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.
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.
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!
- 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!
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.