I know I’ve said this A LOT the past week, but I really, really, really love running down Big Cottonwood Canyon. It really is one of my favorite canyons here in Utah. Not only for running, but it’s got some sedimental meaning to me as a kid. My grandparents would take me and my siblings up the canyon for picnics, fishing trips or simple drives just to see the colorful autumn leaves.
This past weekend was no different in those similar feelings. The forecast called for … and … delivered rain throughout the race. But, it wasn’t the typical down pour I was expecting from the forecasts. It was kind of a … Oregon misty rain? If that makes sense? It was raining, but it wasn’t a down pour or annoying. It was just misty and it really made for perfect running conditions in my opinion. It was a good reprieve from the heat of the Provo City Half last week.
I tried to capture the beauty of the scenery, but even this picture doesn’t do it justice. You really had to be there. But, just gawk at this beautiful scenery …
The clouds were fairly low so they hit the top of the mountains and the scenery was just BEAUTIFUL! BEAUTIFUL! I really wish this picture could have done it justice. But, really you HAD to be there.
But, okay, onto the race.
This was my second year running the Vigor Utah Big Cottonwood Half Marathon. And … my … 5th time racing down the canyon? But, that number will jump to 7 by the end of the year since I am planning on running the Drop 13 (June 13) and Big Cottonwood (September 12) races as well. This is one of my favorite races overall, because the race is professional, organized and runners themselves. That connection between organizers and runners cannot be understated. It really helps differentiate the races out there that put the runner first.
Going into the race I wasn’t quite sure where I wanted to push myself because of small nagging injuries from Provo City the week before. I had tweaked my knee around mile 9-10 last week and I was slightly worried how’d it react during this week’s race. So I gave myself a window of 2:30-2:45 and felt good about that, especially considering the fast course and favorable running weather.
After catching a bus up the canyon at 4:30am (collective “ugh” … seriously the worst part about racing) and hanging out in a lodge for about 45 minutes we made the 3/4 or so mile walk to the starting line. While in the lodge my friend Shelley and I started talking about our thyroid issues and frustrations. We kind of continued that talk pretty much throughout the end of the race as we ran together the whole 13.1 miles down the canyon.
It was perfect for the both of us.
I wasn’t planning on blazing down the canyon and Shelley was coming back into the groove of running after her set backs. So it really was a perfect pairing. We didn’t start at the gun since we were both in the port-a-potty line which for these kind of runs I kinda like doing. Sure you’re in the back of the pack, but your time isn’t the back of the pack … if that makes sense? Starting later, for me, really takes off that pressure to worry about my time.
The first couple of miles seemed a tad slow, I am not sure if that was because of our walk to the starting line or not? Not physically, more mentally. I kept looking at my watch every 0.2-0.3 and thinking I should be further along. But, once we got to the first aid station it really started to picking up. Having great company really helped. And, having someone that understood the same healthy issues I was experiencing helped a lot as well.
Hypothyroidism is not fun. I am not going to go into the nitty gritty of what we talked about, I blog enough about that. But, needless to say, I talked a lot about how I am just sick of trying to find an answer through doctors and just want to go about it naturally and find a way that my body will respond to. And, as of late, that’s pretty much what I have been working towards. But, that is a post for another day.
With the weather slightly rainy and 100% overcast the conditions were just perfect for a good run. Around mile four though my knee started to act up so I did have to stop quite a bit to stretch it out. That was and is still worrisome for me. The pain is right in my knee cap. I don’t think it’s an ACL or MCL, so I don’t know exactly what it is. I really should go get it check out. But, I won’t lie, I am afraid to get it checked out in fear the doctor will tell me to stop running.
I can’t be the only runner that has that same fear, right?
This next week I am just going to swap most of my cardio with swimming. I would like to get at least a 3-5 mile run in on Wednesday to test it out. I am also looking for a bib into the Ogden Half, but a part of me thinks I should just rest. I want to fight that, but I am having a hard time saying no. Oh these internal struggles!
Anyways, back to the race.
My knee was pretty sore between miles 4-10. I was able to run on it, but like I mentioned earlier I had to stretch it quite a bit. I don’t know what to attribute it to though … an ACTUAL injury, the cold weather, under training or my weight. I am about 40lbs. over where I like to be this time of the year and I think that really has a lot to do with that. That’s been one of the most frustrating parts about the thyroid issues. But, that’s been changing which I am grateful for.
Once Shelley and I got to around mile 10 the pain wasn’t as prevalent as it was earlier and I just pushed myself the rest of the way. So I am not exactly sure what I am dealing with? But, rest and cross training are going to be my friends for the next couple of weeks. So I am not THAT worried. If it doesn’t improve or get worse I will go to a doctor.
It was also around this time of the race that I lost my pants. Yes, my pants. At the mile 10 aid station I had to rescue my shorts from touching the ground because they decided to come undone. It was quite glorious and I know Shelley enjoyed the show. It almost happened again around mile 12, but luckily we got them secured after Shelley had to tie them for me because my hands were frozen.
I am laughing just typing that paragraph. It was quite hilarious.
Luckily, we finished the race strong and both Shelley and I reached our goals for the day. I got my sub-2:45 (2:44:42) and Shelley finished the race feeling good and not completely drained. It was great.
The finish line was awesome because we were reunited with all of our friends … many who got PRs! I was very excited for them. Plus, Tim was there with his wife in uniform passing out the finisher’s medals. They are such great friends and inspirations. It was just perfect.
That’s what I love about racing, we all might be different speeds along the course, but at the starting and finishing lines we’re all equal with similar hopes, dreams and desires. It really doesn’t matter what your speed is, but all can relate what it means to get that personal best. And, that’s one of the reasons why I love the running community.
Oh, and because there are Creamies at the finish line too, that’s another reason why I love running.
But, that should be a given for a former fat kid turned runner, right? But, really, it’s about the people I’ve be able to meet, befriend and run with over the years! I’ll gladly trade in my Creamie for that! (just don’t tell Fat Josh).
NEXT RACE: OGDEN HALF MARATHON (THIS SATURDAY!)
A funny thing. As I was typing out this race report I was also on Facebook looking for an Ogden Half bib. And, well, I found one. So, now I am running the Ogden Half Marathon this next Saturday. So much for resting my legs … lol
If you’re a knee doctor you’re probably cursing me out, but really I feel like I will be fine. In fact my knee doesn’t hurt at all right now. I’ll just give it some extra love, extra time in the pool and rest this upcoming week.
But, the Ogden Marathon is one of my favorite races. This will be my fourth time running it, well actually my third time running the half. I did the marathon last year. So I am well acquainted with it. I am not sure what my time goal will be, but I want to push it some and see if I can at least beat my time from this week … soooo … 2:44:41 or bust, eh?
YEAH RUNNING! YEAH OGDEN!