The race director, Elaine, had arranged for my race packet and bib to be waiting for me at the hotel since I couldn’t make the expo. I was able to thank her face to face; she had all of the enthusiasm and charm I pictured in our months of email correspondence. It takes special people to put on events like this.
|Break out the arm warmers (in August!)
I have always enjoyed the running camaraderie shared with other women, making this race- an all female marathon- especially unique. If that didn’t have “Suzy” written all over it, the fact that everything race related was either pink or floral did. If you know me, you understand that I’m as girly as they come. Case in point: the glittery tiara I wore on my head for this race to commemorate my 30th birthday and marathon state.
We caught a 4 am bus to the 6 am start of the point to point course, an expereince very reminiscent of Boston Marathon. During the half hour ride, there was a ton of chatter, positive energy, and excitement. I really enjoyed meeting the women around me, including my seatmate who is aiming for her 10th Marathon Maniac star by running 52 marathons in 2011. Without a doubt, you always find someone at these events who has more aggressive goals than you do.
The race began at 6000′ elevation with one small climb (seemed small to me
anyway, given the ascents in my last 2 marathons) up “Cyclone Hill” and then begins a gentle downhill that continued for the next 25 miles. Bad news for my blistered feet and fried quads from the day prior. Good news for the possibility of adding a state to my stretch goal efforts within 50 sub 4 Marathon Club
Dances with Wolves was filmed in this area; it’s pretty safe to assume there were no fancy computer effects- this course offered a tranquil setting and absolutely breathtaking view for the entire run: massive cliffs, rugged rock formations, moss draped spruce trees, wild flowers in full bloom, and grassy marsh areas. Canyon walls we passed through are said to be older than the Grand Canyon itself. Gorgeous!
Having trained in 90 degrees and high humidity, mid 40s temperatures felt like running heaven. I wore arm warmers, a headwrap, and fashioned an extra pair of socks into gloves. Thorlo hands kept me from giving a lot of my signature thumbs up, but they were necessary to stay warm. Lost in cool temps and gorgeous scenery, 13.1 miles arrived at 2:05 before I knew it. Provided I ran a negative split (second half faster than first half. You’re welcome, non-running friends!), sub 4 hours would happen.
Want to capture an overwhelming amount of spectator support? Wear a tiara on your head. I have done everything from ‘SUZY’ in big bold letters on my shirt to running in costume, but nothing compares with the buzz that silly crown created. “Birthday girl!”, “30! 30! 30!”, and even a full chorus of Happy Birthday (using “runner” where the name would normally go) made me feel very special.
|The tiara stayed on the entire time
Around mile 20, my bad self started offering excuses as to why I couldn’t maintain the pace, with an overwhelming focus on “I ran 26.2 miles yesterday“. The good thing about making a living as a health coach is that you are constantly teaching positive self talk as a coping technique. Practicing what I preach, out loud and in affirmation format (!), I went through the list of things in my favor. Ridiculous? Yes…but it eventually led to the understanding that nobody who was giving 100% felt good at this point, no matter when their last marathon was. For some reason, that was a boost.