If interested, link to pre race post (getting to the start line) here.
After 2 miles and the first water stop where I took a shot block, I took stock of where I was physically and after driving the course the night before - having seen that the middle section was as much flat as it was both up and down in places - decided I could pick up the pace before the middle section. Miles 3 and 4 were at a 7:45 pace, then the next 4 miles at 7:38 pace - all feeling quite good.
All the pre-race fluids caught up w/ me at around mile 8, took a 1/2 minute porta potty stop, followed by a cliff shot, powerade and then back at it. At about mile 8 1/2 we turned and started around the Pineview reservoir where we would run around it till about 18 1/2 miles in.
He was right, I soon realized I needed to slow down and maintain effort. I did and yet still was determined and able to maintain a 7:50 pace for the next 5 miles to the halfway point. Halfway split time was 1:42:30. Tempted to stop but a big, supportive crowd there and nowhere for me to pull off and hide.
I was especially grateful to have driven the reservoir section at dusk the night before, noticing several rollers, the biggest at mile 14, only 1/2 mile long and 100' of up, still enough to grab the attention. Took it's toll on some people going up.
Throughout the reservoir stretch were some mental mind games. The feet were pounded, knees were doing okay, but by no means feeling good. I ran mostly by myself, passing people gradually, few, if any passing me. Sun was out throughout and warmed up to (guessing) upper 50's. Was low 60's by race end (for me).
I kept telling myself focus on getting to the reservoir dam, where after that some downhills await. From the halfway point till end of the reservoir dam I drifted at times back to an 8 pace on the uphills, but overall pace for that 5 1/2 miles was an 7:52 avg pace. Not great, yet not bad as the accumulated distance was starting to take a definite toll on me. The couple of aid stations before the reservoir Dam I had resorted to 2 cups of water, 1 over the head and 1 w/ a cliff shot. Then a powerade gulp - all while speed walking through them.
I had by this time long since given up watching the scenery, the night before the camera battery had died, so this is the best photo I have.
I was still on track to do well though, realized if I could hold on and maintain I would certainly beat 3:30 and had a good chance to beat 3:27 = beating the PR from 19 yrs ago. With 10K to go - I went for it, wasn't going to be easy, but I had not signed up expecting an easy run. No-one passed me the rest of the way.
The next 4 miles I think I did w/ my eyes closed for most of it, grimacing the whole way. Came through an aid station, entirely Military staffed - managed to say something along the lines of "thanks for all you do protecting this country and for being here today". The guy replied "Happy to be here sir, now keep running and finish strong!" Was certainly an encouraging boost.
Got to the aid station where the 5K started, left the road for a paved, double track bike path. This part I had not seen last night. I didn't know we were going to run on it, a little surprised, but no real slowing of pace. Spectators building, passing 1/2 marathoners walking, full marathoners struggling, all of us ready to be done. Some small rollers for this section, about 2 miles in all, mostly shady - that and now 2 cups of water over the head at each aid station kept me cool.
Just over a mile or so to go, came off the bike path back onto the road and the last water stop - I was a wreck but no stopping me now. Last turn onto the home stretch, problem was it was 3/4 mile long, flat and seemed like it would never end. Took us right into downtown. Lots of people on this last section of the course, mostly half'ers, but definitely some marathoners I was able to pass.
Took note of people ahead, targeting runners, catching, passing, moving to the next one. Finish line was at 25th street. At 18th street I noticed the street sign, started clicking off the blocks, gradually pushing harder as each went by.
22nd street, crowds were really making noise. Race bibs had each runners first name on it - so I even heard my name being cheered by some folks.
23rd street, glanced at watch, 26.2 miles - hmmmm - just go, get to the line.
24rd street I was full out with everything flailing, probably looked like the most awkward running, uncoordinated fool out there but the end was in sight.
25th Street. Finish Line. I was done. More importantly - I did it.
My watch said 26.41 miles - I know they measure the shortest distance to complete the course - Sure, I had run a little further, but I will take the official times and distance gladly. No complaints.
Official time 3:25:34. 150th place overall out of 2368 finishers (according to chip times). 1st half 1:42:30. 2nd half 1:43:04. Only 34 seconds slower. 20th out of 196 in age group. Beat my last Fall's marathon time by 12:19. Beat my first (and only other) marathon that I ran 19 years ago by about 3 minutes for the PR. First runner to finish from Colorado (okay there were only about a dozen).
Success. Achievement. PR. And a cool medal to go with it.
Aerial photos from near start of the race - taken from Race website