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:
1—7:58
2—8:21
3—8:28
4—8:28
5—8:15
6—8:47
7—8:36
8—8:36
9—8:40
10—8:41
11—8:41
12—8:50
13—8:40
0.18—1:17

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.