Where do I even start with this one, ha? Grab some snacks and your water (or beverage of choice) because this one will be long.
First, you better believe I am insanely happy about a new pr on a net downhill course. I feel so proud because I know I truly left everything I had for the day out on the course, BUT I also want to talk about what went wrong in terms of my A goal (2:44). I want to talk about where I can improve because while I’m so happy I hit a PR, I am hungry for more! Training is like a giant puzzle; I want to write down and remember what puzzle pieces are still needed or what I want to remember next time.
Things started at 12:30 am. I woke up and was wide awake (which didn’t worry me because I did the same thing in 2019 and had a magical day). I felt what my kids feel on Christmas morning. My excitement was through the roof, and I couldn’t sleep. So, I listened to Deena Kastor podcasts while I tried to fall asleep. I don’t remember which episode it was on (sorry!!), but she talked about strengthening the angel (the positive thoughts) on one shoulder and letting the devil (negative thoughts) on the other shoulder atrophy when you are running. It hit me, and I decided that would be the theme of my race. Both sides WILL show up on race day, but we get to choose which one we put the focus on.
I fell back asleep for a little bit, and then my alarm went off at 4. I felt energized and ready to go. I went with bread in the morning because I couldn’t handle the bagels anymore. I ate a slice at 4, another at 4:30, two more slices at 5, and a maurten at 5:30. I drank Gatorade and water, and my gut felt great the entire race.
They let Andrew drive us to the starting line, so that was a blast. The kids were with us, and I couldn’t believe how happy they all woke up (naps were needed in the afternoon for all of us;). We made it to the start at about six and went into our corral to use the restrooms and hang out for a bit. I took another Maurten (caffeine) at 6:45 and just wanted to get moving. I warmed up my hamstring (so many leg swings) and dropped off my gear on the bus before lining up at the start. The thing about St. George is it brings together your Utah runners that you’ve trained with over the years. It’s like Utah’s runner’s reunion, and the energy is contagious being all together.
The gun went off at 7, and the first 10k felt heavenly. There was a tailwind, and I felt like we were jogging. We were hitting our splits well. I got a little nervous when I missed getting my first bottle of Gatorade (they didn’t have mine… I think it was given to someone ahead of me… and my bottle not being there ended up happening for 50% of my bottles ((mostly all in the beginning)). I was really relying on those electrolytes because Maurten gels don’t have them and that was the only fuel I was taking throughout the course.
I saw Andrew and the kids at the 10k and gave him my sunglasses because they were annoying me on top of my head and told him to give them to me at mile 19 when I would next see him. That was silly because I started to need them about a mile later. Seeing Andrew and the kids put me in the best mood, and I looked at him like… get ready for a perfect day.
Once we started climbing Veyo hill (the most challenging part of the course), I lost my friends. This is what always happens in workouts because they are stronger uphill runners, and I can usually catch up on the downhill because that is my strength, but I never caught back up (they both ran 2:45… UNREAL, so inspired by them).
Usually, at this marathon, I feel cold for the first 10k and need gloves on… the race also normally starts a bit earlier. This year, I felt hot quickly, and once the sun was out and beating on us, it took so much mental strength for me to stay positive. I kept saying to myself, “what fun would it be not to have some challenges?” or “the sun is bringing out your warrior side,” or “look at those amazing runners ahead of me in the same temperature, they are goals.”
I stayed on pace for the first 14 miles (I knew I needed to be under 90 minutes at this point to keep matching my pacing chart from my coach), which I was ecstatic about because the first half is much harder than the second half. I had imagined letting LOOSE in that second half because I love downhill running, and the second half is very downhill. I thought I would surely manage a 6:25 average for the first half and a 6:05 average for the second half to get an overall 6:15 average. It’s how I run this course each time… usually a 4-5 minute negative split.
When I got to the downhill section, I couldn’t get my legs to do what I wanted. That could have been because I went out too fast or because of the heat or because my hamstring was hurting more on the down than the up, or because I was low on liquids (I tried to get in cups of liquid, but I just didn’t manage to get in much and because I was trying to get my bottles at the water stations… I was very grateful I didn’t put my gels on the bottles and miss out on those).
I got to mile 16, and my legs felt like they did at mile 26 at Boston a few months ago (could have also been because the marathon Gods only allow days that feel like pure heaven seldomly;). I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to quit so early in a marathon in my life. That scared me, but I continued to give that love to the angel on my shoulder, telling me good job… Telling me to be stubborn about my goals and that I was lucky to get to do this. I am so happy I didn’t lose to the ‘quit’ thoughts.
So, I held on. I haven’t run that much alone in a marathon in a very long time (since 2018), and I missed working with a teammate, but the experience strengthened me. I can’t tell you how many races my mental game fell apart when I fell off the pace. But I held it together, and that took me to a pr. I stayed in the mile without thinking about anything ahead and asked myself, ‘are you doing your best at the moment?’ I could answer yes each time, so even though it wasn’t what I wanted, I knew I was doing my best!
I don’t remember a lot from the last few miles. I yo-yoed with a girl in the last few miles, but other than that, it was a ‘right foot, left foot, right foot’ feeling. I just told myself to keep moving and to smile often!
I saw my brother and his family right at 26, and they yelled so loud, which helped me pick up the pace for the final 90 seconds.
Here were my splits–> 6:16, 6:33, 6:09, 6:04, 6:12, 5:57, 5:49, 7:08, 6:50, 6:40, 6:58, 6:28, 6:12, 6:17, 5:58, 5:54, 6:14, 6:14, 6:48, 6:28, 6:11, 6:38, 6:26, 6:23, 6:35, 6:33 & 6:05 pace for last .2.
(My nieces had a cross country meet that morning too!)
And 2nd in my age group!
Now for all of the random things, I didn’t remember to put in during the bulk of the post:
*My nutrition went perfectly, and my gut was extremely happy. 2 gels before the race (1 normal and 1 caffeine), 1 maurten at mile 4, 1 maurten at mile 8, 1 caffeine maurten at mile 12, 1 caffeine maurten at mile 16, 1 maurten at mile 20… my shorts were magic to carry all of those in without a problem). I am happy to have found the perfect combo of calories for my marathoning.
*Andrew handed me a bag of ice each time I saw him (which is legal in this race). It saved me! I put ice in my mouth, and down my shirt (front and back), and I was so grateful.
*$325 for 7th woman, which justifies the four pairs of Nikes I have recently purchased;)
*At the end, one of my training friends cried to me because of how much these new relationships have meant to her. It was so clear to me that that is truly what I love about training these days. There will be a point when PRs don’t happen anymore, but the friendships built through running will never end, and that is the most beautiful part of it all.
*I cried to Andrew afterward, thanking him for believing in me the way he does, for making me feel like my running is just his favorite thing to watch and support:) I also cried when my niece called me (Curly) to tell me congrats. When Andrew is at work, my niece babysat so much in the mornings, and my kids worship her.
*I am glad I got in the sauna often leading up to the race, and I am sure that helped a bit, BUT for my next St. George, I will be doing many more afternoon runs in the summer. A few afternoon runs each week would have helped me more than going to the sauna.
*You never know how the marathon will go, and I think that is what I love about it so much. It gives you the chance to explore your psychology more and how you are going to problem solve.
*Two marathon course PRs in a year… It turns out my coach (Jeff) is the best coach. He ran a 2:26 at the race and has only been running for three years.
*Those obstacles along the course brought so much growth, so while I felt like the heat was hard for me, I wouldn’t change it if I could because I needed that growth. After all, I proved to myself that I COULD. I will happily welcome a 45-degree day at Boston 2023, though. ).
*I think I might have tapered off too much with my strength training because my legs were toast for the last ten miles. I want to peak at around 70-75 miles per week during marathon training vs. 80 (80 mpw was my idea, not my coach’s, ha) but keep more strength in my routine. I’ve grown to love strength training truly. It’s weird.
*#1 reason I am in love with my 30s vs. previous years: when I don’t hit my A goal, my feelings of worth don’t change. Not just in running but in everything. I swear, in my 20s when I wouldn’t hit my A goal, I felt like my world was crashing. Maybe it’s because I’ve learned that my biggest ‘failures’ have actually brought my biggest blessings. Saturday was a huge success, but it wasn’t my A goal, and that would have driven me crazy in the past.
*And maybe not hitting my A goal would be frustrating if I didn’t love the training along the way. I love the training.
*Funny how my favorite marathon magically changes to where you have felt your best at… St George took 2nd place to Boston now;). But honestly, the views of St. George are unbeatable. Put it on your list.
*We can still get PRs after babies if that is what you want. It was fun to think that I have had a baby since my last PR on this course.
*My kids were up at 4:30 to come with us; they were the biggest champs on the planet. They got pie with Andrew at 6 am as they waited to see us and sure deserved it.
*I’m so happy to go back to normal eating. Carbs typically take up most of my diet, but I’d be happy never to see a bagel again.
*At mile 22, I remember a comment from a few days ago telling me to FEEL your support on the course, and it truly felt like hands were pushing me forward when things were hurting, so thank you so much for that.
*Let’s keep moving forward until we get our A goals and celebrate the big and small steps along the way!
Fill me in on your weekend!
Race with the best views, in your opinion?!
An obstacle in your running/racing that has strengthened you?
Tell me one of your A goals (in running or life).