Surprise Marathon!

Today and Friday morphed into rest days since I will be running the Utah Valley Marathon (UVM) on Saturday. One of the rewards of being an ultrarunner, is your friends come to you and say, “I’m not going to be able to do this marathon. Do you want to run it in my place?”

And then you get to say, “Sure, I can run it for you. I’m sorry you can’t run. When is it?” Although your facial expression is sad (if you want them to be your friend), on the inside you are doing the Happy Feet dance.

“In three days,” your friend says, but you don’t care because you’re still doing the happy dance. Happy-Feet-Two-007

As an ultrarunner, they could ask you to run for them any day of the week and no matter how close the marathon is, you’ll say yes. Because your miles are high enough that you can just pick up a marathon, as if you were running to the store for milk. The only time you can’t, is the few days after a fifty or one hundred mile race.

That’s what happened to me this week. My friend Erin injured her foot, and it hasn’t healed enough for her to run. Tuesday she asked if I would run UVM, so that our other friend, Jeff, does not have to run it alone. I feel bad that Erin cannot run, but I am excited to be able to run the marathon. I’ve been aching for a race since Salt Flats 100 (April 26, 2014). I had considered running UVM, but didn’t have the money to register.

Since I didn’t go for my hill run this morning, I decided to look up the race course. I knew that it was primarily a downhill race, but I’ve never run this one before. I believe I’ve run about 15 marathons since I started racing in 2008. I’d have to dig all the medals out of a box in the basement to be sure.

Packet Pick up is Friday afternoon. Jeff is going to go pick them up since I have to work too late to be able to make it, which is good because I don’t have extra money for the expo that will be set up, and I can always find some running equipment I need to have. For example, when I walked out of Salt Lake City Marathon’s expo, I had a new jacket, a headband, a handheld bottle and some goodies for my friends.

The race begins up the Provo Canyon. All the marathon runners will ride a bus to the starting line. The last bus for the starting line leaves at 4:15 am. That means I have to leave my house at 2:50 am to make sure we get on that bus. I am hoping that we don’t end up standing around at the start, freezing our butts off, for an hour before the gun goes off. The starting time is 6:00 am.

The course is almost completely downhill. There are a few spots where there is an uphill, but no big climbs. The starting line is about 5100 feet above sea level and drops to 4500 feet above sea level over the 26.2 miles. You can see the course map and elevation here.

The course is USATF certified and is a Boston Qualifier, of course. Boston is the end all and be all in road marathon racing. I’ve tried to qualify once and missed it by three minutes in 2009. I was doing a lot of speed training then. I needed to get a 3:40:00 to qualify for Boston, but finished just over 3:43:00. Since then Boston has lowered their qualifying times and my running adventures turned to ultra-distances and trail running. In order to qualify for Boston at UVM, I would need to run a 3:35:00. (An 8 minute, 17 second mile pace) HA! That is not going to happen. To find out your qualifying time go here.

The UVM course closes at 12:30 pm, which means all runners must maintain a 13:44 pace. Now that, I can definitely do. I ran Salt Lake City Marathon on April 17, 2014 in 4:22, since it was a week before my 100-mile run I didn’t push too hard. So what’s my goal for UVM? Finish with a smile and don’t vomit. Basically, somewhere between 3:35 and 4:22. Sorry, Erin this is probably slower than you would have run it.

P.S. I’m still doing the happy dance.


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