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Ogden Marathon Course Report

Ogden Marathon Course Report

Ogden Marathon: If the weather is good, so you shall be

Fallback Point[1]: Mile 4.8

Notes on Weather

Let it be known that the views on this course are SPECTACULAR. Starting at 5400 ft, you wind down the mountain and land softly in Ogden proper around 4300 feet; a net downhill course. Bear in mind: “downhill” and “gravity” are helpful if you rolling downhill in a barrel, but that won’t qualify you for Boston. 😊

Rain or shine, it will be considerably cooler at the start than at the finish. The course isn’t heavily shaded and once you drop into town you will be in full sun if the weather is good.

About the weather: life at ‘altitude’ is funny. When the weather is good, it is GREAT (and very hot). When it rains, it pours. Ogden has had a few tough years with heavy rains, fingers crossed this year will not be rainy…but if it isn’t rainy, it will be hot and you will be in direct sunlight for several hours. Pack for both possibilities. Dress for the end of the race, bring clothes to wear to the start and toss once you’ve warmed up.

Also note that you are literally closer to the sun than you would be at sea level, and there is less protecting you from the sun’s rays even on cloudy days. Sunburn is a consideration even if you don’t burn easily. Please take this into consideration when selecting race attire, and be sure to put sunscreen on your neck, even if you are wearing a crewneck tee, and shoulders if you are wearing a tank.

Notes on Altitude

If you aren’t local, if you don’t live at or around 5000 ft altitude, any gains you feel from running downhill will be offset by a notable reduction in usable oxygen. Running at high altitudes decreases the amount of oxygen getting to the muscles. A low atmospheric pressure in the thin air makes the blood less oxygen-rich as it travels to the muscles. As the marathon proceeds and runners climb higher, the problem gets worse and worse as your oxygen demands increase[2]. Altitude sickness is real and affects professional runners and cyclists as frequently as newbies.

If you are not from altitude, be very careful in the days leading up to the race. You may discover you are incredibly thirsty as you get off of the plane; drink all the nuun you want. Listen to that thirst and respect your body as you are exhaling more water with each breath up here. You will probably have to pee every hour your first day (and may need to use the portaloo during the race itself, mentally prep for this possibility). Your skin may also feel dry, this is normal, too. Bring a heavier lotion than you normally wear and be sure it has SPF 30 in it, drier skin is more prone to burning.

Resist the urge to have a beer- one drink will hit you as hard as if you’d had two. This will impact sleep and hydration before you even get to the starting line.

Finally, you may feel TIRED. Again, this is normal as your body is conserving energy to match the reduced oxygen in the air and increased atmospheric pressure. Listen to your body. Go to bed early, even if the sun is still up[3]. Take that nap. Maybe take a walk if you aren’t feeling a shake-out run; missing that run won’t affect your race as much as missing some extra sleep your body wants.

Now, for the tough question: how can you expect altitude to impact your race performance? Significantly. It’s gonna slow you down. A 2005 study by Jon Peter Wehrlin and Jostein Hallén found that for every thousand feet of elevation increase above 1,000 feet above sea level, VO2 max max dropped by 1.9%. Additionally, time to exhaustion on a constant-speed treadmill run decreased by 4.4% per 1,000 feet of altitude.

In lay terms this means if you are coming from sea level, your oxygen intake will be reduced by 1/3. Your body’s ability to generate power is reduced by nearly 8%, or up to a full minute per mile in distances requiring longer than an hour to complete. You are going to be slower and will get tired way faster than usual. This also means if you go out too fast, you may not be able to recover. Be super duper careful with your pacing.

The Course

If you train with me, you likely know that I absolutely consider this course to be hilly; downhill is never de facto easier in the marathon distance. I hope you’ve been diligent about strength and locking your cage. If your glutes aren’t ready for this, your quads will have to bear the brunt of the work and you risk burning out early.

The Strategy

Despite all those warnings above, the first 13 miles of this race are very smooth and easy and uneventful, full of downhills that feel flat. MAKE GOOD CHOICES. Do NOT decide to toss the race plan because you feel good in the first 2 hours, your instincts CANNOT be trusted in the first two hours! We don't go HARD until we have to, and we don't work when gravity is assisting us; we bank that assistance and WORK when it's time to work. Do not EVER let yourself think, "I am BEHIND!" because that is a signal that you are about to make a really bad decision. Picture me on your shoulder yelling 'NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" if that pops into your head!!

Let everyone pass you in those first few miles. It won't be long before you pass them. You should start passing people around mile 4.8, because they will use too much energy climbing the first (SMALL!) hill to maintain pace, and won't use the downhill for recovery. They will burn out. You won't because you locked your cage[4] on the way up and let gravity assist you on the way down.

At Mile 8 you take a dogleg turn into Hunstville, soak in those lake views! Take a selfie if you need to catch your breath, you won’t regret it!

Miles 14-18 you will hit several rolling hills. GO GENTLY. This is not the time to push. You have a steep downhill ahead and need to recover during this portion of the race.

Miles 17-22 is a brutal, steep downhill. Lock your cage, you will be faster than in the previous section but this is 5 miles of downhill and you still have at least an hour of running after that. You will pick up time here without spending a lot of energy as long as you aren’t going too fast.

Here’s the thing to remember: when your body is moving faster than easy effort, you are generating a force called ‘power’ with each footfall. The faster you run, the more power you use, even when gravity is assisting you. The name of the game on downhills is to use gravity instead of your body’s power to move forward. Sit into the hill, let that force pull you down the mountain, do watch your pacing and do not be too eager to pass people. Let it happen naturally.

You will hit a hill at mile 22 as you exit the mountains and enter town; the rest of the race is a gentle downward slope into the city. Now is the time to start using any power you have left. Spread it out evenly to the finish line, I hope you finish strong!

YOU GOT THIS. It's a great, gorgeous race.

[1] The “Fallback Point” is the point in the race when everyone who went out too fast starts walking. It feels like you are pulling away as the people you were running with start falling behind you. Generally speaking, if you run a smart race, this is the point past which no one will pass you. In fact you will start passing pretty much everyone. This is a mindgame- you will feel strong relative to their weakness and will be tempted to speed up and pick people off, RESIST THE URGE.

[3] The days are longer at altitude- the sun rises as early as 5:30am and sets at nearly 9pm this time of year.

[4] To find out how to lock your cage, watch the first few minutes of this video:

MK Fleming is the founder of Fitness Protection, LLC where she trains runners for $29 per month and gives marathon plans away for free. Click here to download her most popular Marathon plan, Tenacious AF, free!

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