I know I gush a lot about my races — especially about the scenery and courses. But, this race — takes the cake. It’s such a beautiful course. The scenery and course instantly became one of my favorites. There is a reason why Runner’s World named this one of the best half marathons in the country. Well organized, great volunteers, beautiful course and scenery that can’t be replicated any other way than experiencing it in person.
I might be slightly biased about the scenery — because the red rocks of southern Utah are my happy place. I’ve always been fascinated with them — ever since I was a kid. It one of the many reasons why I went to school at Southern Utah University — I’m completely drawn to the red rocks.
Okay, now that I am done gushing about my love affair with the scenery and red rocks — to the race.
I decided to run this race about a month ago. Though it’s been a race I’ve wanted to do for the past couple of years, I just never had a reason to do it — until this year. I signed up for the St. George Runner Series to guarantee me a spot into the St. George Marathon in 2016. The requirement for the series is to basically run two southern Utah-based races. Since I was running The Bakers Dozen Half Marathon in December — I decided to hop unto this race so I could meet my requirements before the end of the year.
And, well — because I wanted to run it as well.
I carpooled down with my friends Jason and Tammy Henry. Well, I shouldn’t say carpooled — it was more like third-wheeled it. It reminded me of my dating life in High School. We stayed at a small hotel just on St. George Blvd. — nothing too fancy. We didn’t really need anything fancy because the trip was a — sleep, run, eat and get home — kind of trip. It met our needs and didn’t have bed bugs — a questionable stain on the ceiling — but no bed bugs.
In the morning we made the 10 minute drive to the high school for bus picket up the canyon. I won’t lie — I kinda like the later starts this time of the year, because it feels like a mosey to the start line, but I also wish to get started early — so I can finish earlier. But, a 8:30 gun time was not TOO bad.
The race was bigger than I expected. But, I guess there were 2,600+ runners — soooooo — it was a big race. It took me a few minutes to get across the starting pad. But, it wasn’t as bad as the St. George Marathon. That one feels like you’re waiting in a port-a-potty line of runners with stomach issues.
The goal for the race was two fold. I was hesitant to put a time goal to my race, because I haven’t ran my own race since Nebo in early September. But, I wanted to shoot for a 2:35-2:45. But, I was fine not meeting that as long as I gave it my all during the race. I just wanted to do my best.
Starting off I was a bit worried because my shins were having none of it for the first couple of miles. But, then again, I knew it was a slight incline from my experience running the St. George Marathon — once I hit Snow Canyon then I knew it was going to be faster. But, those first two miles were difficult. But, I fought through it — knowing I just needed to warm up.
Once I hit the canyon it felt like a completely different course. Not only was the course more downhill, but the scenery was completely beautiful. I had to stop at certain moments to capture a picture. — I was just in awe. Complete awe. So, I just kept my head high, cranked up my music and just ran.
Of course with occasional stops for pictures.
Between miles 3-7 — I felt great. Like superb. I was in a groove, enjoying the world around and just thanking God for the ability I have to run. But, in the midst of that euphoria I got distracted and accidentally took a Gu along with Gatorade at the same aid station. For some runners — this might not mean anything, but for me — the combination taken together — kills me. It causes really, really bad stomach pains and just makes me super sick.
This incident wasn’t anything different.
About mile eight — it really hit me. I was kind of in a panic, because I knew there wasn’t another bathroom until mile nine. I had to stop and walk — stretch — knead out my stomach — just doing something to make the pain go away. I even tried to push through it. But, that didn’t really work for me. Luckily, no accidents — but mile 8-9 had a horrible time and once I got to the port-a-potty that took another 7:30 minutes off my time.
If you’re wondering — yes, I timed my bathroom break. Strange? Probably. But, if you’re a runner you’d understand.
Anyways — the break kinda took me out of my groove, but I was determined to finish strong. Sure I was about 8-10 minutes off where I wanted to be, but I wasn’t going to let that defeat me. I was going to fight the last four miles. So that is what I did.
After my break I lost the group of runners I was running alongside with — well it wasn’t a group of runners I knew — just the people at my pace. I knew they were long gone and at this point the field was rather thin. So to stay motivated I had to make a game of it for me. So, I tapped into my inner-Ragnar and decided to go for “KILLS” aka runners in front of you that you pass along the route.
And, well, it worked.
I passed eight runners in the sparsely crowded field. And, it really helped. I still somewhat slowed down from where I wanted to be — but I fought to keep going. Physically and mentally.
During my last mile Jason came back to run with me and I was really appreciative of it. I was kinda spent by that time. My legs were shot from the fartleking — especially from passing the runners during the last four miles. But, I kept going forward and sometimes that’s all that’s required, right?
I was met by my friend Tricia at the finish line who took some video and pictures of me crossing the finish line. She also grabbed water, bananas and string cheese for me at the finish line. I was famished and I was so appreciative for the gesture. But, can I also say how good that string cheese was after the race? Seriously — I’m in love with post-race cheese.
But, then again, I am also in love with cheese, period. But, that’s a story for another day.
After showering and cleaning up at a friend’s condo — the Henry’s and I grabbed some grub (breakfast burrito for me — naturally) and then headed home. It was the perfect quick getaway. It was a great race experience. One that will definitely bring me back there in 2016. Seriously, I am in love with the race.
But, it was also a great gauge of what I need to do to get myself back to where I want to be with my running. My official time was 3:01, but I count 2:53 with my bathroom break. Regardless, my goal is to get back to consistent race times of 2:20-2:30 by the middle of next year. And, that will come with my weight-loss program along with a planned half marathon training program starting in January.
I haven’t decided which training plan to do — but more than likely I’m going to follow the Galloway Training Plan. I haven’t tried that training plan yet — and I already have the book and supplies to do it. So why not? I think I could really benefit from a good run/walk program.
But, all of that I will save for another post for another day, probably a future Fight4Phat post?
With that all said — I’ll be back in 2016 — I’m hooked.
NEXT RACE: ANTELOPE ISLAND 50K
DUH! DUH! DUH! The hour is ‘nigh — well, actually, it’s pretty much now. Since my 50K is less than a week from now. I am all kinds of excited and full of nerves. By this time next week I will have earned the title of Ultra Marathoner. Pretty nifty, eh?
I am excited about this race for a number of reasons — not only to earn that title. But, because of whom I am also running alongside with. My friends Jason Henry and Tim Gill will be joining me on the journey. And, honestly — couldn’t have asked for a better pair of friends to tackle this race with. Both are positive and encouraging guys — who would do anything for anyone. Plus, they both have wicked sense of humor — so we know our 50K won’t be boring — like — at all.
This week we’ll be finishing up our race plan, but really the goal is to just finish. We have 10 hours to complete the race — and I am not too worried about meeting that goal. Obviously, it’s nothing to be blasé about — but I’m confident that’ll be done within 10 hours. The goal is just to finish — have fun — and not get gored by a buffalo. Easy enough, right?
But, I’ll have more about the race on Friday’s post. But, right now — I’m just focused on taking deliberate deep breaths.
It’ll be epic.
MONTHLY MILEAGE UPDATE 2015
Total Mileage Breakdown for 2015
2015 Training Miles – 246.75 miles
2015 Walking Miles – 436.8 miles
2015 Race Miles – 413.6 miles
2015 Total Miles – 1097.15 miles
Monthly Total Miles for 2015
January – 78.8 miles
February – 72.85 miles
March – 115.3 miles
April – 76.3 miles
May – 97.4 miles
June – 131.15 miles
July – 101.65 miles
August – 110.2 miles
September – 115.69 miles
October – 164.7 miles
November – 39.1 miles