Two weeks ago was my first half marathon in 2 years. Last year was the year of full marathons, this year, will be the year of half marathons.
This last Saturday I did the Salt Lake City 1/2 Marathon. I was concerned going in to the race because I had just come off an injury and my longest run had been 5 miles. I emailed my coach and asked him if I was ok to do the race, or if I should downgrade to the 5k. He assured me that I’d be ok to do the race; I just need to race it smart and not push myself.
I was still super nervous going in to the race. I was afraid the distance was going to be overwhelming, I knew there were a couple of big hills on the run and I just didn’t know how my legs were going to handle it.
I had no expectations going in to the race. I knew I just wanted to finish it. The morning of the race, I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and got ready. I had to take Trax to the start line because there is no parking available. I laid my clothes out the night before so I was out the door and to the train station in 15 minutes.
Because of what happened in Boston on 4/15/13, one train stop prior to the starting line, police and their dogs got on the train and sniffed out the train for explosives and drugs. It was a very humbling experience. I find it very sad that this had to take place.
I got to the starting line right as the bike tour was taking off. It was an awfully cold morning and it was raining. I only had to wait around about 45 minutes before I crossed the starting line. I saw my coach right before we started & we gave each other a high 5 & wished each other good luck. It was nice too that right before the race started I saw my friend Kim. We were able to chat and that lessened the nerves.
Right before the race started, we had a moment of silence for Boston and then we all started the race to the song Sweet Caroline. Normally I’m not a fan of the song Sweet Caroline (it gets played A LOT at Keys on Main), but this time it was different. It had a different meaning to it this time.
The air horn went off and we started the race. The first 3 – 3.5 miles were either flat, slight downhill or slight uphill. The part I was REALLY worried about was mile 4 – 5.5. We had to run through Sugarhouse Park and there are 2 hills in Sugarhouse Park that are a beast! I remember when I was climbing both hills there was a lot of self-talk going on and at the biggest hill I remember thinking “small steps, small quick steps” and the hill didn’t seem too bad. I remember looking at my watch at mile 5 and seeing that it was like 46:00 and I thought “Yes! I’m kicking ass!” I ended up running the first 5 miles at a 9:15 pace. At this point I knew there was a slight chance of getting my first sub 2 hour 1/2 marathon and if not that, I was going to set a PR.
I saw my parents cheering me on at the entrance of the park. As I exited the park, that’s when I could tell my legs were starting to get tired. They weren’t tired enough to stop and walk though. I still felt strong.
Through the next 2 miles, we ran down a residential street and there were A LOT of people out in their driveway cheering everyone on. One person had the Chariots of Fire theme song playing, one person had the Superman theme song playing, one person had gone to Costco and was handing out bottles of water.
Our last major uphill was tough for me. This is only 1 of the 2 times I stopped to walk, but even then I only stopped for about 30 seconds. My side was aching and my legs were tired. It was a gradual hill for about 3/4 of a mile. I was so glad when we turned at the light and it was flat.
The rest of the time it was either a flat course or it was a very slight uphill. I saw Benny at mile 10 or so and said hi as I was running past. He told me later that night that I looked strong. I felt strong at that point.
I finally got to the point where we were running down past Salt Lake Running Co and we were 1 mile out from the finish line. Each time I passed one of the clocks I got excited. I knew I wasn’t going to get my first sub-2 hour 1/2 marathon time, but I knew I was going to set an incredible PR!
About 1/2 a mile from the finish I saw my coach and one of his co-workers running back to Salt Lake Running Co (where they work) after they finished the 1/2 and they were cheering us all on as we ran past each other.
One thing I wish I could’ve done, was at the 1/2 mile, maybe 3/4 mile mark to the finish, there were some folks who had a table set up on the sidewalk with a sign that said “Take A Shot”. They were giving out free shots of tequila, Irish Whiskey, etc. I wanted some SO bad. But, dude, if I did, pretty sure I would’ve barfed it up.
Finally the finish line was in sight!!! I was so excited. I tried to pick up the pace a little bit, and I gave it everything I had. I crossed the finish line in 2:05:06!!! My Garmin said I ran 13.23 miles. So, that makes for a 9:23 pace!!! Yeah!!!! I was SUPER excited. I PR’d by 6 minutes!
I think next year if I don’t do the St George 1/2 Ironman, I will do the full marathon of this course. It was a lot of fun, it was very well organized. The only thing I think I would change or suggest is that they have those warming lamps and stuff set up at the starting line. It was awfully cold.