First of all, I have to agree with Fritz about the "cool" VIP bus ride up to the start line! I was planning on riding up in the yellow school buses, shivering in the cold for more than an hour and trying not to choke on toxic smoke fumes when I did try to find some warmth by the fires. So I was almost "giddy" when I found out I could sit on a nice warm, roomy bus until 6:40 am and have a bathroom only steps away! It was nice to finally meet Fritz, too. I've been really impressed with all he's accomplished in the past year. Glad we were both feeling "on" and able to repeat with wins.
Ogden is my favorite marathon course (of the 2 courses I've run!). I love how it is broken up into different sections (1st canyon, around the lake, "hill", 2nd canyon, parkway) that make it more manageable for the mind to cope with. I kind of knew going into the race that I would probably not be seriously challenged. The other two top ladies were planning on going out in 3 hour pace for the first half and then seeing if they could negative split. My training hasn't been quite as 'sharp' this spring as it was last year so I honestly just wanted to be sub 3 and hopefully around 2:55-2:56. In my two years of experience with it, I think Ogden can be a tricky course. A lot of people "blow up" on it for some reason. Going out too fast can definitely be a big mistake but I don't believe it has the kind of negative split potential that St George has either. So, with that in mind, I usually try to set my goal for as close to even split as possible. The first 8 downhill miles were wonderfully relaxed and easy, as usual. The weather was amazingly perfect. I tried to run with guys when I could and enjoyed the entertaining aid stations :) The next section around the lake was a struggle for me last year. I remember thinking many times then that I would not be able to keep this up for another whole half marathon! But this year, my running continued to feel smooth and rhythmic and controlled right through the halfway point. I won't go into all my mile splits (I kept missing mile markers anyway) but I was about 1:25:30 at the half mark. Then came the "big hill" at mile 14. It didn't really bother me much. It was actually nice to have a short, 7 minute challenge to focus on (instead of the gloomy thought of 12 more long miles to go!). I did start to worry after the hill that maybe I had been overzealous in my first half split but as soon as I started the next downhill section into Ogden canyon I felt like I could handle it til the end. Though it began to get more uncomfortable, this canyon section was a lot of fun and I got to see quite a few people I knew, including Allie in her very bright orange vest at mile 21 :) The pace through here still felt "uncomfortably comfortable".
Then came the parkway stretch... even more painful and esp challenging for me mentally. But it is also my favorite part of the race. I ran at Weber State (many years ago) and this 2 1/2 miles along the parkway always brings back some great memories of doing mile repeats here during the cross country season :) It's nice to half all the half marathoners along the course at this point cheering and distracting me from my increasing fatigue. Of course the last mile of this course is the worst. It seems soooooo long. I was proud of the fact that I was able to keep my last 3 miles of the race all in the 6:30's. When I finally broke the tape, I had this weird sensation of "emotion" come over me and I felt like I wanted to cry. I didn't- but I came close. I've never felt emotional like that before. I think it was partly due to realizing that I had run faster than last year and I wasn't expecting to do that :) I broke my own course record from last year, finishing in 2:51:48. My second half was 1:26:18- so, close to even. It was my easiest marathon win (second place was 10 minutes back) but with the struggles I've had in my training leading up to this point, it was a welcome "lucky break". That's what I love about the marathon. It can be so unpredictable. Of course this works both ways (good & bad)! But I love that there are so many factors and variables- not just pure training and mileage. It's fun when your heart and mind can triumph over your body (and stomach!) :)