The SoJo Marathon has been offering a series of training runs where they provide water at aid stations along the course starting at the Half Marathon starting line, you just have to bring something to put the water in. I asked my friend Shannon, who's doing this marathon with me, if she wanted to do the last training run with me. It was was 2 weeks ago, and she was going to be out of town so I just ended up running 11.6 miles around here.
The next weekend I decided I wasn't quite ready to run 18 since it had been 4 weeks since my (almost) 16 miler. I decided to do 16 again and see if I could do it faster, which I did! It helped that I ran up City Creek which was beautiful with the leaves starting to change, and it was a nice cool morning, and I got to have some fun downhill in the middle! Yay for downhill! I did this 16 in 3:01, and last time I actually did 15.6 miles in 3:06 so I went farther in a shorter amount of time. Sweet! I felt really good afterwards, just a little bit sore.
This week was another training run, and this time Shannon was able to do it with me! I met her at about 6am near where the finish line will be, then we drove her car up to the 18-mile starting point. I had written all our turns down on my arms.
I didn't have room for them all on just one arm becuase there were a lot of them!
We started just in time to see the beautiful sunrise over the mountains. It was really nice.
|That little green dot is where we started, and the red one is where we finished.|
It started out pretty nice, going downhill for a ways, but we weren't able to enjoy it since there hadn't been a bathroom where we started since it was pretty much the middle of nowhere. Luckily, after about 2 miles we came to a city building. We thought it probably wouldn't be open, but we checked anyway and it was! What a nice bathroom they had too. I love city buildings! :)
After that I felt much better, and the next 3 miles just flew by. It was so much fun running with her and catching up with since we hadn't seen each other since June! She's a much faster runner than I am, but she set a pace that was perfect for me. It didn't feel too hard, but it was faster than I would have done by myself for sure so that was really cool to see that I could do that!
We stopped at a 7-11 after about 5 miles to use the bathroom again, and it was right across the street from the Medical Center where they were starting the official training run and where the half marathon will start. It was good to see we were on the right course! After this, every couple of miles, there would just be a table with 2 coolers on top - one with water and one with some kind of lemony drink that was really good. They even had a couple bottles of water in case you didn't bring your own. Shannon just carried a cup and I carried one of my fuel belt bottles in one hand and my hammer gel flask in the other. That worked out perfectly.
We also started seeing signs telling us where to turn which was good because I had written down the wrong direction on a couple of my turns! Oops, I guess that's what happens when you try to read a map at 5:30 in the morning! We managed to stay on track, though, thanks to the signs and our smart phones. It also helped that she knew the area.
One thing about this course is that it is a lot harder than we expected. The course description says, "Mostly downhill with a couple of good bumps thrown in to make things interesting." Well there seemed to be a lot more "interesting" than downhill. We were surprised by how much uphill there was and how short the downhills seamed.
I felt really good until about, oh I don't know... (That's another mistake I made, I paused my Garmin at one of our stops, and forgot to start it again until we'd run about 1.5 miles! Oops.) 11 or 12 miles. I remember Shannon saying, "soon we'll just have 6 miles to go!" and I felt like that was a very impossible sounding number. Around this time, we hit another hill and I stopped and walked when we got to the top. I was really starting to feel it! Shannon was so nice to stop and walk with me, and stick with me for so long even though I know it was so slow for her. When we hit about 14 miles, she decided she wanted to try and push it to the end so I told her to go ahead. She took off and was soon out of sight. Now came the hardest part of the run. Without her pushing me, I slowed down a lot, and my legs were starting to get pretty sore so I allowed myself to walk a few more times. I was ok, though, nothing was hurting more than it should and I knew I could finish this even if it took me a long time. I kept going.
The last 2 miles are on the Jordan River Parkway and that felt really hard! We'd had a bit of a downhill in the shade for the 2 miles before, and the Parkway is totally flat and in the sun so I started to feel the heat. I was really hurting, and stopped to walk a few times here. I finally finished after about 3 1/2 hours of running which was about what I'd planned for. Man was I glad to be done! The cool thing was that my Garmin said I had done 16.3 miles (remember, I skipped about 1.5 miles on it) in 2:58! Another big improvement on my 16 miles! Thank you, Shannon, for pushing me and helping me do that!
When I was about 1.5 miles from the finish, I stopped in my tracks as I realized that I had left the key to my car in Shannon's car 18 miles away! I had left my purse there thinking about how we were coming back to her car, not thinking about HOW we were going to get there and forgot to grab my keys! Another 6am mistake! Oh well. Luckily, she lives pretty close to where we were so she called her husband to see if he could come get us. He came and saved the day! This way I got to meet her new husband anyway, and she also showed me her new house so that was fun!
It was lunch time by the time I left and I stopped at Chipotle for a very well-earned burrito! George was about ready to go down for a nap when I got home too, so we ate, then I put him down for a nap so I was able to enjoy a bath and some knee icing. What a great run. I feel really good about finishing, and I'm so glad Shannon and I were able to reconnoiter the course together!