After a whole week away from running I laced my running shoes up again on Saturday. I ran the American Fork Canyon Half Marathon. This was my second year in a row running the race and the second year in a row I’ve fallen in love with the course. This is one of the most gorgeous half marathons I’ve run in the state. I love the Big Cottonwood Canyon runs and Little Cottonwood Canyon is a fun canyon to run down as well. But, American Fork Canyon is … just … inspiring. Well, inspiring, beautiful, gorgeous and a true Bob Ross happy creation.
Last year I ran the course fairly fast in 2:12:15. It’s a great fast course and I knew I wanted to go speedy, especially considering that my awesome friend Sonja was pacing me the whole way. I wanted and felt like I could push for a PR (02:09:25) and that was kind of the plan going in. But, considering that I just ran a marathon last week and did ZILCH running this week I started feeling that goal was a tad unrealistic.
But, I still wanted to go for it and kind of decided to try out the legs and see what happened.
Unlike last week’s marathon I decided not to stay with Susette or someone else down in Utah County.Instead I ended up getting up at 2:30am and then out the door at 3:15am to make the 45 minute drive to American Fork. The drive really wasn’t that bad. Traffic at that hour is mainly just truckers and random scattered cars here and there. But, still, it’s boring because it’s so
early in the morning late at night.
Once I got to American Fork High School I met up some of the runners from my running group to load the buses together. Bus rides are so much more fun when you are sitting by friends on the bus. It almost feels like I am a sixth grader on the school again. But, what I fail to tell my friends now is that I rode the short bus to school during the sixth grade. Still, I love bus rides up the canyon now. Too much fun. I hardly ever nap anymore.
The starting line of the AF Canyon Half is one of my favorite settings. You are nestled in a little valley with Box Elder and Mill Canyon peaks and Mt. Timp surrounding you and then Tibble Fork Reservoir right next to you. It’s beautiful. Downright beautiful. Especially as the sun raises over the little valley and peaks. It’s something I can’t really describe … you just have to experience it. It’s simply beautiful.
Since Sonja was pacing alongside me I knew it was going to be a party and I knew she was going to push me. We started our first mile fairly fast at a clip that would get me a PR, but I knew that probably wasn’t going to be in the cards for me. My legs were a tad sore from the previous week’s marathon and I probably would have tanked by mile 10.
So we just gave it our best.
I am at that point in my running right now where every race doesn’t have to be a PR. Last year I felt that need to improve on my time. This year I am still focused on my goal PR of a sub-two, but I don’t have to get that PR every time I race. Some races I go for it, some races I just do my best and others I just run. This race was a do my best kind of run and I was fine with that.
I told Sonja if she wanted to go she could, because I know she is a faster runner than me. But, she was content running with me. Plus, this was her first race back from her injury so pushing it probably wouldn’t be in her best interest. So we ran the whole 13.1 together and we had a blast. We shared running stories, talked about my special ed days, talked about her teaching special ed and then of course laughed way too much. But, it’s hard to when she is one of the most genuine fun people ever invented.
Sometimes I do admit that it was difficult to keep the conversation going because I sometimes found myself looking up at the canyon around us. The first 10 miles of the race are running down the canyon and it’s just as pretty as the starting line. It’s hard to not be in love with this canyon, especially after you run down it. Completely worth the price of registration.
Once Sonja and I got out of the canyon the course rolls through some gentle rolling hills and then on to part of the Murdock Trail (we think? Mind you Sonja and I are not from Utah County). This was the part of the race that I really kind of slowed down. It was hot and I had to take a few more breaks then I wanted to, but going back to the fact that I ran a marathon the week before I was happy with what I did.
I finished the race in 2:24:59:58 just BARELY under 2:25. I am happy with that time. And, I know that I couldn’t have done it without Sonja by my side. I probably would have walked much more than I did. Just having someone to talk to while running makes the miles go by fast. It really was perfect.
After taking a week off of running after the marathon and then getting this race out of the way I am really looking forward to getting back into the half marathon mode for a little bit. I felt having Ogden and Utah Valley so close together it was tough to run as consistently as I was before Ogden. I’ve felt that past month and a half that I have been constantly tapering. Ugh.
But, I am excited to get back on track. I know I’ll get faster from here on out. I won’t be having such long training runs as I had with marathon training and that will help a lot. I am going to focus on speed work and hills for the next month or so before I get ready for Big Cottonwood in September. The goal is still to get a sub-two half by Nebo (Sept. 6) and I am giving myself two races to do that on Nebo and Run Elevated (Aug. 23).
So that’s the goal.
I’ll blog later this week about how I am going to do that. I know I will need to be more regimented in my workouts and runs. Well, and diet. I don’t need to cut the calories per se, but I need to be deliberate in what I eat and when I eat. I think I am going to focus more on carb cycling. But, we’ll see. Stay tuned.
Back to this race though. I will be back again for this race next year. This is one of my favorite races in the state. It’s fast, it’s beautiful and it’s inspiring. I highly recommend to anyone to put this race on their calendar. Just make sure that you sign up early because it’s capped at 2,500 racers. But, even if you miss this race there is always the Timp Half in July that runs pretty much the same course. Which I will be running again this year and PRing at! Maybe not the sub-two, but I will beat my 2:09:25 for sure!
Great run and now onto RAGNAR!!! I can hardly wait.
Total Mileage Breakdown for 20142014 Training Miles – 422.3 miles 2014 Walking Miles – 38.45 miles 2014 Race Miles – 185.7 miles
2014 Total Miles – 633.35 miles Monthly Total Miles for 2014 January – 100.0 miles February – 100.0 miles March – 130.0 miles April – 140.5 miles May – 108.65 miles June – 67.3 miles