Race Recap: Dino Half Marathon

On the morning of Saturday, May 14th, I began my 2016 race season with the Dino Half Marathon, which happens to be one of my favorite races. The Dino Half takes place in Vernal, Utah and you run a course where dinosaurs once roamed! I've loved dinosaurs ever since I was little so this race has a special place in my heart. I ran it last year and it still holds my half marathon PR (1:54), so going into the race, I secretly wanted to PR but knew I should probably take it easier because I would be running my first full marathon a week after (still so nervous about this—only four days away!), and wanted to be ready with fresh legs for that. I ended up having a pretty good race but it wasn't without some minor obstacles. Here's the rundown.

After work on Friday afternoon, I went home to pack and Geof and I made the three hour drive to Vernal. The first thing we did was check into the hotel and pick up our race packets. At packet pickup, all of the medals from past Runtastic races were on display. It was so fun to see all of the medals from prior years. We ate dinner at Antica Forma (I had the chicken pesto pasta and Geof had the chicken parmesan) and then headed back to the hotel to lay out all of my gear and get a good night's sleep.

The next morning started early with a 4:30 a.m. breakfast. I had the usual—an english muffin with peanut butter and slices of banana and a glass of nuun. We got ready and headed out of the door by 5:20 a.m. to board the buses that would take all of the runners to the start of the race at the top of the canyon. It was a bit colder up there. Everyone was bundled up in space blankets and huddled around fire pits. We had about an hour wait before the start at 7:30 a.m. Good news was that there were eight portapotties instead of three like the previous year.

The race begins with a slight decline down Dry Fork Canyon. The gradual downhill made it easy to keep a quick, steady pace and the first few miles went by like a breeze. I was feeling so good and even though we decided to take this run easy, I was feeling good enough that I thought I could maybe still get that PR. Well, that didn't happen. After mile 5, my right ITB suddenly started giving me pain out of nowhere. Lately, I can sense a tight ITB coming as my butt and hips getting progressively more sore late into a run, but this was out of left field because It was early on, I was feeling great and not tired at all. My pace slowed and I ran the next four miles pushing through pain in the side of my knee, taking short walk breaks through the water stations where I stretched briefly.

Photo: Flo-Foto

Photo: Flo-Foto

We had been running in between the 1:50 and 1:55 pacers up until my ITB started to bug me, and at the water station at mile 5.5, the 1:55 pacers passed us, which was really disheartening for me. At the mile 7 station, the 2:00 pacers passed us and that's when I decided I just needed to keep them in sight and try to finish strong. I don't know what happened, but after mile 9, my ITB pain started to go away (almost completely) and I was able to pick up the pace a little for the rest of the race. We eventually passed the 2:00 pacers and Geof and I ran it in and crossed the finish line together. Final chip time—1:58:23.9.

Mile Splits:
13—9:09 + 1:12

Photo: Flo-Foto

Photo: Flo-Foto

It was such a good feeling to cross the line and show myself that I was tougher than I realized. When my ITB pain was at its height during the race, I kept thinking negatively and almost made myself cry just thinking about it. I had to really calm down and remind myself that right there, in that moment, all I could do was my best. I wouldn't have been able to finish with a 1:58:23 if not. I'm glad Geof stuck with me despite me being grouchy mid-race. One really good thing I noticed was that in previous half marathons, my legs have always gotten achey and sore near the end of the race and I wasn't sore at the end of this one. It's an improvement and shows that maybe I am getting stronger. I felt like I could have run more when I was done.

I say it all the time, but the sense of relief and excitement of running across any finish line is so amazing. I can't even imagine what finishing my first marathon will be like. It's in a few short days and I'm not going to lie, I still have so many doubts about it. I second guess myself and worry that my tight ITB might flare up and will play a role in how I do. I worry about if a long run of 20 miles in training was enough. All I know for sure is that I'll give it everything I have because there's just no other way I want to do it. 

I'll be back next week with my marathon recap. Happy running everyone!