Racing while traveling is tricky, right? You are sleeping in a different bed*, eating different foods, maybe sight-seeing… you might be in a different time zone, at a higher altitude… you’re out of your comfort zone! Ha ha ha. All of these things describe the setup for running the Salt Lake City (SLC) Half Marathon last Saturday.
But! I love to race when I visit a new place. What an awesome way to see the city, and wonderful opportunity to meet and chat up with local folks! So. It’s totally worth it to me to run the race, even if I know “conditions” aren’t ideal.**
I’ve had a great training season this year. I thrive running in the cold and dark, and I got a lot of miles in. I was hoping for a PR at the SLC half. I only had two concerns: the altitude and lack of course elevation map. Okay, let’s add two more – eating strange foods and not getting much sleep. Okay, one more (ha!) – hiking the day before.
What?! I was not supposed to hike up a steep 350′ incline the night before the race to get views of the city?
Or eat delicious vegan baked goods (I only had (parts of) two!!!)?
Or eat dinner at 10:30? Go to bed past 12:00 and get up at 5:00?
Pssssh. I didn’t want to miss a thing in SLC. Ha! I thoroughly enjoyed my pre-race day.
I am really good at dragging this out, aren’t I? Ha ha ha. You guys know I will keep the actual race part short and sweet. But first.
I went on a short run Thursday night with Marty*** to test out how I felt running “at altitude.” Er… my lungs felt like they had a little furnace in them right away. No bueno. Obviously, this picture of Marty and me is taken pre-furnace.
So Saturday morning, I didn’t know what to expect. I decided to start out at a PR pace, and back off if I needed to.
I was NOT expecting to feel so emotional before the race. I rode TRAX from my hotel in downtown SLC, to get to the start line at U of U. Two stops before the final destination, bomb-sniffing dogs came on. The bomb squad was at the start. Police were everywhere. A helicopter flew overhead before the race and for the entire event. Everyone had Boston gear on. They were handing out these bracelets. I had my Boston ribbons on.
(last picture is post race)
I was choked up.
But spending time before the race chatting with other runners calmed me. Long conversations, just getting to know people. I ran in to a guy I met at the expo, remembered his name, and we chatted some more. I talked to people in my pace group. Introduced myself. Learned a lot of tidbits about people.
It was a great feeling. I really do love talking to other runners and connecting with people. And the thing is… the community is always like this. Not just post tragic-event. But that has put it in to perspective.
An interesting tidbit – “Sweet Caroline” was played at the start. I didn’t understand the significance until I read the paper the next day. Now, I can’t get it out of my head!
Alright. Let’s get going.
Did I mention it started raining about an hour before the race? And never stopped the whole damn time? Hee hee. I do love running in the rain. It felt awesome. The only sad part is that it was super foggy and the mountain views were not as clear as I was hoping. Darn.
I started with the 1:50 pacer. Following my plan to stick with pace and drop back if the altitude got to me.
That worked for five miles. Yep! That’s it! This (newly designed) course is a net downhill of 600′ (elevation line in green below – click to see larger)! Wheeeee! But! There are a few uphills in there too. And my heart rate was super high on those. I kept losing the pacer on the uphills, then trying to catch up. Oops. I’ve become a lot stronger on uphills, but that is where the lack of O2 got to me. I had to back it off to play it safe. So I slowed down and just enjoyed the race – and more downhills!
I smiled. I thanked the tons of police officers. I thought about how grateful I was to be able to run. I thought about how I run because I love to – not always for PRs. I talked to other runners. Someone who was in my pace group (Cami) caught me and passed me… but then we ran the last final miles together. She kept thanking me for being so strong and pulling her in. I felt fabulous! Just had to be careful on those few uphills.
And Marty was there. Waiting in the rain for a long time, to see me run. What an awesome friend (and we had met for the first time two days prior)! I definitely got a second wind after seeing him!
In case you want to see what supination looks like.
It was such an enjoyable race. I feel so lucky that it was going on the weekend I was there. And I also feel lucky that Marty was there and came to the finish (and later gave me a ride to my hotel), because DAMN! I was freezing after I finished! Ha ha! I had a bag with a long sleeved shirt and a light jacket in gear check. The bag was sitting out in the rain. My hands were so cold I couldn’t tell if the jacket in my bag was wet or dry. I had to have someone check for me. Ha ha ha.
Oh! My finish time! 1:54:54. 40 seconds off my PR! Ha! And I added a bit of extra mileage with my weaving. Round of applause to Kim…
Edited to add: 50 seconds off my PR. Derp. Math bad Kim no smart. My PR is 1:54:06. So. No PR for Kim.
I would love to run this race again. I kind of fell in love with Utah. And imagine I would more, if I saw the rest of the state.
So, what’s next? Derp. Find a 5K to run this week. I am coming from a higher altitude! Let’s see if those legs have some speed in them!
Just kidding. My favorite half – the Wisconsin Half Marathon – is coming up on May 4th**** I already told my BIL I am ditching him and going for the gold. I have a pacer lined up and everything. Boo yah. Unless I decide I don’t feel like running fast that day.
And if you made it this far in this post, applause to you! I reward***** you with this funny picture of my sudsy knees during the race! I would like to hear if anyone else has ever had sudsy clothes during a race or run? Ha ha.
*We won’t mention the part about sleeping next to a loud snorer.
**How do the elites do it? I suppose they get to the location early to acclimate.
***More about my awesome time with Marty later this week!
****May the fourth be with you!
*****Not much of a reward since I already posted it on my blog FB page.