Before we get into the race details, I thought I would share a few reasons why I wanted to run this marathon… (I felt like I had more in me after some time off after St. George and started the search):
*It fell exactly at my favorite place in my cycle to run. For St. George (and CIM would have been the same), I was running during my least favorite place in my cycle to run (just a day or two before my period starts). I have my best races at this point in my cycle. PS if anyone wants to transfer my CIM bib, let me know!
*Some of my favorite girls were planning on racing it, and I was excited to do it with them.
*I love downhill running and I just wanted to go do it because I enjoy doing it. I wanted to see what was possible on this downhill of a course for me. I didn’t run in college (or high school!), I’m just a mom that is very passionate about running and especially the marathon. If a course is calling my name, I will follow even though it was just 6 weeks after St. George. VERY thankful for my coach figuring out a way to get me back out there and a quick turnaround! Definitely making my friend coach me forever.
*It worked with our family’s schedule. For CIM, Andrew would have had to get work off and we wouldn’t have been able to leave until the day before the race because of the kid’s schedules. Big Bear felt like a fun little getaway for us in the mountains!
*My friend ran a 2:35 at Big Bear in 2021 and then a 2:33 in Chicago this year. She said that the fast splits at Big Bear helped her to see it was possible and gave her the confidence to then go do it at Chicago!
*IT IS COLD. After a hot marathon, I was more than excited to run in freezing temperatures.
*I’m just so grateful Andrew supports my crazy plans. I never would have imagined having found someone like Andrew. He is so good to me in every aspect.
We drove to Big Bear on Thursday afternoon. We wanted to turn the weekend into a little vacation for our family with a minor interruption for a race;). I bought the bus pass to take from Big Bear to the starting line (just a 30-minute ride) and also paid to pick up my bib at the starting line so we didn’t have to go to the expo that was an hour away. I didn’t want the crew to feel like it was all about a race, and that we could get in lots of quality time. I’ll do a full post on what we did in Big Bear tomorrow!
I woke up at 3:20 in the morning after about 5.5 hours of sleep and only one kid woke us up that night. I took a shower (I love doing this before a race to help wake me up). I had two packets of oatmeal and a banana before heading to the busses. We stayed at the cutest cabin that was right by where the busses pick you up in Big Bear. They had the really nice busses for us and we left the parking lot at 4:41 am (11 minutes late which is also how late the race started).
I was feeling a little nervous about getting my bib at the starting line and not having enough time but it was the easiest thing ever. They handed me my bib and I used the restrooms and then met up with my friends. It was about 25 degrees at this point and I was thankful for the emergency blanket they had for us in the bags, it helped so much.
Beth had two very important things for me. She had this pacing bracelet for me with my goal time (which I stuck to pretty much like glue ((the same splits my coach gave me)) and it made it so fun to look at each mile along the way… the last four miles I just went into survival mode and didn’t look at my watch or pacing chart) and Imodium. TMI TIME (skip ahead if you would like ha but we are all runners)… Friday afternoon I started having major gastrointestinal issues. I must have eaten something bad but I was nervous and it didn’t enjoy the situation ha. I was also having major problems Saturday morning and while Imodium makes me feel nauseated, I would choose nausea over having to stop ten times during the race. I am SO grateful she had that for me because I don’t know what I would have done.
There was snow on the sides of the road! It was nice and light by the time we started and everyone was so friendly while we waited for the race to start.
We went out and I was the first female (for the first 25 miles). A few men passed me and I passed a few men but that is about it for 25 miles. The man biking with me for those 25 miles (for the lead woman) was beyond incredible. I kept telling him thank you along the way. He let me know when there was ice coming up and to go around it, he told any spectators along the way to cheer for me or to make some space, he was just the best.
The first 9 miles include some pretty steep but short up. They keep your legs guessing and reminding you to be smart but overall you drop 5k feet over the entire course of this marathon. SO much down. Once I got to mile 9, I was so excited to get to cruise down the rest of the way without any more up. I was hitting my splits and my feet warmed up at mile 5 which was nice. Taking water in the first few miles felt like it froze on the way down but I will take that ANY day over temps above 50 degrees ha. I took off my arm warmers, gloves and earwarmer (the biker held onto it for me until after the race!) and the temperatures were pure heaven.
There were two points where my nausea got so bad that I truly thought I needed to quit because I felt so sick. I told myself over and over again that the feelings change in a marathon. Things will change. EVERYTHING else was going perfectly, I could handle nausea… that wasn’t going to stop me. And at both points it did go away after about a mile (I felt nauseated most of the race but those points were low)!
At the half-way point I put in my music (first marathon with music in a long time) and it perked me up a lot. If I do this race again I will bring sunglasses because there were some miles that the sun was pretty bright but for the majority, we were in the shade.
Miles were clicking by, some felt better than others but while the downhill makes it easy to run fast aerobically, my muscles were feeling it to the core from all of the pounding (some of the miles you drop 300 ft so pretty steep).
Andrew was pretty sure he would only be able to see me at the end because of how the canyon is shut down to just one lane heading up but he was able to get everyone to mile 23 too! It made me tear up because I was so happy to see them.
The final 10k you are still going downhill but it gets less with each mile. I told myself to tighten up (my arms naturally swing all over the place) which helped me to switch up my form and offered relief to some of my leg muscles that were really hurting and recruite new muscles.
I brought a small bottle that fit in my shorts of gatorade that I sipped on throughout the marathon and took water from every aid station. They offered Nuun at the aid stations which I had never tried during a run so I didn’t want to start trying it during the race. I did pour a few cups of cold Nuun all over my head though ha. It wasn’t hot in the final miles but it just felt refreshing to pour something on my head (I thought it was water but it wasn’t ha).
At mile 25 (maybe a bit before) a woman came by that looked sooo strong. She was crushing it and motioned for me to come with her which I thought was so cool. Of course, it isn’t fun getting passed so late in a race when you have led it for so long but I knew I was giving everything I had and I was proud of that. She finished in 2:39 and I finished in 2:40 followed after by one of my friends there. The top 3 were all from Utah!
I got to the end and just sat on the ground because my legs were beyond done. I crawled over to a chair and sat there for a few minutes trying to get going again.
A few minutes later and I was on cloud 9:
Especially when Andrew gave me lip gloss. That felt too good.
I love this painful running stuff so much.
*Revel races have it DOWN on how to keep your people informed. I think it sent people that were signed up to follow me like 12 texts along the way and then it also offered real-time following.
*The course was so beautiful. Being in the mountains is my favorite place to be.
*Arm warmers are the best invention (mine were really old otherwise I would link them)… they keep you warm when you need it and they are so easy to take off when you don’t need them.
*It’s a really good feeling when you leave it all out there on the course. Whether we hit our goal times or not, knowing we put it out there and tried is the best feeling.
*I lost ALL basic math skills in those final miles. It’s crazy to me how that happens and your brain just goes into jello. Left foot, right foot on repeat is what I thought most of those final miles.
*I stuck to my Maurtens every 4 miles. One right before the race and then every 4 miles after that. I don’t remember the order of caffeine and normal gels besides taking a caffeine one right before the start.
*I didn’t bring my phone and played music from my watch. It was amazing. I’ll go more into detail about that on Friday.
*Lauren shared the best mental tips with me the day before, I need a whole post to talk about them but one of the things she shared was that when you are really tired, you are still only giving 40% (from David Goggins)… we are capable of so much more and that helped me to keep pushing when things hurt.
*I’m going to be sore for a very long time.
*I didn’t run the day before the race because I just wanted to hang out with the family and we went to the zoo first thing in the morning. I think I really like taking the day off before a marathon.
*My kids took a vote and decided they want me to do this race every year because they loved Big Bear so much.
*Doing a new course scares me (can you tell… I’ve done St. George like 40 times ha) but it was SO fun to see an entirely new spot. I need to do that more often.
Who else was at Big Bear? Give me your details!
Tell me the best part of your weekend!
Nuun… you like it? What electrolyte drink do you prefer during a race?
This question hurts for me to ask but would you rather have dry lips or dry skin on your face?
-I would rather my face feel dry than my lips.