The race was really well organized, from the packet pickup through the post race refreshments, massages, and activities (band, awards, food, vendors, etc.).
The race had over 1900 people register, 1633 people started and 1512 people finished.
As for me, I finished the race in 2:59:36 (average pace of 6:51/mi). Overall, I came in 22nd and 2nd in my age class (35-39)! So, I accomplished my two main goals - Qualify for the Boston Marathon and finish under 3 hours.
As for the race itself, here is the story. The bus left our hotel about 5:15 to take us to the city park where we transferred buses to the starting line. The temperature was about 45 degrees at the start, but with lots of ominous clouds and wind. I was able to get right to the front of the pack for the start. At the gun, a group of about 30 runners took off at the front (I was in this pack). After about the first 2 miles, a lead pack of about 6 runners was clearly moving out. I was running solo or with a few others scattered about for the next two miles or so.
At about 5 miles, the wind really kicked into gear and the rain started. I caught another runner (Paul Peterson) and for the next 8 miles, we paced each other and took turns being the wind break (I would run in front for a mile, then he would for a mile). At about the half way point, he took off (he ended up in 6th place and was the first local runner to finish). I hit the half way point at about 1:22 and was feeling pretty good, but now I was out of the canyon (and the downhill section). I was still running in about 10th place overall and on target for my goal of about 2:50 finish.
The next few miles went pretty good. Still slightly downhill but with more flat and uphills thrown in. About mile 17, I started feeling some pain in my left hip and noticed that my pace had slowed. This is when the first few runners started catching me (mostly young guns in their 20's). From mile 18 - 22 was doing ok, the hip not too bad and still averaging about 7:15/mi.
Then, the first real hill at about 21.5 miles. This is where I pretty much hit the wall and from here to the finish took about four 20-30 second walk breaks and my overall pace dropped to somewhere around 7:45/mi. At about mile 21.5, I pass a runner (he stopped totally) who had just passed me a couple of miles back and I later see him (around 24.5M) as he is working his way to the finish after dropping out. Poor guy...to make it this far and have to quit!
But I keep pushing on. By mile 24, we are back in Logan and working our way into downtown. As we head into mile 25, a short but good hill looms. I make it up and as I hit the 25 mile marker, my hamstring cramps hard. I have to slow again and walk it out and manage to regain my pace. I am doing pretty good as I am coming into the home stretch until I hit mile marker 26 and my hamstring cramps again! Two runners pass me, but I start running again but am unable to quite catch them before the tape. I was running in the top 20 for 26M and then a cramp this late drops me out...rotten luck!
Overall, I am really happy with my first marathon result. Lessons I learned from this race include:
1) Hydrate at ever stop to help avoid cramps (I did this pretty well but maybe take more next time).
2) More carbs during the race (I did the fruit snacks after about the half way point, but more intake like GU might have prolonged the onset of my fatigue).
3) Start out a little slower. I was on par for what I thought I could do, but need to start out about 15-25 seconds slower per mile to have a better second half. I was expecting a 5-10 minute slower second half split, but not a 17 minute slide.
4) Find another racer at about your same pace and work together for the first 13-18 miles to improve results for both.