The morning started early at 4am. I met Pam and her husband Rocky in the hotel lobby at 5:15am where we got on the shuttle that drove us the 10 mins to the start up in the mountains.
It was still dark but after one trip to the porta potties, we started right on time at 6am. It was a pretty small marathon so the start was just the race director yelling “Go!”
Let’s get it out of the way: this is a really tough course; there are some long hills (like 5 mile hill climbs) but it’s scenic, it’s beautiful, and the people are really friendly.
From the start Pam and I decided to run together and I said that unless she broke a leg off, I’d finish the race with her. So we started at an easy pace together knowing that the course was tough and the first 5 miles were uphill.
This was the first marathon that I didn’t listen to any music at all; Pam and I chatted the whole time. Running without music was great because we also talked to a bunch of other runners along the way like Neal:
The running world is pretty small… Neal and I ran the Birch Bay Marathon together for many miles and he even remembered my brother giving him some water!
I wonder where the term “Red Rock” came from….
After about the first 5 uphill miles, we had some nice downhills and then a few more ups and downs until about mile 11 where we had a 2 mile steep downhill. Pam and I cruised down it around 7:15 min/miles. I think we passed the halfway mark around 1:48ish and I felt pretty good.
The only problem is that the next nearly 5 miles were all steep uphill. From mile 14 to nearly 19 were all uphill. Pam and I were running 10 min/miles at times, but we just kept at it and didn’t stop.
I was really proud that Pam didn’t stop or walk at all! I would run ahead and then jog in place and she’d come up right behind me and we’d keep going.
Finally around 20 the downhill started and it was like heaven after all that climbing.
(On our way down around mile 11 we passed all the half marathoners and I spotted an SR reader with her shirt on! LOVED IT.)
The scenery was pretty amazing; we both said that we felt like we were at the top of the world at the high points of the course.
We cruised the last 6 miles around low 8 min/miles. Pam did a great job of keeping up and keeping me company too.
Finally near the end I started being a drill master and pushing her to finish hard. And she did! Pam sprinted to the end and finished really strong.
I took gels at mile 9, 13 and 19. Normally I do 4 in a marathon but decided to try 3 and it worked out ok.
I finished in 3:46:31, an 8:38 pace.
Pam actually got 1st place for her age division! And I got 2nd for mine. To get an idea of how hard this course is (and how small the field is), the 1st woman finished in 3:35.
Even though it was a tough course, I feel really good, no aches or pains because I never felt like I went all out or pushed too hard. It really felt like a good, long training run with friends.
I really enjoyed talking with everyone, from Pam to Neal to a guy who has run 60 marathons. The camaraderie and friendliness of other runners really made it a fun race.
With my 2nd age division award.
Overall, it was the hardest course I’ve ever run, but I felt like I took it relatively easy and was able to finish strong because we (Pam and I) paced ourselves and started smart. A great race in my book!