Sandia Crest Marathon 3:17:51. 16/224

BQ. Boston Qualifier. It is the pinnacle of running for the average age group runner. It is the oldest, most prestigious marathon in the world and I am lucky to have called it my first, by running for charity. But 6 months later in October 2009, I earned my spot by running a sub 3:10 qualifying time of 3:08. I then improved on my first Boston’s 3:38 with a 3:12 in 2010. Since Then, I have competed in 32 marathons including 12 of which were during an Ironman. In April 2018 Fiona and I registered for the Sandia Crest Marathon in Albuquerque, New Mexico with the goal of qualifying for Boston and to include this into our Ironman Arizona training plan. The last time I did such a thing resulted in a PB 3:02 at the Alice Springs, Australia marathon. 3 months later I set a 9:22 PB at Ironman Western Australia. And for Fiona, it was a 3:10, and then a 9:59, and Kona Qualifier.

I wanted to go sub 3 and set a BQ. But, I was ignorant. I had never run a marathon that ran down a mountain. In June we did a half iron in Show Low, Arizona at 6000`. In August we did a half iron in Flagstaff, Arizona at 7000`. But the last time I was at 10,008` (the start of this marathon) was probably when I flew in a Helicopter to the top of a glacier on the South Island, New Zealand 6 years ago.
We have been training for Ironman for 15 weeks and we have 9 weeks to go. 2 weeks ago we did a 21 mile run in Los Angeles, California and a 5hr ride the next day back in Tucson. 19hr training week after that and a bit of taper this week.
We drove our RV 7 hrs from Sahuarita, AZ to Albuquerque on Friday morning drinking Sprites and Mt Dew all day long. Bagels, white bread, and chips. Packet pick up, and a 1 hr ride on the last 10k of the course. White pasta marinara for dinner and opted for 2 Bud Light Limes since no champagne near. Bed around 930pm.
Race Day
Up at 430am. Ate bagel with cream cheese, banana, sugar free redbull. Altra shoes on, Wattie ink tri shorts, Wattie running top, Kona visor, shades, ironman nutrition belt with 500 calories of clif shot bloks and a Hotshot for cramping. We left at 4:50am and ran 1.5 miles on the course from the KOA to the bus pickup at the finish. In the dark of morning the climb made my butt hurt, pressure on my back; this was steep. Pass the half marathon keep going. Rays of sunshine. DJ dance party at the top. Pictures of views and amateur hour single line to the loos. Drank 200mg caffiene ARO supplement. Another 200m walk to start. It was cold but not freezing. I donated an old long sleeve shirt to goodwill and wore the free gloves for the first 2 miles.
It’s go time
Kisses to wifey and I started on the front line with 300 in tow. With two 1:27 halfs in the last year on downhill courses my plan was to go for it and not hold back. M1 6:18 and getting passed by 20 runners, felt like I was at the Ironman World Championships again. Perfect pavement back and forth on point with cutting the tangents 6:30, 6:20, 6:21 with my 3rd fastest all time 5k of 19:49. There is a hill, I think I need to pee, I better pee. All that soda and water retention from the days effort of carbon loading; I was hydrated. Ok, 20sec in and out. M5 7:55, 6:59, 6:22, 6:21, 6:28, 6:32. I was thinking how I wanted Boston and to finally break 3hrs. I wasn’t holding back but breathing was just fine and I felt my body floating down the mtn. What’s that? Quads are u saying something? Oh no. Ok well let’s just keep going. 6:41. Oh shit, I gotta go 2. 50sec delay right at the start of a big hill. 7:31, 8:41, 7:00, 7:06.
What’s that quads? Ur screaming? Yes I know u feel like u are in an Ironman run now but this is downhill and u didn’t ride 112 miles before this so shut up and deal. Ok, well I am now off the 6:37 average thru the first hr but surely I have built in reserve.
I had been drinking from the aid stations every 2miles and eating 100 calories every 30min including those 15min before the start. My energy was fine but craved a red bull or coke.
M16. 7:32. Oh shit. My legs feel awful. Do not think of the distance remaining, don’t u dare! My legs now feel worse than any race, ultra or Ironman. What the hell. It feels like elbow massage on every area of my quads. Friggen altitude! Friggen descent! Ok, well this is now about Ironman, this is what it is going to feel like. My breathing is fine, just keep running. 7:11, 8:01, 8:09, 8:08 down the old famous Route 66. This is ironman pace it will feel like this. Remember this! 8:26, oh shit again. Mile 22, another 50s delay. I hear people passing, whatever it doesn’t matter anymore. My quads feel so bad, my form is shit. Remember this. Final hill, 8:56. All down hill 8:28, 8:39, 8:28 finish.
Wrap up
I waited for wifey who also suffered but from mile 3. I told her 75% was the altitude, 25% was the descent. We both agreed to never race at altitude again. She finished in 3:50 getting it done.
This was very very painful but I enjoyed the new stress and the lessons learned today. We will take this into our 2nd attempt at a BQ in Dece
mbers Tucson marathon, another descent of 3000` but I will hold back to 640s.
The organizers were great as well as volunteers, Thank You. The course wasn’t as scenic as I expected but the medal, shirt, and hat are great. Come to this race if u know how to pace a downhill and expect the biggest pain in youar legs of your life.

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