This year in Vernal, things were a big ball of stress and anguish. Well, not the whole time, just the part where I was trying to get to the race. The night before went well enough. We found a little place to get some pasta for the ever important carb-load. I had time to relax and do some foam rolling before bed. I woke up perfectly on time and proceeded to slather myself in body glide and sunscreen. My mother, AKA photographer/race chauffeur, and I headed out the door and on the way to the bus pick up.
Here's where the tranquil trip turned into the big ball of stress and anguish. Well, the stress part started when I realized that I had left my water bottle and energy gels back at the hotel. We flip the car around and head back to the hotel, trying to keep the speed within the reasonable limits of the law. I calmed down somewhat when I realized we had just enough time to get the bottle/gels and make it back to the bus pick up just in time to catch the last bus. I run into the hotel, grab the forgotten nutrition and sprint back to the car. We start off again. We get even closer to the bus pick up, a mere couple of minutes away, and I have a sudden, horrible realization. Here's the anguish part. I don't have my race bib. Perhaps the most essential piece of running paraphernalia. It's the key piece that lets you on the bus in the first place. It has my timing chip on the back. It's how to find your official race pictures taken during the course. And I had left it, sitting under my stuffed dinosaur, Mr. Mittens, back at the hotel. I start hyperventilating and having a panic attack. I don't have time to get back to the hotel and back to the bus pick up in time. But I can't run the race without the bib. So we turn the car around again, and burn rubber back to the hotel of forgetfulness, for what I prayed was the last time that morning. I grab the race bib and we're off yet again. If all else fails, we can drive up the course ourselves and drop me off at the start. This is what I keep telling myself, to keep the bawling to a minimum. Just let them try and stop me. We careen into the parking lot of the school where the bus is supposed to be. No bus. But, wait. There are people. Quite a few people. Standing there in their race clothes, bibs and all. Standing. Waiting for the bus. HALLELUJAH. I was late, but so was the last bus. And that's when my heart stopped trying to pound its way right out of my chest and the adrenaline had a chance to work its way out of my system.
Looking back, I realize the level of panic and freaking out that happened may not make sense to other people. It's also a little obvious that I might be a tad obsessed with racing. The thought of not being able to run that race was heartbreaking. It was not an option. We all have our things. Don't judge me.
Then things were just fine. Because of the bus's lateness, I didn't have to stand around in the cold canyon waiting for the race to start. It started off well for me and my fellow racers. Up until around mile two, when a poor woman ended up smashing her face on the road. I only saw the aftermath, and it wasn't pretty. She had blood streaming down her face and the pacer had called in a vehicle to come pick her up. I made a conscious effort to watch my footing the rest of the race. Canyon? What canyon? All I see are my feet, not tripping and making me die.
Once the road smoothed out some, I could relax my vigilant feet watching and enjoy the race somewhat. I love this course. It's such a nice, gradual course. The ups aren't too uppy, the downs aren't too downy. It was one of my faster races last year and it was my fastest of this year. Although I didn't beat last year's time, I was only about 30 seconds slower. I felt really good through the whole thing and wasn't as sore afterwards. I take that as a good sign.
I saw this giant orange dinosaur walking by a hotel the night before the race and started giggling like a school girl. And then it was at the race. Best day ever? It's quite possible.
The front of the medal, a sweet fleshed out stegosaurus. The back, the skeletal version. Best medal ever? It's quite possible.
The small town of Vernal, Utah really knows how to put on a good race. I'll be doing this one every year for the rest of my life. In case anyone hadn't noticed, I have a bit of a "thing" for dinosaurs. And running. You add the two together and I'm powerless to resist.
Next up, two more half marathons and then the big one. The Utah Valley Marathon. I'm oscillating between sheer terror and massive excitement. I've done this before. I can do it again. Now what I want is to actually finish a dang marathon in LESS than 6 hours. I CAN DO THIS!!! (Right? Right?!)
Until then, happy running :)