This week has been absolutely insane. Between finals, meetings, social obligations, unexpected family visits, seemingly stupid decisions about things like the Travis concert and a random new business opportunity, I have had no time. None. And what do I do when there aren’t enough hours in the day? Take them from the night. Sleep has not been super high on the priority list (one “night” I found myself finally getting to sleep at 4:30 am…only to get up at 7:00 am for a meeting).
All of this is to say that last night, before heading up to Salt Lake to meet up with Anne (my second trip to Salt Lake for the day), I really had little intention of actually running the Salt Lake City Half Marathon. I was exhausted and I hadn’t been running since Moab, which was three weeks ago. I don’t think I posted much about that race, if anything…probably because it was a miserable experience. Miserable! One more reason not to run a half marathon this morning.
But then I started driving. I thought about Anne, who’d flown all the way out here from D.C., and the fact that I said I would do it with her. Not that she flew out here because of me (she was doing it anyway), but I had made a commitment. On top of that, I wanted to run with Anne. It had been way too long. Anne will forever be my favorite running buddy (with Christy and Jen right behind, oh, and Hannah) because we ran our first marathon together…as blogging friends. So, sometime between P-town and SLC I made up my mind to just do it. After the horrible experience that was Moab this year, I figured I could handle anything. And while I haven’t run in three weeks, the last time I did, I finished a half marathon–notice I didn’t say “I ran a half marathon.”
We got ready for bed (thanks to Anne’s fabulous sister who put us up for the night) and I was setting my alarm for 4:55 am I wondered, again, what the hell I was thinking, but at this point I was committed. We got up, got ready, and headed out.
A quick side note: 1.5 years ago, when I ran my first (and only, thus far) marathon, it was days of preparation…having nothing to do with training. I had my fuel belt (mine is actually by Nathan), Shot Bloks, SportShield, Gatorade, Nike+, camera, hat, etc, etc, all ready to go. Fast-forward to today. Nothing of the past except for SportShield (I will never run distance without it) and music, only even that has changed: an iPod shuffle. I have no pictures. I ran with no fuel belt. I even forgot my one pack of Shot Blocks. And now, instead of my Nike+ to tell me how I’m doing, I use…a watch. Yep. One that does lap splits. And I’ve added (because Anne showed me how) Kinesio Tape to my knees, a la Kerri Walsh. I think I kind of feel like a runner. A real runner.
Anyway, we got ready to go and headed to Gateway where we could park and catch Trax to the starting line. We got up there and had just enough time to drop our bags (all warm clothing inside of them) and get to the start. In fact, I was tying my shoes when the gun went off. (For those of you who have never run a long race before, if you are not an elite runner, it just doesn’t really matter when you cross the starting line. That’s why they do chip timing.)
I was a little apprehensive about this race. I hadn’t checked the course at all, but I knew that it was all on city streets. Every long race I’ve ever done has been out in “nature” with only the last few miles “in town”…and I hate the monotony of the last few miles. As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. Salt Lake is full of so many great neighborhoods with these fantastic houses, that I was happy as could be (until we got to State Street).
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I had two goals for this race. One was to run as long as possible before walking. The other was to finish faster than Moab (the last time). The mistake I made (or one of the many mistakes I made) in Moab was starting out way to fast. My first mile had been at a pace that I can’t even sustain for two miles. It was stupid. So today, I was determined to go s-l-o-w at the beginning.
The excitement of the race makes most people start out too fast (most inexperienced people, I should say). It was really hard to be disciplined. Eventually, though, I figured out that if I could comfortable talk to Anne, I was going slow enough. And talking to Anne was seriously the highlight of the race, with running into Zach right up there. (We met Zach through blogging while training for St. George in 2007. During that race, he came running after us to say hi. Today it was the opposite.)
We seriously just cruised right along. Just after mile 5 Anne’s darling mom (who I’d met for the first time in St. George) met up with us, holding cute signs with our names on them, and prepared with all kinds of sustenance. We opted for some grapes. And we kept going. I think it was right around this point that I decided I could run the whole freaking thing. I had been talking about it, but then something clicked, and I knew that, if there was any possible way, I would run all 13.1 miles.
We ran together for 7.5 miles before Anne needed a potty break. We didn’t get to go before the race because the lines were too long, but since I didn’t have to go, I left Anne behind. I know that might sound bad, but that’s how we’d both prefer it. Neither one of us likes to feel like we’re holding the other person back. It’s too much pressure.
The race went on. Eventually, the first-place FULL marathoner passed me. It was kind of awesome. I’ve never run a combined race before, so this was a new experience. It was inspirational, really. All was going well until just before mile 11 and the stupid State Street hill, as you head north toward the capital building. I made it to 11.75 before realizing that I just couldn’t run the rest. So I walked…but I promised myself it would only be the 1/4 mile to the top of the hill. As I approached the crest, I focused on a cone and determined that I would start running when I passed it. And run I did. The rest of the race. With enough every level to sprint the chute. And the sprint at the end was almost ethereal.
And I was done. I finished under my goal (both the clock time and chip time…there was a 4-minute discrepancy) and I felt great. Okay, minus the cramps in my gluteus medius (yes, that specific) and my right calf.
Anne came in not too long after me and that was that. Oh, except for the part where we got Ben’s Cookies. At times, the thought of those cookies was what kept me going.
All in all, I am really proud of us! We did a great job…under trained as we both were. And I feel pretty good…other than the fact that I might need a hip replacement. J/K. It’s just killing me.
So, here’s the list of things I learned/was reminded of today:
- I love my new iPod shuffle! (Purchased with credit card points.)
- Kinesio Tape = Happy, happy knees.
- My distance running pace is whatever pace that allows me to keep talking while running.
- I’m so glad my dad used to drive us around looking at houses on Sundays…it made today super enjoyable.
- The Salt Lake Marathon (and half, 5K, and bike whatever) is pretty awesome.
- I can easily run 13.1 miles without needing to use a port-o-john.
- I love running with Anne.
- Reverse splits are possible.
- I don’t need a fuel belt for this distance.
- I am so incredibly grateful to have a body that will allow me to do things like this. I realize that not everyone could for various reasons; although we did see a woman today running with a prosthetic foot–one that was made for running.
Races to date: nine 5k’s, one 10k, four half marathons, one full marathon, and one 178-mile relay over the past 2 years and 4 months. I’m feeling pretty good about myself right now.
And with that…goodnight! Time to get some much needed sleep…except for the fact that I need to finish a paper tonight. Or maybe I’ll just wait until tomorrow. I’m exhausted.