Big Cottonwood Marathon Recap

Wow, I can’t believe it’s already over! All that time training and in just a few hours, everything I’ve been training for is done. Overall I’m so happy with my experience! Here’s how it went…

I woke up at 3:30 am, got a phone call from my friend Desiree wishing me luck at 3:35 am (she set an alarm to wake up just to call me! how great of a friend is she!) and I was on the road by 4:30. I was a little worried because the last bus left at 5:00 but as I cruised down empty streets I wasn’t worried about making it. Then I hit traffic because I was on the street where the half marathon was parking. Great planning, Alyssa! I made it and parked in the full marathon parking lot and got onto one of the last buses, which actually turned out to be such a blessing.

On our way up the canyon, the last part was a very narrow road with a tricky turn. One of the buses got stuck and we ended up having to wait for them to be moved before we could all finish driving up. The race ended up starting 20 mins late because of that. I’m soo glad I was on a bus behind that bus so that I could wait on the bus instead of in the freezing cold mountain weather. Here is a picture of the actual bus stuck.


When we finally got to the top, this was our view. It was awesome. But also cold. Luckily we didn’t have to wait too long because they were anxious to get the race started.



A nice fellow runner offered to take my picture before the start. Unfortunately, the lighting wasn’t very good. Before I knew it, we were moving and it was time to start! I didn’t even hear a gun or blow horn or anything go off!


Yes I’m wearing socks on my arms. A coworker suggested I buy long socks, cut off the ends and wear them as sleeves to keep me warm during the cold part. Worked like a charm! And it cost like $1.50.

So a few weeks ago, the Facebook page for the race asked for quotes they could put up during the race. I had TOTALLY forgotten about it, so I was super pleasantly surprised when I saw THIS was the first sign!!!!!!


When I saw my name I darted back and took a couple pictures of it. It made me so happy! Plus in this picture you get a nice view of people running and you get to see some of the scenery. This picture is a win all around.

I would like to tell you all that everything was great for the majority of my marathon, but that just isn’t true. I was sick for the first…I think 12 miles? I had to make a total of 4 porta-potty stops throughout the race and 3 were in that first half. (TMI? Oh well. That’s running for you) It was miserable! While I wasn’t super concerned about my time, like I have been for other races, I still didn’t like that I had to keep stopping. I think it was my breakfast that didn’t sit right but honestly I have no idea what happened. I did notice that anytime I ate a ShotBlock or drank Gatorade, my stomach would act up, so I spent the rest of the race trying to balance between staying fueled and hydrated and not being sick.

Also, my phone died while I was in the canyon…mile 14 or 15? So I ran a good chunk of the time with just my thoughts. Again, it wasn’t that bad, like when my phone died during my 20 miler. I’m seeing a pattern here…

We ran down the canyon from miles 1-17. Holy crap it hurt. Running down a steep canyon road for 17 miles hurts. Keep that in mind. It did however, allow me to run a little faster than I may have if it had all been flat or rolly. Plus it was pretty. But still. When I got to the mouth of the canyon my mom was there waiting to cheer me on. It was great to see her!! Definitely gave me a little energy boost!

After we got out of the canyon, we wound through neighborhoods and busy streets. There were more fun signs and people cheering us on along the way. I love how supportive everyone is of runners in races like these. There were even people who live in the canyon, who came out of their cabins to come cheer us on. Loved it!

Around mile 20 I noticed that more and more people were walking. I remembered some friends telling me that on their first marathon their goal was just to not to walk at all, except for through the aid stations. This sounded reasonable but I learned that it was actually really hard to accomplish. With everyone around me walking, I decided I was going to make that goal too. No matter how slow I got, I would NOT walk, except through aid stations. I am happy to say that I fulfilled that goal!

That last 6 miles were by far the most physically challenging. My pace slowed down, I had to break it down and look forward to the next mile marker, to the next aid station. Surprisingly, my mental strength was really good through the whole race and it really helped me in the first half when I wasn’t feeling well and in the second half when I was getting really tired. It made SUCH a difference!

photo 4

Finally, I saw the 26 mile marker and there was only that 0.2 miles that doesn’t sound like much but feels like forever! When I got to about 0.1 miles left, I started to pick up my pace and decided to race the guy in front of me, who was also picking up his pace. I totally could have stayed with him but some dumb people cut in front of me (who walks in front of runners coming down the final shoot?!!). It did, however, help me to finish really strong…although it did make me nauseous for a bit. haha Maybe I pushed a little too hard.

photo 5

As I was finishing I heard my name being yelled by my mom and my friends, Nan and Austin. It was soo great to have them there to see me finish!



I know there were other family members and friends that wanted to be there and weren’t able to be. I want to thank them to for the love and support!! I am surrounded by so many wonderful people!

My official finish time was 4:29:41.0! I would have loved to have been closer to 4:00 but considering all my bathroom breaks and the fact that it was my first time, I am MORE than happy with my time!


So there you have it, folks. I ran a marathon, something I never would have dreamed I would be doing even 6 months ago. I am so proud of myself (I even started tearing up in the last mile and had to pull myself together haha) and I’m so happy I chose to do this. It was an incredible experience. I’m not sure how soon I’ll do another one, but I don’t think I’m willing to completely take another marathon off my list of future races. Now that I know I can do it, I think I could do better. And I like a running challenge.


Oh yeah, that’s me trying to not pass out afterward. Good times. Now to re-learn how to walk with my sore little muscles. 🙂 Also, if you made it through that whole post, you’re a champ.


35 thoughts on “Big Cottonwood Marathon Recap

  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!!! Seriousy you are amazing!! Oh and I totally cried at the finish line and the last .2 miles of my first marathon… so no judgment here 🙂

    You are awesome Alyssa I am so proud of you! Way to go 🙂

  2. Small world! I followed your link from HRG after being surprised that Janae was there too. The race was great and at least we got to sit on the bus instead of waiting in the cold. I can hardly walk today, but all in all it was worth it. I will say though that as nice as the downhill gravity is, your body takes a pounding. I saw your sign yesterday and took it to heart with extra dessert last night! Congratulations!

  3. Great job! 17 miles of downhill!? Holy smokes!!

    You are a rockstar!!

    And that last picture, you’re not trying to keep from passing out, you’re starting your recovery with a leg drain! Ha!

  4. Great job!! I would say that is a pretty fantastic time. (Especially because that was almost exactly the time from my one and only marathon. 😉 ) Wish we could have been there to cheer you on. Get lots of rest!

  5. I’m so happy for you!! That is a great time! I only hope to get that time for my race next month! A great accomplishment!! What part of the race was the hardest (mentally and/or physically)? And that’s alot of downhill, my ankles would be sore from all that downhill!

    • Honestly, the physical was more challenging. I felt pretty good mentally and the determination to keep going is what stopped me from walking like everyone else seemed to be the last few miles. and yeah, the downhill was killer. Wore my legs right out and there was still 9 miles to go!

  6. This blog post was as fantastically fun to read as I knew it would be! I loved the play by play, even the TMI part (hey, real is real). Congrats on achieving your goal! Better you than me, haha. Happy recovering! 🙂

  7. Congrats on your first marathon! I hope to be able to do one someday. It looks like the one you did had beautiful scenery so I’m sure that must have helped you get through it!

  8. Pingback: Life After the Marathon | see this girl run

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