Saturday, April 20, 2013

Salt Lake City Half Marathon 2013

There is no perfect race.

Difficult conditions can, and will arise.

You can either suck it up or give up.

The first was my only option today :)

I was writing this race report five million times over today while I ran this race.  It seemed that this could have been a very bad race day when you look at all the cards dealt to me.  Luckily, it ended up being okay, but it was TOUGH!

To start at the beginning is the best way.  I have been nursing this dang tendinitis in my ankle for two weeks,  since my Striders Half Marathon.  I felt fine during that race, but apparently I did something to royally piss off my ankle and I have been paying for it ever since.  I knew that I would run this race, and I was grateful that my ankle was feeling better, though not 100%, so that I could at least try to slog my way through it.  Ken and I went to the race expo last night and got my packet and for the third year in a row, found that SLC may do a good race, but they ALWAYS have an ugly shirt.  The expo had many vendors that I have seen at other races, but one caught my eye as they were selling fuel belts.  I have been playing with the idea to start carrying my own water and Gu during races, and these things were cool!  They held two 8-ounce bottles, Gu, your phone or small camera, and had a place to attach your race bib.  The sales people  promised me that it would stay in place and not bounce around.  Okay, I'll try it.  Forget the "nothing new on race day" rule!

I was glad that we had the kids stay over at my inlaws last night.  Ken and I got up at 4:15 to get down to the race.  Ken dropped me off at the Gateway to catch the Trax line up to the University of Utah where this race starts.  This is how I have gotten to the start for the past two years, and the way the race organizers tell you to get up there.  Usually the trains come every 15 minutes and you can get on for free with your race bib.  I sat there and waited.  I saw my friend, Mike Allred and went over and talked to him.  We kept wondering where the heck the trains were!  We could tell that people around us were starting to get nervous and some were saying that they had been waiting for 45 minutes!  We had been waiting for a half an hour.  It was 6:30 by this time, and the start is 7:00.  Luckily Mike had parked close so we jumped in his truck and drove to further up 400 South to another station where we saw a ton of other runners.  We were able to get on, though it was VERY crowded.

One VERY packed train..standing room only
We got up to the race start with 10 minutes to spare.  I didn't need to use the restroom, I dropped my jacket into the gear drop bag and then went to find where I would put myself among the 7000 other runners there.  Then it started.  The skies opened up and the rain began.  It wasn't really a drizzle, but not an outright down pour either, but a good steady rain that would keep coming the ENTIRE race.  They did the National Anthem, then as a tribute to Boston Marathon, there was a moment of silence followed by the playing of Sweet Caroline.  This was a neat moment as many of the runners were wearing ribbons, shirts, bracelets, etc in support of the people in Boston.  It was neat to be there as this tragedy has affected EVERY runner in one way or another.

I carried my new iPhone with me for the first time ever in a race, and here is a shot, though a blurry one, of the start at Legacy Bridge at the U.

Let's do this!
The news media was all over the place, as was the noticeable increase in security.  There were cops EVERYWHERE.  They had the below Bomb Squad vehicle.  There were cops on bikes, running the course with their loaded belts, at every intersection, and the dogs were all over the place.  I am so grateful for these officers for making us all feel safer today and doing so in pouring down rain, wind and almost freezing temperatures!

This is the screen shot of the hourly forecast for the morning.  Yeah, you can make that 100% chance of rain!

Far from ideal conditions
 I went to turn on my watch right before the start.  It would not pick up a satellite signal for ANYTHING.  I had been messing with it for over 10 minutes and I guess because of the storm and clouds, it wasn't going to work.  Big surprise.  I hate that thing!  But anyhow, I just decided to hit the start and with out the GPS signal, it would only be able to tell me my time, no pace or distance today.  Dang it!

Then I went to hook up my iPod.  Are you freaking kidding me?!? Um, it is ON right?  All I got out of it were beeping noises that I have never heard from it before.  Looks like we are "running naked" for this race.  I could have lived with out the watch, but for races, music helps me get and stay in the zone and I honestly think it helps the time go by faster as well as the miles, and if you have the right music, the beat can help you keep a good pace too.  I was NOT happy about this.  Plus, I didn't have any place to really put my iPod either.  I knew that Ken would be along the route at about Mile 3, so I would just carry it and throw it to him at that point.

The first few miles were good.  My ankle hurt, but I expected it too.  I had no idea what pace I was running, but I didn't really care.  I started to think about how I almost missed the start of this race, the weather sucked, and my technology was not working, and my ankle hurt.  It was about this time in the race that one of the spectators along the side had a sign that said, EMBRACE THE SUCK.  I thought about it and knew it was what I needed to do today.  I could only control my attitude at this point.  I started noticing things that I don't think that I would have noticed had my iPod been working, or if I was zeroing in on my watch.  There were spectators that were reading my name off my bib and yelling, "Go Katie!  Looking Good!"  Would I have heard that if my music was pumping full blast?  I was able to have conversations along the route with other runners that I would have missed out on otherwise.  It was little things like that I was noticing and enjoying!  Runners are a great group of people, and it was fun to get to know a few of them, even if just for a few minutes during my race.

The rest of the miles ticked on, and I was noticing changes that they had made to the route.  However, it remained an awesome course. I have always like the fact that this race is entirely in a city, where most races around here start up a canyon somewhere and you don't see spectators until the final part.  I was thoroughly enjoying all of the spectators, though with the weather today, there were quite a few less than past years.  The new route had you do a complete lap through Sugar House Park around the pond, and that is a place I have always wanted to run, but haven't.  It also took us through other parts of the city I haven't been to before, and I thoroughly enjoyed the course and changes.  I noticed that the race still went by fast, all things considered.

With all the rain, I was COMPLETELY drenched.  It looked as if I had jumped into a pool then gotten out again.  I was glad that they only part of me that was cold though were my hands, even though I had gloves on, they clearly weren't water resistant in the least.  I had to run right through several puddles and my feet would get wet, though they didn't stay wet or cold, or didn't feel like it anyway.  When we got to Mile 12, I was really starting to lose feeling in my hands, and I just wanted to be done, but other than that, I felt great!  Stamina wise I could have easily kept going and though my ankle ached, it wasn't bad at all.  And honestly, when as a runner does something NOT ache?  It's always something, right?

I was happy to hear the finish line music and finally enter Liberty Park where the race ended (in the past it has ended at the Gateway).  There were TONS of people out, despite the down pour.  I booked it for the last half mile.  I found a rhythm that felt amazing, I brought my knees up higher, and my arms were in full motion and it felt awesome!  I made sure that I focused on my breath and just kept going.  Man, I need to work on maintaining that kind of pace for a longer distance, it felt incredible!  (note to self, do more speedwork!)

I got to the finish and my final chip time was 2:12:10.  Under the conditions of the day, the cold, the wind, the rain, the lack of technology, my injury, I will take it. And my doctor did say that if I did do this race, he wanted me to take it easy.  Mission Accomplished! I have a hard time accepting that not every race is going to be a PR.  Some days you have it, and other days you have something different.  I am thrilled with my sub-2 from two weeks ago, but I quite possibly ran that too hard that led to this injury.  And one thing that I also thought of during the race today was how fortunate I am just to have the opportunity to run and race.  I am grateful to be in this community of runners.  I was grateful for the chance to be in a race and see new parts of the city in conditions I haven't otherwise.  After the events at Boston this week, I am just simply THANKFUL.

So, what's did I learn today?  Some days are going to be A-race kind of days.  You are going to be in the zone, you will push yourself hard, and be rewarded with a PR or great performance.  Other days you won't have those things, but it doesn't make it a "bad race".  I have always hated hearing people say that they had a bad race.  Really?  Racing is like pizza, even went it isn't great or ideal, it is rarely BAD.  I was grateful for the chance to race!

Oh!  And I also learned that it was quite nice to have my own fuel on my race!  I usually carry Gu, but having the water was nice for times I was thirsty and not near an aid station.  I loved the new really did stay in place!

What's next?  Well, I have the final race in the Striders Winter Racing Circuit next week, the 30k or 18.641 miler.  I can't say that I have any expectations for this race other than to finish and have fun.  It is an unconventional distance, I am not doing any marathon coming up, so it will be a great long, slow training run.

So in the meantime....Happy Racing/Training all!

Love me some new race bling!
Finish line sprint!

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