Saturday, April 21, 2012

SLC Half Marathon 2012

Today was so much fun!  I loved this race again this year, and it was a good one!

First off, I will be the first to admit that my training for this was less than ideal and I went into the race with an attitude of "just finish and have fun".  I got up at 4:00 this morning, got my race outfit on, gathered my things and left to drive into the Gateway where I would park and hop on tracks.  The whole way down I was like a little kid awaiting Santa, I was just giddy with excitement and so ready to just RACE!  I really wasn't caring about how I did, I have been craving the race atmosphere, the music, the company of other runners, the adrenaline, the kids at the end of their drive ways wanting high fives as you go by.  I could barely contain myself as I hopped on Trax and rode up to the starting line at the University.

There was a 25 mile bike tour that started an hour before the marathons did.  So, most of the people on the train were cyclists.  There was a group of runners that flagged me over to sit with them and we became instant friends.  One of the things I LOVE about the running community, is they are so inclusive and friendly, and these people were a family all running the half, except for one of their daughters that was signed up for the full.  We joked on the way up, compared running stories, injuries, and goals for the day.  They were a hoot.  It definitely made the hour and half till the race more enjoyable to hang out with these folks.

At the start line I made my couple trips to the bathroom, downed my water and banana, and then started looking for the 2 hour pacer for the half.  I knew that it was advantageous at best to try to keep up with him for the whole thing, but with my ultimate goal being a 2 hour race, but my other goal of a PR (which would mean beating 2:10:42 from last year's TOU Half) I figured I would keep up with him for as long as I could, and at least keep him in sight without letting the 2:10 guy pass me.  This strategy would serve me well!

The first 6 miles FLEW by.  I was able to hold my own with the 2:00 hour guy, and had him within 50 feet the first six.  I was probably around an 8:45-9:15 mm (um, HELLO, any of you follow my on Dailymile, you know that on a GOOD day, I have been lucky to pull a 10 minute mile, so this was well beyond my expectations), and it was awesome!  That portion of the race runs down from the U, which is down hill, through Sugarhouse Park, and then through the neighborhoods.  The crowds were out, and tons of people cheering and holding signs.  I loved that.  I saw Team Bart from last year, the father/son team, where the son is seriously handicapped and the father pushes him in a wheelchair.  So neat to see them again!

Then at about mile 7-8, I had to slow down.  My sides were cramping, and I was feeling the speed and  downhill that my body isn't used too.  I was uncomfortable until I settled into a new pace and just kept going.  The miles continued to fly by, and though I don't know what my pace was, it was faster than my practice runs, but slower than I did the first half of the race in.  I enjoyed the portion that ran through Liberty Park, and then I knew I had to start preparing myself for the hill that is at mile 12.5 on State Street.  I kept looking at my watch and not believing the time I was seeing on it.  I noticed at several mile markers some INCREDIBLE (for me anyway) times. 

At mile 3 - 24:30
At mile 5 - 44:12
At mile 7 - 1:03

I started to realize that if I played my cards right, I could PR this one!  The hill made me nervous, but I decided to run the whole thing, start skipping aid stations, and hope that I wouldn't suddenly need a bathroom break :)

Well, it all paid off.  I ran the hill.  I kept a good pace.  At the top of the hill, I only had a half mile, at the most, left.  I could see the finish line.  I didn't really let myself recover from the hill, and kept reminding myself that it was okay to arrive on empty at the finish line, because then you know you really did give it all you had.  I did the same thing in St. George and it is a tremendous feeling.  So, I put the pedal to the metal, and just went for it.  I pulled it out of somewhere and had an almost sprint for the next quarter mile, then a full on sprint after that towards the finish line.  I just about collapsed when I got there, but the time on the clock said 2:09:15, which was clock time, not my chip time, and it was a PR even going on that!

I was exhausted, completely out of breath, but so, so grateful (and I must admit, in total shock) of what I had just pulled off.  A PR?!?  Really?  This from someone who is working full time, going to school full time, and still a wife and mom to boot?   I really didn't see this coming, and have no idea how it happened, because like I said, my training has been less than stellar.  My long run last Saturday was an 11:15 pace (and I wanted to die afterward), and I just did a 9:45 average pace?   WTH !?!

I let myself enjoy that moment.  The tears came. I was mad for doubting myself,  amazed at another race accomplishment.  THIS, my friends is what running is about.  It is about pushing your limits, learning to believe in yourself, and enjoying the process and the ups and downs that come with it.

So what was my final time?  I checked the website when I got home, final race chip time was 2:08:40.  An official PR by 2 minutes, and 2 seconds!

A friend told my earlier in the week that we are always more capable than we think, we can always dig deeper, and that sometimes our biggest obstacles are the ones that mentally we place on ourselves.  He told me he thought I could do this, and don't be so quick to count myself out, and sell myself short.  He was right.  I am so glad that I listened to him!

What a season opener!  I  am so grateful for this great start to a race season that is sure to be amazing.  My next event is just next week with Ken!  We are doing the Salt Lake Running Company 5k.  I am not sure what my goal/strategy is going to be for this race.  On one hand, I want another PR.  But then again, this is the first race I have ever been able to talk Ken into doing with me, so I don't know if I will just hang with him and enjoy crossing the finish line together.  I will keep you posted for when I decide.

Happy training!

Love me some new race bling!

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