Can you believe that I am officially HALF way to my goal? 90 races is A LOT of races, but at the same time I feel like I know each one personally. This is one reason I know I was born with the hoarder gene. If these my races were cats it would be safe to assume you wouldn’t want to step inside my house. But, I digress.
Really though, I feel like each race has become a part of me and my journey. This was my fourth time running the Provo City Half and I must say, it has progressively become one of my favorite races. That wasn’t always my case. The first couple of times I ran it I kinda hated it. The wait up the canyon was too long and cold and then it was too hot on the course once you got out of the canyon.
This race wasn’t any different. But, the biggest difference has been the people. As sappy as that sounds it’s true. The more my running circle has widened the more enjoyable that long and cold wait up the canyon has become. It’s hard to stay cold when you’re laughing too hard. Again, that sounds totally sappy. But, it’s true.
Plus, the more I run, the more I appreciate and love downhill races. Provo Canyon is beautiful and I love the paved trail that winds itself down to University Blvd. It really is gorgeous. Plus, it’s one of the first races of the running season and there is a fun energy about it. I love that aspect. I love that energy. I need that energy.
Since bus pickup was from 4:30-5:30am I decided to stay with the Gabicas in Orem since Mark was running the race as well. It worked out great, because in the past I’ve had to wake up at 2am and then drive from Bountiful to Provo to hop on the bus. As it turns out, it really does pay to have friends in Utah County.
I met up with them and some other friends at TheOld Spaghetti Factory after work on Friday. I won’t go into much detail, but I absolutely LOVE pasta before a race. Not just any kind of pasta. I just want spaghetti and marinara sauce. As simple as that. I think it runs in my blood, because my Dad is a pasta man as well.
But, I digress.
After carpooling down to Provo with Mark on Saturday morning we met up with our running friends to take pictures before loading the busses. Once we got up the canyon the party continued. I love these larger races just for these occasions. I love the starting line party atmosphere. There is an excitement in the air, it’s as though everyone’s nerves add to that scene. It’s something I will never get tired of. Never.
Going into the race I wanted to push myself. And, on a downhill course that’s a bit easier for me to do. Last year I got about a 2:20 finish time and though I know I wasn’t there yet this year, I wanted to finish somewhere between 2:30-2:45. I felt that would be a good finish time, especially since I didn’t get much mileage in the week before because of PrepperCon.
When I got to the race I still felt this range was doable and since my friend Cevan was pacing the 2:45 group I decided to just run with him and see how I was feeling. I am glad I ran with him most of the way, because 2:30 would have been pushing it a TAD too much for me I think? It’s been a frustrating past couple of months with my thyroid and testosterone and I have a lost a lot of my speed. But, that’s a post for another day.
So, 2:45 was it.
I started the race alongside Cevan and since he was the last pacer of the bunch it was definitely THE PARTY IN THE BACK! Cevan brings a lot of fun (and irreverent) energy which works perfect for the 2:45 group. Starting off the race we had a fun little group of energetic runners following us. It was fun.
After a couple of miles things spread out some and I found myself running with a first time half marathoner, Shaun. He was struggling some with his breathing and rhythm, so I kind of stayed with him to help him through that and help get him back to Cevan.
I saw a lot of myself in Shaun as we were running. He was doing this because he wanted to improve his life and make his family proud of him. Thinking back to my first half marathon I really wish I would have had someone I knew to help me through a lot of those small things that don’t come up until race day. And, with this being my half way race, I had a lot of my past races on my mind … especially that first race.
After running the first half of the race with Shaun I went ahead to catch up with Cevan because he had to slow down with some foot issues. But, after the race Shaun and I touched base and I know our connection benefited both of us for different reasons. Sure, I helped him with those little things, but seeing his determination to run catapulted my thoughts throughout the rest of the race to ALL of my races.
My mind raced (all puns intended) throughout all 90 of my races. It ran through all the difficult races that I pushed myself through the hard, I thought of all the accomplishments of new distance and speed accomplishments and then of course all of the friendships. I won’t lie, around mile 10 I kiiiiiiiiiiiinda lost it thinking about that. I am not a very emotional person, but I guess when I am in the middle of a race left with my thoughts and craving a Slurpee and nachos I tend to get that way?
But, seriously, I just felt an immense gratitude for this journey of mine. The goal really hasn’t been about the number of races. I don’t feel like it’s that big of an accomplishment, but those races have given me 90 opportunities to make new friendships, inspire other people and share my love for life and running.
I’ve had a number of opportunities to be a part of other people’s journeys and some of their firsts. Whether that’s being a small part in Shaun’s first half or running alongside Jill during her first marathon. I feel lucky to be in a situation where I can share those experiences with friends new and old.
Gosh, I might be getting a TAD emotional right now just writing that.
I’ve just been VERY VERY blessed.
Anyways, back to the race. Once I got within two miles of the finish line I just tried keeping a good pace. I tweaked my knee around mile 9ish and I was having a hard time stretching it out. I wasn’t too worried about it, it was just more uncomfortable than anything. But, it was around this time I kinda lost sight of Cevan and knew I wasn’t going to be coming in at 2:45, so I do what I usually do in those situations.
I looked for someone to run with.
I found one of the runners, Katie, who was running with Cevan at the start of the race. This was her second half marathon and, really, was a breath of fresh air during the last couple of miles. She was energetic and enthusiastic which kept me laughing. She was also pushing for a new PR which she beat by four minutes!
My official time for the race was 2:53:40. It was eight minutes off my goal, but fittingly less than thirty seconds off my time for my first half marathon back in 2011. I am now officially half way there.
And, living on a prayer (sorry, couldn’t help it).
NEXT RACE: VIGOR BIG COTTONWOOD HALF MARATHON (THIS SATURDAY!)
Now that I am officially on the downside of my goal, I guess it’s fitting that I am running a downhill run next week, eh? I ran this race last year with Susette and it’s one of my favorite races … mainly, because I love Big Cottonwood Canyon … a lot.
But, I am excited about this race too, because this will be my second race pushing Wheelz (aka Josh Twelves). This should be a faster time than Lagoon … mainly because it’s all down hill, but it should be a lot of fun. I am half tempted to buy myself some Heely’s and just roll all the way down the canyon while holding onto his cart.
This really doesn’t sound like a bad idea.
But, it totally is.