Monday, February 19, 2007


I was perusing the website of the Salt Lake City Marathon last night in an attempt to psyche myself up a little bit for my race in April when-- suddenly-- it hit me.

I am Scared. To. Death. of this race.

This will be the biggest race by a wide margin that I have ever run. Now, granted, Salt Lake City is no New York City. Or Boston. Or even Cleveland. But compared to any race I've run before, I'm in for a very different experience.

Last November, I ran a half-marathon that boasted around 650 people. At the time, that was the biggest race I had ever run. There was a huge crowd at the start and at no time during the race was I more than 20 yards either ahead or behind another runner. Coming from my earlier marathon during which there were stretches when I couldn't even see another runner, I thought I had finally arrived. Look at me and my bad self running with 650 other people!

Salt Lake City will have around 4,500 runners in the combined marathon and half-marathon. That's FOUR THOUSAND, FIVE HUNDRED runners for those who missed it. And although I'm the first to admit math is not my strong suit, I'm pretty confident in stating that's a heckuva lot more people than 650.

No doubt a Kenyan whose name I cannot pronounce will win the Salt Lake City marathon in just over two hours (the time it'll take me to run the half). Little bit different from my previous race experiences in which a funny-looking white guy named "Dave" has taken the title. Port-a-potties are destined to have lines during which the time it takes to wait, I could easily crochet a small, but lovely afghan. And for somebody who suffers a relatively healthy dose of claustrophobia in large crowds, I'm just a little concerned I'll snap under the stress and collapse at the starting line in a frozen-statue position, annoying everyone else when they have to make way for the EMT's to come through to revive me.

Just getting to the starting line in the first place is making me break out in hives. I'm going to have to take TRAX (Salt Lake City's public transporation system) to get into downtown. For a girl who comes from a place where the only public transportation system is for potatoes, I'm fairly intimidated here. What happens if I get on the wrong train? What happens if I get off at the wrong stop? What happens if I end up in Cleveland? Needing a port-a-potty?

Suddenly, I'm feeling like a chihuahua in a fenced yard full of rottweilers.

Help me, I whimper.


Justin said...

SLC doesn't have much of a light rail network. I'm sure you'll find your way there. Just get on the train which is going "downtown" until you get to the stop where you transfer to the "University" train. It's easy. Watch for people wearing running shorts and follow them.

I'm going to try this half-marathon also, and I'll be attempting to finish in 2 hours. We'll probably be back in the same pack. Good luck.

Allen said...

Well, Angie, if you go downtown to start the race, you will be on the wrong train. The race starts at the University of Utah :)

The good news is that after about 5 miles half of the runners (the marathoners) will separate from us in Sugarhouse Park and continue going south. We (the halfs) go south for a mile and then head west and then north into the downtown. So, after the first 40 minutes , you'll feel right at home with only 2200 runners.

Practice your downhills, because you'll have about 1 1/2 miles of downhill. The first half mile is pretty steep, and the next mile isn't quite as bad. Downhills are a great place to pick up time, or to ruin your legs, or to jog down.

Here is a map of the elevation chart for the marathon route and the first part of our route.

Notice that big downhill that ends at the 5 mile marker at Sugarhouse Park. Just above the chart is a link to a map of the route.

I think it is actually a nice route. Remember to wave at my wife and her mother when you pass their house just before the turn off of Foothill onto 2100 South and the downhill. My mother-in-law's house has a red rail fence in front with a nice birdhouse in the corner. It is right at the corner of Foothill & 2600 East, the last street before the downhill on 2100 South.

Allen said...

Ops... Justin is right. If you come up from the south, you have to go to the downtown and then transfer to the U of U.

My goal, Justin, is 2:10. My PB for a half is 2:21:16, and I'd like to go half way to two hours with this half, and then at the Senior World Games in St. George in October break 2. At least that is my dream...

Chad said...

You'll do fine and have a great time. Big races turn into little races about 20-30 minutes after the starters gun sounds and the pack has spread out. And the timing chips get rid of the need to toe the line to get a good time.

Of course, having said that I like little races ;-)

Lickety Split said...

You'll do fine. You kill me.

robison52 said...

This race will actually be smaller than the "New Las Vegas Marathon" therefore I pretty much know what to expect. You'll do fine, the only problems with a large crowd of runners is at the starting first mile and passing new walkers who feel they must walk five abreast!

I still haven't made reservations for a room as I'm still waiting for time off approval from my company. Once approved, I'll probably stay at the "HOST" hotels that have a free shuttle to the race course. I'm hoping they'll have a shuttle going back too!

We from should plan on getting together sometime before or after the race.

The Brown Family said...

I can totally see why you are nervous...I would be petrified!!! You will do awesome though. Much better than I could ever dream to do! Thanks for being so inspiring and for the awesome blog, which I check almost daily and love to read! You are amazing!
Love Karen

Rhetta said...

The SLC marathon is a wonderful race. I live about 15 minutes from town and love to go run around the marathon areas on race day. It's fun to see how runners can snarl the traffic for all the locals! Yell if you need help with a place to stay or a ride. We runners are always happy to help one another. I think you will be so distracted by the beauty of the mountains and scenery, you'll forget you're running a marathon. Good luck in training! Breathe....