City of Trees Marathon and Half Marathon
I think this is the first race of any distance that I planned to do far enough in advance to actually train for. Most of the time I decide a bit more impulsively. My son/trainer/coach/confidant/Boise resident Kelsey provided an assortment of tips and strategies that I followed with varying degrees of precision. The month before the race was a bit more intense than I planned. The one area of training where I typically excel is the ‘taper’. Be that as it may, Kenn and Jean Zahn and Karen and I headed out on Saturday the 4th in search of the PR. Our first stop was the Owyhee Plaza Hotel, race central and a great host facility, to get our packets and check out the ‘expo’. Kenn checked out the half course and I looked over the marathon map. Both courses are essentially in the heart of the city with a couple of extra loops providing the extra distance for the marathon. My hat is off to the race committee as a securing a completely urban course in a city of 180,000 is no small task.
Race morning saw a minor improvement in the weather from the previous night’s rain and wind. Temps in the mid-40s and very wet conditions greeted the 8:00 marathon start. I started at my planned 9:00 minute pace and felt OK though my breathing seemed a bit labored something I attributed to the 2700’ elevation. A police escort, beautiful tree-lined streets (hmmm--- City of Trees—hmmm---I get it---), friendly, encouraging volunteers and spectators all factors in a great race.
Early on I started to feel the
heat of a pre-blister on my left foot something very rare for me. I
wet course may have played a
part. Jean and Karen were parked along the road at mile 11 hoping for
a ‘Kodak’ moment but they settled cheerfully for me. I think
a wife-kiss is better race fuel than ‘GU’ and I got a place
to sit and tend to my blister.
My intention at the halfway point
was to drop my pace by 15-30 seconds a mile but it just didn’t seem to be in the cards. My energy level
was low and I was really getting sore legs and by mile 18 I even entertained
the prospect of DNF after my name. The rain squall at mile 16 didn’t
help and the little hill at mile 20 seemed like Fechter! But with Kelsey
and his girlfriend Martha
So I must now list my excuses.
just my nature;
But I must also include the successful
bottom line. It must have been a tough day all around as I was second
age group, the first time
I have ever placed in a marathon! Only one of the eleven 55 to 59ers
managed to break 4 hours. And to add to the list of good things, my friend
Kenn took 1st place in the 55-59 age-group in the HALF! How cool is that!!!
Even I can’t argue with the results!
The Millers, (Pat & Karen) and the Zahns, (Kenn & Jean) journeyed
the 360+ miles to Boise, Idaho on Saturday. Several rest areas, a late
breakfast, three mountain passes and loss of an hour due to time zone
change all occurred within our 7+ hours of travel.
Pat and I picked up our race packets and timing chips. Checked out the race course map and joined our wives to check out various vendors.
Our motel was about 3 miles from the race start/finish and after checking in, we returned to the downtown area to browse through a great bike shop and then to a running apparel store. Yes, we did leave some money in Boise to help their economy.
Our thoughts of pasta dinner at the Olive Garden that evening were dashed as the waiting time exceeded an hour. So, we trundled through the 45 degree weathering rain and wind to a quiet Thai food restaurant. Spicy noodles was my order, with a spice request of 1 out of 5….yeah, I’m a whimp! One bite and it kept me warm for the rest of the night. I keep wondering how Pat did with his 5 of 5 request?
Race day morning was not looking good. It rained all night, but just before the 8 AM marathon start, it stopped. So, cloudy skies, 43 degrees and the threat of rain was the order of the morning. The hotel was very gracious as the second level was again used for runners to prepare inside and leave their warm up clothing there for post race pick up.
The marathon start was off at
8 AM sharp. Pat was in the middle of
the starting pack and began his 26.2 mile trek with the 300+ racers.
The courses start and finish through the heart of downtown Boise, a couple out and back loops through the nearby residential areas, the marathoners ran by the university, and all would return to the downtown area to run by the state capitol building within the last miles of the race.
The race name is very fitting as everywhere along the course there were ‘trees’. Even in the downtown business district. In the residential areas, some sections were long stretches with maple-oak trees lining both sides of the streets. The leaf colors would have been brilliant if it was not for the dark gray clouds and moisture.
The course aid stations had various groups competing for prizes as to which would show the ‘most spirit on the course’ and it is the racers who did a post race vote for the winners. Hula dancers, bag pipers, rock bands, cheerleaders were just a few of the groups that helped to keep us going.
This is a very flat course except for one ‘hill’ at approximately mile 8 of the half marathon which is approximately mile 21 of the marathon. It was only about .4 of a mile in length with 100 feet of elevation gain. The problem with it was, well, it was a hill. It kinda made you tired going up it.
My race 'started out slowly and tapered off'. I was very satisfied with an official 1:43:59.9 time. Placed 44th overall and 1st in the 55-59 male age group. With a short cool down and inside warming up/drying off, we headed back outside to the finish line to cheer Pat across the 26.2 mile line.
Pat had to do a little ‘foot/toe repair’ around mile 11. Then the rain started and he finished with a 4:07:29, 118th overall and was cheerfully surprised when the race director announced that he raced to 2nd place in the 55-59 male age group.
Congratulations to local finishers:
Marathon: Allen Covell of Selah - 3:15:29.1 and Ben Rickey of Yakima - 3:15:29.5
Half Marathon: Dave Landis of Yakima - 1:54:23
Post race foods and beverages were really great to have inside the
banquet rooms. Hot vegetable and rice/bean soups were available with
all of the other traditional fruits, juices and bagels.
(A very special "Thank You" to our wives who supported us on our races today. It was a pleasure to take them out to dinner, but it will cost us some serious shopping time for them though.)
Our trip home the next day was rainy with snow on the mountain passes, but upon entering Washington State, the rain stopped and a beautiful sunset was in store for us in the Yakima Valley.
City of the Trees Marathon web site is http://www.cityoftreesmarathon.com
(pictures by Karen Miller, Pat Miller, Jean Zahn & Kenn Zahn)