I will never know if it was the result of two of the most perfect days of my entire life, spent hiking, climbing, crawling, and basking in the Utah desert,
or my trusty pre-race breakfast of peanut butter toast and a banana that turned this race from a planned, “enjoyable run” to a very unintentional new PR. All I do know is that to say my finish time was a shock would be the understatement of the century!
When I signed up to run my dream race, the Canyonlands Half Marathon, in my favorite place on earth, Moab Utah, was to run the race, relishing every glorious moment of red rock canyon running.
The two days leading up to the race were spent hiking and exploring the red rock. Somehow I am not sure that is what Runner’s World would advise before running a half :)
Thursday morning, after a 4 miles, “easy” shake out run, I came to the stark realization the the semi-easy 8 minute pace I planned might need to be adjusted. After the day’s hiking, knew it would need to be! I would be lying if saying committing to a 9 minute pace in order to accomplish my primary goal of enjoying the race was easy to accept. My strategy was to screw my time from the beginning by running slower with my brother – negating the possibility of a quick race from the start :)
The 10am start time saw us boarding the buses at 7:30 to head up the canyon to the start.
Holy. Wind. The next 1.5 hours, the fittest most savvy group of runners (that is what you get at a race in an outdoor mecca) scurrying up and down the sides of the canyon crouching behind rocks to shelter themselves from the 40 degree temperatures and 40 mph wind gusts!
8:13 – 7:73 – 7:42 – 7:46 – 7:36 – 7:50
At the sound of the gun, Eric and I took off faster than expected. As he skillfully wove through the crowd, I quickly realized he planned to run much faster than his stated 9 minutes pace.
Rarely as runners are we given the opportunity, by whatever power we believe in, to run miles like these. The first 6 miles passed faster than any miles I have ever run, and I ran them with the one person on the planet who, without protest, will listen to me gab. (I’m a very chatty runner ;)) I talked about the inhabitants of the land, dinosaurs, Native Americans, and mountain lions. I talked about the sheer ridiculousness that 14 years ago when we began our Western trips, it never entered into our world of possibilities that we would return to the same place to run half marathons.
7:27 – 7:33 – 7:27 – 7:31 – 7:28
Eric and I parted at mile 6. At this point in the race, the winds began, we runners were body slammed by the first of approximately 5 sections of the course exposed to 40 mph wind gusts! Holy cow! Somehow it seemed like each of these gusts occurred on uphill stretches, funny how that happens…
The race was net downhill, with the exception of one hill (assisted by Japanese drummers and 40 mph winds), the uphill sections were long very easy rises. Despite the challenge of the hills, my weird enjoyment of them helped me pass others on these stretches, Passing other runners unintentionally boosted my pace! Wohooo for psychology! The only downside to miles 7-11 was that I missed my chatting buddy.
Signs you are a weird runner – racing hills boosts your pace and psyche, and you want to chat the whole way.
7:21 – 7:01
The final two miles of the race bid goodbye to the canyon for the asphalt of town. Mile 11 was rough, I had to tell myself repeatedly how stupid it would be to run 11 quick miles only to walk at the very end. Just. Keep. Going! Thankfully, as so often happens in the final stretch of a race, knowing it was the end was the boost I needed to get through.
My official time was 1:39:46, a 7:34 mile, making this a PR race by the 12 seconds. Whaaaaattttt?!? I planned to run a 9 minute mile. If you doubt the spirit of running, just look at my race. Not only did I accomplish my goal of enjoying it, I ran my quickest race while my heart was being filled with an unbridled sense of joy and appreciation. I was grateful to my parents for introducing me to the west, grateful to have a job that allowed me to be there, and grateful to have a body capable of running.
See this lady?
Ya’ll words cannot express how excited I was to watch my momma cross the finish line of this race. The Canyonlands Half was was her first half marathon! She worked her booty off, logging far more miles and far more hills than I! Her hard work paid off and she killed her time! Because I am a good daughter, I greeted her with a cookie :)
The rest of the day was spent eating fabulous food and crashing!
Proof we are the luckiest family on earth? When we arrived back at our hotel, my dad had a special surprise awaiting us!
Favorite race ever?
Favorite place on earth?
Dream travel spot?
The top of my list is Japan and Hong Kong, but realistically, Eric and I are shooting for Peru next summer!