Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Striders Memorial Day Half Marathon - 5/30/11

When I planned a trip to go visit my sister, brother-in-law, and three month old nephew, Colton, in Salt Lake City, I checked to see what races were going on in the area. I found two, one on Memorial Day, and one the following Saturday. I registered for both. Four days before the Memorial Day race, I got an email from the race director saying that it was canceled. Now for me, besides the disappointment factor, it wasn't a big deal, but I felt awful for all the people who put in some serious training in order to run it, especially for those who it was going to be their first. Being that my heart was now set on running a half marathon on Memorial Day, I checked to see what else was out there. Thankfully, I found another one in Syracuse, UT. The best part about it was that there was also a 5k for this event which meant my sister, and friend Maura, who was also visiting from Texas, would be able to join me.

Syracuse is 45 minutes away from my sisters house in SLC, and being that my race started at 6:45a, we were on our way by 5:30a in order to allow time to check in and pick up our bibs. The entire way there it was pouring, and it was definitely cold out. Having checked the hourly weather report, I knew that there was going to be a clearing around 7a that would last only about an hour. Sure enough, after we picked up our bibs, the weather cleared and the rain stopped. This was a small race, and the proceeds went to benefit the NO MORE VICTIMS foundation which is a charity organization set up to help kids who have fallen victim to sexual abuse.

I parted ways from Kim and Maura and went to wait for my race to begin. The race start was a big orange cone, no frills, no chip mats, just a guy saying "ready, set, go" over a megaphone. All 139 of us set off through the farmland of Syracuse, UT. Over the first three miles, I was freezing. Thankful it wasn't raining, but I was numbed to the core. My hands hurt pretty bad, and I couldn't feel my toes. My pace started out strong and I decided I'd try to keep it going as long as I could. We ran along country roads that were lined with horses on one side and cows on the other. It had rained so much leading up to the race that the sides of the road were basically swamps. Eventually, we found ourselves running along a nice, paved trail and I finally started to thaw out a bit.

This was an out and back course, and like last weekend, I was at mile six when the I saw the leader running back toward the finish. I'd been monitoring my splits and I was managing to keep my pace well under an eight minute mile. I tried to count the number of females ahead of me, but I somehow lost count, but I knew there were only a few. It was a few miles later that I realized just how bad I needed to go to the bathroom. This actually started at mile two, but only got worse as the race went on. When mile ten hit, I actually debated using the portos, but I knew I was on track to kill my PR, and break my goal of 1:45 easily, and I just wasn't willing to risk losing the time, so I sucked it up, and pushed on.

It was around mile nine when the skies began to get dark and the hail started. The hail was small, and I actually preferred it over rain since I wasn't getting wet. At mile 11, we came upon Jensen Nature Park which is were the finish was. We'd make one big loop around it before reaching the finish. As we crossed a small bridge to begin the loop, there were a number of spectators there waiting to cheer on their family and friends, including Kim and Maura, who had already finished their race.

Those last two miles were tough. Mostly because I had to go the bathroom so bad I couldn't think of anything else. In the last mile, I was passed by two women, one of which I knew I could overtake again, but couldn't increase my speed because the faster pace made me have to go the bathroom even more. It was torture. TORTURE. About a half mile to the end, there was a puddle at least ten yards long that we had to cross. The water came well above my ankles, and we all sloshed through it, coming out on the other side with soaked socks and shoes. I made the final push to the end knowing I was going to be extremely pleased with my finishing time.

that's me crossing the finishing line

I crossed the finish with a 1:42:14. That's a 7:50 pace. I'd easily broken an eight minute mile. Happy couldn't begin to describe my emotion, but nature was calling (LOUDLY), and I literally ran to the bathroom. After, I was finally able to relax and revel in my time. The thing that I was so pleased with is that I was able to keep my pace so consistent. For miles one through ten, my pace ranged from 7:40 - 7:55, with only miles eleven and twelve dropping to 8:10, and 8:11 respectively, before I once again picked it back up and finished the last mile in 7:58.

When I got back from the bathroom, I noticed Kim and Maura both wearing medals around their necks. Turns out, they both placed third in their age groups for the 5k, and neither had any idea, until they checked their standings. They told me that I was the sixth female runner to finish, so I knew we had to stick around for the half marathon award ceremony in case I was going to place in my age group. At this point, it was raining and freezing once again. We stood under an overhang, shivering, while eating gigantic costco muffins. When the award ceremony finally started, I took second in my division. We all felt pretty good leaving with medals around our necks, and I was once again reminded how much fun it is to run races with family and friends

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