Entry 4: Deciding to Train for Boston

In late 2013, some friends of mine told me they were going to try and qualify for the Boston Marathon. At that time, the fastest I had run a half marathon was a 1:57, or around a 8:50 minute per mile pace, at the Canyonlands Half Marathon, in Moab, Utah.

The energy of my friends for Boston inspired me and I decided I would make a go for it as well.  Back then, I wanted to run two marathons–one to qualify me for Boston, and then Boston and be done. Even with three half-marathons under my belt, I still wouldn’t have called myself a long-distance runner then.

runners_world_bookA friend I knew was using the Runner’s World, Guide to Road Racing,  for her training and recommended that I use it for my training.  I purchased a copy and in early 2014, I started to train for Boston.  I researched Saturday marathons that had some significant downhill figuring I would need as much help as I could get. After lots of time comparing courses, I set my sights on the Utah Valley Marathon course with a 3:35 finishing time or an 8:12 pace per mile.  I knew I had to be under my 3:40 qualifying standard to actually run Boston so I set my sights on 3:35. (I think there was a part of me too that felt that if the qualifying standard for women of 18-35 was 3:35, that even though I was 37, I wanted to get in with that standard.)

Training was hard. I did the majority of it on the treadmill because of intimidating winter weather conditions in Northern Colorado where I live. During those 21 weeks training, I was in the doctor’s office three times for injuries–tendonitis (in both ankles) and shin splints. I ran in foot braces, for a while and even had periods where I couldn’t run at all.

After watching me run and having me in his office three times in a pretty short period, my sports medicine physician told me that my body wasn’t built for marathons. That half marathons were my race and that finishing a marathon, let alone qualifying for Boston, would be very difficult for me without physical therapy. I left his office and silently said to myself, “Watch Me.”

My story continues with my entry: Team Pearl Izumi.

Entry 3: Moab Canyonlands Half Marathons 2013-2015

Moab Canyonlands Half Marathon 2014 Medal

Moab Canyonlands Half Marathon 2014 Medal

So my favorite half marathon, up to this point in my running journey, is the Moab Canyonlands Half Marathon.  It is well-organized, incredibly scenic, fast, and in one of my favorite places on the planet.

The day of the race, you meet in a park across from the Moab Recreational Center at 7:30 am and they bus you eleven miles up the canyon on Hwy 128 from Moab. (I like to arrive for one of the later bus loading times so that I am not in the cold as long.) The hardest part of the race is what happens from about 8:15am to race start at 10:00am–the waiting. It is always cold and I find myself standing in line for the porta potties for most of the time I am up there–you go, then you get back in line for when you have to go again. But, but, it is all worth it to run this course.  So beautiful.

The host city for this marathon is also one that is hard to top on my list. I have been visiting Moab, Utah, since I was a kid and it is one of my favorite little towns on the map. The nearby Arches National Park is always a favorite of ours to visit while we are in town with a hike through the Fiery Furnace a must on every visit.

Moab Canyonlands Half Marathon 2014

Moab Canyonlands Half Marathon 2014 (Pictured here from left to right: Anne Sidwell, Stephen Sidwell, Krista Sidwell, Tom Orrock, and Sharolyn Lindsey.)

Tips for this course:

  • Do pack junk sweats, gloves, sweatshirt etc., you can toss right before the race starts or along the way as you warm up. You turn in your gear bag and then you are FREEZING until race start. It can be pretty miserable if you aren’t clothed warmly.
  • Pack a couple space blankets you can use and then discard before the race.
  • If you head up closer to the race start line, the porta potty lines are shorter.
  • Don’t start off too fast on this one.  The race may come down the canyon, but it doesn’t feel like a pure downhill course. There are lots of hills thrown in there. Pace smart. Race Smart Pace Bands does a really great job customizing their pace bands for each course. Check them out. (In 2015, I ordered a pace band from them and it was the exact same pace band the official pacers were using for the race).
  • There is one really decent, short hill around mile 9.5. Don’t let yourself slow down too much on it–it’s short and you get a good reprieve after where you can catch your breath.
  • Mentally prepare for the last 2.5 miles–they are on a slight uphill–which you will feel. They are also on the road into town so it isn’t as scenic. However, this part of the race is also when you start to see the spectators and you can really feed of their energy.
  • They say the canyon can be windy so factor that into your race goals. (In the three consecutive years we have run the race, wind hasn’t been a problem for us, but historically, I have heard it has made its presence known).
Canyonlands Half Marathon 2013 Krista Miner Sidwell Results

Results for 2013 Canyonlands Half Marathon

Krista Miner Sidwell Results for 2014 Canyonlands Half Marathon

My Results for 2014 Canyonlands Half Marathon

Krista Miner Sidwell 2015 Moab Canyonlands Half Marathon Race Results

My 2015 Moab Canyonlands Half Marathon Race Results

My Results

I love seeing how much I have improved from when I first ran this race in 2013 to this year. I have taken 18 minutes off my time from when I first ran it, and 31 minutes off from my very first half-marathon race, (The Heart of the Rockies) in late 2010.

Running a race in one of my favorite places on earth is just something that is really, really hard to top. This March tradition for our family is one that I don’t see us ending any time soon.

My Most Recent Race

2015 was my best race experience on this course. It was sunny, the wind stayed away and I had prepared well. My average pace was a 7:34 minute mile which was my fastest half-marathon pace to date.  I believe I owe much of this success to all my work on running marathons prior to this race. When I ran this race in 2013 and 2014, I had yet to run a full marathon before. After tackling the marathon distance three times in 2014 and training for marathons all year long, half marathons now feel like a training run more than a real bodily effort. This physical progress is really exciting for me.  The runner I was in 2010 would never had imagined that I would ever arrive at a point where I wouldn’t be intimidated by the half-marathon distance. Now, I just need to keep trying to get faster.

So, come race day, I had forgotten to pack junk clothes or space blankets so once I had to turn in my gear bag with the clothes/food I had used up until that point, I was freezing. I could not stop myself from violent shivering.  This just isn’t smart. Your body uses precious energy trying to warm you up. I tried to huddle as closely as I could with the other racers that were jammed around me at the start line, but you still just can’t get warm. Next year, I WILL NOT forget how miserable I am without some warm clothing or space blankets!!

While I waited, I found the pacer for my goal time of 1:39 and asked him about his race strategy. Once I realized that he had the same pace band as me, I figured I would pace myself but keep him and his pacer buddy in sight. (I have had a couple races with really great pacers, and a couple races with really horrible pacers so I don’t trust them blindly with my race.) I was glad that I paced myself for the majority of this race because the pacers for the 1:39 pace were not staying on pace very well.  I did run with them for the last two miles–I was the only one left that was running with them. (This usually isn’t a very good sign for a pacer on how well they have done for the group they are pacing.) But, I was glad to have a buddy to help drive me to my goal at the finish.

I was happy with my 8th division place, but would really like to find myself finishing in the top three one of these times. . .if my body will allow it! (I have tried a couple different training methods and have really found great results with the Hanson Training Method. If you haven’t tried using this method before I encourage you to do so!)

How I Fuel

The Night Before

I like to carbo load on pasta and bread. I usually will have a small salad, but not much, to avoid gastrointestinal issues during the race. I typically will eat this meal at least 12 hours before race start, which isn’t too difficult with this race since it doesn’t start until 10am. It is also important to make sure you are getting a good amount of carbs 48 hours before the race.

The Morning Of

My pre-race breakfast is a 1/2-3/4 a cup of oatmeal with peanut butter, some orange juice, and a bagel. Half marathon or marathon, this is always my breakfast. I typically eat my breakfast 2 hours before the race starts. I also down 8 oz of water 3 hours before and again 2 hours before.


An hour before the race starts I will eat a Clif bar. Pack this with you since you will be eating this up the canyon while you wait for the race to start. I don’t run with any water or a fuel belt. I have a pocket in my shorts where I put two GU Roctane gels: one I take 15 minutes before the race starts with water, and one I take 45 minutes into the race (also with water). I get water at the aid stations when needed and usually opt to skip the gatorade since I already am full of electrolytes and other nutrients from the gels.  You don’t want to overload your body with simple sugar all at once. Your digestive system won’t efficiently process all that sugar and can lead to cramps and side stitches.

Another important tip… if you have to slow down to drink your water, or even slow to a fast walk, that is okay!  It is more important that you have the water in your system then a few seconds lost.  You can make those up! Running full speed with a water cup and not spilling at least half of its contents is something I haven’t been able to achieve yet. I doubt many can!

How I Dress

I dress as warmly as I can all the way up until we line up at the starting line. It is sooo cold up in the canyon. I wear my down coat, gloves, hat, layers, you name it! It’s cold! Once the race starts,I’m down to shorts, a sleeveless race top, compression socks (sometimes) and my Pearl Izumi M3 V2s. Once you start running this race, you won’t feel cold and I doubt you will really feel hot either.  It usually stays in the mid 50s in the canyon.


Lodging: Book early. We prefer to rent a condo out of town. Rim Village is really nice. Look up places on VRBO.com.

The Canyonlands Best Western is really nice if you want a motel in town. They fill up fast and are pretty pricey, but the homemade cookies, heated pool and jacuzzi are nice. The River Canyon Lodge may be a star down from the Best Western and others in town, but the location is ideal since it is right across from the bus loading zone and right by the race finish. You can also get affordable two-bedroom units with full kitchens and covered balconies.


  • Miguel’s Baja Grill (My fav: Santo Rosalia Steak Enchiladas with Green Tomatillo sauce. You won’t be disappointed.)
  • Jailhouse Cafe (Breakfast): Don’t miss the New York Style Bacon or the egg’s benedict.
  • Mill’s Stop and Eat (Hamburgers and shakes)
  • Zax’s (Pizza)
  • Paradox (Pizza)
  • Twisted Sista’s Cafe: AMAZING dinner.  A little pricey, but really great. (My favs: The Beef Tenderloin, Spinach Salad, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie)
  • Sweet Cravings Bakery + Bistro (Looking for a good cookie? Look no further!  They also have amazing monkey bread, cinnamon rolls, sandwiches. . .pretty much the whole package here.  A must stop. )

Things to do:

  • Visit Arches National Park.  (This is non-negotiable.  You MUST do this while you are there. Fiery Furnace is our favorite place in the park but Delicate Arch is also a must if you have never been).
  • Bike the paved trail from the Moab Brand Trails into town.
  • Visit Corona Arch.
  • If you have kids, visit the Dinosaur Track Ruin sites.
  • Rent a jeep and ride up to Gemini Bridges and explore some of the arches off the beaten track.
  • Visit the Moab Recreation and Aquatic Center to swim. (This indoor complex has a zero-entry pool for kids, diving boards and an indoor slide).
  • Pack your tripod for some of the best night photography you will ever shoot.
  • Slide down the Giant Sand Dune across from the Arches National Park Visitor Center.
  • Go on a razor tour.
  • Visit Fisher Towers.  It is about a 40-minute drive outside of Moab, but well worth it! (See pic below).

    My husband and I sporting our race shirts at Fisher Towers after the 2015 Moab Canyonlands Half Marathon

    My husband and I sporting our race shirts at Fisher Towers after the 2015 Moab Canyonlands Half Marathon.

 My story continues with my next entry: Deciding to Train for Boston.

Entry 2: A Season of Mud Runs

So, I thought that I ran in some half marathon races in 2011 and 2012, but I can’t find any proof of that. The only race I know I participated in was the Loveland, Colorado, Mud Brigade (held at The Ranch) with these fabulous girls. It has become somewhat of a tradition now among us. The actual running distance is only a 5K, but the obstacles and mud make it quite a fun challenge!  I know I was continuing to run three or four times a week, but, yeah, I wasn’t really racing back then. I was working on strengthening my upper body and core and was lifting three times a week. I would typically run for about 35 minutes and then do upper body and call it good with about 60 minutes of exercise. Maybe 90 on a good day.

Loveland, CO, Krista Miner Sidwell Mud Brigade Race: September 9, 2012

Loveland, CO, Mud Brigade Race: September 9, 2012

We had so much fun the first year, that we decided to do it again the following year.

Krista Miner Sidwell Loveland Colorado Mud Brigade Race, September 2013

Loveland Colorado Mud Brigade Race, September 2013

Krista Miner Sidwell and the Mud Brigade September 2013

Northern Colorado Mud Brigade Race September 2013

This fabulous group of women ran it in 2014 as well, but I was unable to run that year with them due to another commitment.

My story continues with my next entry: Moab Canyonlands Half Marathons 2013-2015.

Entry 1: My Road to Boston

krista miner sidwell

“Trust your instincts. Believe in the impossible. Never underestimate the power of raw determination. “–Krista Miner Sidwell

The Boston Marathon was over two weeks ago, but I am still finding myself nostalgic for the race and the days leading up to the race. It was the culmination of so many great running/life experiences over the last few years that I just feel like I have to record it somewhere before the vividness fades; before the joys get swallowed up in the rigors of life; before the lessons learned are less perspicuous. But, before writing my Boston recap, I feel like I first need to give some back story to how I found myself there. People often ask me, “Have you always been a runner?” I suppose I should say yes, however, I haven’t always been a consistent runner, and I only recently discovered the limitations that I have been putting on my running for years. When I was younger, I ran the 400m sprint for my middle school track team. That was a long race for me then. At that time in my life, I detested running farther than about 400m. I was not a long-distance runner. I didn’t have the same work ethic back then either. I drove my track coach insane. She was always talking about my potential, but she could never light a fire under me during running practice. I was fast with minimal effort and I was okay with that. Then. I ultimately dropped track for the tennis team in high school and didn’t really discover that I had a love for distance running until I was in college. Even then, I started out not running that far–about an hour a day, at a comfortable speed.

Sidwell Family Picture Fall 2010

Sidwell Family Picture Fall 2010

There is this era of my life that started sometime after I started having children in 2004 and ended when my youngest was 2, six years later, that I really didn’t run or exercise that much at all. My children gave me all the exercise I felt I could handle in a day at that time. In 2010, after the excruciating loss of my fourth child in my second trimester, I was rescued from a pretty deep depression by returning to running–it saved me in so many ways and, five years later, continues to as I go through the ups and downs of this thing we call life. I’m not really a glass half-empty sort of person, but have discovered that without physical exercise, I can find myself spiraling into depression quite easily. We all have our demons we must confront in life. Running helps me beat this one. When I first started running again in 2010, I was a 10-minute miler. I had no real goals for speed or distance at this time. I was just running to run. I was running to find joy in living. Those of you who have been there, know what I am talking about. I struggled with knee pain when I first started running again. I visited an orthopedist who told me to strengthen my quads, ice my sore knees after running, and try different shoes. I did all these things. I doubted I would ever get past the pain; that I would ever run without some physical discomfort, but after a time, my quads did get stronger, I found the right shoes, and my knee pain went away and hasn’t returned since.  It took persistence to get me on the other side of pain, but I did it.

Stephen Scott Sidwell

Stephen Scott Sidwell sporting his 2010 St. George Marathon shirt.

My husband, who has never really loved running, ran the St. George Marathon in October of 2010, and I was so impressed by his accomplishment. He inspired me. (So many inspired me back then.  They didn’t know it, but they did.) But, he inspired me on a daily basis and competed regularly in triathlons testing and pushing his limits. He never pushed me to up my exercise efforts or to compete as he was, but he silently inspired me by his example of healthy, active living.

Krista Miner Sidwell Heart of the Rockies Half Marathon 2010

My first half marathon, the Heart of the Rockies Half held on November 6, 2010, in Loveland, Colorado.

Fast forward to November 6, 2010, when I participated in my first half-marathon–The Loveland, Colorado, Heart of the Rockies  Half Marathon–with some friends that had encouraged me to sign up. I found an 11-week training plan online and followed it to the letter.  I finished with a 9:55 per mile average (a 2:10 minute race), a couple minutes behind my husband, but the race left me wanting…wanting more from myself. The story continues with my next entry: A Season of Mud Runs