This was an entirely thrilling experience, as it was last year! Going into this race I knew what to expect this year. I knew it would be hard and I was questioning my abilities and desire. I was thinking I would even downgrade and just run the half marathon. I decided that I wouldn't make that decision until race day. Well, then along came my 100 mile race decision in the previous post (which will be happening in Feb 2014) and so that made the final decision easier. No backing out of the full marathon. I would need to run the full thing to help begin my training. Well, let me tell you this marathon does not leave you wanting for anything more. It's the real, raw deal! Mountains to climb, streams to cross, boulders to navigate up and around and through, ropes to hold on to for ascending and descending steep areas, amazing scenery, and I could go on.
Friday evening I finished up my teaching at 5:30 pm and we loaded up and got out of town by about 5:45 pm. Mark and Cooper came and we got down to Moab in a little over 3 hours. We checked into the motel and unloaded and then headed to the store for a little late night ice cream treat, which we brought back to the motel and enjoyed a nice big bowl of before bed. I've heard of ice cream as a great recovery food for after long runs but I wasn't sure about the night before a race. I didn't care though because I had no goals or expectations for this run, only to get out there and have a good time. Cooper ate Turkey Hill ice cream when he was in Pennsylvania. He loves it and whenever he finds the brand he insists on getting it. We didn't argue. We bought Neapolitan to make everyone happy for flavor choice.
She's a running machine and just completed her first full 100 mile race a couple weeks ago. AMAZING and INSPIRING!
We watched wave 1 head out and then 7 minutes later wave 2 left and then I shed a couple layers since the sun was up and it was warming up. I said my goodbyes to the boys and headed over to line up with wave 3. I was feeling nervous, anxious, and excited for this race, but I was also feeling very ready. My eating has been super healthy, and my gym workouts pretty intense and so I felt stronger physically than I did last year.
9:14 am and I was off. The first 5 miles I was cruising up the canyon. Although the sun was shining the temps were probably in the 50's and it felt perfect! I was so glad I shed those layers. Last year I didn't and then had to carry them the whole race.
Right before mile 6 was our first aid station. I remember reading from Cory's blog that the quicker you can get in and out of aid stations the better. There's no need to hang around them wasting valuable race time. So I kept that thinking in my mind as I would come to each one. I would grab the electrolyte drink, HEED, they provided and a couple snacks and head out quickly, eating my stuff as I ran. I do love treats at a race and enjoyed some fun ones at this marathon. There was plenty to indulge in, for sure.
Something I did this year a little different was not take so many pictures. I know I used up a lot of time last year doing that. I still took pictures this year but just tried to be quicker about it.
Then it was some nice happy downhill running all the way to the next aid station around mile 17. I refilled my water vest here and grabbed some more treats and headed off quickly. Around mile 20 I saw this green sign. It made me laugh again. I was trying to take a picture with the sign and another runner stopped and asked if she could take it for me. Pretty nice of her.
Mile 21 was the next aid station and I was so grateful for some vaseline there. I had lost my lip balm somewhere along the course and so I slathered vaseline all over my lips and nose. My nose was raw from blowing it and wiping all day long. The weather was cool enough that when I run so does my nose and then it gets sore. After mile 21 we get to do some more descending down, down, down by the Colorado River. At mile 23 it takes us right back to the starting area but then we had to do a 3.2 mile loop. That is one of the most mentally challenging parts of the course for me. I hate running that close to the finish line area and not being able to just run through the arch and be done.