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Marathon #102: Teton Marathon (2012/06/16)

2012 Teton Marathon (Inaugural) / Jackson Hole Half Marathon
Sat 6/16, 6am for the full, 9am for the half

Josh Melver & Pam Reed (the legendary Pam Reed of Badwater fame)
Redline Running Company
@RedLineRunning on Twitter

Packet Pickup:
Snow King Resort
400 E Snow King Ave
Jackson, WY
Fri 6/15, 5-8pm
RD's words: "You can also pickup your bib at the starting line starting at 5:45am Saturday morning, but your goody bag and t-shirt can be picked up at the finish line after the race. If you are coming in late and want to have a friend pick up for you on Friday night, that is fine as well."
Both Josh & Pam were extremely friendly, they even issued Steven & I $20 checks to make up for the cancellation of the full marathon course (more to follow as you read along).

Host Hotel:
The Inn at Jackson Hole
3345 West Village Drive
Teton Village, WY 83025
Standard Room (double beds):  $119 per night (used Teton Marathon rate), prepaid 7 day cancellation policy, Total $273.94.
Walking distance to finish line / shuttles to Half Marathon start (in Teton Village), not the Full Marathon start (Phil Baux Park in Jackson).
From/To JAC Airport: $26 for shuttle, $60 for taxi (flatrate). Car rental is $60/day, so is a better option and gives you the flexibility to visit the nearby Grand Teton National Park, and also Yellowstone National Park.

From NYC, Steven Thunder Lee & I traveled on AA from LGA via DFW to JAC. We rented a car at JAC. The airport is small but well run and picking up the car rental took no time at all. The airport did not have traditional gates, and we deplaned using a mobile staircase (similar to Missoula, MT) and were greeted by stunning snow-capped mountain vistas! The entrance into the airport had a deer horn arch, welcoming us to "Jackson Hole".

RD's words: "The ½ marathon course is beautiful and you guys are the luckiest people in the world as you get to see it twice!! Thanks for bearing with us on the route change. This note is in way of some last minute reminders to ensure everything goes off without a hitch this weekend. PLEASE NOTE: We are changing the marathon start to 6am since we are now doing an out and back course. This will ensure that you won't have to battle the crowds of the ½ marathoners head on."

"There is only one big street crossing and that is as you turn right off of Hwy 22 onto Hwy 390 (Moose Wilson Blvd?). You have to cross 390 within the first 100 meters to connect with the bike path on the opposite side of the street at the drive-in to a local park."

"Remember, true hydration is at a cellular level and does not happen by pounding 2 gallons of water the day before the race. Those who are not regularly hydrating and try the shortcut will just spend more time in the bathroom on race day! Don't be fooled by the expected cooler weather into thinking you don't need to stay as hydrated. Remember that you are still at 6,200 ft elevation so you will naturally dehydrate faster if you are not acclimated to the elevation. Water stations will be every 2 miles starting at mile 2 (so 2, 4, 6, 8, 10). We will have some setup at the ½ way point but that will make it a 3 mile gap between miles 10 and 13 and 13 and 16. There will be Cliff gels and Jelly Belly Sport Beans at miles 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 13, 20, 22, and 24 as well. Gatorade will also be on tap at miles 2, 4, 6, 8, 18, 20, and 22. There will be port-a-potties at the start and finish line. They will also be at mile 8 and 13 and usually the school has one which will be your mile 3 and 23."

The course was not a typical high altitude "net downhill" course since the point-to-point full marathon course was canceled a week prior, and we had to run the half marathon course backwards and then forwards with the half marathoners.

The full marathoners were allowed to start anytime from 6am (3hrs before the half marathon start, 13.1 miles away at Teton Village), as long as we made it to the turnaround before 9am. We were responsible for self-timing our 1st halfs, and then starting the "half marathon" at 9am.

We started at Phil Baux Park (next to Snow King Resort where packet pickup was) and immediately turned left onto E Snow King Ave, which then turned into W Snow King Ave at S Carcas(sp?) St(?). We followed the flour markings in the opposite direction. The markings were pretty good and we did not get lost, which was my #1 concern going into this non-traditional half marathon x2 course. However, our friend Jeff Hill did miss a turn early on and found himself lost.

Steven & I ran together for the 1st half. We didn't see any other runners, but it was a nice, serene, & scenic. We took a lot of pictures. They had unmanned aid station with cups of water & Power Aid pre-poured for us, which was very nice. We didn't have to run with water bottles. I thought I took it easy, running a 1:52:31 (this proved not to be the case in the 2nd half, as I could not push). We timed our run perfectly and made it to the half marathon "start" at 8:57am, enough time to grab some water then start the 2nd 1/2. We didn't want to start too early for risk of cramping from standing / waiting around.

The 1st half was net uphill, by maybe 100ft? The 2nd half was supposed to be easier since it's net downhill, but the altitude got to me and I ran a 2:03:45, for total marathon time of 3:56:16, just squeezing in a sub-4 marathon (my worst marathon time of 2012, even worse than Day 2 of my Mississippi+Alabama double in Jan, but hey, it's a sub-4, so I'll take it!) for my 28th state under 4hours (22 more to go for my "50sub4" goal).

The red shirt I'm wearing is the 50sub4 club shirt. Jeff, next to me, is the founder/President! He finished the 50sub4 trek a while ago. This was also State #43 for me. That means I still have to repeat 15 states!

The race was extremely beautiful! The snow capped mountains were visible from parts of the course. The start was chilly at 40F, even in June! It ended up in the low 70's F at the end of the race. We mostly ran on bike paths, but it was difficult to breathe as we are up "at altitude" at 6,200ft (1,000 feet above 1 mile / Denver), easily making it my most difficult sub-4 state. I've had worse finish times in other states, but I was in much better shape for this race (usually averaging 3:20s to 3:30s) and barely ended up sub-4'ing. If you're a flatlander, expect to run 1min/mile slower than what you are used to! You'll feel like you're gasping for air, and even drowning after you drink fluids at aid stations.

Post-Race Festival:
RD's words: "There will be many opportunities to get the needed calories back into your system directly after the race. There will be Water, Vitamin Water, Muscle Milk, pizza from both local pizza joints Mountain High Pizza Pie and Pinky G's Pizzeria, Bagels from Pearl Street Bagel and Rolls from Great Harvest Bread. In addition, we will also have post-race Acupuncture treatments available from East of the Tetons Acupuncture and massage treatments by Chill Spa."

The awards ceremony took place after the last finisher crossed. Pam & Josh gave away a lot of prizes through a raffle (tickets were attached to our bibs). Prized included gift certificates to local stores, restaurants, & yoga classes. They even gave away a men's and women's cowboy hats! With only ~14 marathoners and ~200 half marathoners, your chances of winning something were high. Steve won a yoga gift certificate, but exchanged it for a $10 Haagen Daas gift certificate, which he later gave away to a local. The guy even won 3rd Place AG for the Half, even though he ran a 13.1 "warm up"! He never ceases to amaze.

Closing Notes:
It's so beautiful here and is one of the most scenic places I have been to in the Lower 48. I truly enjoyed my time here and would definitely want to return, either to ski, or spend more time in Yellowstone National Park. We also visited Grand Teton National Park, post-race, as we only spent one full day in town. We were lucky enough to catch Old Faithful Geyser erupt (it erupts every 90mins +/- 10mins)!

The drive to Grand Teton from Jackson was quick, about 20mins to get into the park and another 10mins to the Visitor's Center. From there, it was another 2hrs (less if you don't make random stops to take pictures of wildlife) to get to Old Faithful within Yellowstone. We saw a bunch of elk, but did not spot any buffalo, as they are in a different section of the expansive park.

Near our hotel at Teton Village (where the famous Jackson Hole ski resort is), we spotted cows, horses, and even real cowboys herding their horses.

The town square area in Jackson is fun. It reminded me of Santa Fe, but even nicer. There are lots of hidden stores off of the square, so try walking around.
For carbo-loading, we ate at Pinky G's Pizzeria in Jackson on W Broadway. They use gas ovens, and have a full bar with TV's that show sports games and ESPN Sportscenter. The pizza took a long time to make, but was pretty good. I liked the crust, and it still tasted good the next day. It was cheap, at $23 for a pie, but they allow half-half options. We had Margherita+3 Cheese (no tomato sauce w/ garlic & olive oil). Nearby there are also two other pizza places: Caldera and Mountain High.

A fun bar we visited was Million Dollar Cowboy Bar (they have a steakhouse downstairs), across the street from the square. We sat at the bar on their comfortable saddle bar stools, complete with stirrups! Patrons with cowboy hats were present. At night (busy nights only?) they charge a $5 cover. Their TV's show sports games. We tried elk cheeseburgers, which tasted leaner and healthier than beef, but not as tasty as ostrich. A let down here was that they served no beers on tap.

A great store for gifts is Jackson Mercantile, right off the square.

This area is also right next to a mountain with chair lifts (Snow King), so it's so close for skiing and summer mountain biking.

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