Monday, June 13, 2011

Utah Valley Marathon Review 2011

I ran my first marathon two and a half years ago. If you had told me at the time that 2.5 years later I would be running my 10th marathon I would have washed your mouth out with soap for lying. But the Utah Valley Marathon on Saturday was indeed my tenth marathon. Just plain nuts.

The weekend started out Friday night with lots of carbo loading at Carrabbas with our friends Ashley, Matt, Ty, Tom, Liz, Mel, and Renee. I have some CRAZY fast friends. Except for Mel who ran the half marathon, these guys finished the marathon hours (yes, HOURS) before me. They rule.

Bus loading for the marathon started at 3:30am. (WHAT?!?! As if running 26.2 miles wasn't hard enough already.) You won't believe who I saw at the starting line!

Yes - Pony Tail Man! (You can read more about him here.) Pony Tail Man doesn't know he's stalking me, but I've been seeing him a lot lately.

His pony tail is funny. I giggle every time I think about it. But let me be very clear. Would I grow a pont tail like this if I could? Um, in a heart beat. I can't make fun of him too much. After all, I wear a fanny pack when I run.

The weather started out perfect. Thankfully no rain like when I ran the race last year. I had fun seeing lots of friends and fellow bloggers. And the scenery....incredible.

My knees felt way, way better than the Ogden Marathon three weeks ago. To be honest, that race was miserable. But for this race I actually felt good and had fun. I pulled out the Happy Anniversary Mel shirt from last year (our 13 year anniversary!):

For some reason I felt very strong mentally during this race. I remembered a quote by Ryan Hall about staying focused on the moment and not being distracted by what you still have to do. I think I did this better than any other race I've run.

I was so happy to get to the aid stations that had oranges and bananas because I was HUNGRY. If they had offered a Denny's Grand Slam breakfast I would have taken it.

I made a quick bathroom stop at mile 13, just in the nick of time. My bladder was holding what felt like seven gallons of Powerade and I was uncomfortably close to wearing seven gallons of Powerade.

I love taking pictures of tunnels. The key to taking pictures in a tunnel: you must turn the flash off. Then you get this "light at the end of the tunnel" look:

Something peculiar happened around mile 20: I started feeling good! I got into kind of a groove and passed lots of people in the last six miles when it seemed like most people were doing the marathon death shuffle. Although this aid station around mile 22 seemed pretty appealing:

On a serious note, the volunteers at this race were exceptional. Each of them was so happy and helpful. I made sure to tell each of them thanks. It's really cool that people would give up their Saturday morning to stand in the heat and give me a cup of water.

I kept pushing hard. Around mile 23 I received the most glorious gift: half an Otter Pop! It had gotten hot outside and my skin was on the brink of igniting so this little gem may have saved my life:

I'm not a very emotional person but I got really choked up at mile 24. I just felt so overwhelmed and thankful that I am able to do this marathon thing. I felt so thankful that I was in the home stretch and still feeling good. The last two months since the Red Rock Ultramarathon have been difficult so I felt so happy to actually feel like a runner again. By this point it was really challenging to get one foot in front of the other, but I kept myself running! It was one of those times where I re-learned that I can do hard things. I can do hard things. Mile 24 was a pretty powerful moment for me.

I am not fast. I am not a particularly good runner. But I am tenacious and stubborn and determined. And I am too legit. Too legit to quit. The last half mile was so fun for me. I ran fast. I whooped and hollered. I gave a high five to every single spectator I could see and then I crossed the finish line in 5 hours and 24 minutes!

I felt so, so happy. It was such a huge mental boost to finish the last six miles strong. For most runners, a 5:24 marathon would have them thinking about jumping off a bridge. I realize that for most, 5:24 would be considered a dismal failure. But for me, in that moment, I was ecstatic.

I was also on the verge of blowing chunks after running so fast for that last half mile. The heat and fatigue were starting to make me a tad loopy by the time I met up with Mel and our awesome friend Braydon who both rocked the half marathon.

I had moments during the race when I thought "Why am I doing this?" But everything became so clear at mile 24. The pain and struggle led to a life-changing experience.


  1. Congratulations on another marathon done!

  2. Great job Cory. Provo Canyon is one of my favorite places... the scenery is breath taking and I feel like I grew up there. I miss those snow capped mountains.

    So stinking funny about the pony tail guy.

    Ok, so Ashley Paulson... how do you know her? I went to high school with Matt. Ashley and I ran my first marathon together, which was STG in 2002.... and then I moved away, so we couldn't train together anymore. She is so amazing. A 2x Ironman, and a super speedy runner. She ran UVM in 3:17.?.. geesh.

  3. These are some gorgeous pictures. They definitely put my on-the-run sweaty-iPhone pictures to shame. Congratulations on a strong race! I love your description of how you felt...and in that last 6 miles of my marathon, it was most definitely the death shuffle going on.

  4. Great pics as usual! Hilarious that you saw ponytail guy again!

    Glad to hear that the marathon went well and your knees are feeling better, I was a little nervous for you since you said you had some knee pain about 2 weeks ago, and doing 2 marathons in 3 weeks is tough.

    and lol at the temptation station couch!

  5. Very happy for you Cory! So amazing that you felt a surge those last 6 miles. Many congrats on your 10th marathon. On to number 11 :)

  6. I TOTALLY SAW YOU!!!! I yelled, for you, but you had head phones in and didn't see me. It was around mile 16 or so. What an awesome race! You are so inspiring to me. I read all of these blogs about all of these people that are so fast, but for some reason they don't draw me in. I love that you are so HUMAN- in your running, in your injuries, in your life. It's awesome. You are awesome. 5:24 rocks! Way to go on your 10th marathon. I hope to see you AND pony tail guy at the Top of Utah this year :).

  7. Excellent!! You had such a great race AND that Otter pop looks pretty darn good! Thanks for my giveaway stuff!

  8. otter pop was a major godsend, just the sugar kick i needed to get me through. i am so glad ponytail man was there. i can't wait for the next sighting. good work on number ten! you are amazing!

  9. love this recap!! so happy for you! and I love your pics along the way. I was regretting not having my camera at so many different points! agreed that the volunteers were AMAZING and that temptation station was a little too tempting at that point in the race! you are amazing for staying so strong right up until the finish! CONGRATS on an awesome race :)

  10. Cory! Thank you so much for your comment on my blog. I am so excited to have found your blog. Congrats on the race and I definitely love all of the pictures. Wow! You are talented to take pictures while running. Congrats on running your 10th marathon that is absolutely amazing!

    I am excited to follow your blog! :)

  11. whoa, awesome job on your 10th marathon! Don't worry, I wear a fanny pack when I run too :)

  12. That is an awesome marathon! I'd love to finish a marathon and feel strong in those last 6 miles, not like my normal "vow to never run again" mindset :)

  13. Great job on your 10th! Pony-tail guy again- how funny! Love your photos! You are the reason I carry a camera- I love photos with a race report!

  14. You always have the best pictures! I don't know how you have the energy to get those awesome jump shots. But that's really cool. We ate at Carabas the night before too! Love that place!
    10 marathons in that short of time is really awesome. Great job!

  15. Wow! You ROCK!! 10 Marathons? That's just awesome. Congratulations! I LOVE your pictures and I love that you ran fast and gave everyone fives at the end. Too COOL!!

    Keep it up!

  16. Thanks so much for commenting on my blog! This is amazing, congrats on a great marathon! I'm pretty sure I have to follow, because I almost laughed out loud at the part about Ponytail Man.

  17. Nice Job! Looks like it was a beautiful coarse. It is true we all begin to wonder why are we running 26 miles and then around mile 24-25 it all becomes clear again. It is because it is SO WORTH IT!

  18. Great job! My husband wants to run this one next year. Congrats! :)

  19. Spent a lot of time reading your blog as I'm training for my first half marathon. I love all of your tips! Nice work on completing the marathon!

  20. congrats on a great race Corey! Your pics are amazing!

  21. I'm so glad that I recently found your blog! This race report was fantastic! And you threw in a "too Legit to Quit" reference! :) Congrats on your 10th marathon. Looking forward to reading about many more!

  22. Congrats on your 10th marathon! Very cool accomplishment.