Mesa Falls Marathon 8/22/09

For the last month or so I’ve been toying with the idea of running a marathon before my next “official” race (Marathon2Marathon on October 17th).  I started training in June putting in a 14 miler and a 16 miler.  Then, on July 3rd, ran a surprisingly well attended 20 miler (on a Friday morning that a lot of folks from the ship had off).  I got in another 20 miler in July, cratered hard on one in early August, and came back the next weekend with a successful attempt at locking in that third 20 miler that greenlighted me to sign up for Mesa Falls in Ashton, ID.

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Ashton is on the western edge of Yellowstone Park.  I opted to fly into Jackson, WY and make my way north to Ashton (about a 70 mile drive that takes almost 2 hours due to the twisting, turning, soaring, and plunging).  I arrived in Ashton at around 9:30 PM, walked over to a convenience store to get my morning goodies (2 bottles of orange gatorade and a powerbar), set the alarm for 4:45 AM, and hit the sack.

The first 9 miles of the marathon are on a gravel park road inside the Targhee National Forest.  From there to just past the halfway point is newly paved road (not closed to traffic but not a lot of cars).  At around 13.5 the course detours down a trail for a view of Lower Mesa Falls…then continues down a steep grade to 3 or so miles of jeep track that parallels the Warm River.  After the jeep track it’s time to climb.  From mile 17 to 20 it’s up, up, and more up.  The top of the hill at around mile 20 comes none to quick.  From there on in it’s rolling farm land with (mostly) wheat on both sides of the road…punctuated by another fairly steep climb at 21.5 that is not at all obvious on the course profile.

Split Detail:
Mile 1 – 9:02 – yeah, a little fast here…but it is 50 degrees!!
Mile 2 – 9:05 – still feeling the temperature love.
Mile 3 – 9:26 – that’s more like it.
Mile 4 – 9:24 – first view of the Grand Tetons at 3.6.
Mile 5 – 9:26 – Sandy and Vance are running with me.
Mile 6 – 9:21 – steady.
Mile 7 – 9:39 – rolling.
Mile 8 – 10:01 – potty break!
Mile 9 – 9:37 – no worries.
Mile 10 – 9:40 – quick stop at Linda’s car for more body glide.
Mile 11 – 8:58 – ahhh, paved road!!
Mile 12 – 9:19 – asphalt, shady, and flat.
Mile 13 – 9:26 – bye bye asphalt.
Mile 14 – 10:24 – hello half marathoners and Lower Mesa Falls.
Mile 15 – 9:29 – Running with Sandy, POJ sneaking up.
Mile 16 – 9:35 – POJ is going, going, gone.
Mile 17 – 10:44 – bye-bye Sandy.
Mile 18 – 12:48 – back on asphalt…tough hill, weak runner.
Mile 19 – 14:08 – hill getting tougher, runner getting weaker. 
Mile 20 – 12:16 – finally found the top.
Mile 21 – 11:09 – really feel the temperature climbing now.
Mile 22 – 12:03 – last hill of substance.
Mile 23 – 12:28 – I think this is where Al caught me.
Mile 24 – 11:58 – walk, run, walk, run.
Mile 25 – 14:06 – walk, walk, run, walk, walk, run.
Mile 26 – 12:02 – sniffing the finish line.
Mile .2 – 3:37 – done.

4:39:12.  Not the 4:00:00 that I was shooting for but not the 5+ that seems to be the norm of late.

After the race we hung out in the park for a while for the awards ceremony.  The ship captured many age group awards and a couple of BQs.  Unlike some races where the race itself is the highlight of the trip…for this particular trip it was just the beginning!

We walked from the park over to Big Jud’s where five of us ordered 1 lb hamburgers (and finished them which earned us a photo spot on their wall of fame).  From there I hit the shower and laid down to watch a little TV…three and a half hours later I woke up just in time for dinner!

Five 11 Main handed out FREE huckleberry shake coupons at the finish line.  Fourteen of us headed over there for dinner and ate pizza (washed down with the aforementioned FREE shake).  Total tab?  $100!  $9 each with tip and tax.

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We took the leftover pizza (about 8 slices) and headed next door to Ott’s Bar where Half Moon was playing.  Next thing I know I’m on stage singing (and I use the term “singing” very loosely) ZZ Top’s LaGrange…<insert “ah how how how how” here>.  I understand there are pictures and video.  I have lawyers on standby in the unlikely event any of them appear online.  You’ve been warned.  A beer or so later (and perhaps a tequila shot) I find myself on the drums playing Proud Mary while Christine sings (her singing is MUCH better than my drumming)…and we finish up with a little Fleetwood Mac, Dreams.

The long Saturday nap greatly impacted my ability to sleep Saturday night so Sunday started very early.  Fortunately, POJ isn’t much of a sleeper either…he strolled into the lobby about 5 minutes later.  We drank some coffee, had a little breakfast, and hit the road to Yellowstone for a little sight seeing.  The park was beautiful.  Old Faithful, bison, elk, rivers, lakes, thermals, and the lodge were all spectacular.  I even saw the famed Two Geezers Geyser!

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We headed south through Grand Teton National Park to Jackson.  We got into town just in time to meet up with our guides for a little whitewater rafting adventure on the Snake River (there were 12 of us on the raft).  Major kudos to Michelle for coming up with this idea!!   It was very cool.  It would have been very cool even if our guide wasn’t a little hottie (according to the ladies).  Way to guide, Matt!

This day was back to back to back as we rolled into Jackson just in time to shower and head out to Calico Italian Restaurant for dinner.  The Livaudais’ had been here before and it was out of this world!!  I had the citrus crusted halibut on a bed of lobster ravioli..after priming the pump with a little bruschetta, lemon crab cakes, and caprice.  My oh my…what a way to end the trip!

I rate the entire Mesa Falls weekend as an A+.  I’d really like to do more marathons like this one where so many from the group are able to go and there is so much to do while there.  Times like these are why the word “awesome” exists.  Awesome.

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8 Responses to “Mesa Falls Marathon 8/22/09”

  1. Paul Sontag Says:

    Great report Big! Think Al has coached you well; 30% race report, 70% dining and post race festivities report. Great pictures. Whish I had gone along. Thanks for sharing. – Paul Sontag

  2. Summer Says:

    I missed all of that?! I wouldn’t have run the race, but I would have liked to have gone for the other events and a vacation. Congrats on a good finish on a difficult course!

  3. Joe Terracina Says:

    Great report. It is neat to read so many reports from the same race. It really gives those of us who didn’t go a good picture.

    I would have paid money to see the concert Saturday night. I agree that The Ship should do more of these – and I need to be a part of one!

    Great picture of the Two Geezers Geyser!

  4. Carter Hobbs Says:

    Big,

    Nicely done! Sounds like a truly memorable weekend – glad you guys all made it happen!

    P.S. – Would have really liked to have seen the double mullet band!

  5. James Donaghy Says:

    Big,
    Great write up and nice pictures. It was an awesome weekend indeed. I’m impressed that you got the time splits at every mile, I missed a few as always. And Yes, I’m in for the next Ship Road trip.

    • workrunhunt Says:

      James – I’ve missed my share of splits…before I got the Garmin 405 and set up the “auto split” feature. Haven’t missed one since!!

  6. kelley burrus Says:

    Run, honey, run! So glad you decided to go! Great overview.

  7. Janet Says:

    Finally got to read this. Great report, Big! Two geezer geyser. Nice!

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