The Boulder Marathon – Painful Lessons

Early last week, I was given the opportunity to receive an elite entry into the Boulder (half or full) Marathon. Since I’m never one to pass up potential prize money (don’t judge), I naturally signed up for the half since I didn’t think I was in any way prepared to race a full marathon on only a couple days’ notice…

Well fast forward to Wednesday when our Team Captain, Kenyon, shot me an email describing the potential of MORE prize money in the full. SOLD! I chose to ignore the fact that I ran a steady 30 miles that Monday and was now going to race a full marathon exactly a week later. This is pretty standard decision making on my behalf.

I’m not one to list mile splits and nutrition plans (mainly because I rarely remember them when the race is done) but I can say that I took the first nine miles very easy. 7:00-7:15 mile pace and then dropped to 6:30-6:40 pace for another nine or ten miles. I felt amazing, clicking miles away, taking in the scenery, feeling easy breezy. Until disaster struck.

At mile 20 I learned a very valuable lesson: a marathon is a LONG race. Duh. Going into it with NO nutrition plan (other than nicely placed water bottles – thanks Kenyon!) is a big mistake. It was a hot day and I took in zero salt which lead to a massive glute cramp around mile 20. I’ve never been so crippled in a race, I literally lost all use of my right leg and had to switch between walking and jogging for the next four and a half miles. It was a nightmare. The grass on the side of the road looked so nice and comfy, a perfect place to lay down and take a nap. (Un)fortunately, I ignored my napping instincts and kept on trucking. 

After walk/jogging for about two miles, I was passed and dropped to second…a couple miles later I was passed again and found myself in third. With about a mile to go, my greed kicked in and I realized that if I didn’t sort myself out, I would end up in fourth and I would be not just be broken physically but broken financially as well. It’s amazing what the thought of a few hundred dollars can do (again, don’t judge).

When the day was done, I ended up with a 3:16 first marathon attempt and 3rd place overall. While I’m frustrated with my six mile hobble, I learned some valuable lessons and walked away a bit richer. And as an added bonus, the man at the free beer tent was very kind to me :)

Next up: The Bear Chase 50 Miler in three weeks. Oh dear….



  1. Amy Schneider says:

    Good post and tips for first time marathoners. That’s a great time for your first. See you at the Bear Chase Race!

  2. Jax says:

    Saltstick caps or their equivalent… I cramped last year in this race. No nutrition plan needed if you are popping these bad boys every 30 minutes. It will enable you to use race venue provided nutrition and ensure that you don’t seize up, unless you want too. I use them for every endurance race I do. (I’ve lost valuable time in previous races due to tactical errors like this. )

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