RACE #126: Bountiful Handcart Days Half Marathon

BOUNTIFUL — The first of two races this holiday weekend are complete. On Saturday I ran the Handcart Days Half Marathon here in my hometown. I am then running the Deseret News Half Marathon on Monday — er — tomorrow morning. Am I crazy doing this? Sure. Is it unprecedented for me? No.

Like I tell everyone who asks how I am able to race so much, the simple answer is — I don’t know how to say no to a race. It’s especially harder to say no when I have my credit card on autofill. All I have to do is show up at a race website and I’m pretty much registered for that race the next 2-3 years.

All kidding aside, I’ve done a number of back-to-back half marathons — usually consisting of a night race on Friday followed by a Saturday morning race. Those are usually all-nighters. I have also done a couple of double race days as well. Last year and in 2014 I ran two half marathons the same day — a morning and night race. Lots of fun, lots of running.

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So a Saturday and Monday race isn’t that hard for me to mentally and physically prepare for. Basically, my Sunday usually consists of a lot of napping while wearing compression socks all day. Oh, and drinking a lot of water. After races I don’t like to drink a lot the next couple of following days — so I have to force it a bit to make sure I am not dehydrated for my upcoming race.

Anyways — it’s still not “easy” to do. But, it’s fun. It’s always fun giving your body a challenge whether it’s small, moderate or huge. It’s what makes running fun for me. That’s kind of why I got into running in the first place. It’s especially the reason why I ran my first half marathon. I wanted to prove it to myself I could do hard things.

And, coincidentally, I was celebrating that first half marathon five years to the day at the same race on Saturday. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been a “runner” (I didn’t really consider myself a “real” runner until I did my first half — that’s why runner is in quotation marks) for that long. Time has flown — way too fast to be honest with you. Gosh, I was still 29 back then. Now I am pushing my mid-thirties (okay, I am pretty much already there).

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But, it’s been an adventure. I never thought I would be HERE five years later. No, not the same race. But, HERE meaning what I have done with running the past five years. Where we have gone together, what we have accomplished and who we have met. Five years ago, I just wanted to run a half marathon. I didn’t know how many I wanted to do in my lifetime. I just wanted to do one and that was my focus.

And, after 124 other races — among them 7 marathons, 106 half marathons, five relays, three 25Ks and one beast of a 50K — here I was full circle at the same race on the exact day doing what I love. My heart fills up with memories and emotions trying to gap my experiences between the two races. But, I’ve experienced so much in those five years — it’s nearly impossible to be attentive to everything I’ve learned and done.

I’ve lived so much life in those past five years.

Okay, this is starting to get a little sappy. You’d think I was starting to write the script to the next big movie for the Hallmark Channel. It’s just hard not to get sedimental around Pioneer Day, because I ran my first marathon on Pioneer Day the following year at the Deseret News Marathon. So this time next year I might get emotional once again at my marathon’s five year runniversary date.

I think this also means I probably should sign up for the DesNews Marathon next year too, huh?

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Anyways, to this year’s race … besides being sentimental about the date and race, going into the race — I knew what I was expecting. I ran the same course last year (for my 100th race mind you) and it didn’t change much (if at all) from year to year. So it was going to be a lot of flatness for the first half or so and then rolling hills the second half. Not my favorite course demographics — but — it is what it is.

The goal for me was to just keep going, not push TOO hard and don’t poop my pants (this is always my goal in every race — it’s a legit fear). I wanted to keep my legs fresh for the DesNews Half on Monday, because I knew if I kicked it up TOO hard during this race I would probably trash my legs a bit too much. My secondary goal was to also come in under three hours. A doable goal.

One thing I love about the Handcart Days Half is that they give you an option for an early start. They’ve actually been doing this for a few years and I think it’s brilliant. For slower runners or those who don’t want to be running alooooooong time in the heat the race gives the option to start a half hour early (5:30am).

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The only thing is that you aren’t eligible for awards if you do that. Which I really don’t care, because I’ve never walked away from a race with anything more than my race medal and a free banana. Okay, well, I lied — I usually get lots of free stuff when I sweep races. By the time I cross the finish line the race organizers don’t know what to do with leftover food so most of the time they’ll just give it to me (or whoever is there) to take home. I’ve taken home a box of oranges, bananas and even a HUGE pan of French Toast.

Anyways — that was kind of a tangent, huh? But, I’m sure you’d love some french toast. Me on the other hand — a banana. So, I decided to do the early start. It wouldn’t hurt, I’d get done earlier and I’d avoid the sun trying to kill me midway through. Besides I would just be hanging out for a half hour if I didn’t — better be doing something productive, right?

The conditions were perfect starting that early. It was light enough to know where I was going, but the sun hadn’t come up over the mountain yet so it was still shadowy cool. Sure it would have been ten times better if it was 20 degrees cooler. But, for a July race — not bad.

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The course wound it’s way from the Rec Center towards the Legacy Parkway Trail where it ran up to the 925 S. bridge, crossed over Legacy Highway and I-15 and onto Main Street back on it’s way to the Rec Center. A fairly simple course. The first seven miles on the trail were flat, but once we crossed the bridge and towards Main Street that’s where it started to get hilly.

In fact right after you crossed the bridge you had to climb a monstrous hill (okay, maybe not very monstrous, but after 7 miles of flat running it was mentally and physically tough) towards Main Street. I went into my hill mode knowing that if I stopped it would probably kill the rest of my race. So, I picked a tree on the side of the road and then as soon as passed that, picked another tree and so on.

And, I conquered it! Thankfully there was an aid station at the top of the hill. I could probably celebrate my feat with a cup of water and a banana! It really was a tough hill, but after conquering it I knew the other hills coming up would be easy. And, for the most part — they were. Especially when I told myself nothing beat the 925 S. hill.

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Anyways — I just kept pushing. I felt great. Around mile 9-10 the sun was coming up above the mountain, but because the course was now beside the mountain I was still running in shade. Hallelujah! The extra half hour was a life changer.

It really wasn’t until the last mile that I started to feel the heat — the Bern, if I may — until about mile 11.5. Though it was kinda miserable I knew I could push through 10-15 minutes of hell to the finish line. And, just for the mere fact that I am writing this review of my race — I survived.

I love making the last turn towards the Rec Center. It’s the same for all of their races — Handcart Days Half, Thanksgiving 5K, Sweethearts 5K, etc. So I’ve ran that same turn a number of times. It reminded me of my first half marathon and last year’s race when my friend Jim orchestrated a 100 banana salute (I think it was 96, because four people ended up eating their’s before I got there) in honor of my 100th race.

Needless to say — a turn of many emotions.

And, again — I’m getting a tad sappy here.

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Anyways — I crossed the finish line in 2:55:56. I hit my goal. I was under three hours, I was alive, I could feel my legs and I hadn’t pooped my pants. Success all over the place for me.

I hung out afterwards for a while cheering on other runners coming in while refueling on bananas and water. It was somewhat torture when Corner Bakery showed up with free pastries. But, I held true to my Whole30 and stuck with the fruit. As tempting at it was — a banana (well, two of them) hit the spot.

Sitting with friends — new and old — at the finish line was the perfect way to celebrate this runniversary. That to me is what this journey has been all about. I will always press forward with new goals and challenges — but, it’s nothing without sharing those experiences with people I care about.

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I am 34 more races to my 180 goal. I’ll reach that goal probably within a couple of years. But, I wonder where I will be in the next five years? Where will running take me at age 40? What role will it play? Who will I meet? Where will it take me? That’s the exciting part — I don’t know?

I just focus on the road ahead of me and move forward step by step.


MY NEXT RACE

127 - desnews half.fw

As I have mentioned numerous times — this is a two race weekend for me. Tomorrow I am running the Deseret News Half Marathon. This is one of my favorite races. Not so much the marathon (though it was my first marathon), but the half marathon. It’s a fun course. It’s a fast course. I PR’d on the course back in 2013 (eclipsed two months later).

That’s why I have big goals this year with this course. No, I am not planning on PRing on the course (that’d be nice if I knew I wouldn’t also die in the process and/or have my feet fall off trying), but I am planning on running a sub-2:30 half marathon. Something I haven’t done since — um, probably 2014 … ish? Needless to say — it’s been a while.

My game plan is simple. My friend Brook is pacing the 2:30 group — soooooooo — I am sticking with her. Good game plan, huh? This way I don’t have to worry about following my Garmin, etc. If I lose her, than I’m screwed.

Another reason I am following her is that it should prevent me from going out too fast. That’s my biggest sin as a runner. It’s hard not to, especially during a canyon run. Being a big guy sometimes you just let gravity take control and you just want to flllllllly down the canyon. It’s such a blessing and a curse.

Fortunately, I know the course well. The mile out of the canyon and the last mile will be the toughest. There’s a slight hill that can kill your momentum. Nothing horrible. But, I’m just mentally preparing for those two portions of the race.

I am excited about the race. And, I’ll be lying if I say that I will be disappointed if I miss my goal. This has been a goal I’ve been working on for a while. Losing the weight has helped along with the extra running and workouts.

Anyways — DESNEWS OR BUST!


THE NEXT THREE RACES

128-timp half.fw 129 - Run Elevated Half Marathon 130 - Revel Big Cottonwood Marathon


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If you haven’t caught the latest episode of the Runcast — you should. It’s a good one. Jim and I broadcast live from the Utah Midnight Run from last weekend. Jim talks about passing out during church because of dehydration and I share my unfortunate naked homeless guy story.

It’s always fun to hear people’s opinion on the show. It’s also better hearing that people love the shows and that they take us running with them. Whether it’s me, Jorge and Jim or one of the music podcasts — I hope you do get something out of it. Inspiration, motivation or simple entertainment.

Give us a listen and share with your friends too!



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