Friday, June 11, 2010

Casper Marathon

Traveling to new locations, meeting fun people, running in cool places. This is why I decided to run marathons in all 50 states and the Casper Marathon in Wyoming did not disappoint!


I actually flew into Denver which was much cheaper and only a 4 hour drive from Casper. While in Denver, I met up with fellow blogger, runner and triathlete Iron Eric and his wife Nicole for lunch. They'd had a new family addition since I last saw them at Florida 70.3 in 2007.


The drive up to Casper also allowed me to see Southern Wyoming, which I'd never been through before. It was not as stunning as the Yellowstone area, which I'd seen on the drive between my week-apart marathons in South Dakota and Idaho in 2006, but having lived in the burbs all my life I never tire of seeing mountains, ranches and lots of open land. The pink asphalt on the roads was also quite unique.


The Casper Marathon was small affair with about 150 marathoners, 200 half marathoners and a few relay teams. The course started at 5270' and ended at 5100' and was mostly flat but the altitude would be a factor for flatlanders. Still, that didn't keep 50-staters like Amanda and I away (photo above; we met on the short bus ride to the start). In fact, my guess is that a quarter of the field were 50-staters and/or Marathon Maniacs. Most of us don't care about slower marathon times or the fact that the course was not certified (hence no race times would count as BQs here). We just want to run in fun places and check the state off our list!

I'd planned to carry my camera with me during the marathon but discovered in Denver that the shutter was no longer opening on its own (probably due to embedded sweat & grime). I could force it open with my fingers but decided it'd be too much of a pain to do so while running so I left it behind in my gear bag just before the 6:30am race start. Sorry, no photos during the race!

Photo of the path we ran on from the race website.

The first few miles the dry air and cool 50-ish deg temps felt magnificent but the thin air was immediately noticeable. Everyone seemed to be huffing and puffing way more than they should be so early on but I went out fairly hard on purpose. You see, another common high altitude side effect for me is having to pee often, which led to my slowest marathon time (4:32:05) at the 2007 Colorado Marathon. So I was employing a new race strategy that hubby Dave suggested: run harder so you won't feel like peeing. I also drank very little before the race even though I knew I was supposed to do the opposite especially at high altitudes. Things went great for the first half and I got to mile marker 13 in 1:53:31 (8:43 pace) with NO pit stops vs. numerous ones before but only in the first half. YAY!!!

We ran alongside the Platte River for most of the course (photo taken after the race).

But thereafter things got more difficult. Temps warmed up quickly with lots of blue sky and little shade along the nice quiet riverside path. I'd drank all the fluids I was carrying by the midway point and was now grabbing a cup at every aid station but it still wasn't enough. My pace plummeted down to the 9:30's and heading out on this long out-and-back section from mile 10.7 to 16 seemed to go on forever.

Finally I got to the mile 16 turnaround and decided to make a full stop to refill one of my water bottles and take in extra fluids. Shortly thereafter, two women passed me, one who was in her 20's and another who looked to be in my age group. Gasp! But there was nothing I could do. I'd gambled with my pacing and hydration and was now paying the price. Grumble, grumble, plod, plod ...

The good thing about heading back, though, was that many more runners were still headed to the turnaround and everyone was encouraging each other, often by name as they were printed on our race bibs. This is the type of small race camaraderie I love and it made the miles go by much faster. There were very few spectators otherwise on this course except volunteers at the aid stations and folks at the relay exchange points.

Another post-race photo inserted to break up all the words ;-)

Near mile 20, I made another full stop at an aid station to refill a water bottle and drink plenty. Now folks headed in the opposite direction were pretty much nonexistent but I was feeling better than I did a few miles back. When I passed the 20 mile marker I hit the lap button on my watch (no Garmin) and it said 2:59:32, which meant I should be able to finish within 4 hours as long as I didn't slow down much more.

But then the path made a big turn and I saw another woman less than a quarter mile in back of me. Yikes! The competitive side of me kicked in and I picked up my pace and made it my mission to not let her pass me (not without a fight, at least). Around mile 23, I was surprised to see up ahead the woman who'd passed me earlier who I thought might be in my age group. She still looked to be running strong but I was slowly closing in. He-he.

Finally after mile 25, I caught her and said "good job" as I went by. She said something similar but I don't remember exactly what. Then I saw another young woman up ahead who I'd run behind for most of the first half of the race. I hadn't seen her since the halfway point but wouldn't it be nice if I could catch her too?


I gave it a shot but it was not to be. Still, I ran the last 10K in 57:06 (9:11 pace) and finished with my best marathon time to date at 5000+ feet altitude.

3:56:31 (9:02 pace), 2/14 F40-49, 6/47 Female.

And the woman I was chasing the last few miles actually turned out to be in the F30-39 AG. Oh well! As for whether it felt equivalent to running a 3:44 race time at sea level as predicted by the Daniel's Running Calculator, I'd say it felt harder since I wasn't acclimated to the altitude. To me, this race really seemed to be more of a lung workout than a leg workout!


I actually ended up winning my age group since the 1st F40-49 was the overall female winner. All award winners got the same prize, however, a nice folding camping chair with an insulated compartment to carry food and additional pockets for other stuff. It's probably the most useful award I've ever gotten and it'll come in handy this weekend while spectating at a race.


Hanging out afterwards was a blast. I met up with a few other 50-staters while enjoying the plentiful post-race food.


Dawn Easton, the race director, came walking by so I grabbed her for a quick photo (above) and thanked her for a wonderful Wyoming race experience. Highly recommended for other 50 staters!


Just 4 more states left in my 50 states quest!!!

36 comments:

Marlene said...

Congrats on another marathon, another state, a PR at altitude AND the AG award!! You rock!

DaveP said...

Now that we fixed the camera, no excuses for not having more pictures next go round.

Lesser is More said...

An insulated compartment for food, eh? I think if you are spectating, you should use that insulation for a special kind of "beverage" that also tastes great when cold ;)

Great job running at altitude! Its tough!

Kristi said...

You are truly an inspiration woman! Great job on the altitude PR! Only a few more states to go, eh? Amazing.

KC (my 140 point 6 mile journey) said...

Cool award...literally! And of course, useful. Congrats on a well run race and 1st in your AG. You remind me of myself at marathons picking off people especially one's that i remember passed me at some point. I think it's so neat that you are going to have run a marathon in every state...that is such an awesome goal.

Lisa said...

wow, only 4 to go. that's incredible.

and i agree, it seems like a very useful award!

i've lived at 5000+ for 20 yrs and I still think running is more of a lung workout than a leg workout for me.

Bootchez said...

Congrats on all the cool stats from the race and the AG win! That is the BEST prize I've yet seen!

OK, so all this time I've been thinking I'm this slow runner, only to find out that maybe I'm actually FAST and just pee too much ;) ?? Truly, a 20 mile run will have me peeing at least 6-7-8 times! Maybe if I ran dehydrated I could PR??

Sara Cox Landolt said...

What a neat award! I agree definitely the most useful one I've heard of. Congratulations!!!

The "chase down" is so fun! NIce to think about different strategies with fluids, etc..
Well done!

Spokane Al said...

Congratulations on another great marathon.

And it is truly a small world. I met Eric and Nicole at a blogger meet up at IM CDA 2008. They are good people.

Petraruns said...

What a great race report - it looks like it was a GREAT race! Beautiful scenery - I've only ever been to the Jackson Hole area but it is SO gorgeous round there..

And I think that is an incredible time at altitude and am interested in your peeing experiment - it's a problem for me as well so I am interested in whatever you try! Sounds like not drinking a lot was not the right thing though?

SHERRY said...

Shirley, you are a super star! Amazing stuff there! Big congrats on your AG win and for moving one step closer to your '50 marathons/50states' goal.

And... you are killing me with all of these fair weather pics from your recent races. Seriously, I'm dying here. LOL! ;-)

Smithposts said...

Congrats on yet another great marathon finish. Your goal is so close now! You are such an inspiration for me!

Caratunk Girl said...

Congrats on checking another state off the list AND on the AG win!! Running at altitude PR too! WOOT! You are amazing! That chair looks great, and I love the picture you put in "to break up all the words" ha, I try and do that too!

Midwestern Dot said...

Ok, well first let me say that I think your 50 state quest is amazing. Second, let me say that I think your 50 state quest is CRAZY! But good to hear this one went well. Congrats on the AG win!
*shaking my head* at least you're called Marathon Maniacs, the name fits!
Only 4 left!

lindsay said...

still so sad that i missed out on the fun! :( would have been a good time i am sure.

but you still had fun and ran well! that's a cool award, congrats on the ag win!

Meg said...

4 more races? How exciting, it's such a BIG goal. I'm happy for you!
The affects of the altitude is interesting, I'm sure everyone is affected differently too. Nice run, Shirley!

Regina said...

Well done!! Congrats on the AG win too! By the way, insulated compartments are not meant to carry food, they are meant to carry beer! ha! Nice finish to that race. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around doing my first marathon. You are my hero!

X-Country2 said...

Holla for AG wins and free stuff. Great race!

Maryland Girl aka Michelle said...

I always enjoy reading your reports. Well done! You are inspiring!

Sunshine said...

Congratulations and Yea Shirley!
Glad to get the chance to read your Casper report.
About cameras: Best Buy Geek Squad said it was DUST inside that appeared as spots on my pictures. (See my new dust-proof camera on my latest post.)

Cheers for those last 4 states. Go Shirley.

pinky said...

你不能左右天氣,但你可以改變心情............................................................

Black Knight said...

Silver medal with a very fast final time, congrats. The Black Knight Army needs you for a marathon in Italy (another State of course).

Runner Leana said...

Shirley, congratulations on another super strong race! Only 4 more states left to go? Awesome!

Brent Buckner said...

Good that you saw Eric and Nicole again!

Wow, 46 states.

Lily on the Road said...

Wow, nice job Shirley and since I'm catching up...how come your parents did call you Shirley??? LOL...

A big Congrat's and I love the camper chair, how cute!

Four to go.....that's AMAZING!!!

TRI TO BE FUNNY-Carrie Barrett said...

WOW!! Only four more to go?! That is AWESOME!!!

Kate said...

Congratulations!

I love all the pictures people take on their runs. I'm going to have to start taking my camera along. Well, and maybe start running further. :)

Running Diva Mom said...

Hey Shirley -- just found you and look forward to following your journey! ;-)

Great race recap and AWESOME JOB --- WOWSERS!

Lindsay said...

Woohoo Congrats!!!! Your such an inspiration.

Oz Runner said...

wow, fantastic job, you are really an inspiration!

also, i had no idea high altitude causes pee urges...

Jennifer Neu said...

Way to go! I'm so impressed that you kicked butt at high altitude!

lizzie lee said...

Shirleyyyy... FOUR TO GO!!!! Amazing... I will decide after NY if I'll follow that quest... Several disadvantages though. Only 2 and 53 yo...

Congrats on that wonderful time at that altitude... amazing... thankss

RoadBunner said...

Great job, Shirley!! I think you fare much better than me at altitude! Interestingly, I had to pee a total of THREE times over my two altitude marathons. I have never peed ONCE at any other race. Hmm. Not sure if it was the walking I did?

FOUR MORE!!

Rural Girl said...

OMG, only 4 states left?! You have come sooooo far! Congratulations, Shirley.

Runner's Anonymous said...

Congrats! Once I get my 10th state I'm going to pick you brain for 40 more marathons to fill out my 50 states! I'm scheduled to get state number 7 and 8 this year. I might sneak in state number 9 too but either way I'll get number 10 in 2011!

zbsports said...

Wow this is a very successful event. It seems that Casper Marathon is very interesting. The pictures and the post are the evidence.