I love downhill races. But, then after a day or two after I run them, I really hate them. I look like a fool walking up or down stairs and all I want is a jazzy to aid me in my basic functions of life. But, I have to say, running downhill is GLORIOUS and my favorite kind of running. When you’re a bigger runner it’s great to get a little help from gravity. It’s also the difference between feeling like a clumsy lumbering cow and Usain Bolt while running.
This race was no exception. And, in fact it is one of my favorite half marathons to run. I ran it last year and PR’d on the course in preparation for Nebo. My plan this year was to do the same on route to a sub-two at Nebo. But, after a series of stupid little health issues that wasn’t going to happen this year. Which I have kind of accepted now.
My goal going into this race was to simply give my best and constantly remind myself to push myself beyond my comfort zone. I also gave myself a time goal of between 2:20-2:30. I felt that was VERY doable for me on this course. I knew it would be tough, especially on my legs, but it was beyond reachable and I felt like 2:30-2:40 would have felt more like an excuse than a goal.
So that was my mindset going into this race.
Preparing for this race was kind of tough for me. Hearing that there was a high chance of rain I took every precaution to make sure I wouldn’t die out there on the course. Having already dealt with my horrible 30K in April and Salt Lake and Ogden Halfs last year in the rain, I wanted to stay dry. So I packed like three changes of clothes, a garbage bag and two different kinds of hats. I’ve always been known to overpack, especially for vacations. Like, if I had the room I’d probably bring my own desk lamp and set of kitchen utensils. No joke.
Anyways, I just wanted to make sure that I was ready for the rain. I wasn’t going to have a repeat of my previous rainy races. It just wasn’t going to happen. So, I prepared for the rain.
And, how I wish it was only the rain we got.
Once, we took the buses up Little Cottonwood Canyon we found a nice little surprise awaiting us. Snow. Yep, you heard me right. Snow. And, for someone that absolutely hates snow I wanted no part of it. Especially considering the fact that it was an August snowstorm here in Utah. I can MAYBE accept a late September snowstorm, but August? NO WAY!
Luckily, the buses stayed up the canyon until about 15 minutes before gun time so the runners could stay warm and dry. I’m still shaking my head thinking that we got snow at this race. Talk about, “UGH!” But, I was grateful that we didn’t have to stay in it for that long, otherwise I would have been absolutely miserable.
Mentally I was kind of loathing the race now. I didn’t want to run in the snow and I didn’t want to run in the rain either. I was more than certain I was going to get soaked once we dropped to a lower elevation. I just pictured another repeat of all my rainy race because now the snow was a part of the equation. I kind of wasn’t a happy camper before the gun went off.
But, then a miraculous thing happened. The snow stopped basically as the gun went off. Like, it stopped. And, within a half a mile into the race you could the clouds parting above us and around the mouth of the canyon. It was a true August miracle.
Since a number of my running friends were running this race, including Becky, I wanted to run with her as much as I could. She is still on track to getting her sub-two at Nebo and she was hoping to get a good time on this course. So, I wanted to run with her as long as my legs would allow it.
Going down the mountain we were actually doing really well and I kept up with her stride for stride for the first 7 miles. We averaged about a 8:30-9:00 minute mile. I was doubly impressed with this time from me, considering that I was having my intestinal issues (aka … I was gassy). I’m not sure why I was so gassy? Becky was being visited by Aunt Flo so at first we just thought we were on the same cycle. But, I am MORE than sure it was because I somehow lost my baggy of imodium in route from my car to the starting line?
Either way, it wasn’t fun. Trust me.
But, don’t worry, it wasn’t THAT bad. I just had to stop at each aid station and stand off the road for a little bit pretending to admire the scenery. Once I got rid of the pressure I was off and running again. The only downside of all of this is that I had to stay away from Gatorade since it made it worst for me. And, I didn’t really have an appetite for anything. So through the whole race I just drank a lot of water and ate half a pack of Clif Bloks.
But, in the midst of that I’ll have to say that I do know that the Lord answers ALL prayers, even the ones where you ask that your bowels be full of mercy instead of gas.
Okay, that’s enough about my bowel movements though. I am more than certain I’ll be hearing about this portion of my post from my mother later today.
After I lost Becky at mile 7 I went solo. I didn’t have my Garmin on me so I was just going by feel. I tried to keep my pace up as best as I could and just run a bit past my comfort zone. I still had “issues” until about mile 10, but after that I was fine. The fatigue though started settling in at mile 10 as well. So, I started doing a little run/walking. I tried to only walk no more than a minute at a time and run for a good mile.
Knowing what to expect during the last three miles also helped a lot. Knowing about the stupid hill during mile 10 helped prepare me mentally for it. I ran to the hill and then walked it, instead of last year where I walked to it and then foolishy ran up it. But, then I also knew about the run in the park and the turns in the neighborhood before you get to the finish line. For a runner doing this course for the first time it could be mentally be a bit challenge, because there are a number of turns during the last three miles.
Also, the course is about 0.3 miles too long, and that messed with me last year.
But, more than anything this year I just wanted to finish strong and within that perimeter goal I set. And, I reached it! I finished the course in 2:26:03, but my 13.1 time was around 2:23. Which I am BEYOND happy with. It makes me excited to see what I can do next week and then at Nebo! I might not be PRing or getting that elusive sub-two. But, I am going to be fast and I am excited about that.
One other thing that I gained from this race was that with a little coaching and speed work training I know I can be MUCH faster than I am now. Even more than I give myself credit for. I’ve got long legs that could serve me well. All, I need to do is get my weight down, training consistently and build up my stamina and I know I can reach that sub-two plateau more than once next year. I actually feel that. I am sure I will blog about that sometime later this week.
But, I am really happy with the result.
I am excited going into the next few races. The Emigration Canyon Half Marathon should be a good test. I’ve ran the canyon so many times that I know what to expect. Then Nebo the week after that. I am REALLY excited about running it even if I don’t PR. I absolutely love that race. Then of course the Big Cottonwood Marathon the follow week that I am running with Jill. It’s going to be a good transition into my fall races, especially my October races.
FUN, FUN, FUN.
As far as this race, I will be back again next year. I plan on using this next year as a good tune up for Nebo. But, I highly recommend this race to any runner, especially those looking for a great downhill race. Your quads will hurt, but hopefully next year you won’t get a surprise August snowstorm either?!
NEXT RACE: Emigration Canyon Half Marathon (Saturday)
Total Mileage Breakdown for 20142014 Training Miles – 480.25 miles 2014 Walking Miles – 81.3 miles 2014 Race Miles – 267.7 miles
2014 Total Miles – 829.25 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 – 83.3 miles July – 93.75 miles August – 88.9 miles