Sunday, September 15, 2013

Big Cottonwood Half (aka. My First Half!)

Have I mentioned this weekend was my first half marathon?  I can't remember if I have. 😜 So let me just make sure everyone knows... I RAN MY FIRST HALF MARATHON THIS  WEEKEND!

There were definitely times in my training that I was convinced I'd never be able to run 13.1 miles. A week before the race I ran the distance and put some of the nerves at ease, but there's something about the official race that still scared the sh#* out of me. 

It scared me so bad that I completely psyched myself out of a good night's sleep. I knew I had to be up at 3 am(!!!), so at 8:30pm I headed to bed.... And laid there forever (it seemed). I slept off and on and fully got ready for and drove to the race in my dreams. Think I had something on my mind? 

The race had arranged buses that left from Cottonwood high school from 4-5am and took us up the canyon. We got there early on and hopped on a bus. I've ran 13 miles before, but when you're driving it up a winding canyon, trying to anticipate your run down, it seems very daunting!
The bus finally stopped 9 miles up and left us on the cold, dark side of the road. And there we waited.... 

Finally, it was time to start. Like a herd of cattle, we all mooshed our way towards the starting line and took off. I tried my hardest not to get caught up in the herd's pace, but I knew I was still running faster than I normally do. Tehra's iPod decided to not work... of course, so we chatted. Then about a mile in, it hit me.  This was it. What I'd been working for for so long. This wasn't just another practice run. I was officially joining the 15% of America who can say they've run a half marathon! 

The first 5 miles flew by and Tehra stuck right with me even though her natural pace is quicker than mine. I'd told her from the get go that I did not want her holding back for me and would be mad if she did. I call her a crazy mountain goat because the girl LOVES inclines (bleh!) so when a small incline came just after mile marker 5, I slowed a bit and she took off. I watched her like a proud momma! You go, little goat!

I continued down the canyon and every time my Nike+ told me my pace I knew I was going too fast. I'd try to pace back a bit, remembering so many stories of runners burning themselves, but with the momentum of the crowd and the help of the slope, there was only so slow I could go. 

I finally reached the mouth of the canyon and hit the more level course. I fully expected my pace to take a blow, and it did, increasing by almost 20 seconds a mile. 

I brushed that aside and refocused on the goal I'd set for this race: I wanted to RUN the whole race. I didn't need to focus on my pace as long as my feet were both getting off the ground at the same time. 

I kept it going, but I've never had a mile last longer than that last one. As much as my first mile flew by, this last one was dragging on. Finally I turned the corner on 1300 East where the finish line was. I could see the finish chute, but more importantly, I could see Tehra. She'd finished and walked back on the course to finish with me. One more corner and there was the finish line and there was my family!  I charged the line and looked at the clock as I did, 2:12 (unofficial time), 22 minutes faster than my practice run. 

All and all, my first half was a great success. It was an amazing race that could not have been more organized. And they had popsicles! Who doesn't love a Popsicle after a long run, c'mon!

A few things I learned:
1. Walking across wet grass before you get on a bus to wait at the top of a freezing canyon, dumb!
2. Even if your iPod worked the night before, it won't necessarily work now.  lame!
3. Peeing in pitch black porta potties is easier than I thought. Win!
4. Wide mouthed cups of water and maintaining your pace do not go hand -in-hand.  Fail!
5. When you feel a rock in your shoe on your way out the door, don't think "I have plenty of time before the race starts. I'll remember to get it out later." You won't. And you will remember as you start running and you will fixate on it all 13.1 miles. Ugh!

Trying to keep warm. 

Look, I even remembered to snap a few shots of the scenery!

Hey, this guy's taking a picture of me taking a picture! Hah!

Post race

With the peanut gallery!

Almost to the finish line!

I'll postulate official stats when I get them. 


  1. Congratulations again! Job well done!!! It feels great, doesn't it!?
    PS If you squeeze the top of the paper aid station cups together so it just makes a slit, they're WAY easier to drink out of on the go. Make sense?

  2. Excellent job. You sound like a pro at this already. I ran this race too and came in at 2:11:17 (official time) I'm sure we crossed paths along the way many times. I'm currently working on my write up of this race and will post soon.

    Congratulations on a well run race! Now hopefully you can sleep better on your second half marathon.

    1. Thanks, Susette! How funny we were probably running right near each other at times!

  3. Replies
    1. Because I peed in a porta potty in the dark?