Saturday, May 17, 2008

Ogden Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 3; 7th Edition
163.4 miles raced in 2008
Race: Ogden Marathon
Place: Ogden, UT
Miles from home: 45 miles
Weather: No clouds; 70s

Every time I hear an announcer mention that it is a beautiful day for marathon running, I think back to Dick Beardsley talking about his 1982 race at Boston where Willard Scott on the Today Show said that the weather for the race was going to be just perfect. The weather that day was not unlike today's weather in Ogden. Crystal clear skies, beautiful sunshine from the start. No wind. Absolutely perfect. For WATCHING a marathon.

Therefore it is obvious the weather was not ideal at the Ogden Marathon this morning but it could have been far worse. That said, brisk temperatures in the morning quickly gave way to the sort of warmth you hope never happens at a marathon. The brisk temperatures were partly because of the location of the start, which in this point-to-point race, began 26.2 miles out of Ogden on a road that is often closed because of snowfall. You can therefore imagine it is located high up in the mountains. Starting at 5441', the race is just high enough up in the air for runners to begin to feel its effects as soon as the start running.

Give the above profile, you can see there is also a fair amount of downhill in this race as well which I was hoping would take me to a goal of 2:47. But I knew the uphill sections at elevation would assuredly give me a challenge. Hopefully, I was ready for it.

Race Morning

It seems that most Utah marathons are point-to-point and require bussing to the start. As I mentioned in my Utah Valley Marathon Recap this is not a type of race start that I prefer. With a 7 AM start, the buses began loading at 5 AM. That means I am up at 4 AM. Not fun. I should have learned to get on a later bus but I did not and by 5:27 I was standing in a field with a few hundred or other early risers trying to warm ourselves by the copious fire pits provided by the nice people of the Ogden Marathon. Lit by flamethrower (I am NOT joking), I was in awe of this wonderful toy. Talk to any guy in his early to late thirties and there are two things they will never argue.

1. Flamethrowers rock.
2. Snake Eyes (of GI JOE fame) is the coolest person ever.

However, I knew the cool temps were a mirage and did my best to try and stay calm and wait for the next 90 minutes to pass. I met a new friend named Paul who may become a running buddy in SLC if I am able to keep up with him, as well as a long-time online friend and first-time-in-person-meeting, David.

As time drew near for the race I went to the porta-potties one last time. A very cute girl kept making eye contact until she finally asked: "Are you the guy on the Prolytes banner at the expo yesterday?" I laughed and told her I was indeed and that with the sweat I was bound to lose today I was happy to have a little of the electrolyte supplement that I use, with me.

I got into the starting line corral and headed towards the front. A female runner pushed towards the front with me. Running her first marathons she was hoping to do a 2:55. I said I was quite impressed and as I was hoping to be at least 5 minutes below that, she would know she was going to fast if she was in front of me. Away we went. (Christine Berry was her name and her first attempt at the 26.2 distance was a superb 3:12!)

Either the first mile marker was WAY off or I ran an out of my mind first mile. I always run the first mile fast and with the downhill at the start thought it may be a possibility. I decided I needed to slow down and quickly let about 5 guys pass me.

Around 3 miles, a woman just flies past me. I check out her physique and realize she may possibly know what she is doing. For the next 4 miles or so, I kept her about 100 yards in front of me. Then at 7 plus miles she pulls over to the side of the road and hands off to the next person in her relay. Damn it. You big tease, I think.

At this point a gentleman in a red shirt whom I passed at mile 3, passes me. I let him going knowing the next few miles have some rolling hills that I want to conserve my energy for. I am about a minute total ahead of my perfect goal for the day, 2:45:59. However, with each passing mile, I lost 5 seconds here and 10 seconds there. Going through the half-way point in 1:23:34 (almost a half-marathon PR) I realize that unless I can really work the downhills at the end into a negative split, A Goal for the race is out.

That goes out the window with the big hill at 14. The last hill to really contend with, it is a short but hard doozy of an uphill. I lose even more time but keep the gentlemen in the red shirt in sight and actually gain ground.

A few miles later, I pass a young fella running in only his second marathon who hoped to drop his PR from a 3:17 to a 2:20 or 2:30. When I saw him go out with the lead pack I thought he was either a prodigy or bit off more than he could chew. as I told him good job as I passed, I assumed correctly it was the latter.

Expecting to see mile 16, I was shocked to see mile 17 marked on the side of the road. I was elated. I then saw my good SLC buddy Kristin who was running tow legs of the marathon Relay that day. She screamed my name and made me feel like a celebrity. Right after this I went down a scorching downhill and expected to run around a 6:05 for this mile. When my watch gave me a 6:24, my feeling of elation dropped and an empty pit opened in my stomach. This was going to be a fight to the finish.

I the next few miles wound through a beautiful canyon. I have said often I could not care less about scenery in a marathon. But holy crap was it pretty. A trickle of a waterfall cascaded down from a high, high cliff top above.

Not long after that a bridge that looked like the one Indiana Jones crossed in the Temple of Doom loomed overhead. (I am still looking for a picture). It helped take my mind off the fact that no matter how hard I ran these downhills at the end, I could not break a 6:29 minute mile. Gone was the 2:47 and not only was any sub 2:50 in jeopardy but was so was setting a new PR. I did not even conceive I would not set a new PR today and it spurred me on the best I could.

Unfortunately, the downhill advantage ended and now we were on the very scenic but very crowded Ogden River Parkway.

Not closed to the public, the six-foot wide paved trail was filled with not only pedestrians out for a still, but the slower half-marathoners as well. Forced to often run into the grass on a wide turn around walkers going three-abreast, I was a little perturbed. When one girl, who was not impeding in any way, jumped out of the way and apologized, I told her "No need to do that. It is your race too!" She replied. "You are very nice and I like you!" I just wish others would learn this simple race etiquette.

Did this slow me down a little? Yeah a touch, but it was not the reason why I was slowing. I was tired and now all I wanted to do was make sure I PRd. Unfortunately, with this mindset, playing not to lose per se, I lost a massive amount of time.

After 17 miles of trailing the man in the red shirt, I finally passed with with a mile to go. Now on the last long straightaway of the course, I could almost make out the finishline in the distance. I knew it was going to be really close.

Down I went and to screams from my friend Kathy, who held a sign that said "Dane-iac the running Maniac" and somehow was also able to snap this picture. As you can see, I was able to salvage the last goal of the day and better my PR of 2:51:49 by 8 seconds. Whew!

Too damn close for my tastes.

After getting my medal I sat down to take off my shoe. From about mile 18 I knew I had developed a blister. Besides a few on the ends of my toes that I sometimes get and never feel, this would be the first blister I can recall getting ever in a marathon. That is a good track record but when I could feel it forming from mile 18 on, I was not a happy camper.

Coincidentally, my friend Katie who I had not seen in 2 years prior to the evening for the race when she and her friend Mary and I broke bread in a carb-loading session, walked by. Both her and Mary set new PRs in their half-marathon on this day so there was much rejoicing. Kristin too was quite pleased with her run after bah-humbugging the little jaunt earlier in the day and she too joined me for some post-race congrats.

After a shower at a nearby hotel which gave great marathons rates (I am sure we can thank the Ogden Marathon people for this as well) I headed back to see the final results and my overall place. Before doing so, I punched in my time into a calculator that does approximations of races done at certain elevation and then compares them to lower elevations. My time today was equivalent to a 2:42 at sea level. That made me feel good at least.

Then I found out I was 14th overall out of 1820 finishers and won my age group. Not a bad showing. That means my last five marathons have been my 2nd, 6th, 9th, 4th and 1st fastest of all time. That made me and Kathy smile. Check out my tan!


Yellow Scuba said...

Great job, Dane! I am really happy for you, and know you'll hit your next goal soon. Congratulations!!

1L said...

Nice going, Dane! Congrats on the new PR - 7 sec is 7 sec. I hope I fair as well when I get to Utah this fall - now if I can learn to downhill run like you just did.

Lisa Smith-Batchen said...

yeah for you and such a great race!