Race Recap: Thankful 13 Half Marathon 2016

Thanksgiving has come and gone and I'm behind with writing this recap. We ran the Thankful 13 on Thanksgiving morning and it was such a good race. I'll do my best to remember the details.

This was the second year in a row that Geof and I have run the Thankful 13 Half Marathon. We wanted to start a tradition of running some kind of turkey trot each Thanksgiving, this one being our third consecutive turkey race (we did a 6K back in 2014). The Thankful 13 is Utah's only half marathon on Thanksgiving day and because we signed up earlier in the year, it's always a gamble with what sort of weather will show up on race day. We got pretty decent weather—yes, it was cold and in the high 20s but thankfully, no rain or snow, which made for better running conditions.

I didn't sleep too much the night before. I had worked until 12:30 a.m. and slept for maybe 3.5 hours. I woke up, ate my breakfast of avocado toast in bed, drank my usual glass of nuun and got dressed for the race. I like Thankful 13 because it's a looped course and you don't have to get up so early to bus anywhere. Even then, we still arrived at the race start with plenty of time to spare. The port-a-potties were convenient and located in the parking lot. I took the time to sit in the warmth of the car and took one potty stop before heading back into the car to stay warm. With ten minutes until the gun, we walked over to the starting line. That's when I realized I had to pee again. We headed back over to the parking lot and waited in a long line, which resulted in us still being at the port-a-potties when the gun went off. We quickly ran back to the start arch and began the race at the back of the pack. 

Geof told me he wanted to run with me and would go at whatever pace I wanted. I felt good immediately and we were moving at a brisk pace. I felt appropriately dressed in the 29° weather, wearing a long sleeve 1/2 zip, fleece lined tights and a lightweight shell jacket. About three miles in, I took off my gloves and shell jacket and tied the jacket around my waist. I warm up easily when I run, but without the shell on, I felt perfect for the remainder of the race.

During the middle of the course, on the Jordan River Parkway sections, there were some icy patches and I did a few small slip-and-slides, but luckily no falls. The miles were ticking by. With four miles left, Geof began to convince me I could run a sub 1:50. I wanted to believe I could but in order to do so, I would need to push hard and drop 30-40 seconds off each mile. I was still running strong, with miles 7–9 all around an 8:35/8:40 pace, but that's about as fast as my legs wanted to go. I didn't think I could drop that much time per mile, so I just wanted to keep my steady pace going.

As we were running the last two miles, I kept thinking about portions of the race from the previous year and noticed how much stronger I felt this time around. I remember struggling at the end of the race last year, especially going up the final small incline right before the finish line. It took everything in me last year to keep my legs running and not give in to walking. This year, I had a surge of energy going up the incline and sprinted up to the finish. Final chip time—1:52:10, my second fastest half (and my fastest on a non-downhill course).

Photo: Flo-Foto

Photo: Flo-Foto

Mile Splits:

After crossing the finish line and receiving our medals, we stopped by the the Runtastic booth and received a Trilogy medal. If you run three Runtastic races in one calendar year, you earn this additional medal. We had run the Dino Half, Haunted Half and now Thankful 13, so we qualified! 

I'm so happy with how this race went. I had the best time. Because I was on lack of sleep going into the race, I didn't give myself a time goal, but knew my priority was to run for fun and by feel. Those decisions turned out pretty great.

What I've learned in my past few races is that when I put less pressure on myself, I see greater results. It's easier said than done though. I'm constantly wanting to improve and get better but when I have off-days, I can be hard of myself. Knowing that I try my hardest on any given day is all that I can ask for. My advice to myself every race now is to try my best. My best one day might be completely different than my best on another and I'm okay with that. I'm constantly teaching myself to be proud of the outcome, no matter what it is. I try to remember why I love to run in the first place. It's not the PRs or the medals. It's the joy and happiness in my heart when it's just me, my mind and the footfalls of my feet. I love that feeling.

Favorites: Food Edition

I've been thinking about introducing a new series of blog posts about some of my favorite things, beginning with five of my current food favorites. Here's what I've been loving lately.

Even Stevens
There was a time where I ate here at least once a week for almost two months straight. It's that good. For each sandwich sold, this Utah-based sandwich shop donates another sandwich to a local non-profit. My top sandwich picks are the Turkey Day, JP Grilled Cheese (love the jalapeños!) and Banh Mahi. I like ordering the turkey or grilled cheese sandwich in a half-sandwich/half-soup combo so you can dip the sandwich in their Tomato Basil Bisque. They also have a really great breakfast burrito called The Graduate, which has two eggs, tots, spinach, tomatoes, house sauce and Sriracha. I sub the meat choices (either sausage or bacon) for avocado and it's delicious! Geof and I have eaten many of these burritos as fuel before our Saturday long runs.

Halo Top
I'm so obsessed with this ice cream. It's a smart choice because it has low calories, low sugar and high protein. Halo Top uses natural ingredients in all of their flavors and it tastes just like regular ice cream. I'm not lying when I say that I could eat a whole pint at once. It's been labeled as healthy ice cream and I definitely don't feel bad when I eat it—each pint varies between 240 and 360 calories. They recently released ten new flavors and I want to try them all. My favorites so far are Red Velvet, Sea Salt Caramel, Pistachio, Mint Chip and Birthday Cake.

Photo: Halo Top

Photo: Halo Top

Jinya Ramen Bar
My first taste of Jinya ramen was two years ago in Vancouver and I was so excited to find out they just opened their first location in Utah. The chain is based in California and offers authentic Japanese ramen made with rich broths that you can customize with a selection of toppings. I love the spicy chicken ramen with an added seasoned egg. They also offer tapas—I'm a big fan of the brussels sprouts tempura with truffle oil. 

GoGo squeeZ
This apple sauce pouch is made with natural fruit and so easy to eat on the go. I received free samples when I ran the Disneyland Half Marathon earlier this year and it's now become a staple for me. I love this as a snack and as part of my race day breakfast. The pouches are convenient and there are so many different flavors to choose from. I've liked every single flavor I've tried and love that there are a huge amount of choices so I can mix it up.

Photo: GoGo squeeZ

Photo: GoGo squeeZ

Cubby's is a relaxed restaurant chain that started in Utah, featuring burgers, sandwiches and salads. They make everything from fresh ingredients and I've heard that they don't even own a freezer or can opener. My favorite options are the Portobello, Pikey and Cockadoodledoo sandwiches (minus the bacon) with a side of rosemary or sweet potato fries! I want to try one of their salads next.

Writing this made me realize that I have a slew of other restaurants and foods that I want to feature, so I'll probably do another food favorites post in the future! 

Race Recap: The Haunted Half 2016

Last weekend, I ran The Haunted Half in Salt Lake City. The race is put on by Runtastic Events and they organize some of the best races in Utah. For Halloween, they do two haunted races in Utah—the first in Salt Lake City, which took place on October 22nd and the week after, one in Provo on October 29th. I hadn't originally planned on running this race until my friend Meg told me she wanted to run the Salt Lake City race for her first half marathon. I had to sign up! I was so excited for her and who can say no to a Halloween themed race?! The choice to run was easy and because the SLC race was so close to home, I felt that I knew the course pretty well and was mentally prepared.

On Friday, the day before the race, Meg and I picked up our race packets right after work. The packets included a bib, shirt, drop bag, temporary tattoos, sticker and a soap sample. We didn't spend too much time at the expo, but took a look at the course map and I was able to grab Geof's packet for him as well.

The day of the race, I woke up early and ate avocado toast and drank a glass of nuun. I brushed my teeth, got dressed and we quickly hopped in Geof's car and headed to the bus pick-up area at 6:45 a.m. While we were waiting in line, Meg found us and we all boarded the bus to the race start, at Little Mountain Summit up Emigration Canyon.

While waiting for the race to begin, we took port-a-pottie breaks, stood around the fire pits, took a photo with a grim reaper and watched a costume contest. The time went by fast and before we knew it, it was 8:30 a.m. and the race was starting.

Geof had already said goodbye to us and headed near the front of the pack. Meg and I started further back and said good luck to each other right before we crossed the starting line and separated to run our own races. The first couple of miles were the steepest and fastest. The downhill start made it easy to settle into a groove pretty quickly. I knew I was going to positive split this race as the first half is much more downhill than the last half. I warmed up going down the canyon and had to take off my skeleton shirt after mile 3. At mile 4-5, I began feeling a bit of tightness come on in my right hip/glute. I'm guessing it was partially due to the steep downhill and running on a cambered road but also partially from my hips and glutes being a weakness of mine (I'm still working on strengthening them). The first 7.5 miles were all down Emigration Canyon and I tried to run on the more level areas when I could. I maintained a pretty even pace down the whole canyon, but I don't think my legs love running super downhill for too long. Even though it makes for a faster finishing time, I'm not used to the toll it takes on my legs.

Photo: Flo-Foto

Photo: Flo-Foto

Once out of Emigration Canyon, the next 5.5 miles were all headed toward Sugar House Park, through the neighborhoods. The road flattened out here. I remember pushing through the pain and telling myself that I wouldn't allow myself to slow down. I kept thinking about the parts of my body that didn't hurt and it made it easier to keep going. The further I ran though, the worse my hip felt. It was definitely getting a lot tighter and during the latter two aid stations, I did some brief figure-4 stretches to ease the tightness. It helped. Going into Sugar House Park, I knew the race was almost over and kept moving my feet along, though my legs felt heavy. Going down the hills in the park made my IT bands feel tight, because of my already tight right hip, but I kept moving and made my way toward the finish. After coming up the last hill in the park, I felt like I was going to throw up. I was determined to finish strong though. I kept a consistent speed and as I made the last turn onto the grass, I could hear the cheers and see the spectators and ran to the finish. I ended up with a half marathon PR! Final chip time—1:50:37.

Mile Splits:

I was a little surprised that I could get a PR on a day where my run didn't feel the best. It's really true about races being more mental than you think. I'm getting so close to getting a sub 1:50 and one day, that will happen. For now, I was happy about finishing and even more happy about how Geof and Meg did. Geof ran a 1:36:58 (his PR) and Meg did 2:03:10 for her first half. So incredibly proud of them both!

Race notes:

  • I walked through every water station. I took water at the first one and Powerade at all of the others because the weather was warming up. I like the idea of alternating water and electrolytes at each station and plan on doing that on races going forward, unless it's a hotter day and then I'll go for more electrolytes.
  • This was the first race where I've actually finished my whole pack of nutrition chews. I usually start to eat them and forget to take them further on in the race.
  • It was almost uncomfortable to walk the next day because my hip was still tight, so I rolled my right glute out on a massage ball and it turned out I had a huge knot in my glute. This probably formed from running downhill on a camber and it got more tight and knotty the longer I ran. Once I rolled it out, the tightness in my hip instantly lessened. This is a reminder for me to keep up with strengthening, stretching and foam rolling.
  • My average cadence during the run was 179 spm!
We took photos with Izzy when we got home.

We took photos with Izzy when we got home.

I have one more half marathon this year. Geof and I will be running the Thankful 13 again on Thanksgiving morning. I can't wait.