Monday, April 28, 2014

SLO Marathon 2014

San Luis Obispo Marathon
San Luis Obispo, California
Mileage - 26.2
Time - 2:41:14
AEG - 1,353ft
Pace - 6:10/mile
Place - 3rd Overall

If I had one word to sum up this race weekend, it would be "awesome!"  The second word that comes to mind is hilly. Seriously, the course was a non-stop roller coaster ride from the start.  More on that in a minute.

I qualified for elite entry and was treated to several perks at the race and the expo. We were given personalized elite bibs, our own private shuttle to the start, tent and bathrooms pre and post race, food, drink, massage, and prize money for a podium finish! A huge thank you goes out to Samantha Pruitt and her amazing staff for taking care of us, I'll never forget your generous hospitality!  San Luis Obispo is an absolutely beautiful town in central California that would've made the trip well worth the drive, even without the VIP treatment.  The only regret I have is not staying another day or two for some hiking and sightseeing on the coast.  That just means I'll have to come back.

The race began at 6:00am, which felt a bit early and somewhat rushed by the time we arrived at the start.  I met Seth by the elite corral and we were able to get loose and run about a mile, hit the bathrooms and do a few strides before getting in line.  Now it was time to find out for ourselves what this course had in store. From the beginning it was clear who was taking the lead.  Ryan, Van and Seth (a different Seth) set themselves apart from my pack of three other guys that assembled around mile four.  We hung together through the halfway point and a little separation occurred on the back stretch. Then it was myself and a guy named Jonathan.  Downhills are not my strong suit, and it seemed like they weren't his either so I realized the only way to break away was to hammer the downs.  It worked.

By mile 14 I was feeling great, running seven of my last 13 miles in the 5:50's and eventually negative splitting the race!  One of the front runners dropped out from knee issues, and at mile 18 it looked like I had made up some ground on the lead guys.  Now in third, I wondered, "could I close in on them?"  I pushed harder to climb the big ascent at mile 20 and prepared myself to give it my all from there to the finish.  At this point we returned to the main part of the course and had six miles worth of zig-zagging through half marathoners.  I ignored the obstacles and focused on my pace.  Those final six miles were the fastest six miles of any race I can remember and all the sudden I was coming into the home stretch feeling ecstatic about a podium finish and crossing the line in 2:41:14. I think that effort may be the equivalent of a 2:35-2:36 on level ground given that this race had over 1,300 feet of elevation gain!  We'll just have to see if I can find anything flat in this state...

Talk about scenic!
(Photo: SLO Marathon Facebook page)

Beautiful finish for a race.

Marathon awards ceremony. 
(Photo credit -

Thanks again to the race director Samantha, her staff, the volunteers, vendors, and everyone else that made this race so special.  Now go race SLO!

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