After completing the NY marathon the preceding Sunday my legs felt ok but not full of energy. The day began with a 4am bus up to the Crystal Lake camp area above 5000ft. Don’t know if it’s lucky or unlucky like a black cat, but a raccoon crossed my path as I walked to the line of buses. The organisers set off each bus as it was full to do the winding climb up the canyon, which took about an hour and a quarter. My bus was almost driven off the road by a U-haul van, which turned out to be for the bag pick up.
I got a coffee and tried to keep warm. Then as 7am approached I applied sun cream and started final prep. There seemed to be several hundred runners there for the marathon, not sure exactly how many.
The start seemed to go off with a shout rather than a gun. Straight away it was downhill, and I noted a lot of the road had a steep camber. This soon started to affect me with my left hip and knee niggling a bit. I’d let the 4h pacer start way ahead of me but I seemed to quickly fly past him and his small crowd, though I was trying to be sensible. My watch was telling me what a stupidly fast pace I was doing! A bit further and I flew past the woman pacer with a 3h40 flag. I was beginning to get worried….
By around 8 miles the downhill was seriously affecting my quads and I knew I was headed for big trouble. The water points were every 2-3 miles and I was taking water at most of them. I went through halfway in a PB time, 1h44, but was realistic to know I couldn’t double that to get my finish time. By 17 miles I began a run/walk strategy. At first walking the few uphills, then just alternating walking and running downhill.
There were zero spectators. Just the occasional escorted convoy of vehicles using the uphill lane. So different to New York. But beautiful scenery and I was enjoying it. By around 22-23 miles the sun started to break through the cloud and it really began to warm up. Occasional scattered spectators stood outside of their houses. By now I was walking more than running, but still hoping to do a good time. The two pacers I mentioned had passed me by the 23 mile marker so I knew I’d be outside four hours.
By 25 miles my mental maths wasn’t doing that great and I figured I was going to miss a PB. Then a spectator shouted that the 26 mile marker was just round that corner, so I took heart and started jogging a bit more. He wasn’t being entirely truthful but it did help me to get a PB!
There was a small crowd near the finish line, and I think the announcer called out my name as I approached the line. I was in such discomfort I can’t be sure, but I did manage to strike a pose for the cameraman.
The medal is enormous and I got water, slice of pizza and foil blanket very quickly. The baggage pick up was so efficient it only took 10 seconds to get my bag, which was handed over with a smile. Brilliant.
I found plenty of blisters afterwards, and struggled to walk etc for about three days. So I have learned I need to do course specific training if I do another downhill course. But it was very enjoyable and the organisation was superb. Well done Revel.
Official timing: 4h 12m 2s
Temp started around 6C and climbed to around 25C (car dash said 29C when I got back to hotel)
Time: 4:12:02 (2 mins off 0ff PB)
Avg pace: 5:58 min/km