America's only certified Skyrace course. Race Beast of Big Creek on Mt. Ellinor in Hoodsport, WA on Aug 3rd, 2024.

America's only certified Skyrace course. Race Beast of Big Creek on Mt. Ellinor in Hoodsport, WA on Aug 3rd, 2024.

A road marathon, in my hometown, on streets I run often, and in fact have run all once before. This is the Capital City Marathon, a Boston Qualifier with deep history and steep hills (compared to other road races, I am told). This race happened this week, and after over a decade calling Olympia, Washington my home I decided to sign up and race it.

I’ve never run a road marathon before. Once a 5K fun run for my kids’ school, but never a full marathon, all on roads, all on pavement. But that’s what I did this weekend.

I finished in 4:44:08, which isn’t something to write home about, but I achieved my goals: I wanted to run the whole thing, I wanted to finish closer to 4:30 than 5:00. I didn’t want to feel like shit and give up and walk. I did all that and I’m proud of it. I ran consistent and smart, fueled well, enjoyed myself – for the most part (the last 5miles were pretty tough – it got hot and so it became a bit of a grind).

Why did I as a trail runner and mountain lover run a road race?

Yeah, why?

Two reason really:

  • Logistics: My A race goal this year is OCC and with that come tons of logistical challenges. Therefore I wanted my spring tune up race to be simple, cheap and straightforward. So a hometown race made sense.
  • Speed: I am slow, still super slow by road marathon standards, but my hope (and my coaches suggestion) is that if I dedicate a portion of the year to road running and focus on speed then this should help me and translate into faster mountain running. Will this work? We shall see.

Did I love it?

It was fun, yes. So “simple”. Just run, keep your pace, don’t stop, fuel at the aid stations without trying to break stride, just keep going. One foot in front of the other, until the end.
The simplicity of it all made it beautiful. And yes, this being my first one I understand that the complexity comes in when you’re actually trying to improve, get faster, and fine-tune all the little things.

But compare this to a trail race. Even a reasonable short and local trail races has so many more logistical challenges for you. And running the same miles on trails is longer, so much stuff can go wrong with your body, you need to fuel more and better and you need to think of other elements. And don’t forget the terrain changes requiring different physical skills. In a road marathon all you do is run – easy.

Was it hard?

I was depleted when I finished, I pushed really hard the last 3 miles. So to stay committed to that goal and not give in and walk was hard, yes. But overall, compared to probably any other trail race I’ve ever run this race was easy.
Maybe next year, when I realize how hard it is to improve my performance I learn how hard it is to run a road marathon. For now, I’d say this was easy, easier than trail, and yes, because its’ still less than 36 after I finished and I’m still on that runner’s high, I’d say: of course I’ll do that again. Running a road marathon once a year makes total sense – sign me up again.