Idaho Falls, Idaho
Sub-4 Hour Marathon
Let me try to make a short story long.
Being just far enough away from our home to not warrant turning around into our already long road trip to northern Idaho, I realized I had accidentally went all purist and forgot my headphones and armband at home. I ended up doing this marathon sans music. I always leave the music at home for trail runs, but road running is a different kind of beast so I was a little nervous–pushing myself and going all out just short of four hours without music. It worked out– I enjoyed being in my head without any annoyances, fumbling around with technology. I have two young kids and a husband. Quiet time is golden.
Road tripping to the in-laws and then on to my hometown in northern Idaho was a trip in more than one sense. We traveled around northern Idaho for the week prior to my marathon, seeing loads of people, stirring up old memories and making new ones. The kids took horse riding lessons from their grandma, we hiked around some beautiful places, and I got to see my 96-year-old grandmother. I even got to see some old university buddies. It was pretty awesome. Traveling before the race did lead to some challenges–not the greatest eating, falling a little behind on rest, and generally being slightly less prepared than I knew I could have been for the marathon. Let’s just call it a few days of carb-loading and a solid rest day on Friday–it took 8.5 hours to drive from my hometown to Idaho Falls.
Road tripping while listening to Johnny Cash.
After an extensive amount of time spent in the car, it was good to arrive in Idaho Falls, pick up my packet and swag bag, and figure out a few important locations of the race.
We got to see friends from our Kazakhstan days, too. They have a house in Idaho Falls, so we stayed with them, spending the evening catching up.
For the morning of the race, I set my alarm for 4 am.
I drank some coffee, grabbed a banana, and my husband took to me to the buses. This course required us to be bused out to Bone, Idaho for our start at 5:30 am. I sat next to this cool lady–this was her 48th state that she had run a marathon in. She was 60 years old. I want to be like her.
It ended up being a 15 minutes late start, but no one complained. We ran alongside windmills, a sunrise, fields of wheat, cows, and in some pretty comfortable temperatures. There were also lots of rolling hills. More than I expected. I had set my goal thinking those hills were smaller. For whatever reason, the last few years hills and I have struggled to find a symbiotic relationship. It is more of a parasitic relationship. That elevation gain in the beginning messed with me both physically and mentally. I had moments of doubting myself and my ability.
Thankfully for my goal time, the hills only lasted for around 11 or 12 miles. Then it was a steep downhill for about 5 miles (8 kilometers). This is where I made up some of my lost time. I regained my third place on the descent, which was a little touch-and-go, but ultimately I was able to hold that position.
After the downhill portion, it leveled out and remained flat for the rest of the race. As the course wound through residential areas, I started to feel like I was running a marathon, in the sense of feeling its difficulty. When there was roughly a quarter of the race left, I was up and down with my energy levels. I made sure to take at least two cups of water and a Gatorade at each station, about two miles apart. I had also brought along five energy gels and two electrolyte tablets, making me semi-nauseated for a majority of the race, but a necessary evil. Even with these precautions, I was feeling the push.
I managed to miss one of the arrow stickers, ending up going down a wrong street for a quarter mile. A man more conscious of his surroundings than I at that moment, waved me back onto course. After this, the half marathon runners merged with the full, resulting in plenty of people to follow on the weaving course.
The whole time I was running, I was mentally calculating possible finishing times, readjusting for the times I felt depleted and for the times I was feeling strong. Somewhere in the last 3 miles I knew that if I ran just a little bit tired, I wouldn’t make a sub-4. If I dropped down to a comfortable pace, I wouldn’t make my goal. Testing my mental strength and ability is, in part, why I do this. I went with all I had.
I was really grateful to have my family and friends there at the finish. Mr. G ran with me at the end so he could get pictures of me finishing. Super sweet.
I was beyond stoked to get a 3:54:28 as my finishing time. I did have a better time in mind, but those hills. I need to find a completely flat marathon someday. Still. I was really happy. It was 9 minutes faster than my last PR.
Idaho Falls Marathon was a well-organized race, with lots of support and volunteers. They had a fun theme–Christmas in July. This was a little bit of a selling point for me, if I am being honest.
After the race I waited around for the awards ceremony and had a recovery beer. A hazelnut brown ale. I failed to get a picture of this, but trust me. It was good.
Then we played tourist and went to check out the actual waterfalls of Idaho Falls.