Seven Weeks Late

Seven weeks ago, I ran the Canyonlands Half Marathon

Maybe there's someone else out there who wants to post about being seven weeks late for something else. . . ???

In addition to our wonderful afternoon at Arches National Park and just an all-around fun trip, there are some lessons I learned from running this race that I want to remember for the future. (And possibly share with others.) 

For the full story, I need to back up a few weeks earlier. I had just started training for the Ogden Marathon, when my friend, Sherry, checked in on me while I was on the treadmill at the gym. She wanted to know what distance I was up to and how regularly I was running. (I had just hit five miles and I was running three days per week.) I guess that was good enough because then she invited me to join her running group on a trip to Moab for the Canyonlands Half Marathon. (Someone else got injured and couldn't use their entry.) Well, those ladies all teach classes at Gold's Gym and they are way (way, way, way) out of my league. It was actually kind of reminiscent of when Molly invited me to play in that Park City lacrosse tournament. But I'm not one to turn down a trip, especially when it's with a good friend, like Sherry, so of course I said yes. 

I didn't have time to properly train for a half marathon, but Sherry was convinced that since I pulled off running 20 miles at the Ogden Marathon after only training for 7, I could do it again. I wasn't so sure. . . 

I worked up to 7 miles and felt somewhat prepared: 

Well, I wasn't. But I didn't know that yet. . . 

As usual, I was positioned on the lowest part of the rock to lessen the height difference for the pre-race group picture:

I sent this picture to Sherry to post on Facebook, but she told me I looked like I had just woken up :) Oh well, the pictures of me later in the day didn't get any better. 

One of the things I really liked about this race was that it didn't start until 10:00 am. I wish more races had reasonable start times like that. (Don't be fooled that a later start time means we got to sleep in . . . we still had to wake up at 6:30 am.)

The smells from the porta-potties were unusually foul. I really don't understand why they don't designate some lines for liquid waste and others for solid waste. It would be so simple and so much more efficient for people (like me) only needing to go number one. I was glad I took Sherry's advice on this one. Lesson: Take some Imodium A-D the morning of the race. 

Bonus Lesson: Skip the long lines (and smells) from the porta-potties and find a tree or a rock.  

The morning of the race, I realized that my iPhone 5 didn't fit into the armband I bought when I had an iPhone 4. So I figured I would just put my phone in my waistband (which actually works quite well). I only had my short (2 feet long) cord for my headphones, and it was just barely long enough to reach my waist. Well, I forgot to try it out while I was running. Ten yards into the race, I discovered that it wasn't actually long enough. SO I ended up with my phone under my bra strap. . . which meant it was constantly falling down. I did most of my training on a treadmill, where I didn't have to deal with the issue of where to put my phone or the length of my headphone cord. Lesson: Train (at least once) in an environment as similar as possible to the race, so you can be better prepared for issues that you will encounter during the race.  

P.S. A couple of weeks ago, I purchased a SPIbelt, and it's way better than an armband. It's more inconspicuous than an armband, doesn't bounce or shift while running, and it can also fit chapstick, wipes, or whatever other small items you'd like on a run.

My new runner friends told me that you generally race 30 seconds faster than you train. I usually run 10-minute miles, so using that formula, I planned on a 9:30 pace. With that in mind, I figured I should be able to finish in 2 hours. I started near the 1:50 pace runner, but after three miles, I couldn't keep up. I was subsequently passed by the 2:00, 2:10, and 2:20 pace runners. That was really discouraging to me, and I think it would have been better to start a little further back with the goal of passing people. Totally mental. Lesson: To preserve your mental stability, position yourself to be able to pass people, rather than be passed by people. 

Speaking of mind games, there was this lady who was ahead of me for a few miles of the race. She would walk until I caught up to her, and then sprint ahead, walk until I caught up to her, and then sprint ahead again. Drove me crazy. Lesson: Run with a friend who can be your cheerleader. Or learn to completely ignore everyone around you.

This picture must have been taken before Mile 10 because I was still smiling: 

I stole this picture from someone else's blog. And I'm thinking it must be from a different year because there was no sunshine until the race was over (literally and figuratively). But look how pretty the course is: 

I did really well, mentally, for the first seven miles. But then to think I had to run six more? Not cool. Lesson: Thirteen miles is a lot harder than running seven miles. A lot harder. 

I stole this picture from someone else's blog too. I don't know what mile this was at, but it was right as we were coming down out of the canyon. I love things like this along the course because it keeps me motivated to keep going. Because seriously, it's not like anyone is going to stop and walk by these drummers while they are yelling and chanting at you.

The last three miles were the worst. That's when I started questioning what I was doing and why did I think I could possibly do this. Rachel started calling me, and I was perfectly happy with the excuse to stop and talk to her. But my phone was sweaty and wouldn't work. Stopping was bad. Because then I thought about how everyone was else was finished and I still had three more miles to go. I did quite a bit of walking. Then Sherry texted me and told me she was going to run back and meet up with me so she could help me finish my run. So then I did a little more walking to save up some energy because Sherry certainly wasn't going to let me get away with any walking. It was really hard to watch so many people pass me. I gave it everything I had and ran the last mile. . . although my pace was probably just as slow as if I would have walked. I think I asked three or four race volunteers how far I was from the finish line. I was dead tired. 

I finished with a chip time of 2:24:30. 

But the clock shows my final time as 2:26:20. That means I waited for two minutes after the gun shot before I crossed the start line. (When I ran the Ogden Marathon, I learned that I really don't like the shuffling and fighting for position that happens at the beginning of a crowded race.) Lesson: Placements are calculated based on final time, not chip time. So my overall rank was number 2396, but if I would have started right with the gun shot, I would have been number 2332. (Clearly not a priority to me, but good to know for the future.) 

I can't fully explain my emotions after I crossed the finish line. Everything hit me at once. Triumph, fulfillment, physical exhaustion, mental exhaustion, slight regret (and maybe even embarrassment) for not doing better. I felt like I might have an asthma attack, pass out, cry, and throw up all at the same time. And swear. I definitely felt like swearing. 

Marnie, Brie, and Carsen were standing on the sideline, "Yay! You did it!" they cheered. I'm afraid I might have glared at them. Because at that moment I could barely move my legs. It felt like I had pulled my groin muscles, but apparently, those were my hip flexors telling me we weren't friends.  

My loyal cheerleader was there right as I crossed the line, "You did it! Just keep walking, just keep moving." We posed for this picture about two minutes after I crossed the finish line. I still look like I'm about to cry. 

I was really disappointed with my time until I realized they averaged out to be 11-minute miles. With all of the walking I did, that didn't seem too bad. And given the circumstances, I really shouldn't have expected to do any better. 

Here is Sherry, showing off her well-deserved medal. She was disappointed with her time of 1:44, but she was being crazy because that's a great time! She placed 20th in her age group. Brie placed 8th, Marnie placed 9th.

And Carsen showed everyone up, placing first in her age division. That, right there, is some serious running: 

I'd say I'm lucky to have friends who think I'm a better athlete than I really am. Thanks, Sherry!


Mindy said...

Once again, totally in awe that you are able to do the things you do! Two half marathons, so far, this year?! Bravo my friend. Bravo.

emily ballard said...

No, just one half marathon. The Canyonlands Half Marathon was my first ever! But I probably confused you since I've been playing catch up and posting about races from last year :)

Kim @ The Family Practice said...

What a great place for a long run! The photos are so inspiring. And as you talk about your spi belt I realize that I ordered one and it never arrived... checking on that now.
Thanks for adding me to your blog list :)

Gloria said...

You are awesome and have some great friends that are awesome too!