RACE #61: Vigor Utah Big Cottonwood Half Marathon

61-Vigor-BCGoing into this week’s race I wanted to build upon my awesome run last week in Provo. Working towards my marathon I really wanted to get at least one more ALL IN race before I start tampering. I don’t think I should expect a PR type course next week at the Ironwill Half, so I needed this one to test my legs and something to build upon looking towards June.

There’s nothing like a little ZEAL to wake you up in the morning after a 3:15 wake up call.

Big Cottonwood is one of my favorite canyons to run. Ever since I ran the Big Cottonwood Marathon in 2012 I’ve fallen hopeless in love with the canyon. Hopelessly in love. I wanted to run this race last year and the Drop 13 Half, but couldn’t do to scheduling conflicts and the like. So, I wanted to make sure this year I didn’t miss those races. Luckily, I managed to sign up for the Vigor Big Cottonwood Half, but after the Utah Valley and American Fork races switched weekends it messed with the Drop 13 Half … so … I will have to now wait until next year for that one.

Alas, VIGOR!!!

My goal going into this half was to go fast. I knew that I needed something more definitive before I actually ran the race. But, for the life of me I couldn’t figure what I wanted to do. I felt like I could run anywhere between 2:10 to 2:20. My friend Monnica was pacing the 2:10 group while Susette was again pacing the 2:20 group. And, I felt a kid picking which parent to follow in a divorce. It just wasn’t a fair selection process. But, I felt like I needed to give Monnica’s group a shot. I knew I might not be able to keep up the pace the whole time, but I needed to try. And, then if I didn’t keep up … I’d fall back to Susette or just run alone. It sounded like a sound plan, so that’s what I kind of went with.

Susette and I on the bus up the canyon! Look how excited we look!

The morning of the race I met up with Susette and all of the other pacers for the ride up the canyon. One of my favorite parts of running is the bus ride and pre-race festivities. There’s so much energy, so much excitement, so many nerves that it’s just fun. I feed off of that energy … well … it’s almost more like synergy if you ask me. Instead of hanging out for an hour at the starting line we were able to keep warm in one of the lodges which was really nice. It was a bit crowded, but being around friends made up for that. It really felt more like a HUGE house party than anything else.

Once we walked down to the starting line I finally got that urge to use the restroom. I needed a Honey Bucket, but luckily for only some standing room only business (I guess this is the polite way of saying I needed to pee?) so I didn’t feel the need to wait in line for one of the Buckets. Instead of followed a group of other runners that decided to go on the side of the road behind a garage. As I stood there working on my business the gun went off and with my pants half way down I hurt the pattering of shoes on the road. Talk about being in an awkward vulnerable position (I bet you ten bucks my Mom is going to question why I shared this in my blog … because otherwise it’s not the full story, Mom!).

This is what it looks like trying to run down a canyon keeping up with Monnica.

After I took care of business (again, another polite way of saying “after I peed”) I ran back up to the starting line and finish about two or so minutes after the gun. I crossed the starting line with Susette but fought to catch up to Monnica at the 2:10 pace. After bobbing and weeding through the crowd of runners I caught up to Monnica and kept up with her.

Running down the canyon at that pace was surprisingly easy, but keeping that pace over a long period of time I knew would be difficult. Around three miles I knew I wasn’t going to be able to keep up. My stamina just wasn’t there yet. It’s getting there, but I know it will take some time. Reprogramming my body and legs has been the hardest part about dealing with my low testosterone. I just want to get where I was last year and work towards that sub-two half. I’ll get there bit by bit I have no doubt about that.

My (somewhat over dramatic) reaction to the snow.

So after letting Monnica go ahead I stopped at the aid station to wait for Susette. It was a nice reprieve until I noticed that it was SNOWING. Yeah, you heard me right! I was none too happy about the progress of dealing with snow during the race. But, luckily, the snow didn’t last long and I the rain was minimal as well. Something I definitely count as a blessing.

Once I met back up with Susette we raced forward to catch up with the runner she gave the pacing stick to. That wasn’t very difficult. But, around mile five Susette had another needed pit stop so she gave it back to the runner. But, at this point the course took somewhat of a sharp downhill direction and the runner went MUCH faster than a 10:41 pace. So when we attempting to catch back up with him we had to book it. And, I mean BOOK it.

For a good 3/4 a mile we averaged about a 7:50 min/mile. A quarter of a mile into sprint we tapped into our inner-Meb. They we realized we still weren’t even remotely running at a Meb-like pace. It was more like a pace Meb runs when taking a pit stop. Nonetheless, we felt fast. Once we could see the runner in our sights we started yelling his name. But, yelling his name quickly went from yelling his name to it becoming a swear word, because he didn’t let up at all. He was clipping.

Susette and I after Meb'ing it down the canyon.
Susette and I after Meb’ing it down the canyon.

But, once we caught up with him my legs started to feel the burn and I was just praying that I didn’t over do it. But, on the positive side of things … I got some pretty good speed work in during my race. I’m sure that will help me eventually before my marathon. Once we got back to our 10:41 pace it felt a lot easier to run. I also started picking up discarded unopened energy chews packs that an aid station handed out. Then I also picked up a discarded Snowbird hoodie around mile seven. It was slightly torn around the neck, but a perfect throw away hoodie for a canyon race.

Susette kind of looked at me strangely. And, she rightly should have. I was now running down a mountain with pockets full of energy chews and a hoodie slung across my shoulder. Once that became too annoying to run with I flung it over both shoulders and looked like Carlton from Fresh Prince. I can hardly wait for the race pictures. But, hey another man’s trash is another runner’s treasure. That’s how the quote goes, right?

My sweat new shirt that I totally earned running down the mountain with it in tow.
My sweat new shirt that I totally earned running down the mountain with it in tow.

Around mile 10 though I kind of lost Susette after I needed a pit stop of mine own. But, I booked it to try to catch back up with her. It didn’t happened and come mile 12 I just went with the best that I could do. But, once we got out of the canyon we had to run down a flight of stairs onto the paved trail towards the finish line. Those stairs were cruel. But, once I got onto the trail I quickly realized that the course was going to run longer than expected (initially it was about a half mile short) so naturally I had to stop at the 13.1 mile mark to get my 13.1 mile time. I was ecstatic with my 2:18:12 time.

Once I took picture proof of my time I continued booking it towards the finish line. The course was over a third of mile and I finished in 2:22:11. Not bad. It was a 10:36 pace, still below the needed 10:41 pace for an even 2:20. After my Winter Circuit 30K three weeks ago these past two races have been Godsends for me. My body and mind have really needed these races. My marathon is rapidly approaching and while I’ve put in most of the miles I still just need to keep at it for the next month. But, these speed races have been great!

This is how you properly drink hot cocoa after a half marathon. Try it next time.
This is how you properly drink hot cocoa after a half marathon. Try it next time.

After loitering around the finish line for a bit taking pictures with friends and taking home free chocolate milk the plan was to go get Sears Burrito with London since it was her birthday and she hadn’t experienced the magic of their burritos yet. After a quick pit stop to 7 Eleven to grab cash and something for my friend Richard I realized my route was blocked off because of the Komen Race for the Cure. I guess this was the running world giving me back a taste of my own medicine. Now I knew what all those motorists felt like waiting for me and the other runners to pass. I will admit, I was a tad (a lot) annoyed. I just wanted my burritos!!!

But, once we got to the Sears parking lot we noticed that the carts weren’t even there yet. My friend Richard told me that they had to move because of the race and that they’d come back once the cones were removed. Richard should just be the general manager for the taco stands. He knows everything. But, after a few minutes we decided to grab bagels from Einstein Bagels for London’s Birthday treat.

London and I enjoying BIRTHDAY BAGELS! I had the Everything Bagel and I must admit … I’m a fan.

I never really have been to Einstein Bagels so it was a treat. But, more than anything it was great being able to chat with London. Her and her husband Monty are two of my favorite people. Not just in my running group, but ever. Both have overcome a lot to get to this point in their running. London losing well over 90lbs. and Monty quitting smoking and basically becoming a human cheetah. He PR’d last week at the Provo Half in 1:28! 1:28!! I’m usually wondering what kind of snack they’re going to have at the mile seven aid station at that point. But, really, they are two of the nicest people and I so glad I consider them such great friends!

But, the race was great and the rest of the day wasn’t bad either. After a nap I kind of let the rest of the day go. I ended up just lounging around in my sweats and hoodie. A great sign that I didn’t want to do anything else for the day. Now, I am focused on next week’s Ironwill Half. It won’t be an easy course. Very hilly and on a paved dirt road. It should be fun, but a good challenge. Great marathon training. Then after that, I’ll get a few good long runs before my marathon! WOOT! WOOT! I can’t wait to get this done with!

Here’s to looking forward!


Total Mileage Breakdown for 2014

2014 Training Miles – 384.55 miles
2014 Walking Miles – 21.95 miles
2014 Race Miles – 104.1 miles
2014 Total Miles – 510.6 miles
Monthly Total Miles for 2014
January – 100.0 miles
February – 100.0 miles
March – 130.0 miles
April – 140.5 miles
May – 40.1 miles



Leave a Reply