Sometimes I make good decisions. Sometimes I make bad decisions. But, often, I make really bad decisions — yet somehow turn out to be good all along. That pretty much sums this past Saturday for me.
I haven’t done a double race day or two within less than 6-12 hours of each other for quite a while — back in July of 2015. Or about 63 races ago. Oy, that seems so long ago.
Anyway, I chose to do it again (and I will do it again in a couple of weeks) for a few of reasons —
- It’s good ultra training
- It helps get me closer to my 180th race so I don’t have to do many back-to-back race weekends in 2018.
- I wanted to.
I haven’t done the SoJo Half Marathon since 2013 so I was kinda excited to do it again. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I don’t do that well on flat-ish courses. But, I wasn’t running it for a PR or year best time. I was running it to prepare myself for February.
My goal going into the race was to get as close to three hours as possible. With my recent injury, energy levels and training — this would be a stretch for me, especially considering this wasn’t a canyon race and didn’t have the luxury of letting gravity help me along the way.
The morning of the race was pretty uneventful. I made my way down to the finish line where the packet and bus pickup was around 5:30am. Once I got my packet I had about an hour before the last bus left for the starting line so I sat in the car to stay warm. I knew the starting line was going to be cold — and I didn’t want to wait for the gun time too long.
After hoping on the bus I met a Facebook friend Ashleigh — I always love meeting new friends, especially ones that have only been digital friends up to that point. Our conversation mainly centered around keto and what’s worked for me, her and her husband. Though I’ve been doing keto now for just over two months, I still feel very new to it. So talking with others about their experience with it is something I enjoy and need.
After getting to the start line I headed inside the University of Utah Medical Center where a group of runners huddle inside to stay warm and use some of the restrooms. Honey Bucket didn’t deliver the needed amount of port-a-potties so the lines to the bathrooms were fairly long. To make sure runners had the chance to use the restroom the race was delayed about five minutes as well.
Once we were off and running I decided to just keep a good efforted pace. I wasn’t too much concerned with my timed pace as I was with the effort. Just as long as my legs were tired and sore by the end of the run, I’d be happy. I wanted them to ache for the night’s race.
But, I knew if I focused on getting close to a three hour time that’d do the trick for me.
The first 2-3 miles were fairly uneventful as we meandered around Oquirrh Lake and made our way toward the Oquirrh Mountain Temple. There we were encountered the largest and — really — only sizable hill of the race. I walked the hill. Well, fast walked it like a gold mentalist in the Senior Olympics.
After taking a quick picture at the top of the hill with the temple, I made the descent down the hill on the other side. It was glorious. Gravity was very much my friend at that moment. So I let it guide me for as long as it’d allow me.
Around this time I noticed a lady in front of me a hundred yards or so ahead of me. She was dressed in a pioneer costume of sorts and I told myself — I’ve got to pass her.
But, she wasn’t a very easy pass.
She kept a good pace with me and this somewhat frustrated me, because I just wanted to pass her. I told myself — I’ve got to beat the pioneer woman — so that my focus. I felt that if I consistently kept in front of her for a mile or two she’d eventually start walking and then I could lower my pace a bit.
She kept a good pace. It wasn’t that she had a long stride, in fact it was quite the opposite. She ran with small quick steps. Somehow they made up the difference in my long legged strides in the same amount of distance?
Either way, after another couple of miles I was determined to pass her. We yo-yo’d quite a bit and around Mile 5 she got ahead of me. I was sore in my attempt to keep up with her. I cursed her unknown name for the next couple of miles until I had to stop to use the restroom at the Mile 7 aid station.
It was a hard decision to make, but I really didn’t want to pee my pants in pursuit of her, so I made a quick stop of it. But, as soon as I got out of the Honey Bucket she was way ahead of me. I was bummed. I thought the pioneer woman got the best of me.
But, I didn’t want that to deter me. There was still a little less than a half of the race left, so I wanted to give myself the chance to catch up and pass her. I had to give the effort, otherwise I’d always remember this race as the one time I was out ran by a pioneer.
It wasn’t going to happen.
So for the next 3-4 miles I kept a good pace going. My legs were sore from the efforted push — exactly what I wanted — to catch up with the pioneer woman. I kept her within my sight for the most part.
I noticed her starting to take short walking breaks so when she did, I pushed myself a little bit faster to make up the distance. I did this 3-4 times between Miles 7-10. By Mile 10 I had caught up to her and we were almost neck to neck. But, I didn’t to stay that way, I wanted to create distance between the two of us so I just focused on that push.
By the last couple of miles I was ahead and once we ran onto the Jordan River Parkway Trail I glanced back momentarily to see where she was located. She was walking down the hill toward the Parkway aid station — and I knew I had her. If she was going to walk a downhill, she was probably going to walk the Parkway.
I regrouped myself a bit at that point — stretched a bit and downed some of my Powerade Zero — before going back to a good running pace. I was spent, especially from my effort to catch, maintain and pass the pioneer woman. I desperately wanted to walk, but I tried not to.
I knew I was close to the finish line, so I tried to push myself as much as I could. I only took a couple glances back, but I didn’t see signs of the pioneer woman. This made me happy.
I kind of chuckled to myself just thinking that in this race of marathoners and half marathoners the most competitive race didn’t determine the overall winner or an age group. It was a race that no one knew about — not even the pioneer woman herself. Yet when I crossed the finish line I felt like I won the race.
Once I was done, stretched out and refueled I did find the pioneer woman and we talked briefly. She thanked me for pushing her as she tried to keep up and ahead of me. I chuckled and said, “Likewise! You did great out there!”
So in the nature of winners and losers — we both won. We both provided each other with a goal and we probably killed ourselves too much in the process. But, you know what? I’m glad we did.
With my legs sore and near death I was ready for a nap and meal before my second race of the day.