St. George Marathon – 2017

I am finally writing about the St. George Marathon that I was able to run back in 2017. My roommate convinced me to sign up for the marathon when the registration in April.

Training:

When I signed up for the marathon, I was fairly fit and could run about 5 miles without stopping, but I definitely had a huge amount of work to accomplish. When I signed up, I wasn’t working and soon after I finished my classes for the summer, so I had a significant amount of time on my hands. For the month of May, Elk Grove, my hometown, had a competition for cycling as many miles as possible during the month. Well, my mom brought my bike out to Utah and I rode about 40 miles in around 2 hours almost everyday for a month. A couple of the days, I only did 20 miles, but at a faster pace. One day, I rode from Provo to Temple Square in Salt Lake City, which came out to about 102 miles. I ended up finishing the month with having ridden 650 miles. I also swam about a half mile my apartment complex’s pool. This became a great start to training.

June through middle of August, I began working with a youth camp called EFY, which meant that I wasn’t able to ride or run most days, but because I was a counselor for 40 youth, I was always on my feet and being quite active throughout the day. I probably lost some of my conditioning, but not much because I was still active.

End of August, I hadn’t started school or work, so again I had a lot of time on my hands again. I started running again, but I think I began with too much mileage too soon, so I think I strained my IT band on my right leg. I iced and rested the leg for a while before running again.

September through race day, I started working and my classes, which cut my time way down. I tried to run about 5-6 miles a day to get ready, still making sure that I didn’t agitate my leg again. I took a spin class through BYU, so I built my endurance through that. A week or two before the race, I ran my first Dirty Dash race (see my post on my second Dirty Dash race). When I ran it, I ran the 10k portion by myself and then caught up to my friends and ran it a second time. This 12ish miles and another 10 mile run were the longest runs that I did to prepare for the marathon.

My roommates ran significantly more than me in preparation to the point that they ran a couple 20 or 22 mile runs. They were on a more strict running schedule than me that built up their mileage quicker. They also weren’t dealing with other injuries. I suggest looking at actual marathon training schedules and begin your training about 6 months in advanced.

I found one of my friends at the start line.

Race Day:

The night before we drove down to St. George and picked up our bibs and race packets. We then stay at my roommates house in St. George for the night and carbo-loaded for the race the next day.

At 4:30am, we got ready and drove to the finish line. The race starts up in the mountains just outside of St. George and you run down towards downtown before doing a 5k around the St. George. Because the race starts up in the mountains, they have the racers get on shuttles and shuttle them up the mountain to the start line. At 5 in the morning, the start line was freezing, so we all huddled around campfires in our teflon blankets waiting for the race to start. Everyone was stretching and going to the restroom before the race began. They had pace setters running at specific times with signs, so that you could tell where you were on time. I suggest picking a reasonable time and sticking with the pace as much as possible.

They shot the gun and everyone started running. Of course, at such a large race it took me a long time to cross the start line, but your time doesn’t start until you get to the start line. Lots of people sprint at the beginning to get a good spot, but with 26 more miles to run take your time and conserve your energy. Make sure you stay loose with controlled cadence, stride, and breathing so that you can last.

St. George is an awesome marathon especially for beginners because most of the race is downhill (see elevation map). The race follows a slow downhill for the first 7 miles. Around mile 7, there is the first large hill that goes into a couple of rolling hills for the next couple of miles until mile 11. At mile 11, runners drop a huge amount of elevation almost all the way until you get into St. George with a couple of rolling hills scattered throughout the race. You end with a 5k around St. George and into the finish line.

Elevation map with mileage

I ran the marathon with a couple of my roommates and their families. I ran completely separate from all of them because I didn’t train nearly as much as any of them. Again, the longest runs that I did were around 10 miles, so after that I was in uncharted territory, but I still felt really good. Most people dropped off the extra clothing that they started running with and stood in line for the restroom, which takes up precious time and so people just ended up going in the bushes. I started running with the 4:20 pacer to give me about a 10 minute mile average, but I felt good, so I caught the 4 hour pacer. I ended up staying with the 3:45 pacer for most of the race until we hit a couple of the hills right before St. George. I hit the “wall” around mile 20 and then again at mile 25. It felt as though the effort that I had put in in the first 20 miles was equal to the effort required for the last 6 miles. As I passed the 25 mile marker, I started to walk thinking I had nothing left, but another runner came up next to me and told me to run with him and to finish strong. We ran the last mile together and then I pulled ahead as we came down the finishing stretch. He was a huge support.

Staying Alive:

To keep myself going, I normally splashed a water cup over my head and back and drank a Gatorade at each aid station. I grabbed a banana each time that they were offered and a Cliff bar energy gel when those were offered. At every aid station after mile 17, I had my thighs and calves rubbed down with Icy Hot to relax my legs, which helped significantly. They do offer Vaseline for chaffing, but luckily I didn’t have to deal with that. I would also take a break and walk at each aid station while I drank and ate. A couple times toward the end of the race, I shook my legs out and stretched.

Course Map with aid stations

Finishing:

I finished the race at 3 hours and 56 minutes, which was about 24 minutes faster than what I was expecting. I collapsed on the ground in the recovery area. I drank and ate a ton before even attempting to get up. After stretching and relaxing, I was able to some what get up and limp around to grab the rest of my stuff. I met up with one of my roommates. His family treated me to a big burger at Smash Burger before riding home.

I strongly recommend the St. George Marathon to first time marathoners, but I also suggest training way more than I ever did. I am posting this with some of the race info taken off of their website and some pictures that I took. I am editing some of my race pictures and I’ll update the post when I have those.

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