Bozeman Marathon Recap

I feel it’s always important to take a minute to reflect on races – with how much time and effort we put into training, it’s funny how quickly we move on after they are over without celebrating strengths and considering weaknesses before focusing on the next challenge. Here are a few of my thoughts following the Bozeman Marathon:

What went well: 

  • EFFORT was consistent and strong throughout the whole race, even if I didn’t hit my pace goal. Sometimes effort is all you can control, and I am really happy with how I was able to push myself in the final miles of the race even when I felt like my legs couldn’t go any faster. 
  • I stayed mentally cool in less than ideal conditions. (*see organizational “issues” below)
  • The “late middle” as I like to call it (miles 15-19ish) is notoriously the toughest mentally for me in the marathon, and this race was the strongest I have ever felt through that section! A friend who was on his bike found me around mile 17 and asked how I was doing, and I was shocked to be able to say I felt good! (relatively at least… How good can one feel after racing 17 miles with 9 or so more to go??)

I felt like I was lacking…

  • Late race speed. I executed my race plan flawlessly through the first half, but was unable to hold on to my pace through the 2nd half despite effort staying high. Definitely an area to improve on and incorporate more race-pace training in fatigue situations in my next cycle. 
  • Uphill strength. Normally I feel like hills are my forte, and I often pass people on the climbs. This race was somewhat sneaky in that the hills were gradual and went on for miles at a time. I do much better with steep, intense climbs that I can tackle rather than just slogging along and wondering why it hurts so bad from a gradual hill that lasts for what feels like an eternity. If I run this course again, I would spend more time doing tempo work on gradual climbs to feel more prepared. 
  • Fuel. I normally don’t have an issue eating throughout the race (thanks to Honey Stinger products!), but this race was different for unknown reasons. I had my first gel about 35min in as planned, and struggled with almost puking it up for the next 5-6miles. I’m not sure if it was the higher elevation (about 1000ft higher than where I live/train) or just a fluke, but I couldn’t take in anything solid until I started forcing 1 gummy at a time around mile 16, which even then was difficult. I knew I was under-fueled in the last 10 miles and really feeling it. Luckily I got in a little bit here and there with sips of Tailwind, but could have used far more calories than I was able to get on board. 

*Race Day organizational “issues”: For those of you thinking about signing up for this race next year, here are a few things to take into consideration and be prepared for before you pay the entry fee.

  • All participants were required to ride the shuttle to the start line, and the LAST one left at 5:45am… For a 7am race start. I wasn’t planning on even waking up until 5:45! This meant getting up at 4:45am to make sure I was dressed, had breakfast and (luckily) lots of clothes packed, and to the bus zone on time.
  • We were dropped at the “start line” around 6:15am, which consisted of an open field in the middle of nowhere. Let’s remember the sun doesn’t come up until around 7am this time of year, so 200+ runners were in the dark with no shelter or race staff anywhere to be seen. I was lucky that I am cold blooded and packed fleece pants and multiple sweatshirts, because it was about 40 degrees and windy and I watched so many others shivering in shorts and had to start the race freezing! After being alone in the dark wondering if we had been left out here to be murdered as part of some weird horror movie, race staff finally showed up after 20 minutes to set up the starting line.
  • They were nice enough (ha) to leave approximately 5 port-o-potties for all of us to fight over, which everyone needed after having to leave so early. I got in line immediately after getting off the bus, and barely made it out of there with 5 min to spare before the start (talk about jogging in place as a warm up!) 
  • The half marathon race ran the 2nd half of the marathon course (not out of the ordinary), but they started that race an hour into the marathon… which meant for the last 6-7 miles I was playing frogger dodging walkers/joggers on my wobbly legs. Especially through the last 3 miles winding through neighborhoods where the roads were not closed to traffic, I found myself having to dodge cars and people and calling out “ON YOUR LEFT” more times than I can remember to try to get through. 
  • To give credit where it’s due, the course was very scenic – felt like I was going to come around a corner and be on the Dutton ranch for most of it!
At least the sunrise was lovely, but I’m not exaggerating the dark field thing… Look closely to see cold runners on the horizon.

Overall, I have to celebrate qualifying for Boston and running a marathon PR despite all the barriers that were overcome just getting to the starting line. Running at a higher altitude than I am accustomed to on a course that doesn’t highlight my strengths, I was shocked and thrilled to come away with the win! Taking it all in as a learning experience, celebrating a fun weekend, and setting my sights on what’s next.