I have 2 goal races this year: a 50-miler in 3 weeks and a 24-hour race in September. I’ve done a few races, but only as “supported” training runs when they fit into my schedule when they’re close and reasonably priced. Today’s marathon was my last long run before beginning my taper.
The Sand Hollow Marathon takes place in southern Utah, about 2 hours from where I live in the Las Vegas area. This is the first full weekend my husband has been here and it was a *little* road trip of sorts. The course didn’t look too bad, except for a hill around mile 18 that lasted about a mile.
Prior to this race, my coach told me there was a chance I may PR but NOT to push it as it’s just a training run. My previous PR was actually from my first marathon in November 2008. I’ve run three other ones, but they weren’t good indications of my potential (I had kidney problems during one, was undertrained for another, and had massive elevation height and changes during the one I did three weeks ago), My PR was 5:12:33.
I felt really good at the beginning of today’s race. The race was small with only about 200 people. The start area was really small and we were able to park right by the start/finish line. There were also indoor bathrooms which were nice. The RD seemed really personable and like he genuinely care about the race and people’s experiences with it.
The scenery surrounding the out-and-back course was beautiful. The red dirt in southern Utah made my eyes feel like they were being tricked. Gorgeous. Hurricane, where the race was held, was a small town, and it felt like it (in a good way).
I hit the turn-around aid station, where my hubby had chosen to volunteer, at about 2:25 and feeling great. I was taking sporadic walk breaks to get back in the habit of walking sometimes (since I won’t be running the entire 50-miler next month) but ran the majority.
When I got to the base of the large hill at about 18 miles, I was averaging 11:10 a mile. I walked the entire hill due to the length and steepness. It was NOT fun and that’s when I really started to notice the temperature rising (which is one of the negatives of beginning a race at 7:30am). By the top of the hill, my average pace had risen to 11:40.
I ran most of the remaining 7 miles, but not as quickly as I had been running previously. I was still feeling good, though. I also stopped at three different aid stations to refill my water bottle (compared to on the way out where I’d only refilled it at the turn-around) which ate up some time. I was still feeling good though, partially because I felt better than a lot of the people around me looked. I got passed by zero people in the second half of the race, yet I passed at least 20 people. The majority of the people I passed, especially in the final few miles were people who had obviously had the race not going as planned because they were doing the notorious death march.
I was excited to discover that there was a water station at mile 25 that had not existed on the way out. I was even more excited when I discovered my husband had moved the turn-around aid station to that point after the last runners went through the turn-around. And then he decided he wanted to run the remaining 1.2 miles with me. 🙂
We ran together to the finish, which was a neat experience. (He’d gotten previous permission to do this so he didn’t mess up anything.)
My finish time (gun time since it wasn’t chip timed, not that it really mattered since the field was so small) was 5:01:41. I was very happy with this. It was an 11-minute PR.
I’d love to break 5 hours at some point, but today was not the day. Some people may disagree with this, but somewhere in the 24th mile, I made the conscious decision to slow down and remove the possibility of dipping under 5 hours. There was a point where I could have made it if I’d sped up to a 10-minute mile pace, but I knew that this was not in line with the intent of the run I was doing. I was warned by my coach to not let my competitive side get the best of me in the end. I still sprinted to the finish in the last .2 miles, but I always do that. I also bargained that running fast for .2 miles would be much less detrimental, if at all, than about 3 miles of running faster than I should.
I had a great experience at this race. I loved the other runners, the RD, and all of the volunteers. I would definitely choose this kind of race over any of the larger, more corporate races (like RNR).