This was going to be my attempt at my fastest marathon time of the year. The course features a net 2500 foot downhill and promised to be fast. I planned to take advantage of the downhills while running conservative on the uphills.
I flew into Vegas early in the morning the day before the race. I didn't get much sleep the week of the race due to a hectic work schedule and the extremely early flight didn't help. I picked up my rental car and then picked up my Maniac friend and drove the scenic 1:45 drive to St George,Utah. We headed straight to packet pick up which had a larger expo that expected for a smaller race. We didn't stick around too long before going to get lunch and then check into our hotel. I had forgotten toiletries and had to head over to the drugstore for replacements instead of taking a nap. We had an Italian dinner and went to bed early for the 3AM wake up call. I was on a shuttle shortly after 4AM and headed to the start.
The course is a point to point starting in Central, UT and winding through Veyo and Snowfall Canyon before finishing in St George. The start area featured dozens of campfires and a thousand port-o-potties. Runners set up camp with mylar blankets and gloves provided by the race waiting for the 6:30AM start. There was a delay to the start as a bus was still on the course. We eventually were sent on our way about 10 minutes late.
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In spite of the lack of sleep, I felt pretty good early on. The first 5k was basically a warm up and I ran it in 24 minutes. The next 5K had some of the most perfect downhill running I could dream of and I ran it in 21:45 with hardly any effort at all. I was beginning to really like my chances of having a special day.
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My optimism didn't last for very long. Mile 7 was basically a 250 foot climb. I didn't take things as easily as I should have and still had a 9 minute split in spite of taking a walking break late in the hill. I hoped to recover on the descent, but the course rolled pretty heavily until mile 11
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The course turned downhill again after mile 11. Some of it was steep downhill. My legs became pretty chewed up from the previous section and the steepness of the downhill here didn't help matters. I actually managed to stay on PR and 'B' goal pace until the 30K split. I wasn't confident in my ability to keep it up and with the sun now out, the temperature was quickly rising.
Miles  to [26.2]
There was a bit of an uphill at mile 18. Some kids were handing out otter pops though so I grabbed one and walked and enjoyed it while ascending the hill. I became a bit self defeated in this section of the race. I walked a lot more than I needed. There wasn't any sense of urgency to really run. I started talking to some other walkers who had also blew their goals about other later fall races that were supposed to be fast. We all did agree on trying to break 3:40 since it was still in reach and started jogging again. This didn't last all that long before walk breaks took hold again. I managed to get myself going just enough to finish in 3:48:00.
St George became my 16th state completed and 20th race finished of a marathon or longer. It was also my 11th state with a sub 4 hour finish. I was happy enough with this, but disappointed in the overall performance as I should of been able to run a much faster time. I learned my lesson and need to do more hills if I'm going to run a course like that. Getting ample sleep would help as well. All sadness was washed away a couple hours later when I had an amazing old fashioned burger from an old drive-inn type place near the hotel. The next day I headed to Vegas and really celebrated my finish with a slab of ribs and beer.
I didn't come into this marathon with much of a plan. I had ran it the year before and intended to do much of the same. My training hadn't been quite as intense as 2015, but I expected my fitness levels were around the same level and hoped to run as fast as or faster than by prior year time.
I did most of the same routine as 2015. I flew into Denver early. This year I had a rental car instead of taking the shuttle to Vail and then renting a car. I met up with family for lunch in Eagle and hanging out for a bit before heading down to Aspen. Once in Aspen, which I arrived much earlier than last year, I checked into my hotel and headed to packet pick up. Pick up was at another local hotel and very low frills. Afterwards I walked around town catching Pokemon before getting the same pizza I got the year before and getting some sleep. Race day started early and I walked to the start and met up with my Maniac friend and chatted a bit before we were on our way.
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The first few miles brought about that familiar gasping for air that I experienced last year. I knew it took a couple miles to settle in and so didn't panic. I wound up running with the 3:40 pacer for a bit and chatting with her and another Maniac. The early miles were about settling in and getting comfortable. My pacing was already ahead of last year and I felt good.
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Around the 7 mile mark I felt the need to urinate. The aid stations in this race were spaced further apart and the port-o-potties even further than that. The gentle downhill led to an increase in pacing without an increase in effort, or perhaps that was just perceived since I had to pee really bad. After several miles and a couple aid stations with no bathrooms I finally gave up and used a bush on a more secluded part of the trail. Luckily there were no critters hiding in there. I did encounter 2 snakes later in the race. Outside the urge to pee, these miles were mostly taking advantage of the downhill trail and beautiful scenery of Colorado's mountains.
Miles  to [26.2]
After 20 miles the course flattens out and then adds in some rollers for hills. Nothing terrible mind you, but definitely rough after 20 miles of running downhill. To make matters worse it became quite warm. The weather was much hotter and drier during this year's visit to Colorado. I decided to start taking it easy and walked a bunch. I had been well ahead of the prior year's pacing up to this point, but I didn't feel like I needed to throw off the rest of my summer training just to beat an arbitrary goal. I did wind up finishing in just 57 seconds slower than my time the prior year and consider than a win given that it was somewhere between 5 and 10 degrees warmer at the finish. I grabbed my beer and enjoyed it before taking the shuttle back to Aspen and checking out of my hotel.