A sub 2:50 had been in the back of my mind over the last few months but a few weeks ago I was sure I was more in shape for a 2:53. My coach called me a week before the race and told me I was in shape for a 2:47-2:51 and that’s when I decided that the sub 2:50 had to happen. It’s incredible to me how well my coach can predict exactly where we are based on our workouts and obviously having him believe that I was capable of that time helped me to believe it too.
I love having some sort of theme for each marathon. A few days before this marathon I was watching Steph Bruce’s latest YouTube video called Relentless and she said, “The marathon is more than 26.2 miles, it’s kind of like a journey of self-discovery.”
I wanted this to be a focus for the day… to see what I could learn throughout the race and how I could grow!
I’m doing a full post tomorrow on my exact nutrition and thoughts on my carb depletion so I’ll skip that on today’s post.
We got to the hotel at about 4:30 pm on Friday and I put out all of my gear and laid down for the rest of the day. I went to bed at 9 and woke up at 12:30 am Saturday morning…. wide awake. I was excited, eager to just start and felt like I couldn’t sleep another wink. I tried everything and nothing worked so at 3:30 I started eating breakfast and met Emilee in the lobby at 4:30 to head over to the busses. We met up with our group and got on the busses around 4:50. It was very cold out and I KNEW that meant we were going to have an amazing race. Some years it’s hot at the start so to have the cool air… it was the best.
I wore a pair of the Launch all morning and then switched to the Hyperion right before the race started.
We all chatted a lot on the bus and then when we saw the flags at the start… I was so happy. AN EXTREME TAILWIND.
We got to the start at around 5:30 so we had plenty of time to get everything done before we started at 6:45. Part of the elite bib gave us an area with a lot more bathrooms and we were placed right next to the starting line. We all stood around the fires because it was freezing. I really should have brought a coat or blankets because we were frozen.
My coach gave us a tip to not take caffeine before the race so for the first time in FOREVER, I didn’t. I saved it for mile 16 and have realized that is perfect for me. My stomach felt SO much better without the caffeine in the beginning and it gave me something to look forward to later on in the race. We put everything in our bags and then ran around the starting area for a minute or two as a warm-up ha… we were supposed to get in some strides but ran out of time.
Andrew and the kids picked up my mom and one of my nieces and they left the hotel at 6 to get to mile 7 in time to see us.
The first few miles of the race were very dark. My feet were frozen so they kind of hurt but other than that we felt good. We went into those miles treating them like a warm-up. You just can’t bank time in the marathon… especially on this course. If you go out too fast on this course, you will burn out. You can always make up time later on but going out faster will bite you later.
6:35, 6:50, 6:21, 6:17, 6:23, 6:20 and 6:10. The first few miles have some hills and then the last 3 have some good downhill. We just wanted to go at a pace that felt comfortable and that’s what happened.
I used arm warmers for the first 6ish miles and threw them to Andrew when I saw him at this point because the weather felt perfect. PS the guy in the blue tank top told us he was going for a 2:52-2:55 in the first few miles but we told him to sub 2:50 with us (it’s amazing how helpful it is to work with a group) and he did!
PPS Brooke told me afterwards, ‘that was the first time I’ve seen you smile during a race’… normally she see’s my pain face during a race. I was feeling really good and was able to smile and wave each time I saw them along the way.
The views of this course are my absolute favorites. I feel like there are the perfect amount of spectators. You get a lot of quiet miles but then pockets of A LOT of cheering. The last few miles have a lot of spectators and they are LOUD and so supportive. The volunteers at this race are unlike any race that I’ve done. They cheer so so loud for you and really give you a boost.
One of the biggest things that helped me on Saturday were the elite bottles that I got. I turned them in on Friday at the expo and as soon as we were about 100m away from the table with our bottles, one of the volunteers would radio in our numbers so the people at the table could have our bottles ready to pass to us. It was incredible to have 6 bottles passed to us along the way. I was able to stay so so hydrated throughout the entire race. I held onto each bottle for a mile or two (just used these hammer ones) to really get in almost the entire bottle each time. I also started the race with a small bottle of water to sip on so I had 7 bottles total.
Miles 8-12 are the hardest of the entire course (7:12, 6:51, 6:34, 7:02, 6:43). There is so much climbing and the hill at mile 11 actually felt much harder to me than the Veyo hill at mile 8 which is usually the hardest part for me. I was so thankful to have Emilee to work with the whole time. I was not feeling great during mile 11 at all but I was so thankful to have her to keep up with. We were right next to each other for almost the entire race. We talked a little bit each mile to check in on how the other person was feeling, offering encouragement or random inside jokes that we have. We also both love to talk splits so that happened too during the race. I cannot believe how helpful it was to have her to run with… I think doing this together took me WAY FARTHER than on my own. Knowing all of the work we had done together and that she was feeling how I felt motivated me to keep going because she was.
Our goal was to hit the half-way mark a little under 1:27 and we came through at 1:26:42.
After the half-way mark we decided to just stay in control of the pace until we saw our families at mile 19.5ish again. It was so nice to chop up the race into different sections together and have little things to look forward to. 6:25, 6:27, 6:17, 6:21, 6:14, 6:26, 6:43.
I can only think of 2.5 workouts throughout our training cycle where we really did any marathon pace miles. Our coach had us doing way more faster/shorter intervals and that was key for us. We were so used to doing faster paces that the marathon pace felt a lot more doable. I think part of our coaches plan was to give us workouts that were so crazy hard that they made the race feel easier ha;) Oh and the carb depletion thing… that built another level of mental strength for me!
Starting at mile 20, you really get to cruise the down for the next 5 miles. There are definitely some ups during those miles and always more than I remember… I kept telling Emilee, ‘okay, THIS is the last one… but then it wasn’t ha.” BUT there are also some good cruising miles in this section. This is where, if you pace the race right, you can make up time from the earlier miles.
6:18, 6:04, 6:16, 6:10, 5:59, 6:12.
My watch was set to show average pace, the distance, the timer, lap pace and current pace on one screen (working on a watch review right now). Emilee and I really focused on the average pace of the entire run for this race. We knew what we wanted to hit at the 10k, half, 20 miles and then we knew we had to get a 6:28 average for the entire race to get under 2:50. At mile 20 I think we were around a 6:32 average pace so the numbers REALLY motivated us to get the average pace down to 6:28. I looked at my watch a lot during the last 10k. A lot. But it was motivating to me. I wanted that 2:49 so bad and knowing I was so close to that point really helped me to keep moving during those miles.
Oh and at mile 24 they handed out bags of ice and of course I stuffed it down my sports bra. I never felt hot during the race (and at different points I felt pretty cold) but adding in little changes throughout the race (like ice) switches things up and makes my brain focus on other things besides how tired I am.
We saw our crew again at mile 23.
The last mile of the race is flat and at this point your legs are done from the ups and downs. My breathing felt very controlled during the race (and anytime it wasn’t, I would take 3 or 4 really deep breaths and that helped calm it down) BUT my hamstrings were done at this point. I never felt like I hit the wall or dizzy (like I did the previous year at this point).
I actually felt really good for the last 1.2 miles, moved a tiny bit in front of Emilee and another teammate of mine (before the race we talked about how okay it was if one of us felt good to go!!!) and this picture is from my coach. At this point he told me to tighten up my form which I did and that helped me to pick up my cadence and the pace. 6:13 for final mile and 6:08 pace for the final .2.
Right about here I saw my dad, brother and his crew and Andrew… Andrew started running on the other side of the cones next to me and I absolutely loved that. PS Andrew had to sprint to this point because he almost missed it so my mom was with the kids but they did make it right in time to see me finish! Hearing my family cheering for me really helped me to finish strong. I thought I was going to struggle without music for the entire race but I love how it allowed me to focus a bit more on my goal and hear my family cheering for me (and random people that could see my name on the bib). It’s crazy to me how much that boosts my spirits during a race and to pick up the pace.
I felt the strongest I have ever felt on this final stretch of this course (4th time doing it) which was a fun feeling and to see a 2:49 on the clock… that felt unreal. Hawk (our coach) and his wife have both won this race multiple times. They know this course better than anyone and exactly how to train for it (and marathon training in general)…
All of the trails he had us do, all of the mile repeats downhill, all of the uphill 1k repeats, all of the runs where we jumped up on the trails in the middle of a long run to rush up the mountain, all of the different roads in our areas that mimic portions of the course… really prepared us well and that was a fun feeling. I was able to do every workout he prescribed besides one (when I was nervous about my calf) and it paid off with a 9 minute and 55 second personal record and 9th woman overall.
Here are all of the splits together.
I LOVE writing reminders on my arm the morning before a race.
ABKS—> Andrew, Brooke, Knox and Skye
Smile—> Because every time I smile during a race, the pain lessens.
2:49—> A written goal makes me want it that much more.
Grateful—> Thinking about all of the good makes you forget about the bad. Every time my legs hurt really bad I would think about how happy I was with how great my stomach felt… the best it has ever felt during a marathon. I thought about my family a ton, how grateful I was for my team and how awesome it was to not be injured.
I wonder how many miles Emilee and I ran together since we met in April… probably a lot. Who knows how we got so lucky to be NEIGHBORS, but it sure feels like it was meant to be. At one point I told her that I felt pretty hardcore as we were speeding up in those final miles that between the 2 of us, we have 7 kids. It felt pretty awesome.
Ashley (in the middle) got a sub 2:50 too and it has been SO fun to work together with her over the months.
Pretty much EVERY SINGLE PERSON on our team walked away with a new personal record.
I think our coach was pretty proud.
JEN HAD A 26+ MINUTE PR!!!
I absolutely LOVED having my parents there. They drove down, spent the weekend with us and seeing them was a huge motivator for me. My mom grew up at the track (my grandpa was a huge cross-country and track coach) so I think she really loves seeing me love something her dad was so passionate about. I always feel him there cheering me on… and it gives me goosebumps every time.
So thankful for parents that always taught me to go after what I want and love to talk about it with me along the way.
This group… the best of the best. I am SO happy my brother and his family live in St. George now. They are so much fun and if you ever need someone with the world’s loudest voice to come cheer at your race… I’ll send my brother. I could hear him from a block away:)
The kids know I run and that I love to run but they really don’t know much about it because I am usually home before they wake up each morning so having them there seeing me doing my thing means a lot. And they were champs for waking up so early!
I stayed and talked for a little while and our kids went back with my brother and his family while Andrew and I checked out of the hotel (and I showered really quick because I WAS SO COLD afterwards).
I took 9th woman overall and the week leading up to the race I felt like a sub 2:50 was more doable than being in the top 10. This race brings a lot of the fastest people in the state so I was beyond thrilled about this along with a $275 prize, a gift card to the running store, a big blanket and chocolates.
And now time for all of my random thoughts in one place.
*This training cycle really has taught me to allow myself to dream SO much bigger. I’ve always placed a cap on myself that a 2:59 would be the fastest I would ever be able to run a marathon. It wasn’t until I met Emilee and started working with this team that I started really really really believing that I had faster in me. If we can just get our brains to truly believe something, we can make it happen. It’s really fun to defeat the weird limits we set on ourselves.
*Emilee and I were debating on whether or not to wear sunglasses for the race and we decided to bring them… SO glad we did. Unless on this course you have cloud cover for the entire race you need to bring sunglasses or wear a visor because the sun is in your eyes for a good chunk of the second half.
*I thought about what a friend told me before my race a lot: “Be patient until it’s time not to be.” It’s so easy to go out faster than you should because you feel so good but the patience is key and then you get the reward when it’s time to go, because you can go!
*I finished the race and felt a lot better than I did last year (I was in the med tent). I felt really good BUT I did have a bad case of runner’s cough. It almost feels like I have asthma as soon as I stop but I don’t have the problem at all during the race! I couldn’t get enough air once I stopped.
*When I got really tired at the end I kept thinking… ‘well, at least I’m not running a 50 miler.’ The ultra helped me with my endurance (a lot) but also my mental game because that was BEYOND hard for me. I knew that if I could do that, I could do this.
*I LOVE being stubborn about my goals now. Of course there are race days where things don’t happen the way we want them to but if the choice is up to me on whether or not to hit my goal or slow down, I love being stubborn about what I want with running. We have the choice!
*Like I said earlier, working together with people during a race helps me SO much. One thing I noticed was that when I would say something to Emilee out loud (like… we are GOING to get this) it was even more effective for my mental game than just saying it in my head. Saying it out loud made it more real. SO if I do do a race by myself in the future, I’ll probably be talking out loud to myself a lot.
*This marathon just means a lot to me. Andrew and I both grew up in St. George and I have so many amazing memories there (we even got engaged in this area). The views are unreal and Andrew and I always say that if we could move there, we would:)
*Future thinking is not my friend. The second I start worrying about how I am going to feel in 5 miles is the second I start feeling terrible. If I ask myself if I am doing what I need to do in the mile, right now… I feel so much better and like I can do it!
*At the finish line they gave us wet towels to wipe our hands… I swear they knew how badly I hate sticky hands at the end of a race. Also, does anyone else feel like they are going to have 6 new cavities at the end of a marathon? All of the gels and gatorade make my teeth feel like a thick layer of sugar is on them.
*I AM SO GLAD I took two days off a few weeks ago when my calf was feeling off. I would have been so sad if I had missed the race because of an injury, taking a few days off is ALWAYS worth it.
*The taper is nuts. Emilee and I both really felt terrible the week leading up to the race (although on Friday we felt better). On Thursday it felt like I had the flu because I was so tired and just felt so off. Our bodies get used to running and then when we back off during the taper they go a little crazy before being ready to peak on race day. If your taper feels awful, welcome to my taper club.
*Andrew has supported me more than I could ever imagine this training cycle. The pep talks, arranging his work schedule perfectly, helping me get out the door the mornings I didn’t want to, making sure I always had the perfect meals before big runs/races, finding me the coolest gear and the list goes on and on. This last weekend he took over on everything (kids, running to the store, picking up dinner, you name it) so I could truly just focus on the running and relaxing leading up to the race. I am so grateful for him.
*I’m a big fan of getting a vitamin b injection leading up to a race (completely allowed… just vitamins:). Maybe that is why I woke up at 12:30 wide awake but either way, I feel like it really does help with my energy levels for a race.
*I think the carb depletion 100% worked for me and I’ll talk more about that tomorrow in my post.
*Keep chasing those dreams and I’ll be spending a lot of time recovering, staying up late with Andrew, eating candy and cuddling with the kids in bed each morning. This training has been the most fun ever and I’m working on a post right now about what I believe helped to get almost a 10 minute pr.
*Saturday felt like a DREAM… worth every single mile over the last 10 years of training for different marathons.
Thanks for reading this novel and for all of your support. I am VERY grateful for your friendships and all of the things I have learned from you.
Who has a race coming up soon? Anyone running St. George?
Where did you grow up?
Best sign you have seen during a race?
WHAT WAS THE BEST PART OF YOUR WEEKEND?