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Hi there I’m Suzy!

I uplift other women in the areas of running, lifting, and motherhood

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Mesa Falls Marathon: Sub 4 for What?!


I ran my sub 4 in Idaho at Mesa Falls Marathon. I’m saying it from the top because you won’t believe me when you hear what went into this race. It’s actually sort of laughable…sort of.

Long runs were in my training plan, they just never happened; I’m on my own with Christian while Trey is in Afghanistan and my longest stroller run was 9 miles. Now, I subscribe to low volume training- but I always get at least a couple of double digit runs in. I was skeptical about 3 CrossFit workouts + 20ish miles a week turning into a sub 4 effort at 6000′ elevation. The altitude alone, according to McMillan, would add an additional 10 minutes.

So there’s that, too
The race was in Ashton, a town of about 1100 people an hour north of the Idaho Falls Airport. As frequent flyer awards usually play out, my flight landed at 10:30pm so it was almost midnight when I got to the hotel. “Sorry ma’am, we figured you weren’t coming so we gave your room to someone else.” What the WHAT?!?!

There was no arguing with these folks and they wouldn’t let me stay in the cleaning closet (I asked), so I drove down the road to another hotel. No vacancy. And another. No vacancy. Consult the oracle- the closest hotel with availability was back at the airport and by this time it was 1am. Knowing I needed to pick up my race packet at 4:30am, I pulled into a church parking lot and slept in the back of my Ford Focus rental. There aren’t many advantages to being 5’3, but it was reasonably comfortable.

Packet pickup was at the local elementary school, where the race organizers also provided a free breakfast for runners and chartered busses to the start of the point to point race. The swag bag was a potato sack (nice touch!) and the shirt was long sleeved/moisture wicking. Considering the free pre-race dinner the evening before, aid stations with every fueling option you could ask for (fresh fruit, honey, Gu, Powerbar, Clif Blocks, Hammer gel, etc) and awesome spread at the finish (delicious IS: pizza washed down with a huckleberry milkshake), this is by far the best $60 you can spend in the marathon world.

The first 9 miles were on a gravel road, gradual downhill with beautiful views, 60 degree temperatures with barely any humidity. Then it started to rain. I’m not talking little sprinkle- it was cold, hard, painful rain. I’ve raced in pouring rain in New Hampshire, but no friend to lift my spirits. I think (?) the rest of the course was really pretty but I was too busy getting a rain beat down to notice.
Thumbs up if you’re soaking wet!

At the half, it was still pouring rain and we hit a trail. A muddy trail. Squishy, ankle sucking mud. Like, run on the side in the waist high weeds and briars or get stuck in the muck. The half marathoners had started from that point, so they were ponchoed up, in appropriate trail shoes, and flying past like gazelles. Nothing like being passed by 50 people in a single, terrifying mile to make you want to DNF. My pace slowed considerably at this point from 8:20 min/mile to 9:30+.

After 5 miles, the muddy trail finally ended and we started uphill. It was a twisty road, so you could never quite see the top…which was a good thing because the top didn’t come for 2 miles! Per my usual on hills, I passed a lot of people but laughed out loud at the absurdity of it all- thin air, pouring rain, and a hill that wouldn’t stop.

It stopped raining around mile 24 but the damage had long been done on my shoes, which were muddy and soaked. Like lifting 2 cement blocks off the ground with each step. Woof. I crossed the finish line exhausted, but in an effort good enough for 6th female overall, 2nd in my age group and- miracle of miracles- sub 4 hours (3:54:23). Good thing, cause I’m NOT tryin’ to go back to Idaho to complete my 50 sub 4 circuit. Or ever for any reason, really.

Love the wooden finisher medal & AG plaque

Who should do this race? 50 staters- there were a lot of us there (29 states represented in only 130 runners) and it was fun to chat with folks on the same journey. The weather really made this a wash for me- it would have been a great race in dry conditions and I appreciated all of the extras the organizers put into the experience. My only suggestion? Stay in Idaho Falls in a normal chain hotel. There was a beautiful Residence Inn taunting me on the way back to the airport!

Thumbs up if you pulled off a time you shouldn’t have.