As many of you know, when I finished the Dog Town Half Marathon almost 2 months ago I began to set my sights on the Utah Valley Half Marathon in June as my next big PR race. Shortly after that, we got the opportunity to sign up for the SLC Half and of course we jumped on it. I was originally planning to try to run a 1:24 in June. When I began my training for the Salt Lake City Half instead, I was feeling pretty good and thought that a 1:25 would be an ambitious and yet attainable goal. Having that time in mind gave me something to work towards and focus on in the last mile of a Tempo run or the first mile of a Long run.
On Saturday I didn’t quite earn the sub 1:26 that I was shooting for but I did learn a lot – and that it what is going to help me continue to improve.
We woke up at 4:30 the morning of the race in order to be out the door at 5:00 and at the starting line by 6:30 (30 minutes before the race start). I ate a granola bar and had a little bit of Cytomax on the way up to Salt Lake City. After a stop for the porta-potty I warmed up by doing a half mile jog and then a couple of strides to try to get the legs used to the idea of running so early in the morning.
In line for the bathroom
Trying to get warmed up before the race
I usually run in the evenings and so it always takes me a little while to get warmed up for morning long runs and races. As we looked around near the starting line we were surprised by how many people were running the half marathon as opposed to the full.
The view from the start looking back at all 5,000 runners
Janae and I pushed our way to the front and waited for the gun to go off. My first mistake of the day was not making sure that both shoes were tied tightly before I started. Almost immediately after I started my first mile I noticed that my left shoe was a little bit looser that my right. I looked down to make sure that it was still tied and saw that it was as I tried to push the thought out of my mind. I hate it when one shoe is looser than the other…
The first miles were fairly downhill and pretty fast. My second mistake of the day was going out a little too fast. I got caught up talking to a guy and we subconciously tried to match each other’s speed but I think I ended up pushing the pace a little too hard because of it.
Mile 1 was done in 6:06.
Mile 2 was fairly flat and then mile 3 was back to the downhill.
Miles 2 and 3: 6:36 and 6:09.
By this time, I could feel that my left shoe was becoming looser with every step. I looked down again and saw that my shoe was tied and I tried to remember if Ihad double knotted it. Again, I tried to forget about it and hoped that it would hold until the end of the race.
Mile 4 – 6:11
Mile 5 was the first one that had really any uphill component to it and it was the first time that I felt like I was running hard. I really had to push myself to get the pace that I wanted and it served as another reminder that I may have gone out slightly too fast. Luckily, it was during this 5th mile that there was a turnaround point and I got to see Janae running past me in the opposite direction. I was surprised and encouraged when I saw her looking strong and yelling for me. Thanks for the picture Janae!
That’s me waving on the first real uphill
Mile 5 – 6:30
It was during mile 6 that my shoe finally managed to become untied. I hurriedly pulled off to the side of the road and tried to tie it as quickly as possible. As it turns out, my fingers don’t work as well as I’d like them to in those conditions and it took a good 10-15 seconds to get it tied. The hardest part about stopping during a race (or Tempo run) is getting your pace back. Stopping completely throws off my rhythm and I find it extremely difficult to get back into the zone. I did my best to recover some of those seconds that I lost and finished
Mile 6 in 6:40
For the next several miles after I had to stop I had to continuously push discouraging thoughts out of my mind. That makes it tough to run. Luckily, I had a couple of guys near me that were willing to talk. The talk of previous courses and new PR’s distracted me for a little while from the discouraging thoughts but it also threw off my focus and I began to slip a little bit in my mile splits.
Mile 7 – 6:37
Mile 8 – 6:37
It was here in mile eight that I took my Blackberry Gu. I had never had that particular flavor before but now having tried it let me tell you that it is delicious. Seriously. It’s like eating a spoonful of blackberry pie filling. And as a bonus it has about 70mg of caffeine which I needed. I was starting to feel the effects of going out a little bit too fast and began to seriously doubt that I would be able to hold on.
Mile 9 – 6:31
Our friend Rachelle who is recovering from a killer PR in Boston was waiting just before mile 10 and had an assortment of goodies for me to choose from. I opted for water (out of a squeeze bottle so I actually get more than a tiny sip into my mouth) which she handed to me as she ran beside me. We chatted about the race and about her Boston performance for a minute or so as she ran beside me. I told her that I was getting tired. She told me that I looked strong and to keep running. It was shortly after we parted ways that my other shoe came untied. Boo. Rookie mistake. I’m not sure how it happened but now I know to double check my shoes before I start. I had to once again pull over and struggle with my shoe lace and worse, try to regain my rhythm before the tough uphill finish that I knew was coming.
Mile 10 – 6:51
At the beginning of mile 11 I could see the challenge in front of me. You know that the race director and planning committee were all laughing and high-fiving each other when they planned the one mile hill at the end of the race. Beginning at about mile 11.5 there was a steady uphill climb that seemed to continue on forever in front of me. Then about half a mile later the grade got much steeper and continues on for another half a mile or so. I would take breaks from looking down to scan the horizon hoping to see orange cones marking a turn ahead. The course didn’t turn until the very top of the hill and it took everything I had not to pull off to the side. I knew the hill was coming but I was still not prepared for it.
Mile 11 – 7:09
Mile 12 – 7:15
After the hill it was slightly downhill for the last 0.6 miles or so and I started to push myself hard with about 0.3 miles to go. I tried to pass the couple of people that were in front of me and managed to do so.
I’m not sure how fast I ran the last mile since I forgot to pause my Garmin when I crossed the finish line.
Final Time – 1:27:35
Good enough for a new PR and 5th place in my age group.
Admiring my Bling
Overall, it was a great race. I learned a lot that will help me improve for the next one. I’m going to take it easy running the Provo City Half in a couple of weeks as part of my training for the Utah Valley Half in the beginning of June. I’m hoping to set a new PR there.
Thank you guys for all of the encouragement and kinds words that you have given me! You are all such inspirations.
Would you tell me about some of the things that you’ve learned from running/racing/competing so that I can learn from you?