Apr 19

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Salt Lake City Marathon, UT

6 states down, 44 to go! My first solo marathon effort, without a running partner, a support crew, or anyone that I even knew in the state. It was a quick trip too, arriving there the night before the race, just in time to pick up my race packet at the expo, and heading back to the airport right after finishing the race. I met a couple from Jackson Hole, WY who was staying in the same hotel, and they invited me to join them at P.F. Chang’s for my traditional pre-race dinner of salmon, rice, and broccoli. (If you’re reading this…thank you again – it was great to meet you!)

low-res proofs from MarathonFoto.com

What? No pasta the night before? Well, I’m kind of a geek about this marathoning stuff (like you couldn’t tell that already?) and have read LOTS about nutrition. It seems that the popular tradition of the pre-race pasta party is well-intended, but too late. Loading up on carbs needs to be done throughout the week leading up to the marathon, or at least for the few days before. Having some high-quality protein, along with quality carbs, the night-before, will help regulate the burn of the glycogen stored in your muscles, instead of burning it all up before mile 20. This is why many marathoners refer to mile 20 as “the wall”…it’s when most people run out of that fuel in their muscles because all they’ve done is load up on pasta the night before. Here’s a good article from Nancy Clark and Hal Higdon about nutrition for marathoners, if you want to read more. She suggests doing your main carbo-loading earlier than the night before, and no later than lunchtime the day before the race.
Anyway, after riding the free train (crammed full of nervous and smelly runners) to the start at the Olympic Legacy Bridge, I was really moved by the sunrise on the snow-covered peaks all around us. There was also a large gospel choir performing on the bridge above us, which made for a memorable start experience.
Much of the first half of the race was downhill, and it felt good to stretch my stride out a little and coast down the hills. I didn’t feel like I was pushing it too hard, and I reached the half-marathon point in 2:03 (my fastest half in any marathon). Unfortunately, the second half of the marathon greeted us with a stiff headwind and strong gusts from the side…pretty much all the way to the finish. Later that day, the news reported winds of 50-65mph during the marathon, and authorities had actually issued an advisory against outdoor exercise due to the dust storms that had kicked up. There were times near the end when I couldn’t see beyond a couple of blocks.
The headwind was tough, but it was the gusts from the side that were the most debilitating. I’d have to lean into them sideways, then it would stop all of the sudden and I’d have to struggle for my balance. I used up a lot of extra energy with this dance. By mile 22 I was still feeling OK in my legs and lungs, but I had lost my will to fight with the wind. I did a lot of walking during the last 4.2 miles, and finished in 4:49:16. Although I was on target for a 4:30 or better most of the race, knowing that I had the Fargo Marathon on my calendar in 4 weeks, I thought it best not to push it in those conditions. I’m still satisfied with my 2nd fastest time, and a fun marathon experience!
I was on a plane home less than 4 hours after finishing the race. It’s a nice city, and a scenic course, with good crowd support. For more pictures from the race, you can also see a race report at Marathon Maniac Chester Kalb’s blog here.

Permanent link to this article: http://puggerrunner.com/index.php/2008/04/salt-lake-city-marathon-ut/