One week ago, Major Hubs and I were literally and figuratively, on top of the world in Provo, Utah! After a day spent exploring beautiful Sundance Resort, it was time to focus on the task at hand …running 13.1 miles through the beautiful canyons of Provo.
As I mentioned in last week’s Weekly Wrap, I met up with some of the other bloggers at the expo for packet pickup and dinner. The expo was small by RnR standards, yet fairly big in comparison to the small local half marathons I’ve run in the past.
Packet pick-up was a breeze and while I do love my race bling, I must admit that I was just a little giddy over the super cool bib in the shape of a mountain range! I really doesn’t take much to make me smile.
In addition to the functional drawstring tote bag and in place of a traditional race shirt, we received this lightweight 10th anniversary wind breaker. It comes with its own little zippered carrying pouch, reflective stripes and ….wait for it …..thumb holes! I know right?? Who doesn’t love anything with thumb holes??
Our 3 a.m. wake-up came brutally early. This was a point to point race beginning in the canyon of Provo, just south of Sundance Resort , and ending in the city of Provo. The buses began shuttling runners at 3:30 am with the last bus leaving at 4:30. We all decided to meet in the lobby of the hotel at 3:45 with the intention of catching a bus around 4. We arrived at the starting line around 4:30 to much cooler temps, a big bright full moon and the smell of wood burning fire pits.
We all filed off the bus and proceeded to “follow the light” like a bunch of walking zombies.
After a short stroll down to the starting area, we huddled around one of 40 to 50 fire pits to keep warm. After a short while, the smoke became too much to bear so we walked away from the fire pits and found a place to hunker down against the concrete wall to try to keep warm. The hour and a half wait at the starting area was, in my opinion, the worst part of this race. However, due to sheer logistics, it was necessary. A little fuel, some water and one last trip to porta-potties and it was time to line up.
While this race’s claim to fame is its “downhill” course, don’t be fooled. There are a few long gradual climbs, which the hill runner in me actually welcomed. While others around me were walking those few uphills, I charged them like nobody’s business. The sights around me were utterly spectacular and I simply wanted to take my time and soak it up….. so, I stopped for pictures along the way. Apparently more than I even realized. That may have cost me a tad more time than I had estimated, but who cares when you have views like this all around you!
Not stellar, to say the least. Aside from my numerous photo ops, I had another little “delay” as well. (more on that in a moment) First of all, I went into training for this race with a lingering injury that had not completely healed. And as I neared the end of my training, I began to feel more aches and pains in the ankle. Therefore, I backed off and “coasted” in to Utah. My goal was simply to cross the finish line without further damage to this 50-year-old “cranky” ankle. In addition, I really wanted to focus on the scenery and just enjoy the blessing of running. I accomplished both and for that I’m truly grateful!
However, with that being said, every runner secretly has some time in mind when they toe a starting line …and mine was that I would have liked to finish around 2:30. I felt that was feasible considering my lack-luster training, slowing down my pace, taking pictures and the gravity of the downhills. I underestimated everything. The downhills felt fine while I running them, but ohhhh, you could feel them when you hit those 6 miles of flat! As I mentioned earlier, there are hills everywhere I live. It’s impossible to run even a mile without encountering a hill. I’m used to them. I do not run well on flat courses. You push up the hill and fly down the other side …it works all the different muscles in your legs rather than the same muscle group getting beat up mile after mile. So, those 6 miles of flat felt even harder than normal …just plain torture.
Then there was the other little “delay” I mentioned. Yes, in true “LadyBird” style, I broke the cardinal rule of running. I tried something different on race day. You’d think I would have learned my lesson by now. Guess I just love “flying by the seat of my pants” ….and this time it was the seat of my pants that was affected! Well, almost. While standing around the fire pits before race time, I ate my usual pre-race banana but still felt I needed a little something extra. So I ate one of the Health Warrior bars that I recently purchased. I’m not sure if it was the fiber or all the downhill running, but by mile 2, my GI tract was not happy. I kept going, smiling, soaking it all up. As I approached mile 4, I seriously contemplated getting in the potty line but thought ….”it’ll pass”. Kudos to the race director for having porta-potties every 2 miles! I pressed on, the whole while kicking myself for not having stopped. Wendy, all I could think about at this point were all of your potty shenanigans posts! It kept me focused, humored and humbled! At mile 6, the GI tract won and I took on the longest porta-potty line I’ve ever seen mid race. Seriously, I know I lost at least 5 minutes there. At that point, I knew my 2:30 goal had literally just gone “down the toilet”. And little did I know that only a mile down the road, we’d be out of the canyon and the real work would begin.
Once out of the canyon, the temps were a tad warmer, less shady areas and a long stretch of flat miles lay ahead. I started my 3:1 run/walk intervals at this point. The crowd support picked up, they had popsicles at one station and a couple of water sprinklers along the way. A little before mile 10, a couple of the elite full marathoners came gliding past me and I knew they’d reach the finish line before I reached the next mile marker! They are so amazing to watch…. they can make a 5 minute mile look like a walk to your mailbox! I pressed on until I could see the arch of the finish line ahead. I stopped the intervals and thought I could just jog it out. Dang, that finish line was deceptive! It seemed to take forever and I did have to take a couple of walk breaks before finally reaching that elusive finish line in 2:37:11
The only thing more gratifying than the accomplishment of crossing a finish line is seeing my sweet hubby waiting just on the other side….always with a hug, a kiss and a “good job, my love”. He really is my biggest fan!
We grabbed some chocolate milk and quickly met up with the other ladies for some post race photos and to compare race experiences. There was plenty of refreshments and fruit although I didn’t see any real food myself. No beer ….after all, we were in Provo, Utah you know!
Overall, this was a fantastic race. Very well-organized with lots of little details thought out. While it may have been my slowest half marathon, it was, by far, the most beautiful and enjoyable. Isn’t that what really matters? The blessing is truly in the journey folks and in the friendships we make along the way. Sure, we all want PR’s and fast finishes; but if we lose sight of the gift that running is and forget to take the time to look around every now and then, we’ll miss out on the beauty of running …the beauty of life!