Thursday, May 5, 2016

Avenue of the Giants Marathon (Race Recap)

Weott, California
Sunday, May 1
Marathon #28
Weather - Sunny, perfect

Heather picked the Avenue of the Giants marathon as her birthday race. Since my birthday is only a few weeks after hers, I invited myself along, registering right away. Then, of course, people asked... "how are you getting there." I assumed, by plane. Until I started looking at the logistics. The Avenue of the Giants is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, and there is no such thing as a direct flight from Denver. Not such a big deal, but flying into the Eurkea airport (about 45 minutes north), was a lot more expensive. We determined that it was worth it to pay a bit more and not have to drive 5 HOURS from San Francisco.


We had already scoped out where the race was starting, so we planned on leaving the hotel at 6, giving us 45 minutes for the drive and then an hour to use the bathrooms, park, etc. Timing ending up working out really well. The marathon starts at 7:45, an hour before the half. It is also the smallest of the three events, so we were able to park with ease. By the time we parked, we weren't sure that we would have time to use the bathroom and then head back to the car, so we put on our throwaways and grabbed all our stuff and headed towards the start.

First time we went through the bathroom lines there was virtually no wait. We took some pictures and cycled through the line one more time before the start. It was REALLY foggy at the start, but we were sure that it would burn off later.
At the start line
Heather got a stress fracture in mid March. She had literally run less than 20 miles in the last 6 weeks. Up until the trip out, we were unsure what distance we were even going to attempt. That was settled when the race director told us that although she could stop at the half marathon point, she would get a DNF. Against better judgment, she wanted to go for the marathon. I, on the other hand, had put in my first ever marathon training cycle and run just about all my scheduled runs. (Well, until the whole lasik thing, then I had to cut some out). Kinda bummed not to see what my training could do for me (if anything), but I was committed to running with Heather. So the goal was "slow and low, that is the tempo" and not to screw up her injury any worse.

With that said, we lined up towards the back. I was still wearing my throwaway as it was a tad chilly in the midst of all the trees. The road we were on was pretty torn up, but very runnable. We chatted and the time was flying by. We were maintaining a slower pace than I even train at, but Heather was feeling good, so we didn't want to push the pace. The course was marked at every mile, and we had been warned that due to the giant trees, we might lose satellite on our watches, so I liked that there were markings. I hadn't really memorized where the aid stations were, but I had thought the first one would be around 2 miles in, and it wasn't until closer to 3. Not a big deal as it was still pretty chilly. Both of us got rid of our throwaways though.

The aid stations all had gatorade (the icky lemon-lime flavor) and water, as well as oranges. On the website, it said that there would be gels at "select" aid stations, which turned out to only be on the marathon course at mile 13, fyi, make sure you have enough for the whole race.

Anyway, we were stopping to take a lot of pictures. I had to stop every hour or so to put drops in my eyes. We walked all the aid stations and had to stop twice on the course to use the bathroom. The course is a double out and back, and the way out of the first out and back, it seemed downhill. However, it didn't seem that uphill on the way back (with the exception of a short climb around mile 11 or so).

At the half way point we joined the half marathon and 10k runners on a wider, two lane road. This road was MUCH easier to run on, as it was very smooth. We were definitely the back of the pack for the marathon, but I don't mind out and backs as I can see other people. I think the most interesting person on the course was a woman doing the half marathon CARRYING A BABY IN A BJORN. What. And she wasn't even last, or even close to last. Around mile 18 my garmin lost satellite. It would take over a half hour to recover it, so I was lost on our pace, and kind of where we were. (Not really, because there were markings every mile).
Heather finally started to have some issues around mile 20. Not where her stress fracture was (right tibia), but hip/glut and IT band on her left side. I'm guessing that she was favoring her left leg, trying to avoid hurting her right. By that point, spirits were definitely down and the chatter lessened, as she was in no mood for goofy chit chat. Did my best to keep her spirits high, but she was struggling. It was also getting really warm. The forecast had the high around 73, and considering I have been running in 40 degree weather, that seemed HOT. Most of the people at our pace were walking, so we actually passed quite a few people in the back half.
The sections in the sun were so warm!
We took a few short walk breaks, but I was really amazing at how much Heather was able to run! She is crazy/a rock star. I had thought the last aid station was about 3/4 of a mile from the finish, and was getting kind a discouraged when it seemed to be taking so long to get there. Turns out, it was like .3 from the finish. Both of us had some kick left and we sprinted past two people in the chute (one of which was behind us in line at the airport and remembered us).

Heather was pretty bummed with our "slow" finish. Since I'm slower anyway, I didn't care. PLUS, SHE HAD NOT RUN IN 6 WEEKS!

Official Time - 5:29:51 (not even my slowest road marathon)
Official Pace - 12:35
Overall Place - 444/522
Gender Place - 197/256
Division Place - 29/36
Garmin Time - 5:30:18
Mile 1 - 11:23
Mile 2 - 11:48
Mile 3 - 11:43
Mile 4 - 11:14
Mile 5 - 12:33
Mile 6 - 12:01
Mile 7 - 14:07
Mile 8 - 11:50
Mile 9 - 11:51
Mile 10 - 13:23
Mile 11 - 13:58
Mile 12 - 11:25
Mile 13 - 12:02
Mile 14 - 11:53
Mile 15 - 11:52
Mile 16 - 14:05
Mile 17 - 14:09
Mile 18 - 14:23
Mile 19 - 33:52 (this is where my garmin lost satellite, pretty sure this was almost 3 miles)
Mile 20 - 12:50
Mile 21 - 12:29
Mile 22 - 12:31
Mile 23 - 13:35
Mile 24 - 12:42
Mile 25 - 11:06

Overall, my watch only measured 24.59 miles, so I lost about 1.6 miles due to the whole big trees / satellite issue.

Collected our medals and headed up to the finish area. I was hungry and wanted beer. SADLY, the "food" SUCKED. A bag of stale chips and peanut butter and jelly wraps were IT. Urg!!! We were in the middle of nowhere, so it's not like we could just drive down the street and get food. As for the beer, apparently only some special "club" was able to get beer. They had a big sign for Eel River brewery, but not everyone was able to get a beer. SO DISAPPOINTING. They did, however, have a food truck where you could BUY food, but our car was a ten minute walk away.

  • Course is beautiful. Hands down, one of the prettiest road races I have run. I LOVE TREES AND GREEN THINGS SO MUCH!!
  • Race was pretty well organized, and I liked that there were plenty of aid stations and potties located on the course. Lots of friendly volunteers, the aid stations were never out of supplies and it didn't seem like they were overwhelmed.
  • Do not love that the race shirt is a cotton tee. I won't wear it. They did have lots of other options of tops and merchandise to BUY at packet pick up. Maybe if this was a first marathon, or I didn't have a bazillion other x,y,z.
  • Cute medal. We think it is a bobcat on it. We did not see any on the course, nor do I know if they live in the area. But cute.
  • BUMMER BUMMER BUMMER about the finish area. It SUCKED having to drive back to Eurkea (well over 40 minutes away, just to get food). Was not pleased with that.
  • So, if the question is, would I run again? I probably would not, but more because of the expense in getting there. I don't think anyone would be disappointed with the course, and the lack of food and beer could certainly be solved - if you knew about it in advance.


  1. Sucks a lot about the food/beer situation (beer discrimination?!), but your pictures are beautiful!

  2. Hey, I ran this one too! I love that you stuck with your friend the whole time. I remember seeing you and your friend running in matching outfits. I ran with a friend and we talked about how we wished we had matching outfits like yours (our shoes matched though)! Sadly, the beers were for the top finishers, I didn't even get one and I'm in the club that puts on this race. :(

    1. Man! That's even worse that you were in the club and didn't get a beer :( Sad! We did enjoy Lost Coast though, so not a total lost. Congrats!

  3. Looks beautiful, but yeah I looked it up in the past and remember it looking very difficult to get to! Someday I would love to do it!!! :)


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