Canyonlands Half Marathon
Every year I look forward to this race.
I just love everything about it. The course support. The course. The other runners. Every. Single. Thing.
Aron and I headed over the hill to Cody Thursday night. Stayed the night with my parents and then we were on the road to Moab bright and early Friday morning.
I made sure to have a water bottle in hand and kept plenty hydrated the whole way. I think I did my best hydrating for a race this time around. Even though we had to stop a lot so I could go pee. But it sure helped the next day.
We got into Moab around 530 ish. Packet pickup was a breeze. Moab does a pasta dinner and its always so much less stressful to go to the pasta dinner rather than trying to find a place to eat in Moab. I had a good serving of pasta. I felt like I could have eaten more but stopped myself so I didn’t feel icky.
We walked downtown for a little bit and then went to the hotel. I showered and crawled into bed and didn’t have any problem falling asleep.
I slept pretty well the night before and was feeling refreshed when I got up at 6ish.
I got dressed and was ready to go.
We all went down for breakfast in the lobby before I decided that I just wanted some quiet time to myself. So I headed back up to the room and ate my oatmeal by myself.
The buses started loading at 730 to get us up the canyon. Aron and I were on the 2nd bus up.
We found OUR rock and had a seat. I noticed there was a slight breeze, but thankfully it was a down river wind. So I was hopeful to still hit my goals.
I wanted so desperately to hit that 1:45, but knew I would be excited for a new PR.
I had planned on running this race with Trina, but they got on the buses later than us and I thought there was no shot for her to find us at the top with 3000 people wandering around. Aron asked if I wanted him to go walk through the crowd to try and find the other group and I said sure.
He amazingly came back with them!
That’s MY rock!
With the slight breeze it was chilly, but not unbearable.
We sat at the staging area for about 2.5 hours.
Then it was time to head up to the start. And crowd around the starting line for another 30 minutes.
I loved having a group of us at the start line. It helped calm my nerves and not think about things.
We were off and headed down the canyon and on our journey promptly at 10 am.
Mile 1: 7:57
I was a little worried that this mile was going to be too fast, but I just let my legs and body do what it wanted to. I heard Trina and her sister Darci behind me running together. I felt too far into the zone and I was focusing too much on waving in and out of people.
Mile 2: 7:35
Finally the warmth of the sun. The wind was still at my back. But then I soon found myself cursing the sun and was trying to figure out if i could take off my long sleeve under my short sleeve. But then decided against it. I did pitch my gloves though. Around mile 2.5 I saw a little boy up ahead high five-ing some of the runners and then he shied away from it. As I got closer I said “I’ll give you a high five, kid!” He responded with the loudest scream I have heard in a long time. It was the coolest feeling ever. I gave him a giant high five and kept on my way. It was just the boost I need right there. I loved his energy and spirit.
Right after this though I felt my emotions creeping in. I was thinking of those guys and their families. I had to cut back the tears. I can’t run and cry at the same time.
Trina said after I gave the kid the high five, that was the last time she remembers seeing me. She said I just took off and never looked back.
Mile 3: 7:23 Mile 4: 7:27 Mile 5: 7:30
I absolutely loved seeing these first 5 miles under 8:00.
These were pretty uneventful. More sun and dying of heat. My legs were feeling good. I was really happy with my splits. I knew that if I had a headwind coming out of the canyon I was going to need these extra seconds to keep me close to my 1:45 pace. Even though I was way ahead of it at this point.
Mile 6: 8:04
I knew that somewhere close was the aid station with the gels. I have been recently cutting back on gels from when I first started running. But I opted to take a gel here to get me ready for the climb at mile 9ish.
About mile 5.5 was when I realized that it was not going to be a walk in the park to earn that perfect race. We had a giant head wind smack us. Hats were flying off, peoples running came to an immediate fast paced walk. I just prayed that I was still going forward with the wind. I screamed to the guys to get me through this. Get me out of this canyon. I was ready to be on the highway, but still had 5 miles to go. The wind changed direction once we turned around a bend a little and from that point on I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
Mile 7: 7:55
I was trying to make up some lost time on mile 6. I was happy to see a sub 8 again. I just kept pushing forward.
The first year I did this race there was an “unofficial” aid station. They offered beer and whiskey. Last year there was no “unofficial” aid station. This year they returned. They had their little cooker out and were grilling hot dogs, brats, burgers, they had beer and tequila and whiskey. If I wasn’t trying to PR I would have stopped. Plenty of people were stopping and I think this is my favorite part of the whole race. It takes your mind off the pain you could be in or how much farther you have to go. Just puts a perfect smile on your face.
Mile 8: 8:01 Mile 9: 7:44
The wind still couldn’t make up its mind which way it wanted to blow. When it was right in my face I had to keep my head down and think skinny. At one point I seriously thought to myself “I wonder if this will be an easier if I turn sideways and side shuffle.” I never gave it a shot.
Mile 10: 8:20
The most brutal of the whole course. The wind again had decided to blow right into our faces. There was the nice uphill to accomplish also. Those two things combined made me extremely frustrated. On top of that there was a dirt parking lot that was right in the path of the wind and the runners, so we had to run through this giant swirling dirt cloud and be pelted with sand. No fun. I’m thankful to see this was my slowest mile of the day and know exactly why it was. As soon as you topped the hill though it was a big downhill and the wind was at your back big time. I could barely make my legs go fast enough to keep up with the wind.
Mile 11: 8:09
This is always an encouraging mile, because you can see the opening to the canyon; and then always have drums at the middle of this mile. I was getting excited, but wasn’t trying to get too excited. I knew a PR was in my grasp, and depending on the conditions coming out of the canyon a 1:45 was within my grasp. I kept trying to do the math and still had sometime to play with. But then I decided that settling for 1:45 wasn’t good enough. I wanted sub 1:45.
The end of this mile puts you starting on the highway.
Mile 12: 7:40
A tailwind! We have a tailwind! I was thanking the guys for giving me hell in the canyon, and rewarding me with the tailwind out of the canyon! I was never happier! I felt strong on the highway. I was slowly catching people and passing them. I knew we had one aid station left and then the final stretch home. Which is probably one of the longest mentally for me.
Mile 13: 7:42
I grabbed a water, walked through the aid station, ran through their mister and dug deep to finish this thing stronger than ever. I couldn’t wait to see everyone at the finish. I was excited to hear the cheering! To see the finishing chute. I think at this point I knew I was going to go sub 1:45 unless I got hit by a car or scooped up by aliens. Neither of which happened.
Mile .24: 7:07 pace
We had a game plan going in that I would hug the left side of the finishing chute so my family would be able to find me. Plus the bright pink socks helped. I was looking for the sign. I was listening for them because I was sure they would see me before I saw them!
Sure enough, as soon as they saw me they got loud. I could see the clock at this point and it read 1:43:xx. I could feel my face spread into a smile! I was excited to be celebrating with my family and supporters! I was excited to be part of the sub 1:45 club. I had worked hard to get to this point!
This photo makes me so happy. I love zooming in on it and seeing the pure joy on my face. And you can see my little support group to my left.
I crossed the finish with my hands in the air! I had done it! I came and conquered the one thing I have been chasing. I took my time after crossing the finish line. I grabbed a cup of water. I saw my dad and mom and they came over to the barrier and gave me huge high fives! Everyone was so excited. I got to meet Terry who has been a huge supporter of my journey! I also got to meet Linda and George who (as I am told) got up at 0630 that morning to drive over from Richfield to watch me finish (I also later found out it was George’s birthday! So HAPPY BIRTHDAY, and thank you for sharing YOUR day with me!). George gave me the best advice for any runner after a race, “get some chocolate milk and keep moving!” I cannot thank these people enough!! Being able to share this journey with everyone means the world to me.
Overall time: 1:43:01 (HELLO PR!)
310/2921 for the half marathon
78/1724 for women
16/253 for F25-29
I also have to thank those 4 guys that I carried with me. Or maybe they carried me through the race. Either way, we did it together. We accomplished this goal together!
Putting it all into words makes me more emotional than I felt on race day. I know that I didn’t get this giant PR without hard work, but I also didn’t get this PR alone. Every time that I didn’t want to run I had to “remember the reasons I do run. “
I run for those that aren’t with us anymore.
I run for their memory.
I run for their honor.
I run so no one is forgotten.
We all need to continue to remember these guys.
Thank you for the continued support. Thank you for letting me share my story. Thank you for following along and cheering me through the hard times!