This past weekend was a race weekend in the Foulser/Krah household! OK, the weekend may be long gone at this point, but I still need to tell you about our half marathon.
While running isn’t the focus of this blog, it’s definitely part of my life. I selfishly like sharing these race recaps so that I can look back at them later. There’s nothing to remind me how painful a half marathon is like re-reading how I felt about it just after (OK, a few days after) finishing. I hope you’ll indulge me. After all, in my real life I have to balance out all that granola somehow.
So: the race. It was the Provo City Half Marathon in Provo, UT, about 45 minutes south of Salt Lake. Provo is not exactly a hot travel destination (it’s beautiful but extremely boring), but we signed up for this race because it was a scenic down-canyon route. Just enough downhill to speed things up a bit without pounding the knees too much. My friend Kate and I decided a few months ago to run it, and Nate ended up joining us.
I was excited for this race because the only half I’ve ever run is The Other Half down in Moab, which has some pretty tough hills in the second half of the race. Everyone has told me that I could run a faster time if I just picked an easier course! Aaaand they were right.
Because it was a point-to-point race, we had to take busses to the start. And the busses left between 4:30-5:30 am! Nate and I opted to stay down in Provo the night before to get an extra 45 minutes of sleep, but even so, our alarm went off at 3:45. Surprisingly not too terrible – we ended up getting 6 hours of sleep. You can’t ask for much more before an early race like that. We fueled up with some coffee, oatmeal, almond butter and bananas. That’s pretty close to our regular breakfast, which is my best pre-race eating strategy – just eat whatever you’d usually eat. (Except we usually have muuuch better coffee!)
So, we bussed up to the start, and then had an hour and a half to wait out in the cold. At first it wasn’t too bad – we huddled around one of the fires they had – but then Nate texted to tell Kate and me to get in the bathroom line because it was taking a really long time. We reluctantly ditched the fire, and that’s when things started to get REALLY cold. There were nowhere near enough port-a-potties, and even though we got in line 45 minutes before the start of the race, we were still waiting in line when the race started. That’s right, we missed the start of the race! Talk about nerve-wracking. Luckily it was chip timed, so we just jogged up to the starting line after finally getting to use the bathroom, stepped on the mat, and started our own race about 3 minutes behind everyone else. Nate made it to the starting line just fine, which is good, since he was actually racing to win, unlike the rest of us peasants who are only racing the clock :)
Kate and I split up immediately (she’s much faster!), and after all those nerves in the bathroom line, it was actually a relaxing start to the race. Just running down a canyon by myself, no different from any other Saturday morning run I’d do! Except that I was really cold. I couldn’t feel my toes for the first mile or so, and my first two miles, while the steepest downhill, ended up being my slowest miles of the race. I’m not sorry about that, because I can’t imagine how I would have felt at the end if I’d started out faster, but I really wish we hadn’t had to wait in the cold bathroom line away from the fires for 45 minutes. It might have saved me some time!
(Image courtesy of Xotio)
Because we started out behind, I was passing people most of the race. On the narrow canyon path, passing the pace groups was pretty annoying – I was worried I would trip someone, and that I was just generally being a nuisance by weaving around people. Oh well, what can you do? At least it was a good feeling every time I caught up to a faster pace group (and I knew I was 3 minutes ahead of their pace). It took me most of the race to catch up to people who were running my speed.
The first half of the race, I barely looked at my watch, except when it beeped with my mile splits. Looking good – right on pace with 8 minute miles! Then during mile 7, I noticed I was looking at my watch a LOT more – that easy first half was done, and I was definitely starting to get tired.
(Image courtesy of Xotio)
A mile or two after that, we turned out of the canyon onto the streets of Provo to finish out the last 4 miles or so. Somewhere around mile 9 or 10, I passed a group of guys running together and talking loudly. As I passed, I heard one say something quietly. Clearly about me, but whatever. A few seconds later, a woman behind me started to chew the guy out. “I’ve been running behind you, and I see your ass jiggling when you run, too! Let me tell you, it ain’t pretty!” Great. I had no breath to waste on comebacks (plus the woman behind me was doing a pretty good job), but in my head I was all really, you’re commenting on the size of my ass? because I’m pretty sure I’m kicking yours! Seriously, what is with these people. Yep, I can move pretty fast for the size of my butt! And I’m guessing he felt a little down on himself that a not-runner-skinny girl could zoom past him in the last few miles of a race. /endrant
Mile 10 was where things started to get tough. Thinking back to my half marathon in October, I had assumed I would be able to finish this one strong, too. But I had no such gas left in the tank this time around. The course had flattened out, which is brutal after miles of running slightly downhill. I amused myself by listening to conversations as I passed the 1:50 pace group around mile 11. (There was an 11-year old kid running with the pacer but struggling, and she was trying to convince him to hang on for last 2 miles. 11 years old!) The distance on my watch just seemed like it wasn’t moving, and the worst was when we turned a corner and could see the finish line from 2 miles away. That is WAY TOO LONG to be able to see the finish line for! I thought it would never end.
Luckily, Nate was there! I had told him before the race that if he just happened to find me at the end (like he did during my last race), I wouldn’t complain. Thank god for supportive fiances! I saw him with about a mile and a half to go. He turned around from his cool-down and finished out my race with me. I was struggling and needed the boost so badly. I tried to get him to tell me stories – anything to get my mind off the race – but mostly we just ran in silence. Well, if you count my ragged breathing as silence! That last 10-15 minutes of the race dragged on for.ever.
(Image courtesy of Xotio)
Yep, that’s about how I felt when I finally made it to the finish line! No shame – I am just not at my most attractive when I’m running :)
I saw high 1:47s on the clock and was a little disappointed… still a PR, but I thought I’d been pacing faster than that. Then I remembered that I had started about 3 minutes behind – hoorayyyy! I finished with an official time of 1:44:50 – exactly 8:00 pace.
I was soooo glad to be done, and even happier to have just PRed by over 10 minutes! So far I’ve set a dangerous precedent by PRing in every half marathon I’ve run. Not sure I can keep that up, because I really don’t think I can run any faster than I ran this race! 8 minute miles are no big deal for some, but for me – yeesh. The downhill course definitely helped out, and probably cut 5 minutes off my previous PR, but I really do think the other half was due to training. I started lifting weights a few times a week after my last half, and had a better base going into this race than previous ones. I was pretty happy with the results!
Nate, of course, is super speedy and came in 2nd overall with a time of 1:07:05, a PR of a few seconds. And Kate finished 3rd in our age group (um, the most competitive age group) just under 1:37. Crazy fast, those two!
Nate and I celebrated with brunch and beer. And then I celebrated with a nap! I don’t usually nap, but sometimes a girl just needs a nap after a long run or race. It’s the best recovery there is. Even better than beer… maybe.
Well that’s a wrap on this race! As painful as it was, I was thinking within minutes about the next half I should run. I was originally planning on waiting until October… but why lose my fitness in the meantime? After another week or so of taking it easy, I think I’ll start up my training again and run another half in July. Whaaaaat is wrong with me?! Running is just addictive, I tell ya.
Are you running any summer races?