Rick Whitaker writes:
> Need information on the St. George Marathon. Going to run it this October,
> but have only run sea level or close to sea level marathons so far. This
> one starts at 5300 feet and finishes at 2600 feet. Is that first few miles
> at 5300 feet going to give me trouble? If so is there anything I can do to
> help? Most of the run is on a downhill grade, is this going to beat up my
> already tender shin splints. Also, anybody who has information on this
> race, I would greatly appreciate hearing about it.
I have run St George several times (including my 2:28 PR) and, for what it is worth, would like to pass on some of the things I have learned from it:
The altitude was not a factor for me even though I live and train in the Los Angeles area, mostly between 0 and 400 feet elevation. I did make sure to take it easy for the first 5 miles however, keeping my pace about 5-10 sec/mile slower than my goal pace. A possible problem might come with the weather. Make sure to dress in layers because it could be 30F at the start but 70F at the finish.
The terrain for the first 7 miles is gently rolling but mostly downhill. It is very easy to let yourself go and just crank out some fast miles, but don't, unless you want to be sitting on the side of the road at 18 miles.
Starting at mile 7 and going for 4 miles is an uphill that *must* be respected and run slowly. When I ran my 2:28 (~5:42 per mile average) I did 6:40, 6:15, 6:10, 6:10 for those 4 miles and never regretted it. The last half is where you make up all the time, that is where all the *major* downhill is. I completed the first half in 1:17 and the second in 1:11. A 4 to 6 minute negative split is what you should shoot for.
Perhaps as part of a rather cruel joke, the steepest downhill starts at mile 20 and goes for about 2 miles. It helps to be feeling OK when you hit mile 20 because at mile 23 your legs could feel a hundred times worse. Without much effort, I found myself hurtling through a 5:06 then a 5:15 mile, but by 23, I would have given my first born to not have to run downhill anymore. Wouldn't you know it, that is where those marathon photo people were stationed.
The last 3 miles is where you finally get to meet the spectators. Other than a gathering at mile 15, and a few other hearty souls, there are no spectators to speak of on the course. It is just you, 3000 fellow runners, and the incredibly beautiful scenery.
It is a wonderful marathon and I wish you a good time