I really try not to take my running for granted. Each race is a gift. Each race is a triumph and a victory. But, at the same time, each race is a party and yet another race to count towards my 180 goal. I don’t want to let these races blend together to be forgotten, especially this next upcoming eight weeks when I am races every weekend.
I was really excited to run the Huntsville Half because of what I have heard from a number of my running friends. The marathon course is a fast course down Monte Christo in the Morgan valley-ish area (I am actually probably way off on that, but I didn’t drive to the race start and I am too lazy to look it up on Google Maps) that is notoriously beautiful especially during this time of the year. The half course is the second half of the marathon which isn’t downhill. It’s mainly rolling hills and farm country. But, nonetheless gorgeous and pretty.
The one thing that I have found out about races is that you can prepare for what’s ahead of you … namely the hills, the turns, the stretches and the challenging aspects of each course. But, you never know exactly how the challenge will play out until the element of the weather is known. And, sure you can plan for it a few days out, but until you’re there IN the weather IN the moment … you don’t know how it’s really going to effect you.
That was kind of my race experience last Saturday.
Of all the times that I have raced in the rain, I’ve never really had a very good experience. At the Salt Lake Half last year I lost function of my hands at the last aid station and had to have the help of a volunteer to handfeed my Powerade and then I had to have my Mom drive me and my car back because I was shivering too much and still couldn’t use my hands properly.
Then there was the Ogden Half where I was soaked to the bone and didn’t bring a change of clothes so change into while I waited for Susette to finish the marathon. Luckily I had an oversized hoodie stashed in my drop bag, which I ended up curling up into for a couple hours waiting. Luckily, I wasn’t as cold as I was from Salt Lake, but it was miserable.
Then, there was this year’s 30K back in April. I almost don’t even want to write about it, because I still have PTSD from it. There is nothing joyful about running in cold, wet rain for over 18 miles and then experiencing a “mild” case of hypothermia. If it wasn’t for St. Sonja and St. Becky saving me, I’d probably be dead. Oh gosh, I still remember that corner where I wanted to die.
But, I guess it really comes down to this though fact … I make bad decisions. But, I try very hard NOT to. I really do. But, it seems as though as much as I try not to, I do anyways. This right here is why life isn’t fair.
When preparing for the Huntsville Half this week, I knew it was going to rain. So I prepared accordingly. I made sure I reinforced my manboob bandaids with surgical tape, I brought a couple of hats (yes, two, I might have problems) and jackets depending on the severity of the weather and I had a pair of gloves just in case. I even threw in a garbage bag in my dropbag in case I needed that as well.
I felt ready. I felt good about it. So when I got to the buses with my friends St. Sonja and Heather and saw the constant rain I felt confident that I’d be okay. But, confidence should never be trusted. In fact it can be very misleading at times. And, on Saturday, I was very much deceived.
Luckily at the starting line it was fairly warm. The rain was a constant, but it wasn’t that cold and horrible rain I very much despise. But, I felt ready. I even swapped out my garbage bag for a poncho and I ditched the jacket because it was warm enough to go without it. Feeling ready I stuck with my game plan of just running. Give it a great effort, but don’t OVER do it because of St. George next week.
So as the race started I just stood on the side of the road cheering on runners going and then joined in the parade at the end. I was in no rush, no PR goal or anything. I just needed a good challenging 13.1 miles for the day. Which I ended up with, but not exactly how I expected going about it.
The rain was a constant challenge throughout the course. There were a few 10-15 windows of light drizzle, but there weren’t any breaks in the clouds at all. I was fine with this, because I felt prepared. I felt ready. And, I was just running and enjoying the scenery.
I was expecting the course to be a little bit more downhill and it was anything but. It was hilly and rolling. I didn’t mind it that much in fact I welcomed it, because I knew it would just prepare for Veyo Hill and the LOVELY preceding rolling hills in St. George. Plus, downhill alone doesn’t prepare one for PRs and speed.
But, around mile 7-8 I started going downhill (a metaphorical one). I felt the growth of a blister coming on my big toe because my shoes got DRENCHED from the constant rain. Surprisingly, I never have really had a problem with blisters in the rain, but for some reason that day was the day to have problems. I tried to push through it and just kept running.
The pain was getting pretty intolerable and around mile 9.5 I knew I couldn’t push myself that much harder, because I didn’t want to ruin my feet before my marathon. Not wanting to just give up THERE, I told myself that I would stop at the mile 10 aid station, find someone to run with and then just take it nice and easy.
So I stopped at the aid station and got a bandaid on my blister. It was pretty nasty. I also discovered a couple more blisters forming on the bottom of my rain soaked foot. Not fun. So, I kind of just took my time at the aid station. I drank a lot of water and Gatorade and ate a bunch of cinnamon devil gummies. It was perfect.
Just as I got up to start get going I found the person that I ran the rest of the race with. I know this sounds funny, but I don’t believe in coincidences especially with people you run into out on the course. Some of my dearest friends I’ve met by simply sharing a quick joke at a hill or as I was passing by. You never know when you’re going to make your next friend. I love that about running. I’m sure that’s applicable in other areas of life, but I’m biased towards running and have no shame about that.
Anyways, this runner’s name was Becky and she even asked to run with me. Knowing I was looking for someone to run with, I couldn’t say no. This was her fourth half marathon and was no stranger to the rain as she had ran the Salt Lake Half Marathon last year as well. We shared a bit about our stories in how we got into running. We cursed the rain and just tried to drudge along in the rain.
When we got to mile 11 the rain was at a monsoon level. I felt like if I brought a wash cloth and soap I could have easily and effectively showered right there and then. I was running in the shower. It was crazy. I was just grateful it wasn’t freezing rain.
At one point Becky told me to go ahead of her, but I really had no reason to go run ahead. Besides the blisters in my foot would have had none of that. So we just kept running together. Once the finish line was in view I did take off ahead of her as I ripped off my shirt and finished shirtless. I felt it was fitting since the nickname of this race is the Full Monte. Plus, I just hate clothes anyways … but that’s a post for another day. Really it is.
Once I was done and got my medal I grabbed a couple of bananas and just beelined back to St. Sonja’s car to leave. I wanted to stay a bit longer and cheer in my friends running the marathon, especially the first timers, but I was exhausted and my feet hurt. I was spent. I was done.
Despite the stupid blisters I actually really enjoyed the race. My first eight miles were actually really good. I felt strong and ready for St. George. But, I am somewhat grateful for the rain, because if it wasn’t for those blisters I probably would have never met Becky. It’s funny how things happen like that in life, isn’t it?
Sure I finished in over 3:15, but I am okay with that. That 3:15 doesn’t reflect my early mileage effort and the friendship that I made at mile 10. That is why running is and isn’t always a measurable thing. But, again, that’s a post for another day.
My focus now is on St. George. This will be my last marathon of the year and probably my last marathon in a while. I am saying this, but I am still trying to convince myself that I am actually going to do it. But, seriously, I need to just focus on half marathons next year, especially as I look forward towards my sub-two goal.
Anyways … ST. GEORGE OR BUST!
Total Mileage Breakdown for 20142014 Training Miles – 495.5 miles 2014 Walking Miles – 116.4 miles 2014 Race Miles – 333.2 miles 2014 Total Miles – 941.1 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 – 118.2 miles September – 86.55 miles