What a crazy morning/last night. I had been searching this week for a bib for the Utah Valley Marathon and was coming up empty handed. I had one lined up until Friday morning, when the guy wrote me and told me he would be giving it to his friend instead. I was crushed. I had heard a lot of good things about the Utah Valley marathon, very scenic, the hills are enjoyable without blowing your knees out, and the aid stations are spot on (the last 3 aid stations had popsicles, can I get a whoop whoop?!).
Got a message last night saying that someone was injured and couldn’t run the race, asked if I wanted the bib. I was ecstatic. I had gone the whole day trying to think of what I was going to do, since I had mentally told myself the whole week I was committed to laying down 26.2 this weekend. The catch on this bib..I had to meet the individual at 2:50am in Provo…which is an hour and 20 minutes from my home. I was in for a treat, but I didn’t care because I had been searching and finally it dropped into my lap. So, went to bed around 8:30pm, awoke at 12:28am and knew I wouldn’t be getting back to sleep, so I got up and got my stuff together and played with the dogs until I had to go.
Since I was there so early to meet the individual to get the bib, figured I might as well jump on the first bus going up, because that’ll never happen again. Check off the list! The bus ride up the canyon was interesting. I couldn’t see out the windows, complete blackness (probably would have helped if I had my glasses). Seems there is always that one person on the bus, who is speaking 50 decibels higher than everyone else, who talks about all the races they have ever done and thinks their advice will change lives. Oddly enough, they always seem to be within arms reach of me, so I get all the info without having to hold a conversation. Brilliant!
I took my thermal blanket and laid by a fire pit when I got off the bus, laid there for about an hour an 20 minutes before getting my stuff together. The view from up there was amazing. The sun rising right before the gun went off was perfection to say the least. Right off the bat, I knew it was going to be much more enjoyable than that silly Ogden Marathon was 3 weeks ago. The hills right out of the gate were quite enjoyable, very easy to get carried away, which I think was one of my issues in the Ogden, so I made sure to dial it back and contain some energy for the final miles when I know I always need it most. I was right in front of the 3:25 pacer (I actually will meet him later on) most of the race, being able to hear him talk to his group, his name was Ben, real nice guy. It was nice to have them right behind me basically the whole race, without worrying about staying with the group, but enough for me to know I had to keep my pace up in fear he and his militia would pass me. They were holding a 7:47/mile pace, I hung around a 7:43/7:44 pace, just enough to walk through the aid stations and still keep a few steps on them.
I was speaking with a younger fellow for 5-6 miles as we ran together. He was saying he was going to try and run a 3:15 today, told me to stay close and we would get it done. He was telling me about the Mt. Nebo marathon in September, apparently he knocked out a 3:19 in 2015 there, says its pretty low key and very fast. Caught my interest immediately, but I think its the week before or after we have the Big Cottonwood Canyon marathon, so I don’t think that’ll happen this year. He ended up falling behind around mile 13, which was sad because he was keeping my mind off the running. The hills in the canyon were very deceiving..on the elevation chart the website provided, I was in the mind set that this thing was going to be declined and I wouldn’t have an issue finding that notorious sub 3:30 time that I have longed for since last year. Those hills, were beastly.. whenever there was a slight decline, I never took it for granted, picked the pace up a little, knowing that a incline was within striking distance up ahead.
Ok. So mile 18, 3:25 pacer is right on my ankles, he gets along side of me and says, “you’ve been holding a pretty good pace this whole time, I need a favor from you.. I don’t think I can hold mine any longer, can you take the sign and finish this thing up?” If I wasn’t sweating before, I immediately became saturated. He looked miserable, exhausted, and out of breath. I told him I’d certainly try, but I told him if it looked like I was slowing down, I’d hand it off to a fresher set of legs.
This…was…insane. I was actually pretty stoked, but the huge crowd he had at the start, was down to 2. They both ended up falling back, and I was left holding a sign all by myself. This sadly came to a close a little after the aid station of mile 24, I had become Ben, pretty sure it was contagious by the passing of the pace sign. There was a guy who basically sprinted by me, looked like he just joined the race at the aid station, I gave it what I had to catch up to him and asked him to take the sign and finish this thing off. I told him the pace he needed, and how I had got down to about a 7:51/mile, so there was just a little ground to make up. He ended up finishing in 3:23/3:24 ish, so that was a good feeling when he told me. In between mile 24 and 25, there was 2 ambulances tending to 2 runners, one looking completely out of it, the EMT’s were holding him up, asking him if he knew where he was, his name..the other was lying on his back, which was sad, because dangit, the finish was closing in! They were right there! I felt really bad for the both of them, having gone all that way to be slowed by their body overtaking the race.
The home stretch was a JOKE. That road, is worse than Grant Ave in Ogden. This, is no lie. The home stretch, makes Grant Ave look like a short walk around the block with the dogs. I passed a Costa Vida, asked a cop if he would run inside and get me a burrito, he asked if I was serious, and I wanted to say yes. There was no Costa Vida burrito consumed this day, sadly.
The finish stretch, there was a guy in front of me that I could tell was picking it up to finish strong, so the whole time through the gates, I was yelling at him saying, “don’t you dare let me pass you!” Ended up giving each other high fives as we got our medals around our necks, said our congrats and put this one in the books.
I ate a half melted Creamie at the finish line, and to this day, it is the best thing I have ever tasted (I’m sure the next one will taste even better). Well played Utah Valley marathon, well played.
Finish time = 3:34:41