I have very few races that are on my yearly race list, but the SLC Half marathon is one of them. This is my 4th year in a row to do it, and I love it for many reasons. One, it is a home town kind of race! I love that the entire course is in the city and you have great crowd support the entire time. Second, I like the timing of it being in mid-April. It doesn't usually conflict with any of the other races that I want to do. The course has changed slightly every year that I have done it, but this year brought the biggest changes to it, it is almost nothing like the previous years, it is almost like they started from scratch in designing this years.
I picked up my packet on Thursday from the race expo at Energy Solutions arena. They always have a decent expo. The shirt this year, as always, was butt ugly. I seriously think they try to outdo themselves every year on this one. However, not like I really wear them anyway unless they are cotton. I will just throw it in my pile of race shirts to eventually be made into a quilt. I did go to the Bondi band booth and buy too more. I love those things, and you can never have enough. I then went and bought another race belt. I bought one from this same booth last year and really like it, however, I don't always want to carry water on during the race and I want one like it, because it does stay down, but with out water. Got one and used it during the race...it was awesome!
Fast forward to Saturday morning. We got up and headed down and I was debating where to have Ken drop me off. The race tells you to just ride any TRAX train up to the start. However, I did that last year and they never came for us and we barely made it to the start on time. Ken started up 400 South trying to figure out where to drop me off, and we started running into major traffic as the bike tour had already started and the roads were closed. I just gave him a quick kiss goodbye, grabbed my stuff and jumped out and ran across the street to a station where I saw lots of other runners. Well, apparently they haven't figured things out from last year. WE waited and waited for a train to come. There was dozens of runners waiting and the cop that was working the station was clearly as agitated as we were. He kept yelling at someone over his radio to get more trains there. Amazing, how he commented, that during a University of Utah football game they can run trains every 5 minutes, but when there are 8,000 runners trying to get to the start line, they can't up the trains for that. Long story short, we eventually got picked up and there was standing room only. And, I got to the start line 4 minutes before the gun went off. UUUGggggghhhhhhhh!
In that 4 minutes I weaseled my way through the crowd to try to find the 2:00 hour pacer for the half. I really like using pacers as they a good way to stay on pace, not go to crazy out of the gate like I usually do and I have had many successful races in the past using them. I was able to find him and as soon as the National Anthem was played and the gun went off, he was my guy to stick with! The course immediately headed up a couple of hills into Federal Heights. I have never been in this swanky neighborhood before and it was beautiful! Lots of people were in their front yards cheering us on. We then ran up along the Salt Lake City Cemetery in the Avenues and overlooking the entire city and it was gorgeous! Then down City Creek Canyon through Memory Grove and that is when that had me sold on this new course. It was so pretty, and some of my favorite parts of the city, it was great. We then wound down to South Temple and followed it for several more miles. I loved the crowd support, as usual, for this race and the weather conditions were perfect. I was able to feel pretty good and I hit all of the aid stations briefly for a quick swig of water and I had my Clif Shot blocks through out the run. It reminded me though that Shotblocks are really better on the bike. They are a pain to chew and try to get down while running, so next time I will stick with Gu :)
I had to stop at about mile 8 and hit the porta potty. I lost a few minutes in there for sure. That is also when I lost my pacing group and I never caught back up to them. I really felt very good this whole run until about mile 11, then I was ready to be done. Luckily by then we were winding our way through Liberty Park and that is another one of my favorite parts in the city, so I knew we were close and I enjoyed being there. Then it was out of the park, round the corner to 400 East and then a mile to the finish. I did my best to sprint that last bit to the finish, but I was GONE by then. My legs were heavy and I was so ready to have this run over with. My final run time for the race was 2:05:24. It's not the sub 2 I wanted, but it isn't bad either. I know that this was a harder course with the hills through Federal Heights and 800 South, and I had lost time in the bathroom. I do really want to try another half sometime this summer though to hit that sub 2 goal again :)
I got my medal, grabbed a Creamie, a bottle of water, then texted Ken to find him. I always love hooking up with him post race, he is always very encouraging. I also visited briefly with some friends with my running group then we headed home.
Overall, I am okay with this race. I can't really complain with hitting an average pace of 9:32/mile, when all my long runs lately have been at least a minute longer than that. And, lets be honest, I haven't been putting in the running miles I have done in the past when I have done this race before. That will be a big focus of mine once I get through the Triple Bypass with my Dad. Finally try to do something about this dang run!
What's next? I am officially tapering for IM StG in two weeks!!! I have had two very hard races within a week, so I am HAPPY to be tapering and resting up prior to StG. I can't believe it is already so close, and I feel that I am ready. I still have to try to get away from that time expectation as I go into it, but I think that I will be fine.
In the mean time, for me, it is Happy Tapering!