Monday, April 26, 2010
SLC Half Marathon
Last year when I was training for the Bear Lake Half, I ran the SLC Marathon 5K as part of my prep (albeit, that day I should have run 8 miles, but still...). As I stood at the finish line watching as the half marathoners came in, I felt a pang of emotion - sadness that it wasn't me finishing my own half, and extreme pride for those that were finishing. I even watched the amazingly talented em-cat cross the finish line - before she was my friend. I SO wanted it to be me - so this year, I made it happen.
The forecast for the weekend was gorgeous - the temperature wasn't going to break 60 degrees until after 10 am, and by that time I would be done and gone. I picked up my packet on Friday and left work a few hours early, ready to mentally prep for Saturday. Saturday, April 17th dawned bright and early - I left the house around 5:50am (an ungodly hour my body only sees on Walk Day) and booked it to the Gateway. I chomped down my banana on the way and made my way to TRAX to head up to the U. I met up with Mya (a gal from my parents neighborhood) and some of her friends to ride the train to the starting line and we chatted a bit, trying really hard to not let the anxiety get to me. I chugged a Vitamin Water on the way up the hill (and it took FOREVER, mainly because of the sheer number of riders), so naturally when we got to the starting line (15 minutes before the shotgun start), I had to pee like crazy. Consequently, so did everyone else.
We stood in line - listened to the sponsors of the race, Mayor Corroon encouraging the racers, the National Anthem, and yup....the shotgun start. I still had my gear bag that I needed to stash with the gear truck for careful transport back to the Gateway - and, you guessed it, we heard the announcement that the gear truck was leaving as well. I wouldn't have cared about my sweatshirt, but my car keys were also in the bag. I made an executive decision to kindly ask a gal in jeans (i.e. a marked non-runner) if she would take my gear bag back to the Gateway and get it with the rest of them. She said she would and I had serious doubts about ever seeing my keys again. But nevermind that, I had a race to run!
I finally started the race (unsure of how late I started, and really hoping I would still be able to cross the finish line relatively close to when I asked my family to arrive) and I knew it would be a great race as I was running down Mario Capecchi and Heartbreak Warfare came up on the 'ole iPod. Love it! The trending for the first stretch was an easy downhill grade and actually quite pleasant.
I got down to about Sugarhouse Park (6 or so miles in) and started to feel it in my hips. I was making sure to adequately hydrate at each aid station, with both water and Powerade, but it wasn't helping matters much. One of the houses along the route was even handing out bacon (why, I'll never know). I kept plugging along, knowing it would all be done soon enough.
I found myself at mile 9 around Liberty Park, and I remembered the few miserable training runs I did there last year. As I made my way out of the park, I realized I was so close to being done, but I was starting the State Street climb - one of the only stretches of road that was pretty moderately uphill. It was at this point that I started seeing an aura in my left field of vision. This has never happened to me before and I was a little freaked out. That hill, and the vision issues all but killed my motivation, and the self-talk got really intense. People were passing me, and I felt like a snail creeping up the road. Perseverance and a few good tunes and I was on South Temple. I saw a guy mouth to the woman in front of me "Only one more mile!" I was so motivated by that!
Working my way along South Temple, I noticed the crowds of spectators becoming more and more prevalent, and I remembered with a swell of pride that my parents would be waiting for me at the finish line. Last year Krista was at the finish line cheering for me, but there's something about having someone who shares your DNA that makes that moment all the more enjoyable. I started watching for them, but never found them in the crowd. I was overcome with such intense emotion and accomplishment as I turned the corner into the Gateway and the finish chute. I remembered the emotions I felt the year before and almost teared up as I started sprinting to the finish. I almost felt defeated as I crossed the finish line with the official time clock reading 2:22:54, and I had to remind myself that I had gotten a late start. I couldn't worry about that - I needed replenishment!
They herded me through the chute and I was bombarded with food and beverage. I wanted to find my parents, and was seriously upset at the length of the lines to pick up your gear bag. I wandered out from the tents and immediately found my parents just outside the menagerie - what a coincidence! We snapped a few pictures, my mom so kindly offered to stand in the ginormous line to get my bag (after I explained what happened, we all started praying that my keys actually ended up at the finish line), and we headed off for breakfast. My second half marathon experience was officially over.
I got home and anxiously pulled up the site to check my official "chip" time. 2:09:31 (overall pace of 9:53). All the emotions of the day again washed over me and my heart swelled with pride. I finished 6 minutes faster than last year, shaving nearly 30 seconds off my pace. It wasn't as fast as I had hoped, but the improvement over last year was enough to make me happy about what I had accomplished. Perhaps I shall entertain thoughts of a third.