Monday, May 27, 2013

Race Report: SLC Marathon (10th annual!)

For me the 2013 Salt Lake City Marathon was an exercise in atonement, as I failed to make it to the February  El Paso Marathon start, (easy to do when sick in bed, they say) and after some research Dan and I decided to jet out to SLC for the marathon weekend, a weekend I will try hard to replicate each year.  There is a race here for everyone, a full marathon, a half, a 5K as well as a marathon bike tour.  Wheelchair division too.

First of all, a Saturday race is great for our work schedules.  We were able to enjoy a post-race day with our friends Barb and Jim (parents to BF Leah) and fly home leisurely on Sunday without the if-I-don't-run-the-next-10-miles-in-under-8-apiece-I-will-miss-my-flight stress.  

I saw a smattering of vendors at the expo but we barely made it from the airport on Friday night before the expo ended so no shoppie-shop time for me.  There is no race-day packet pick up.  Dan and I enjoyed a pre-race pasta dinner for two at Caffe Molise, across from the Salt Palace Convention Center/packet pick up.  Had it not been for the marathon in <12H, I would have destroyed my plate of penne with goat cheese, but I wisely stopped with only a slightly distended abdomen instead of going all in. On the to-do list for next time.
Marathon morning, I awoke to the fun game of figuring out what I'd packed that could get me through an unseasonably (and suddenly!) rainy and chilly few hours.  Bright side: no chance of overheating or sunburn...I added an old thermal LS shirt under my usual short sleeves and shorts getup.  Jim had black coffee brewing for Dan and I and luckily he was able to take us the the starting corral at the University of Utah, cozily surrounded by the stylish academic buildings and Olympic Legacy Bridge, from the 2002 Winter Olympics.   

Runners and spectators alike were soaked by mile 3 and I am glad I forwent additional layers.  The rain and chill did not deter any of the spectators, what an outpouring of community love, thanks for the beer and the rain-suit clad kiddos throwing out mini high-fives, and for 7am soft-serve ice cream at mile 8, the silver-levered machine daisy chained all the way down a driveway, what fun.  I did not think you could get one for home use! preoccupied my mind for a few good and quick miles after.

I have never run a race with fans supporting me in person and it made all the difference, even more special that it was Barb and Jim, who are pretty much parents to me, too.

Dan, chief time coordinator, tracked my splits (thank you 3GB data plan!) so that he could provide needed hugs/wipe tears at the crucial 20 mile mark. 

I had a great first 5 miles (7:47 pace) but my lack of training aka the everything else that competes with my running life showed up after the half so I puttered a bit but made it in 3:55 which was just fine by me.  I am not a great racer, but I did well, stayed hydrated, and snacked on a baggie of Shot Blocks as needed.  Certainly not a PR, but it didn't need to be.  I was just happy to soak in the camaraderie and the sheer pleasure of a race, a fearless race in the face of the Boston Marathon bombing 5 days earlier. 

Afterwards tuckered Dan took a nap and Barb and Jim and I caught up over coconut water.   Jim and Barb then took us on a scenic drive through Immigration Canyon to Park City where we dined like celebrities at Riverhorse on Main.  We savoured the last of the sunlight on Main Street by visiting smart art galleries and Sundance filmhouses and from our dinner table we even spied a rogue skier making lone tracks in the melty spring snow.  No dinner pix, thankfully, I ate ravenously and that need not be recorded :)

Sunday we woke up to Barb's delicious Goodnight Waffles and we took a stroll in the early spring neighborhood.  I loved seeing my friend Leah's childhood home.  After a great weekend, it was time to return to our Texas home, but with every intention of marathoning in SLC next year.  Maybe Dan will run too, but that's another story...

Me, Jim, Barb fighting the post-breakfast sleepies

What made it a great race:
  • Love for and yellow and Sweet Caroline at the start
  • Friendly fans and runners and dedicated supporters.  Beautiful town, delightfully rolling course.  No risk for heat stroke!
  • Flawlessly executed (yet increased!) security measures- I say that because they were unobtrusive- smooth smooth race day
  • You can take public transport right to the race: TRAX
  • Post-race snacks in Liberty Park.  I wish it'd been sunnier and we could have explored the park more.  Despite the rain, there were tons of great snacks, drinks, yogurts, smoothies, fruit and my apologies to the Trader Joe's tent, I took very many of those delicious fig bars you have.  In my defense, we don't have a TJ's here in EP and the closest store is Albuquerque (not really a defense, but still...)
  • The race shirt- imagine this, a technical shirt in a variety of sizes, designed to fit actual bodies!  
  • Pace teams, if you're into that sort of thing (I am not, I just enjoy not letting the 4:00 team pass me up)