Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Denver Rock n' Roll Half Marathon

Woooweeee. Those Rock n' Roll people sure know how to bring in the runners. This was the biggest race I have ever been a part of. There was somewhere around 19,000 people running this thing. And I thoroughly enjoyed being part of such a big group. There have been a lot of times in my races that I end up all by myself, wondering if I'm the last person out there, or that I've taken a wrong turn. There was not a single, solitary moment in this run, which helped tremendously. Not that it made me any faster, this was my slowest half ever, coming in at 3:20:50. Honestly, I walked most of it because of the amount of pain I was in from the first mile until mile 12.5. More about that later though.

The energy that comes with such a huge race is phenomenal. There are so many different shapes, sizes, and abilities represented. Mentally, this race was fantastic. It was a really great way to see the city of Denver. Being able to trot around the big buildings and parks as one solid river of runners was something else. There were many wonderful spectators, and fluffy squirrels. I especially enjoyed the squirrels. The volunteers were all friendly, and the live bands along the course were fun (and some of those band dudes were quite attractive too. I may have walked extra slow past a couple of stages).

It's a good thing that this race had a perfect mental set up, because physically, it was a nightmare. The course was fine, not really difficult or anything. It was my body that was causing all the grief. I have learned that 8 hours of driving with minimal rest stops and stretching will cause your IT bands to tighten to a level you didn't know was possible. We all know how it feels when you take a long car trip, the stiffness, the aches. Well, I found out that trying to run a race after driving that far doesn't work out in such an awesome manner.

I was actually feeling pretty sassy before the race. I felt a tiny bit stiff, but nothing to be alarmed about. And then we started running. The first few miles of any race are always rough for me. I take a while to warm up. But this was different. The tightness in my hips and down my legs wasn't going away. And so I walked. And walked. And then I would shuffle along at a snail's pace, followed by more walking. And squirrel watching. I'll tell you what, a cute fluffy squirrel really takes my mind off of pain. Who knew? When I hit mile 12, I told myself that I had walked enough and I was going to run that last mile, even if it killed me. So I started into zombie mode, scuffling my way along. At least I was able to out-scuffle quite a few people in that last mile. I just kept it up until about mile 12.5, things finally loosened up, just enough to actually look like I was running. The last bit was a nice downhill slope and I was able to crank it up and cross the finish line looking like a running rock star. No one had to know that I was only able to rock that race for the last half mile.

All in all, despite the pain, I had a fantastic time in Denver. I definitely want to do this one again, and I'm really excited about the Rock n' Roll half in Las Vegas coming up in December.

And thus concludes my 13th half marathon :)
Happy running!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Top of Utah Marathon

Running is teaching me things. Things like running 26.2 miles is really hard. The first 18 or so are kind of fun really, but then things go south. After mile 18, I start wondering why. Why am I doing this? Why did I think this would be a good way to spend my Saturday morning? Why does everyone in the entire world run faster than I do? Why do I keep signing up for races with a time limit I can't beat?

I know that all sounds pretty negative. But that's what went through my head on this, my third full marathon. But here's the thing. I'm not sorry about doing it. I'm not sorry that I am questioning things like my motivation, among other things. I probably should figure out why, in the last year, I have gone from an anti-runite, to a full blow insane race running fool. The current top theory is that I'm trying to fill a void in my life. Perhaps this is true. At least filling it with a healthy activity is much better than the other things I could be doing? But then again, this is only a theory. I have realized that I am in love with the idea of running. I have a runner's mind, just not a runner's body. Maybe one of these days the twain shall meet.

Enough of that for now, on to the race report. The Top of Utah Marathon has some really lovely parts. Basically, the first 19 miles are pretty delightful. Then it turns boring. And hilly. I don't really enjoy running hills at the end of a marathon. I'm not that level of crazy yet. We spent the last 7 miles running through blase neighborhoods. The final insult came at mile 23 when we had to run right past the finish arch for another 3 miles. There's nothing like the mental blow that comes from seeing the end and knowing you're still so far away.

I was doing quite well those first 18 miles. Sure, I was a little tired, but I was on track to finish in under 6 hours. But all the hills, boring scenery, and fatigue caught up with me and I finished in 6:31:22. I wish I could just get to the point where the last bit of a marathon wasn't so rough. I hope I get to that point before two weeks from now. I've got another one to run down the Monte Cristo canyon in Huntsville. And that one has a strict 6 hour limit... It's a good thing the whole race is downhill, I just might make it.

I know this hasn't been the peppiest of blogs, but look at the pictures. I'm smiling. During and after even. I guess it really wasn't that bad then, huh.

Happy running everyone :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

3 race reports in one!

Let's hope this three for one is a one time offer... In the three and a half weeks since my Park City marathon, I have run three other races. The first one was a 5K called the Kiss Me Dirty 5K. It was a mud run for women's cancer research. It was a nice event, low key, no timing to worry about. Which I was glad of, since I was still in recovery mode from Park City.

The next weekend was the Only Half Crazy Half Marathon, which started in Herriman and ended in South Jordan. They had made it sound like it was this down hill course. And it really wasn't. Sure, the first two miles were down a little canyon, but then we wound up through some foothills. I was really not happy about how much uphill there really was. Even with it being two weeks since Park City, I was nowhere near mentally able to handle the hills. Talk about PTSD. I finished in my second slowest time, but I was just happy to finish. The race had to start half an hour late due to all the lightning that was happening. I met another Half Fanatic at this race. It's always nice to meet more crazy people like me. It was an interesting day all the way around.

The third race, my favorite race, the Mt. Nebo Half Marathon, was last Saturday. Some of you may remember that this was my first ever half marathon last year. I was so excited to be able to run this race for a second time. There's something wonderful in running a course you've run before. I finished this race in my 3rd fastest time, not as fast as my first time running it, but not that far off. I must say, I enjoyed it even more this time because I actually knew how to pace myself and didn't bonk at mile 9. It was a gorgeous day for a race. It never got too hot and I was prepared for the cold start with a blanket and thicker jacket.

The Mt. Nebo Half was also my last race for Run the Slam. This was a half marathon challenge to run 4 of 6 half marathons in Utah County. I ended up getting two extra medals for the alternate races that I ran as well. It was a fun little program, I love all the extra bling, of course :)

This September is my fullest month for racing. I have 3 more races before it's over, and two of them are full marathons. It should be worth it though, since it will gain me entrance into the Marathon Maniacs!

I'll do my best to write up better, more descriptive blog posts on a more regular schedule. Happy running!