It was my first trip to Utah, though Scot had run there before. We landed in Salt Lake City and were talked into upgrading our rental car to a Camaro. Usually, we don't care what car we drive and cheaper is better. But they were offering the Camaro for not much extra money. Knowing that we'd be spending a lot of time in the car, it would be a fun diversion to drive something other than the cheapest, smallest compact car. We said yes. In Salt Lake, we had a few hours to visit a Taco Time for lunch, and the nearby Epic Brewing Co. We did a drive-by of the Utah State Capitol and then headed to Park City. After checking in to the resort and picking up our packets, we met some Utah Maniacs for dinner.
|Dinner with Utah-based Maniacs and 50 Staters; in true form, I blinked|
The next morning we took the early start for the marathon. This was a wise idea for two good reasons. First, my plantar fasciitis was bad and I would need the extra time. Second, finishing earlier would give us an extra hour for our drive to Nevada immediately following the race.
The Park City Marathon was not easy. We were running at elevation (7,000 ft), which makes it hard to begin with. And then there was the fact of the first 16 miles being uphill. The course was a mix of bike trails and running through neighborhoods. Parts of it were quite scenic. As far as I recall, it was well-supported. After a while, the faster regular-start runners caught up to us and passed us. I was going slowly from the start with three things against me: hills, altitude, plantar fasciitis. Scot stuck with me on the course.
A big surprise: on one of the out & back trail sections, I passed my coworker Lesley. I knew she was also a marathoner, but I had no idea she was going to be in Park City, and she had no idea that I would be there. We stopped for a minute and said hello, then we reunited at the finish line.
|Park City finishers: Lesley (holding her dog Taddie) with her friend, and us|
I was in such pain at the finish, and I knew I would be running another marathon in less than 12 hours. But at least we would be able to rest our legs for the long drive. Park City had a handmade glass medal, which was something different. After collecting medals, having a quick bite to eat, and saying goodbye to Lesley, we were off.
(Pro Tip: They no longer offer a full marathon in Park City, just the half. I'm not sure why. So, if you're looking for a Utah full marathon, look elsewhere.)
|Awesome rainbow on our drive from Park City to Rachel NV|
|And we made it to Rachel|
The drive from Park City to Rachel, Nevada was nearly 7 hours long, not factoring in stops. Of course, we had to stop for food, bathroom breaks and naps. The scenery was pretty awesome, so at least we had that going for us on the tedious drive. We finally arrived at the starting line a couple hours before the ET Full Moon Midnight Marathon, We tried to get another quick nap in the car, but it was difficult to do with other runners arriving, parking, and making noise, and since it was dark, the cars' headlights also disturbed our sleep.
Eventually, it was time to quit trying to nap, get our packets, and get on with the race. Everyone was required to wear lights and/or reflective gear. We would be running on an unlit highway for 26.2 miles. There would be few cars, but we would want them to see us. It also added to the fun of the race to wear lights and reflective gear. Some people wore costumes in the alien theme of the race.
|Wow, I have no pre-race pics of runners in their light-up gear, but I do have a pic of my gear by itself|
This race has a peak elevation of 5,500 feet. The first half was a very gradual uphill. It was challenging because of those things, and also because we couldn't see very far ahead. It was DARK. We were running near the famed Area 51, in the middle of nowhere. This was one of the most mentally challenging races I've done (not the most physically challenging). I ran at times with Scot, Janice and Natalie. I recall seeing Mike, who volunteered at one of the aid stations. We had just seen him the week before at a race in New Jersey.
My plantar fasciitis was, of course, even worse than in Park City. I was going slowly again, especially in the second half of the race, even when were were running on the slightly downhill portion. I had to walk a lot in the last 10K of the race because of the amount of pain I was in. As the sun rose, we were able to see the small group of buildings in the background that marked the finish area. We wondered if it was a desert mirage, because we kept running toward the buildings, but they never appeared to move closer to us. This was another mental challenge. And then, when we got to the buildings, we were still not there yet. We had to run beyond them for an out & back section of the course. This was torture, especially on my foot, which was on fire.
|Janice captured this photo of me and Scot near dawn; those town lights on the left side of the photo were still deceptively far away|
Thank goodness for the very generous time limit at this race. I needed it. It was one of my slowest marathons ever. I loved the theme of the race, but didn't really enjoy the experience. Even if I had been uninjured, I still would have found this a mentally tough race. I was happy to be done and to collect my alien medal. Scot and I caught the bus back to our car. Most of the other riders on the bus were going back to Las Vegas, where they had met up. Very few people actually drove themselves to this race. We said goodbye to our friends as the bus let us off. We found our very dusty, hot Camaro. We started out on our trip to St. George, Utah, where we would be staying that night. It took us a while because we were both very sleepy and had to keep switching drivers, or pulling over to nap.
|ET medal on left, Park City medal on right, both hard-earned|
Finally, Scot and I got to St. George and checked into the hotel. We didn't do much the rest of that day. We needed to sleep and be lazy. The next day was for sightseeing. We checked out of the hotel early and spent time in Zion National Park. First, we went to the Kolob Canyons entrance to the park, which was separate from the main park. We did some light hiking there and enjoyed some beautiful views. Then we drove to the main Zion entrance. We would not have enough time to spend at any one of the park's attractions. We decided to take the park bus that drives in a loop around the park, stopping at different locations. We chose one or two things to see based on our schedule. It was an absolutely beautiful park and we didn't even scratch the surface. We will need to go back.
|Scot and I with Magenta the Road Trip Flamingo at Kolob Canyons|
|Scot scared the $#@% out of me by walking to the edge of this rock with a sheer drop-off just one missed foot placement away|
|I built this little cairn while waiting for Scot to not fall off the cliff|
After Zion, we still had to drive back to Salt Lake City to catch our red-eye flight home. The drive was 4.5 hours. We were beat.
|Full moon, or close to it, as we drove back to SLC airport from Zion|
We packed a lot into this short weekend and got very little sleep. Was it worth it? Yes, to check off the states of Utah and Nevada from my marathon states list. Nevada was also a new state for Scot. It was also worth it to see friends at these races and to catch a glimpse of the beautiful scenery in this part of the country. But as always with these quick marathon trips, it was way too short.