Saturday, September 3rd I raced in the Nebo Half Marathon. This came as a suggestion from several friends who said it was a fast course. I signed up nearly a year ago and just knew I would be dedicated and put in the training to run a fast half.
I should know myself better by now and know that consistent training isn’t something I’m good at. But I figured I had ran Timp Half about a month ago so I should be fine.
As usual, it was a very early morning but I slept pretty good…like a solid 3 hours. That’s a big deal on race morning. I was able to snag a ride from my friendly neighbors again (seriously they’re the best). And before I knew it we were on the first bus up the canyon. I’ve never been on the first before; normally I’m running to catch the last one. You couldn’t help but notice how steep the canyon was. This was both exciting and terrifying.
Since I had nearly two hours before the start of the race, I pulled up myself a nice piece of gravel and plopped down by the fire. It was fun chatting with the other runners. I talked with two girls who were still pretty new at distance races and they were so nervous. It reminded me a lot of myself with my friend Bethany, the awesome (but really, she is awesome) a few years ago.
After a long wait for the porta potty it was time to go. I had decided I would just run whatever pace my body wanted to go. In the back of my mind though, I kept hearing myself say, “If you’re going to PR this year, this is it”. The gun went off and I started running.
I didn’t want to stay with a pacer but knew which pacers I wanted to stay in front of. This proved to be helpful as things got a little tough near the end of the race. At mile 2.89 I looked at my watch and thought, “Crap this is steep”. My legs were feeling all that downhill and I wasn’t even 1/4 of the way done. That’s what you get for not training I suppose. So like all champions (not) I put on my big girl pants and kept running.
I didn’t want to psych myself out so I tried not to look at my watch but knew my pace was moving quick. I learned a trick about downhill running from a coach at the St. George Marathon expo a few years ago and tried to implement it. She taught Bethany and I to treat running downhill as if it were a controlled fall. Not to brake by heel striking but actually lean into the pavement. It works! That marathon we both felt great–no quad shredding that year.
So I tried my best to “control-fall” my way down this steep and winding canyon. I really tried to enjoy the beauty of the canyon with the leaves starting to turn. Appreciating fall comes naturally to some but for me and my love of Summer, it makes me sad. 😦 So, yes, I tried to look at the fall colors and appreciate the beauty.
Anyway, it felt like I flew down the canyon and figured I’d hit the wall at 10 like usual. 10 was when the rolling hills started–it was tough to go up after all that down. This is where I met a guy who kept giving me encouragement all the way to the finish. He was breathing really hard though so I’m not entirely sure if the encouragement was for me or him. Either way I appreciated it. Also, there was a guy behind me that at every mile marker he would make a whooping/celebratory sound. I always raised my arms up because he was expressing what I was feeling.
Around 10ish is when I realized I hadn’t seen the 1:50 pacer yet nor been passed by the 1:55 pacer. I was on course to PR so I pushed out what I had. We finished with a 3/4 lap around the track which I always like because it inspires me to give all I have (you know, back to my track sprinting glory days).
I finished with a new PR of 1:50:26! This was amazing! I actually felt disappointed that I wasn’t more excited. But that could be because Mike wasn’t at the finish to celebrate with me…or anyone. This is the first race that Mike didn’t come to…or is it the second…I don’t know but it’s unusual for him to miss. It just didn’t feel the same without him.
I found myself my favorite chocolate milk and creamies. Took some victory photos and waited for others I knew to come in. I got to welcome Sheila in (aka running mom). It’s always a pleasure to see and catch up with Sheila. She’ll be running her 10th St. George Marathon this year. She’s amazing.
I was excited to share my PR with my running peeps who actually care; or at least they make me feel like they care about my running.
It was a beautiful, fast course just as promised.