I have to say, my first impression of this race was bad. I got to packet pickup on Thursday to find this loooong line and thought to myself, "This better be a really good race or I'm not doing it again." I had Geroge with me, it was dinner time and about a million degrees out there, not to mention the fact that the AC had just gone out in my car so we were already hot and looking forward to being the the air conditioned store for a few minutes.
Then one of the race directors came walking out to give someone their packet near us, and the guy behind me said, "Can you go get her packet since she has a little one?" He was talking about me because I had George with me. He took down my name and Katie's and ran in to get my stuff so I didn't end up having to wait very long at all! I kind of felt weird being singled out like that when there were so many people who still had to wait in line, but it also felt really good to be able to head home for dinner instead of just waiting around for an hour! Hopefully he helped out a bunch of other people like that too because I wasn't the only person with a kid there. Anyway, that helped me feel better about the race.
My sister, Katie, and I had signed up for this race almost immediately after we ran the Utah Valley Half Marathon because we had been bitten by the race bug! Then I got injured and she had wedding planning to do so neither of us ran as much as we wanted to during the month in between these two races. I went into this race super nervous about making my Achilles tendon worse. It has been hurting on and off since my last race. It felt really good, this week, then I mowed the lawn on Thursday and that made it hurt again for the day. It felt better Friday so I took it really easy, and taped it up (with the KT tape we got in our race packet!) in preparation for the race before I went to bed.
Our alarms went off at 3am. We got up, ate and got ready to head down to the Start/Finish at 3:30. It was a 45 minute drive from here so we got there before 4:30 and had hardly any wait getting on a bus. They took us up the canyon in the dark, and dropped us off in a big parking lot next to a lake up in the mountains. It was so beautiful up there in the moonlight. Ok, and a big spotlight they had set up. There were two spots with port-a-potties and we found that the ones higher up were competely deserted so we never had to wait in a line for that.
We walked by the finish line, where full marathoners were starting to come in and turn around for their run back down the canyon. They had started at 3:30 to run up the canyon before we started. I am super impressed by those guys! That's a hard marathon! Man it must have felt good to turn around and go down after running up for 13.1 miles!
We walked back down and they had someone leading in Yoga by the lake so we joined in which was really nice to warm us up a little. It was kind of chilly up there, but by the time we had walked around a bunch and did the yoga, we were fine when we took our jackets off to put them in the bag drop bus. It was kind of cool because they just had a school bus and each window was labeled with a number range so you could throw your bag into your number range. I'm sure that made it much easier for them to sort back at the finish!
Here we are trying to get another picture by the start line in the spotlight. It's still dark.
Between those two hills is the canyon that we ran down. It was unbelievably beautiful!
Starting out towards the back ended up being really awesome because I got to pass people left and right pretty much the whole first half of the race! It could have been annoying trying to get around that many people, but since I wasn't in a hurry, it was just fun for me! It also gave me something to think about, trying to pass as many people as possible! On top of it being breathtakingly beautiful, especially when the sun started to rise on the cliffs ahead of us, it was also very downhill for pretty much the whole 7 miles of the canyon. It was so much fun! Here are my mile splits for the first half:
Did you see that 7:37 mile?!!! So fun!
During mile 2, I already had to pee so I stopped at one of the picnic area outhouses that were located periodically down the canyon which was nice! The door was open so I knew no one was in there and I didn't have to wait. The only thing was that I couldn't get the lock open at first and I almost started panicking, imagining myself being trapped in the bathroom for hours and missing the whole race! Then suddenly I got it to turn and ran out! Whew!
There was an aid station at mile 3, then one at mile 5. I got to the half-way point in under an hour! Then I started needing a bathroom again and I wonder if it's because I didn't tell myself that I wasn't going to stop like I did at Utah Valley where I didn't need to stop at all. Whatever it was, I started watching for another bathroom. I hadn't looked up where aid stations would be or port-a-potties so when I saw some at the mile 7 aid station, I stopped even though there were like 5 people in line. There were 3 potties so I thought it wouldn't take too long. Unfortunately, I was wrong about that, and ended up waiting in line for like 5 minutes! I hit mile 7 in 1:02 then got in line, and when I started running again, I looked at my watch and it said 1:08! ARG! I kissed my awesome PR goodbye.
It was kind of depressing that my fast first half had to get messed up by a potty break, but I reminded myself that I was just doing this race for fun, and that I was never planning on trying for a PR anyway (Well, not officially...) so it was ok. I felt like I kind of gave up for a few miles between miles 8 and 11 because there were starting to be some rolling hills as we were out of the canyon and now running through a golf course and neighborhoods. I was starting to feel my Achilles tendon straining just a little bit so I swallowed my pride and walked the uphills as I had planned. I didn't count how many times I had to stop and walk, but probably around 5 or 6 times. It was frustrating, and I just gave up on caring about my time at all. I started treating this like a training run, which technically it was supposed to be.
Then we got to mile 11 and I looked over at a girl running next to me and she said, "This is better, I can do this!" and I realized that we were back on a slight downhill and that, dang it, I could do it too! I took off and tried to pick up my pace a little bit from here on out. After all, we only had 2 miles to go and the 2:10 pacer hadn't passed me yet!! I decided to make under 2:10 my goal and got back into my groove. I actually felt really good those last 2 miles, and I'm glad I took it easy on the uphills so I didn't hurt myself, and also so I could enjoy that last bit!
After running toward what looked like the middle of nowhere, I came around the corner and saw the finish line! Then I heard someone say, "we're almost there!" and looked behind me to see the 2:10 pacer lady! Ah! I told her I wanted to beat her and she said, "Oh, you will." So I picked it up and ran fast for the last 200 yards or so to the finish line. I passed one girl who was walking, looked at her and said, "come on!" She looked at me like, "Who are you?" but then she started running and that made me so happy!
My second half splits were:
8. 12:37 (considering there was a 6-7 minute bathroom break in here, that was amazingly fast!)
I averaged a 9:14 pace for the last .27 mile which isn't super fast, but it was quite a bit faster than the previous mile!
I crossed the finish line and high-fived the two Chick-fil-a cows that were standing there, then stopped my watch. No problems breathing this time, thank goodness! I felt good!
A guy asked me what my time was and I told him, "2:08" then I looked again and said, "Well, 2:09 really" But whatever, I still beat 2:10! Wahoo! I felt really happy about that considering the 2 potty breaks AND walking the uphills.
My official chip time was 2:07:32! (I might have broken 2 hours if I hadn't stopped at the bathroom twice! But I can't think about that...)
I told Katie I'd text her when I finished, and she text me back that she was at mile 11 and that it was really hard. I told her it got easier at around 11, but maybe that was just for me? So much of racing is mental and that's when I had my mental breakthrough, or second wind or whatever you want to call it, so I realize that doesn't necessarily happen to everyone at the same time.
I collected my bag so I could put my jacket on since it was starting to rain a little and I was cold now that I was done, and it hurt my ankle to walk up the little hill the bags were on. I went to watch for Katie for a while, and when I saw her in the distance, I ran to meet her, took a picture and ran in with her. So I probably got 2 pictures of me crossing the finish line, haha! She finished in 2:47 and she was shooting for 2:45 so that was pretty darn close!
What's up with race medals these days? Cool, but a little gimmicky. Both of ours broke, (you can see Katie's is broken in this picture) but luckily it was before we even left so we were able to switch them out. I'm not big on the whole medal thing so I don't really care. It's the race experience I care about.
This was an amazing race, and I think it was a perfect training run for the Big Cottonwood Marathon where I get to spend 17 miles of it running down that beautiful canyon! I can't wait! Less than 2 months to go!
We went and had breakfast at Kneaders and I got the french toast. It was amazing! Then I went home, iced my ankle and took a nap. So much more relaxed then my last half marathon! What a lovely day.