Monday, June 16, 2014

Utah Valley Marathon 2014 Race Review

The first part of this post is my personal experience running this race, and the second part is an overall review of the race for those thinking of running this specific marathon. 

This race was everything I had hoped it would be! I got on a bus at 3:50am and rode 26.2 intimidating miles up the canyon. I was emotional as I looked around at all of the runners. I thought about how many hours and miles had gone into their training. It was an inspiring site! I ran into Janae and Heather, friends I met through running, in the port-o-potty line. It was nice to see familiar faces!

 Waiting to cross the starting line.
When the gun went off, another wave of emotion hit me. It was really happening. I was going to get to run a marathon. In fact, so many times during the race I would think about how badly I had wanted to run a marathon and would get a huge smile on my face because I was actually doing it! I knew exactly why I was out there pushing myself, and that was so crucial in my finishing.

My approach was to run really conservatively until mile 13 (walking and hydrating through aid stations), and then assess how I felt. The first 13 miles were beautiful and I felt decent other than the strong headwind I was fighting. I ran alone until I came up on Janae around mile 16. I knew she should have been way ahead of me so I was concerned when I saw her. She was having stomach issues and a "bad race day". We were both so happy to see each other. We ran together after that. I had stomach trouble around mile 17.5 and had to hit the woods since we were in between port-o-potties. We walked through aid stations and in the last miles I stopped a couple of times and would say, "let's walk for two cones" (orange cones were lining the course). I knew Janae was feeling stronger than me, and I still am so grateful that she stuck with me. I'm really independent when it comes to running, but I don't know how things would have been for me if I'd been alone those last miles.

I wanted to finish strong, but my chest was getting really tight and my heart rate and breathing were going nuts. I was close enough to see the LDS temple's Angel Moroni statue that was at the finish line, but had to accept that there would be no sprinting to the end. That's been my thing in the half marathons I've done; I always push really hard the last mile and sprint to the finish. It was humbling to realize I just didn't have it in me. I was fearful of collapsing before I reached the end. Janae ran ahead about a mile from the finish. I wasn't sure how close to passing out I was, so I just put it in a really low gear and kept my eyes on the Angel Moroni statue.
50 yards from the finish line I saw my cute family! Holly and Steph had made fun signs, and part of me just wanted to go over and hug everyone right then and there. Then I realized that if I stopped moving my legs, they may never start again, so I put my eyes back on the finish line.

This picture brings tears to my eyes. I love how the sun's rays are shining right down on me.
Somehow, with heavenly help, I was blessed to make it to the finish. I'm so in love with this whole experience.

I never could have done this race without Kevin. He watches the kids while I get my workouts in. He patiently listens to my alarm going off in the 4 o'clock hour each morning. I just melted into his arms when I finally found him after I crossed the finish line. I just adore him!

Utah Valley Marathon 2014 Race Review
The Course: This course was absolutely beautiful. You start up Wallsburg Canyon, run until you meet Provo Canyon, and then down University Avenue. Then it's a straight shot to the finish in downtown Provo. This run had it all: beautiful canyon scenery, farms, mountains, waterfalls, lake views, and exciting downtown finish line.

The only negative I felt for the course was that through Provo Canyon, the road is steeply cambered. It was annoying and made my hip-flexors sore (the soreness left as soon as the road was flat again.)

Support: This race had amazing volunteers and plenty of support. I was far from being in the lead pack and I feel like the volunteers still had great energy and enthusiasm when I came through. There were aid stations and port-o-potties every two miles. There were lines at most port-o-potty stops, but at mile 13, when you get to where the half marathon started, there were tons of port-o-potties. So if you run this race next year, know you won’t have to wait in line if you can make it to mile 13.

Extras: The expo was good for a race this size. Packet pick-up was very organized and there were minimal wait times when I was there. I loved getting a sample of doTERRA's Deep Blue Rub (cream with essential oils for muscles and joints) in my packet. In my opinion, the girl shirts were ugly, but for some reason I don't think you should wear pink and purple together unless your 5.  I heard others say they liked them, so maybe it was just me.
The race paid for all of the runners to have FREE race photo downloads. I LOVE this perk! The race offered text alerts for a minimal fee and a big screen at mile 22 with personalized encouragement. I was expecting a picture of my kids holding a sign for me, and as I ran by the volunteer even said, "Look at the big screen. There is a message for you!" All I saw was a blank screen. Oops. Hope it worked for everyone else.  I was really sad about not seeing a picture of my two cuties.

No complaints with the medal. I may be wearing it every day for the next month. ;)

Runners: Apparently there were over 1400 Marathon finishers. I was so inspired by the diversity of the runners in this race. Maybe all marathons are this way, but all my assumptions of what a marathon runner "looks" like were demolished, and I'm so glad that they were. I ran side by side with young, old, small and large runners. There were runners decked out in expensive running gear, others were in baggy basketball shorts and t-shirts. A group of fireman ran in full gear. I loved seeing all of the different runners, brought together to tackle the same course.

Weather/Conditions:  I felt like the temperature was perfect (50s), but I've never run in wind like that before. I feel like the strong headwind just made the experience "richer", but I'm sure not everyone felt that way. ;)
There were wind gusts of 23mph and wind speeds of 16mph. 

Bottom Line: I thought this was a well organized race and the scenery was perfect. I felt like they delivered what they promised. I usually say if I'd do the race again in this part of my review, but you'll have to wait until I can walk normal again to get my true answer. ;)


  1. Way to go! I'm so very impressed you ran and killed that marathon! 😄

  2. You are amazing Jessica! Being able to say you've run a marathon is the best feeling ever! You've pushed your body to it's limits and now you know what you can do. I am so impressed you did this with such little kids, I didn't even attempt it until mine were much older :)

  3. My girl with allergies and asthma who was not a good runner in high school has taken a mammoth challenge and chewed away piece by piece. You ran the half marathon in Rock Hill with a low grade fever coming off days of sickness. You are goal oriented and determined. So proud of you! Like Dad said, "You did Mt. Rainier and now a marathon. It is ok to slow down!" Very happy for your success!

  4. Oh, Jess, I wish the picture (at mile 22) had been there for you too!! That made me tear up a little. I loved your review and the pics you shared. I'm so glad you got to do this and I wish you a speedy recovery. YOU are AMAZING.

  5. What an amazing experience and thanks for sharing it with us! There are many of us who wouldn't dare attempt to run a marathon and just in awe of this accomplishment! I love the detail of your experience. All I can say is "WOW!"