My second 26.2 was amazing!!  It went exactly how I expected the first marathon should have gone.  When I ran my first marathon, the LA Marathon in March of this year, it was 100 degrees and the heat destroyed me.  I was not a happy runner that day.  This beautiful fall day in November in Canyon City, aka Azusa, I was a very happy runner!  I honestly didn’t know what to expect with this marathon and I almost backed out and switched to the half because I just didn’t train properly.  I never got in a longer training run than 16 miles so I was worried about feeling the distance after those 16 miles.  Truthfully, I did feel the distance, and after 16 miles it really got tough, but it wasn’t too much to handle and I pushed through.

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The beginning of the day was not my favorite.  We had to be shuttled up the canyon by buses, and the last bus left at 5am, which meant I had to wake up at 3am, get out the door by 4am, and get on the bus at 4:30am.  I have a big fear of driving on windy roads in the mountains.  This fear was heightened by being on a big school bus in the dark.  I was freaking out on the bus!  I kept thinking, “yup, I would much rather run down this mountain than get back on the bus!” Lol!!  Once we arrived, it was beautiful out as the sun was rising over the mountain tops but it was freezing cold!  It had to be 30 degrees or under.  Revel is pretty amazing for giving us throw away blankets and gloves, they were so needed!  I huddled up with my blanket, gloves and Cliff Bar and waited an hour for the race to begin.  What I noticed right away was that there weren’t thousands of people crowding in.  There were a lot of people, probably about 800, but not nearly as many people that are at most races.  In fact, I’ve never done a race with this few people.  I LOVED this the most!  One of my least favorite things about races is weaving through a sea of people, especially when people stop dead in their tracks while running without looking to see if someone is quickly approaching behind them.  When I ran the LA Marathon I felt crowded the entire race, there was no escaping the crowd.  The only time I felt the crowd at Revel Canyon City was as we went through the start line together.  Right after the start line everyone evened out and there was plenty of space to cruise at whatever speed you needed to.  I started off with the 4:25 pacers because I thought that 4:30 would be a great goal time for me.  As we started heading downhill though, I found it harder to slow my pace than to just let myself go, so I did just that and let myself go at a comfortable speed.

So, the problem with being in the mountains is that there is no cell service, and no gps service.  Which you know means that my Garmin didn’t work correctly.  My Garmin lost connection a few times in the beginning so I had no clue what my speed actually was.  I knew I was going faster than I normally do but I thought that the first 13 miles were at about a 9 min/mile pace.  I flew through the first 16 miles with no problem at all.  It was gorgeous, and it was easy to go fast.  Mile 16 was the first really long, steep hill.  I did not expect this hill, and it was not welcomed at all.  I felt my legs burn as I headed up that hill and I started feeling myself slowing way down.  I had caught up to the 3:45 pacers and they flew up the hill and out of my sight… I was bummed but I knew that I couldn’t keep up for the rest of the 10 miles we had to go, I needed to slow down!

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Miles 16-22 were lots of rolling hills and it was pretty brutal.  I was feeling tired but not tired enough to stop running.  The volunteers at Revel were so amazing with plenty of water, Gatorade, and GU to get us fueled and through those hills.  As we approached mile 23 we were running into the city and the road flattened out.  It was so nice to be out of the rolling hills and on flat ground.  I remember feeling like I wanted to die on mile 23 during my first marathon, but today at Revel I felt strong and even though I was tired I knew this was something that I could do and could finish strong.  The very last mile was so welcomed and as I came around the corner toward the finish line I kicked into a sprint and put everything I had into crossing that finish line!

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I was praying for the clock at the finish line to show under 4:30, or right at 4:30 but as I approached I could see 4:33.  I was proud and so happy for a huge PR over my first marathon time.  It was tough to let so many pacers pass me in the last 10 miles.  Once the 4:00 pacer passed I thought to myself that I just needed to stay with the 4:20 people, and I actually don’t remember even seeing them pass so that was a bummer.  I really just wanted to finish this marathon feeling strong and happy, and I did!  My husband, sons and my mom were there to hug and cry with at the finish line and that was the best icing on the cake!  That’s truly one of the reasons I sprinted so fast to the finish line, I couldn’t wait to see their faces!!  The view couldn’t have been better, the organization was wonderful, and the medal is incredible.  I had signed my husband up to get text alerts throughout the race.  So when I checked his phone after the race I was blown away to see my half marathon time was 1:51 at an 8:28/mile pace.  A huge Half Marathon PR for me!!  I was so excited!  Revel Canyon City is a race that I will always want to come back to, and I would love to do the Revel races in Colorado and Utah some day soon.  This was without a doubt my favorite race to date!

Thanks to my hubby for the finish photo!!  And thank you Revel for giving free photos!