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  • Writer's pictureJessica Jones

Deseret News Marathon

Marathon number 25 is in the books. And, Utah is the 15th state crossed off the BQ list! 3:29:31, officially. 44th overall. 5th female. 1st female masters. I started the race with an A goal of sub-3:30 and a B goal of sub-3:40 (my BQ). Nice to hit the A goal, even if barely! I celebrated the past few days with a nice family gathering in the mountains of Utah.

This was a good event. Relatively small. About 300 or so marathoners. There were a few drawbacks. First, was having to board a bus at 3:30 am to head to the start area. Second, is that it is likely to get hot by the finish. It was around 80°F when I finished. Thankfully, there were some clouds early on, so I only had to deal with the heat of the sun for the last 3-4 miles. Slower folks were not so fortunate. But, on the plus side… Frequent porta-potties. Frequent aid stations with water and Gatorade. Great traffic control. Plus, there were a few interesting things about the race. Not positive or negative. There were quite a few long, gentle inclines that weren’t obvious from the elevation map. Also, the race goes on the parade route for a number of city blocks.

Enough with the standard review, how did it go? As mentioned, I had to get up early. Like going to bed time early, not getting up early. On a tour bus to the top of Big Mountain (yes, that’s the real name). The starting area. Plenty of time to hang out in the cool mountain air at ~7500ft. Start at 5:30 am sharp! The first five miles are down mountain. Down a winding mountain road. At dawn. Barely light, but motorcycle cops all over, and essentially no other traffic. Other than a good number of cyclists. Aiming for a 3:30, that’s 8 min pace. These first miles were all under 8. Well under in a couple of cases. I was comfortable “banking” some time in these early miles as I knew what came next.

Around mile 5, the course leveled out for a half mile or so, then the first of the climbs. Fairly gradual, but long. A little over 2 miles long. And, this was still at elevation. As expected, I Around 8:30. Still on a good pace. Feeling pretty dang good. More downhill between miles 8 and 13. Able to bank a little more time, with around 7:45pace thru here. Then, some rolling ups and downs. Nothing too extreme and with an overall downgrade. Stayed pretty close to 8 min pace through this section. Nearly down the mountain now and edging into the city. The miles are easily ticking away. A pacer I had once used the phrase “The miles are just melting away like butter”. Pretty much my feeling at this point. The course rolls downhill through the middle of a golf course. Keeping the near-or-just-under 8 min miles. Then, as we enter a little neighborhood, another length of gradual incline.

Suddenly, things are not so comfortable. My legs are on fire. I’m tired. It’s a struggle. This incline seems like it will never end. I know better. I drove the course the day before. However, time to dig down and do this thing. Mantra. Own it. Own the decision to go faster early. Kept it going because I felt good. Live it. Push through this rough patch. Once I start back downhill, should be good. Be it. Working on being a BQer in Utah. Make a turn for a short downhill. Then, back up. Gradual. As I pass mile marker 21, I know it is pretty much down hill from here. Legs are feeling a bit better. But, the sun’s out now. That’s okay. A long downhill, short up. Another long decline into downtown Salt Lake City. Thankfully, most of this is shaded and I’m getting my pace back under 8.

After mile 24, I see a bunch of shade tents and people up ahead. I think the course must turn this road immediately before all that mess. Nope. We turn on the street full of spectators there for the Pioneer Day Parade. That’s the whole reason that the race is on the day it is. The Latter Day Saints, and Utah in generally, celebrate Pioneer Day on the 24th of July. The day that Brigham Young (and other early pioneers) arrived in the area. Back to the race... I’m now on a street packed full of spectators. After over 20 miles with maybe a dozen spectators total. Most folks were just interested in the parade, but plenty cheered, clapped, or yelled for us runners. Kind of neat. Then, I caught up to the parade. Started passing floats. Here I am, running between the crowd and the parade they came to see. A little strange. But, kept me motivated/distracted enough to keep a sub-8 pace. Then, turned off the parade route with about a mile and a half to go. Very gradual uphill, but kept in near pace. I knew over the past few miles, that I was close to a sub-3:30. My legs were screaming, but I tried to push harder. After the final turn, with the finish in sight, less than a quarter of a mile away, I found that other gear. Once I could get close enough to see the clock, it was just at 3:29:02. I knew I had the sub-3:30. My legs were on fire and I was thirstier than I’ve ever been. But, I had done it!

Training Log July 23-29, 2018: No plan, other than the race! 33.1 miles.

Monday – 2.0mi @ 9:24. Easy shakeout run. Up and down around the hotel.

Tuesday – 26.5mi @ 7:55. Race day!!

Wednesday – OFF. Quads pretty sore, as expected with that elevation drop (down to ~4500ft from ~7500ft) yesterday.

Thursday – 1.3mi @ 11:20. Hard to get moving on the treadmill, but just wanted to get some blood flowing.

Friday – 3.0mi @ 10:14. Gently rolling course at about 8700ft elevation. Legs still sore, but feeling better. I also did a 5-ish mile hike this morning.

Saturday – OFF.

Sunday – OFF. Traveling home. Finally, I’ll be home for a few weeks!

Until next week, or so.

Own it. Live it. Be it.

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