Race Recap: Dino Half Marathon 2017

As some of you know, I've been dealing with an ankle injury since my last race in March. What was initially diagnosed as a ligament sprain was actually peroneal tendonitis, so I've been going to PT once a week and was finally cleared to run again on May 1. For the past two weeks, I've been slowly building my mileage back up. I was given the go-ahead by my physical therapist to try running this half to see how my ankle would do.

The Dino Half took place in Vernal, Utah on Saturday, May 13th. Going into the race, I had no idea what to expect. With my lack of training for the past two months, I wasn't sure how I would do, being that my longest run since getting cleared to run was six miles. What I found out is that if you have a solid base already, it's easy to get your endurance and mileage back to where it was. I was pleasantly surprised.

Race weekend began with Geof and I driving to Vernal and picking up our race packets. I fell asleep in the car while seated cross-legged and once I stepped out of the car, realized my left calf was super tight. After picking up my packet, someone stopped me in the parking lot and asked if I had a running blog. She said she had read my post about the Dino Half from last year! That was so cool and it caught me off guard, so I apologize if I was acting awkward. I never imagined anyone but my friends and family would read my blog. 

We dropped our things off at the hotel and headed out to eat a pasta dinner at Antica Forma. I had linguine with meatballs and it was perfect. At dinner, I started to get an itchy tickle in my throat and was worried I might be getting sick. I let that thought drift from my mind as we ate and after dinner, we took a short walk by the restaurant to walk off the tightness in my calf. We went back to the hotel, gathered our gear for the race, foam rolled and headed to sleep.

I woke up the next morning with my throat and calf feeling pretty good. Rest must have worked out those kinks. I ate avocado toast, drank nuun and got ready. I taped up my ankle with KT tape and wore a compression ankle sleeve for precaution. We headed out the door around 5:50 a.m. to catch the buses to take us to the start of the race in Dry Fork Canyon. Once dropped off, we lined up for the port-a-potties, stood by the fire and I wrapped myself up in a heat sheet. It seemed like the wait before the start went by quickly, even with the race starting ten minutes late. At 7:40 a.m., after all the buses had dropped off their runners, they counted down and blew the horn.

The weather was nice—breezy and warm. I felt good at the beginning. Race day can make you feel so much better with all the adrenaline that kicks in. The first three miles of the race were on an eroded road and it was bumpy and rough. My ankle actually shifted and popped three times but as I continued to run, the pain from the shock of the pops began to subside. I had to work to stay on the flatter areas, but after those initial miles, the canyon road smoothed out and I was good. My ankle never popped again after that.

Geof and I ran together for the first three miles and then I went ahead when Geof slowed on some of the hills. He has been having some pain in his calf and ran the hills slower and more carefully to not aggravate it. I was feeling surprisingly so good and was keeping a nice pace. At mile 6, the 1:55 pacers came up behind me, overtook me and I ran behind them for a long time. They were running faster than they should have, but listening in on their conversations, I knew it was to bank time on the downhill portion of the course before the last miles leveled out.

Photo: Flo-Foto

Photo: Flo-Foto

I started to lose steam at mile 10 (yup, my legs had not run this far since my ankle injury in March) and I began to slow a little. My calves were feeling tight and sore. My 8:00-something pace went into the 9:00s but I was determined to keep those pacers in sight. After mile 10 sometime, Geof appeared by me again! He said he had been trying to catch up to me the whole time. He was just who I needed to see and we kept pace together for the last few miles.

When we only had half a mile to go, I ran past the 1:55 pacers and thanked them and said I had been following them for 7 miles. Geof and I tried to pick it up and we ran it in! I also ran my fastest Dino Half and I feel good about that with my lack of training lately (this was our third time running this race). Final chip time—1:52:34.

Mile Splits:
1—8:07
2—8:12
3—8:07
4—8:09
5—8:19
6—8:30
7—8:15
8—8:31
9—8:29
10—9:04
11—8:56
12—9:34
13—9:27
0.12—1:00

Post-race consisted of eating a spicy chicken sandwich, fries and custard at Freddy's, watching the new season of Master Of None, getting dinner at Vernal Brewing Company and frozen yogurt at Farr's. The next day, I woke up early because I couldn't sleep. I was having a hard time because my throat began to hurt really bad and I started to get really sick. We checked out of the hotel and drove back home, taking the long route through Flaming Gorge. It was really beautiful. I needed rest and took some short naps in the car on the way back.

Flaming Gorge

Flaming Gorge

The dry air and running into the wind during the race probably played into me getting sicker and making the virus worse (did you know that during endurance running you lose red blood cells?), but I wouldn't have traded running for anything. I'm really happy that I ran a strong race with a recovering ankle that isn't 100 percent. It makes me optimistic for what the year will bring and how much more I can improve once my ankle is fully healed. Excited.

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.

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:
1—7:39
2—7:30
3—8:09
4—7:44
5—8:18
6—8:20
7—8:30
8—8:28
9—8:23
10—8:59
11—8:48
12—9:03
13—8:52
0.23—2:00

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.