself in a race if it is hot. It felt so good and I noticed a little pep in my step after doing this!
*One of the things I love about this blog more than anything else are the amazing tips and help that you guys give to me. I owe you guys big time because I learn so much from you and love hearing what you use/do in running and life:) Everything from fuel to visors to music… you guys always help me so much.
Who is running the Chicago Marathon this weekend? Tell me your goals and what you are excited for!
What is your favorite thing to eat right after a race?
Last race that you ran? What would you rate it on a scale from 1 (not great) to 10 (amazing)?
Who has done the St. George course? What were your thoughts?
What was the HIGHlight of your weekend?