This past Sunday, June 27, 2021, I completed my 35th full marathon and 24th state, at the Revel Sun Valley Idaho marathon. (For a full list of the marathons that I have run, check out this page.)
The marathon (and half marathon) was split over two days, with 250 runners each day. We registered too late to race on Saturday (that filled first; I love a Saturday marathon!), so Sunday it was.
This race is being touted as “Limited Edition;” it might have been a one-and done-race. Therefore, I don’t know if any future 50-state marathoners who read this blog will be able to refer to this recap as a useful guide for checking Idaho off their list, but who knows, maybe that will change. I will note that it was a point-to-point marathon on an “open course,” meaning we were running on the shoulder of the road with traffic zipping past in both directions. I can’t imagine they could allow that with more than the 250 participants of this year without that being an issue. (Honestly, it wasn’t my favorite part of the race, as the traffic was going really fast!)
We arrived in Ketchum on Friday; we had some time to kill before we could check into our room, so we drove the marathon course, which was helpful to see. It was very pretty, though not quite as pretty as the Big Cottonwood course (my only other Revel marathon.)
Idaho is beautiful!
Eventually, we were able to check into our room at the Hotel Ketchum, which was a great place to stay. Very walkable to restaurants and stores. It seemed to be an older hotel that was updated to a much more modern feel. We were very happy there!
Saturday started with a shakeout run on a nearby trail, with some strides to loosen up the legs. Eventually we went to the expo, which was held at the historic Sun Valley Lodge.
It was a small marathon, so the expo was similarly small. I didn’t purchase any additional gear, just picked up my race packet and that’s it!
Our pre-race dinner was a tasty pizza from “The Cookbook” Restaurant. With the 4:15 am bus the next day, we ate dinner quite early (a 5 pm reservation.) I’m really glad we had the opportunity to eat at Cookbook, it was delicious. (It’s hard to get in there, as they only are seating outside and there are very few tables.)
I was pretty nervous Saturday night. We had multiple alarms set, but I still kept waking up and checking the time. I wouldn’t say it was my best night’s sleep! Why so nervous? Well, it had been 15 months since my last marathon (Atlanta, 2020). Being nervous is part of the fun, right?
It was a very early alarm though- up at 3:30 am!
I wore a thin sweatshirt to the start, though I really didn’t need it; it was already in the upper 50’s and not cold at all.
I ate about 1/2 a bagel with PB, a cup of hotel coffee, and lots of Gatorade and water. 45 minutes before the race start, I took a Maurten gel. I took 4 more Maurten gels throughout the marathon, every 45 minutes.
We drove to the parking lot by the Sun Valley Lodge where the shuttle buses were loading. Dustin was in Wave 1; his bus time was 4:15 am. Since I was there with him, we asked if they could squeeze me in on the same bus and the volunteers said it was fine. There was actually a line for people who wanted to get on an earlier bus, which they were allowing if there were empty seats.
So fortunately, I got to sit by Dustin for the 35 minute bus ride to the start. I’m not very chatty before a marathon, and neither is Dustin, so this was good for us. 🙂
Masks were required on the bus, but not after in the starting corrals or elsewhere.
We arrived at the start around 5:10; there were plenty of porta-potties with only a short line, which was great. So when the Revel staff called Wave 1 to the start line, they said other runners could start if they were ready. I figured I might as well start! There wasn’t a whole lot to gain by standing around for another 10 minutes for Wave 2.
It was 57 degrees at the start; not humid, but already warm. I felt completely fine ditching my sweatshirt and waiting for the last few minutes in just a crop and pocket joggers.
The Right Fit: I wore a Oiselle Volee crop, Oiselle pocket joggers (all the room for all the Maurten gels and my phone!), Saucony Endorphin Pros, Swift socks, Roka sunglasses…and SPF 70 all over my body!
It was the most un-monumental start line ever; just a “ready-set-go” and an airhorn. Then we were off!
The first three miles of the race were the steepest decline/fastest miles. I knew I didn’t want to get too caught up in it, so I really held back. Maybe too much? Holding back on downhill can be more detrimental to your quads than just letting gravity do its thing…
Mile 1: 8:18
Mile 2: 8:11
Mile 3: 8:34
The advice from Revel was “you do not want to concern yourself about runners passing you along the way. It is easy in a race to get caught up with the pace of other runners. You still have many miles to go, and you want to conserve your energy for the miles ahead.“
Even though I started with Wave 1, there were so few runners starting that I didn’t feel like I was being passed by a lot of people at the start. I saw runners in Wave 1 who were from as far back as Wave 4 and 5, so it really didn’t matter. There were zero crowds; I was essentially running alone within a mile.
Revel sectioned out the course with miles 4-15 as “the building 12”. The net was downhill, but there were some hills here, particularly right after mile 13.
Mile 4: 8:26
Mile 5: 8:17
Mile 6: 8:42 — I remember looking at my watch and realizing I wasn’t pushing hard enough. I was disappointed to see this split and started to get concerned.
Mile 7: 8:17 I corrected the effort, but it was short-lived. What was up, Jessie??
Mile 8: 8:32
Mile 9: 8:29
Mile 10: 9:00 <– bathroom break. There were bathrooms at every aid station and zero lines as I was essentially running alone.
*The aid stations had “doTerra Deep Blue” cream, which was supposed to help with sore muscles; that’s the white stuff on my quads, ha! I didn’t use much energy rubbing it in.
Mile 11: 8:28
Mile 12: 8:21
Mile 13: 8:24
Aid stations were every 3 miles and were “self-serve” with filled cups of Powerade first and then water at the next table. It was never an issue to get hydration, though it did take me some focus to run AND grab a cup off the table!
Mile 14: 8:38 — This was the more significant hill.
Mile 15: 8:26
Mile 16: 8:48
At this point, I stopped looking at my Garmin COMPLETELY. I knew I was not going to be anywhere near my goal pace, so I just didn’t want to feel bad every time a mile passed. I’ve learned that it’s better for me mentally to just stop looking and run as best I can by feel. Otherwise, I think its too easy to just give up and feel really badly during the race; I didn’t want that. So I stopped looking and did what I could and tried to just relax and have fun.
I did not want to let myself start to think that I should just walk. Walking was not an option, particularly because if I did walk, I knew my quads would seize up and I would really struggle to start running again. So I kept telling myself just to keep running, no matter how slow. Running was better than walking.
Mile 17: 8:40
Revel sectioned miles 16-24 together as “a steady 9” where you were supposed to hold onto the pace as best you can! Even though this section was still a net downhill, it was mostly flat with a few rolling hills.
Mile 18: 8:49
Mile 19: 8:58
I knew I had really slowed down, but I didn’t want to know. I thought I could still hang on and finish in the 3:4X’s…so I just kept talking positively to myself, “Stick with it, don’t walk. You can do it Jessie.” Lots of times I was actually talking out loud since there was no one around! In hindsight, for such a small isolated race, I should have brought music; maybe that would have helped me push harder, I’m not sure.
Mile 20: 9:37
And…my quads really were hurting. My feet kept cramping too! Was it the heat? The altitude? When my feet would cramp, I would often kind of trip on the pavement. It was very odd.
Mile 21: 9:42
Ouch. Those quads…
My coach thinks I didn’t do enough heavy lifting, which is kind of funny because I WAS doing heavy lifting for the whole pandemic and then recently switched to barre and lighter toning. I think she has a point, though Dustin (my husband) doesn’t do much lifting and he had a much stronger race than I did.
Mile 22: 9:24
Mile 23: 9:35
Mile 24: 9:33
Mile 25: 10:01
Revel sectioned 25 to the finish as “The final 100′ of downhill.’ They warned that due to late-race fatigue, it would probably feel more uphill than it really was.
Mile 26: 9:11
Where is the f*&^in’ finish!!!
I was so ready to cross that line already…I knew that Dustin had probably been finished for about an hour. I was ready to be done!
Final 0.2 (0.3 on my Garmin): 8:57
Finish Time: 3:52:20
The below picture is embarrassing.
I know better than to walk through the finish! You always need to finish strong even if you’re pretending.
Could I look more dejected?
Was I REALLY having fun?
I was disappointed, I’m not going to lie. 3:52 is not the time I trained for; I know that finish times are so personal. Very few people actually care about my time other than me- maybe my coach, Dustin, and a few others. But Dustin loves me no matter what time I get. My parents love me no matter what time I get. The time doesn’t actually matter. I don’t have anything to prove to anyone. I have qualified and run Boston. I am healthy and able to run a sub-4 hour marathon. “Get over yourself, Jessie.”
But even so, I was disappointed in myself. I don’t entirely know what went wrong. I believe that I was trained to run at least a 3:40.
But bottom bottom line is that I’m not actually that upset about it, or at least I have moved past the disappointment. I am happy to be doing what I love again- running in-person marathons! There will be more marathons in the future and I will have a stronger race- maybe even a PR again- eventually. Strong races and poor races are part of the process. I’ll try to reflect on this and figure out what I can learn from it.
And most of all, I’ll just keep showing up, doing the work, and doing what I love- RUNNING!
For what it’s worth, Dustin ran 2:59:18, which is his second fastest time, so it wasn’t an impossible course to have a strong race. He claims he ‘barely trained and didn’t do many workouts’ which I think is “mostly” true ha! I’m pretty impressed that he could still break 3 hours whether he trained hard or not. Goes to show you that you can get faster with age!
Post-race: As I crossed the finish line, I was given an ice-cold towel and my medal. There was a photographer and then I made my way through the finish area for more water, Gatorade, and my “post-race meal” which was a boxed lunch with chips and a turkey sandwich.
The race was so small that I saw Dustin as I crossed the finish, so it was easy to find him at the end. We took a few pictures with the 26.2 signs and then I went back to the finish to see if an athlete that I coach, Mary Lynn, had finished yet.
And there she was! I saw her just as she was finishing. She ran a 3:47, which is a BQ! So excited for her. as she has been working very hard for that goal. Congratulations Mary Lynn!
(If you are interested in learning more about my coaching services, please reach out! I have room for more athletes and would love to help you achieve your goals as well!)
Dustin and I eventually got on a shuttle back to the parking lot by the Sun Valley Lodge, hobbled to our car, and went back to the Hotel Ketchum for a much-needed shower. I was coated in salt, which demonstrated that it was hotter than ideal. I think the finishing temperature was 70, but it felt much hotter with that bright mountain sun! I had a crop top tan line, even while wearing SPF 70.
I think Revel does a really great job organizationally with their races. Everything was very easy and clear. No complaints whatsoever. A very nice marathon.
After a shower, we walked across the street from our hotel to “Lefty’s” for a burger and a beer for Dustin, a coke for me. I love a fountain coke after a marathon! I don’t drink much soda otherwise, but it tastes really good post hot marathon.
We hung out at the hotel pool for a bit after lunch, and ended up making friends with three marathoners from the Chicago area, who were also 50-staters. I’ve missed the runner camaraderie! It was great talking with them.
Monday morning, Dustin and I were both hobbling around pretty badly; I was definitely way more sore- especially in my quads- versus how I normally am post-marathon!
We had breakfast at The Kneadery (delicious) before walking to the Ketchum Cemetery to see Ernest Hemingway’s grave; people leave booze, pens, and loose change there to honor him. Interesting!
That was all about the exploring we had time for before heading back to the airport to make our way back to Minneapolis.
Summary: Revel puts on a really nice marathon, but you need to be prepared for the downhill. Downhill doesn’t mean easy; altitude and heat can also be a factor. But regardless of my personal performance, it was so, so fun to be back to doing what I love and continuing in my quest to run a marathon in all 50 states!
Even though this is a race recap instead of a weekly recap, I’m linking up with Running on the Fly and Confessions of a Mother Runner ; check out their blogs to connect with other fitness bloggers for workout ideas and inspiration!