02 February 2014

Death Valley Marathon - Feb 1st, 2014

Badwater Basin with the family - Rocking the Broncos shirt
This weekend was it - Marathon Weekend

We made the two hour drive from Vegas to Death Valley National Park on Friday and checked in at the Furnace Creek Ranch.  After dropping our stuff off in our room and letting the boys burn off some energy at the playground, we piled back in the Forester and drove over to Badwater Basin to get our picture at the lowest point in the Continental U.S.  After walking around there for a little bit, we returned back to Furnace Creek and had dinner at one of the restaurants at the ranch.  After that, it was back to the room to lay out the gear for the morning and to get a good night of sleep.

On Marathon Morning, Sarah and I got up, donned our race gear, ate a light breakfast and went over to check-in and pick up our bibs.  After walking back from the check-in at the Furnace Creek Saloon, we loaded up our gels and drinks and headed to the starting area for the pre-race brief.  At the end of the brief, the marathon kicked off with the half starting ten minutes later.

Miles 1-6 flew by with me running at a very steady 10 minute pace through the rolling hills.  Shortly after passing the Mile 5 mark, I popped two Cliff Shot Blocks into my mouth and grabbed a cup of water as I passed through the Mile 6 aid station (note - every aid station was extremely well stocked).  At Mile 7, a headwind began sweeping down the road and by the turnaround, I had slowed down to a 2:16 for the half.  As I approached the aid station at Mile 14, I broke open a Hammer Gel and realized that body temperature gel is not the most edible thing. After downing a cup of Gatorade at that aid station and continuing the run, I began to realize how warm it was getting and stripped off my outer layer (it was in the upper 40s at race start) and tied it around my waist.   Temperature relief was immediate and I pressed on still feeling pretty good.  At the Mile 17 aid station, I grabbed another cup of Gatorade and a couple of peanut butter filled pretzel bites and pressed on.

approaching the finish
Shortly after Mile 18, the bad times began. My right quad began to ache and spasm and I alternated running and walking until it worked itself out.  By the time it was done, the Mile 20 aid station was in sight and I grabbed another cup of Gatorade and a couple pretzels and pressed on.  Shortly after leaving the aid station, the intermittent tail wind shifted to a steady side wind that would be with me through the next and final aid station.  At the Mile 23 aid station, I grabbed two cups of  Gatorade and told myself that it was only a 5K left.  The next two miles were tough, both mentally and physically but once the Mile 25 marker came into sight, I got a huge mental boost which helped me greatly pick the pace back up for that final 1.2 miles.  As the finish line came into my view, my youngest son came out to the edge of the road and ran with me for the final quarter mile.  At 4:58:18, I crossed the line.  I wasn't happy with the time but was happy to finish and will take away some good lessons for when I start training for a fall marathon.

Postrace, I got a shower and then relaxed in the hotel pool for a bit with Sarah and the boys.  After that, we went to the National Park visitor center and spent some time walking around the museum to catch up on some Death Valley history and geology.  For dinner, we got two pizzas from the saloon following the awards presentation (Woo Hoo! Despite some injuries that crept up in the last two weeks, Sarah finished third in her age group in her first half marathon with a 2:15!) and took them back to the room.  After a good night of sleep, we checked out of the hotel early, drove to a couple of other sites for some sightseeing and got in a two mile hike before making the drive back to Vegas.

Back at the house now and there is definitely some soreness and stiffness in the legs.  My plan is to not run again until next Saturday and to not push out anything long or fast for another 10 days after that.  Once that is done, though, it is time to get ready for a spring series of half marathons.  Next race: Six Tunnels to Hoover Dam Half Marathon on March 15th.

Death Valley marathon bib and finisher's medal

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