Oct 06

St George Marathon Race Report by Steve

Last year, I didn’t get selected in the lottery to do the St George Marathon. It seemed like all my friends were picked but I was left out. This year, I was selected but none of my friends were running it. Ha!

St George isn’t a huge city (2012 Population: 75,561) but they have a big marathon! The marathon is listed on their webpage as the 16th largest in the US. It is popular enough to require a lottery entry. The marathon has also won a number of accolades.

The expo is really nice. Everything was very smooth for picking up my race packet. The marathon has some great swag. The shirt is very nice quality. It was nice to see some other Saturday marathons at the expo, like the Phoenix Marathon, Utah Valley Marathon, and the Huntsville Marathon.

St George Marathon Swag

I got up and walked to the buses early since I was already awake. Good thing I always try to get a good night’s rest two nights before the marathon since I know I won’t get much the night before. They give away some really nice prizes for early bus riders (I didn’t win though), which is a cool incentive to get people there early.

At the start, volunteers hand you gloves courtesy of Wasatch Running Center and a mylar cover. How nice! It was chilly at the start but not too bad. I believe it was in the 40s. Many participants said it was colder last year. They also have many fires to sit near while you wait.

I got myself situated near the start by the 3:25 pacer. The Clif Bar pacer was really helpful with encouragement and race tips. As the race began, there’s the normal jostling for position and finding your comfortable pace amongst so many participants. The gloves were perfect for the first mile or so and then I ditched them along with so many others shedding layers as they warmed up.

The course is beautiful. I love the scenery. Veyo Hill and Snow Valley are great. Towards the end the red rocks are amazing. The volunteers are fantastic. The aid stations are well stocked and set up in a really functional way. The organization of this race is absolutely superb.

I started out running the downhill at my target pace or just below it. By the time I got to Veyo Hill (about mile 7ish), it was time to slow down the pace. The hill is steep for a road race and you certainly feel it. I allowed my pace to slow to the 9s and touch the 10s for a bit. Many folks choose to walk it. After that, there’s some more incline and rollers (you can see them coming in the road in front of you) for a few miles. I thought I was slowing down for these, but when I look at my splits, it appears I didn’t slow down enough according to my pre-race plan.

By the time I got to the half marathon mark, it was mostly downhill from there. I turned up the intensity and had some great mile splits in the second half. As we approached the town, there were so many people cheering for the runners. It’s encouraging to see so many people turn up to cheer. Your name is printed on your bib and people will call out your name specifically to cheer you on. I love the signs too. My favorite is the “Touch here for power” signs. 🙂 At one point, I ran by some people, feeling great, giving little kids high fives, and then I looked at my watch and saw I was running at a 6:30 min/mile pace. Oops! A bit too fast for my goal with lots of miles left.

There is a lot of downhill in this race. This year, I ran Utah Valley and Pocatello, which includes a lot of downhill. Also, I ran a mostly downhill 21 miler before my taper. I was prepared. My quads didn’t hurt like I thought they might.

As I started closing in on the last few miles, I knew I was on pace for a PR. This was motivation to keep pushing when my body wanted to quit. Plus with all the people cheering, I had to keep giving it my best.

I ended up finishing at 3:25, nearly 5 minutes below my old PR! I was elated.

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I really like the finisher’s medal made out of rock. Very unique! The finish area was very nice with an assortment of things to eat and drink, including ice cream. I went with the drumstick to start my post-marathon junk food to make up for all the healthy eating during training.

St George Finish Line

I really have no complaints about this marathon. I had a great experience. I can see why the race is so popular, requiring a lottery. The course is really designed for a negative split since you can clear the bigger inclines in the first half. I ended up with a mostly even split despite my plan. I’m pleased with the results nonetheless. 🙂

St George Marathon Medal

Feel free to comment below or on our Facebook page. Also, remember we are accepting reader submitted marathon reviews.

Sep 24

A Call for Guest Saturday Marathon Previews, Reviews and Race Reports!

Would you like to share your experience about a Saturday marathon that you have run? (Of course you would, you just ran 26.2 freaking miles and the world needs to know about it!)

We’ve been so pleased with the growth of SaturdayMarathons.com over the last year. Now it’s time to take the next step in becoming the one-stop destination for allВ your Saturday marathon informationВ and begin providing race previews, reviews and your own race reports from SaturdayВ races from all over the country!В We’re just two Marathon Maniacs living in Nevada (Steve) and Oregon (RJ) and our current calendar has more than 300 Saturday marathons — we need your help!

This is a great option for marathon runners that don’t want to go through the hassle of setting up their own blog (or if you have a blog but get frustrated by the same sevenВ family members being the only ones to read all of yourВ epicВ reportsВ like RJ was). You can put information out there to help other marathoners choose a race. You can share the race report with your friends easily. We are happy to publish it on our page and promote it on Facebook (if you wish — we’re approaching 2,000 likes). You can inspire people! We are also in contact with dozens of race directors who look for and welcome honest feedback from theirВ paying customers. Your honest and detailed experiences are gold to them.

What we are looking for:

  • A thorough review of various aspects of the race such as logistics, support, course, swag, etc. Please go into detail. Don’t worry about it being too long. We will edit it down if necessary.
  • Please include photos. Everyone loves lots of pics! рџ™‚ Let’s see those medals!
  • Be objective. Don’t trash a marathon simply because you had a bad race or didn’t meet your goal. What did the marathon do well? What could it have done better? Go into to details about why.
  • Have fun with it!

We don’t want a simple one paragraph review like you will see on other race websites. If you’re going toВ train for,В pay for and travel to a race, you want and need more than that.

We are glad to help you with your submission. We may ask follow-up questions, edit grammar (I’ll do my best since I’m not a pro at this) and arrange it on the website.

(Obviously, we reserve the right to reject inappropriate submissions. Please keep it family friendly.В Please also don’t get your feelings hurt if we edit the submission. рџ™‚ )

Race reports/reviews/questions can be e-mailed to steve@saturdaymarathons.com.

Sep 01

Back to the Pocatello Marathon

I ran the Pocatello marathon the first time in 2013. I posted my recap here. I went back to run the Pocatello marathon again in 2014. I wasn’t really intending to run it again but my schedule aligned so that I happened to be there on marathon weekend. Of course, I couldn’t pass that up.

A few thoughts in addition to what I posted previously:

Pocatello has a running store now, Pocatello Running Co

The marathon is still run incredibly well. The logistics are fantastic. The race swag is fantastic (a nice Adidas bag, cool tech tee [in a new color], a 5lb bag of potatoes [seriously] and more!)

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I think it speaks volumes that I can return on consecutive years and still expect a high quality event both times. Also, there were quite a few fellow marathon maniacs at the race. Marathon maniacs run a lot of marathons. It shows how good this marathon is that the maniacs keep coming back in good numbers, especially considering Pocatello isn’t as easy to travel to as other marathons (you likely have to fly into the Salt Lake City or the Idaho Falls airports and drive to Pocatello).

The weather was really nice this year. It was cool in the morning, not too warm at the end.

The small hill at mile 21 didn’t seem so bad this year. Maybe because I knew it was there or maybe because I had recently done the Tahoe Rim Trail 50 miler.

The announcers at the finish line were really nice and were doing giveaways. They hooked me up with a nice water bottle and gave my kids cowbells. You always need more cowbell [Christopher Walken voice].

How was my race? I missed my PR by 50 seconds, lol. I would have been upset except I knew that I gave this race all I had. So… no regrets.

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Jul 24

Tahoe Rim Trail 50-Miler Recap by Steve

Don’t stop believin’.

Yeah, that’s a corny way to start this race report but you’ll see why (and it will still be corny).

Outside Magazine listed the Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Runs as one of their 10 races on the “Trail Runner’s Bucket List.” After seeing the beautiful races photos, I really wanted to do it. I chose it to be (hopefully) my third ultramarathon and second 50 miler. Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) has a lottery entry system and I was fortunate enough to be chosen.

My goal for this race was simply to finish. Of course, you always want to do well, but my first 50 miler was on relatively flat terrain. This race would involve higher elevation and much more significant climbs.

The logistics for the race were smooth. We lined up at Spooner Lake to start at 6am. The national anthem was played first. It made me really appreciate being able to run this race on such a beautiful piece of this country.

We started the climb to Marlette Lake. The views did not disappoint. The first aid station, Hobart, was entertaining with a vaudeville style performer on a unicycle with a whip. В I pushed through this station quickly, just grabbing PB&J and small cup of coke. We climbed past Marlette Peak and Harlan Peak heading into the Tunnel Creek aid station. I was feeling good so I stuck with the PB&J and small cup of coke.

From there, I headed down towards the Red House aid station. There was some tough downhill on the quads, which in turn was a tough sandy climb back up. Still, I didn’t think it was that bad. The course labels this part as the “glimpse of hell” part of the course. I just pushed through. I would find my own “glimpse of hell” later on the course.

Back to Tunnel Creek, I kept the same eating routine. I was moving through the aid stations quickly and feeling good. I was wearing the Ultimate Direction SJ vest with two 20oz bottles but was advised to take extra water on the next part. I picked up my handheld and brought it with me for the next section.

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We climbed up past the Bull Wheel aid station and descended down to Diamond Peak Lodge. At this point, I felt good. I didn’t have highs or lows. I was just grinding along. At Diamond Peak, fueled up quite a bit, dipped my bandana in cold water, re-applied sunscreen and anti-chafe stuff, and  I was ready to go rather quickly.

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Next up was the brutal climb up to Diamond Peak. I turned on my music (I hadn’t listened to anything all race because I was enjoying the environment so much) and started hiking up the ski hill. It was the hottest part of the day and lots of sun exposure with only a tree for shade every once in a while. The hill was sandy too. It was a tough climb. I should have drunk more while walking because by the time I got to the top, I was cooked. I felt tired and dehydrated. I was so frustrated it felt like the wheels were falling off when I had been moving so steady.

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Then, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” started playing in my headphones. The corniness of the moment made me smile. I told myself I would just push through and finish no matter what. I gathered myself, grabbed some aid from the Bull Wheel aid station and headed out slowly.

I was trying to balance getting more fluid into a sloshy and upset stomach. After a little while, I was able to pick up the pace. Ouch. Cramps. I had taken some S-Caps early and made a mental note to take more at the next aid station.

I caught up to a couple of guys doing the 100 miler.

They said, “Hey, it’s him!”

Me: “It’s me?”

“Yeah! You! You did NOT look good at that last aid station. You’re looking better now.”

“So, I looked as bad as I felt?”

(Pretty much).

I moved along with a sensitive stomach, cramps, pain the feet, pain in the legs, pain in the hips…

Then, it started to rain.

At first it was the nice gentle cooling rain. Then, it started pouring.

I rolled into the Tunnel Creek aid station in the pouring rain. I took the time to regroup. I grabbed a whole can of coke and ate a gingersnap honey stinger waffle (hoping the ginger would help my stomach). I grabbed some S-Caps too. I repacked my bag, putting all the electronics in ziplock bags. I was worn out but I felt bad feeling down on myself as I saw another runner in the medical tent receiving an IV. The volunteers were amazing. They kept asking me things like, “What do you need?” “Are you eating enough?” “Feeling okay?” I really appreciated it and couldn’t thank them enough. A gentleman took my bandana dipped it in water, filled it with ice, and put it around my neck. AH! Shocking and refreshing. I refilled my bottles and was ready to head out into the rain. I touched my forehead then asked the volunteer filling my bottles, “Where’s my bandana?!”

“It’s around your neck.”

“Oh.”

We both laughed and he said, “It’s that point of the race, huh?”

(Pretty much).

I was feeling more recovered as I headed out into the rain and climbed back towards Hobart. On the way, I saw an older looking trail runner with a “pacer” bib pass by heading the opposite direction. He said, “Hey there!” as he passed and I did a double take. Gordy Ainsleigh, the first to run the course of the Western States 100 just ran by.

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From Hobart, I started heading up toward Snow Valley Peak. The course continues to be so beautiful. The storm clouds rolled in and it started sprinkling. I saw a small herd of deer seeking shelter (this should have been a good warning). The rain became worse and I started hearing more lightning strikes. I was near the top, completely exposed when suddenly I felt something hit me in the head. Ouch!

Ouch again!

It started hailing.

There were no trees to prevent the pea-sized hail from pelting me. I ran with my head down until I reach the Snow Valley aid station. What now? Do I wait out the hail?

More lightning strikes.

I looked at the supports to the aid station structure and they are all metal poles. Here I am, on Snow Valley Peak, in a thunderstorm surrounded by metal poles and it’s hailing outside. What to do?

В The super-volunteer at the aid station let some of us shelter in his truck (at least that would be grounded). After sitting in the truck a while, the hail stopped and we headed out in the rain. It had gotten colder but adrenaline pushed me down towards the tree line.

I ran down the long single track towards Spooner Lake. I ran past the last aid station without stopping into the aspen grove and ultimately to the finish line. Some of the folks near the finish line cheered and said things like, “You went through a lot out there,” and “You survived the wrath of God!”

I received my finisher’s plaque and cup. I was glad to finish. Of course, I wish I had done better. Some things were within my control and some things were completely out of my control. As always, I learned a lot. It was an amazing experience in such a beautiful place.

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Gear: Ultimate Direction SJ Vest, Hoka One One Trail Stinson shoes, Pearl Izumi Infinity shorts, and Injinji 2.0 trail socks

Jun 17

2014 Utah Valley Marathon Recap by Steve

As I examined the elevation chart provided by the Race Organizers, I was excited to see the sloping downhill trajectory of the course as it wound down scenic Provo Canyon, and thought this could potentially be a great PR race. I learned that although there is significant downhill, there are also a few rolling hills along the way. Elevation charts can be so deceiving sometimes.The day before the race, Utah Valley Marathon puts on a nice little expo. I love expos! I don’t know if anyone else does. I like to go to every booth and see what they have. I chatted with some very cool people from the Saints and Sinners half marathon, which we did last year. They remembered us! They gave me a free shirt. I also stopped to chat with the folks at the Phoenix Marathon, another very cool Saturday marathon. They have some really cool swag. If you’re looking for a marathon in AZ, you should definitely check them out.

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Saturday, I got up around 2am (with that “Did I even sleep?” feeling), got ready, and headed to the marathon buses just after 3am. By coincidence, I saw my friend Matt at the parking lot and we headed up to the starting area. The temperature at the starting area was in the 40s, which is cold to this Las Vegas runner. I had just left 100+ degree days in Vegas! Fortunately I brought some cold weather clothing. They also had some nice fires to warm yourself by.As the start time approached, I shoved all my warm clothing into my drop bag and headed over for a picture with the Marathon Maniacs.
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I lined up near the pacer for my goal time and we were off! The views along the course were beautiful. Running into Provo Canyon you see beautiful farmland, Deer Creek reservoir, Provo River (my favorite) and Bridal Veil Falls. There was a small glitch at the mile 7 aid station. There were no gels! One of the runners near me was visibly upset. I always pack my own because you never know what will happen. For example, maybe I’ll miss grabbing gels or they won’t have a flavor that appeals to me, so I try to carry enough to get me through most of the race. In the beginning, there are some speedy downhill parts. I stuck near my goal pace. Even after the first hill, I was still going strong. After the half, I was doing great. I was on pace for a PR. Then, after the rolling hills around mile 14, my calves started cramping up. I’m not sure exactly why. I personally think it was due to the intense downhill followed by hills, then downhill again, then hills. Switching gears dramatically like that seemed to take its toll. At this point, I was just trying to maintain near my goal pace as I waited for the calf issues to (hopefully) clear up and a second wind to arrive.A wind arrived but not the one I was hoping for! We got hit with a headwind towards the end of the canyon. The headwind frustrated my race further. Nonetheless, I kept trying to maintain hoping circumstances would change. 
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As I watched my PR slip away, I became discouraged and lost motivation to dig deep and finish strong. I guess I could have saved a few minutes off my time by pushing harder. The last few miles were tough. You can see the finish line 1-2 miles away from you but it seems to take forever to get there! Nonetheless, I finished with my second best marathon time.

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It’s a strange feeling because although I finished with my second best marathon time, I felt like I didn’t execute as well as I would have liked. I felt like I executed better at the Seattle marathon even though my time was not as good. The finish line is great. I loved seeing my friends and family cheer me in to the finish, and it gave me a boost to sprint to the end. Utah Valley has a very cool large medal for finishers. Their race shirts are also very nice.
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The finish area is fun with lots of nice recovery items, a PR bell (which I didn’t get to ring, lol), free massages, and even bounce houses for the kids. I opted to get my sore calves rubbed with Deep Blue at the DoTerra booth.
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This isn’t the end though. They also have a Kids 1k! I love when races do this. It was even free! A great way to promote fitness for children. My two oldest kids had a blast running the 1k and they got to finish at the same finish line with the marathoners. They also gave the kids some nice medals.Overall, it’s a great marathon. If you’re looking for one in Utah, check it out. The organization is solid. It’s a beautiful course. We were graced with some great weather. The medal and shirt are fantastic. Yes, it’s mostly downhill but there are some solid hills! Feel free to post comments or questions about this marathon below.