Race Recap: Dino Half Marathon 2018

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On Saturday, May 12th, I ran the Dino Half Marathon in Vernal, Utah for the fourth year in a row. This was my favorite year that I've ran it. I ended up running a new PR but that's not why I liked it so much. This year's race was my favorite because it showed me that by enjoying myself and believing in myself, I can accomplish great things. I had my best run ever.

Let's start back on Friday though. On Friday afternoon, Geof and I made the three-hour drive to Vernal, checked into the hotel (the same one that packet pickup was at) and got our race packets. We headed out for dinner at Antica Forma, a pizza and pasta restaurant. I had the same meal as last year, the linguine with tomato sauce and it was the perfect carb meal for before the race. We went back to the hotel and I gathered up my gear and got in bed to rest.

Race day gear. I was originally planning on wearing the race t-shirt but changed my mind the morning of and wore a long-sleeve shirt instead. Nothing new on race day, right?!

Race day gear. I was originally planning on wearing the race t-shirt but changed my mind the morning of and wore a long-sleeve shirt instead. Nothing new on race day, right?!

On the morning of the race, I ate avocado toast in bed and drank a glass of nuun energy. I have the hardest time getting up on race mornings, so I always end up eating breakfast in bed. Once I'm dressed though, I'm ready to race! We left the hotel at 6 a.m., drove to the bus pick-up at Maeser Elementary and boarded the bus to take us to the start.

The start of the race is in Dry Fork Canyon and once dropped off there, we got in the port-a-pottie line, gathered around the fire pit and did a little warm-up in the canyon. I immediately felt the tiredness in my legs and wasn't sure what to expect for the race. We lined up for the start and I kept moving my legs in place to stay warm. They began the countdown and the race began promptly at 7:30 a.m. We sped off running down the canyon.

The weather? Perfect. Overcast and cool. It was in the 40°s for most of the race and then got into the low 50°s by the end. There was cloud cover the whole time. It was pretty close to ideal race conditions for me. I run warm so I always appreciate a colder race. As I've been doing with races lately, I went in with zero expectations or time goals and really do think that’s what I have to do always. It helps me not stress or worry and makes me focus more on enjoying the run, and then I happen to perform better!

Geof decided he wanted to try and run a PR so he ran ahead pretty quickly in the first mile and I was on my own. I don't mind it though. Running by myself is one of my favorite things and gives me space to be in my own thoughts and I love that. I made sure to appreciate the surroundings and views. There were times in the canyon when I just looked around at the trees and scenery and it was pretty magical. I felt grateful for being able to run in such a beautiful place on such a beautiful day. I felt I was running really smoothly and the miles breezed by.

Photo: Flo-Foto

Photo: Flo-Foto

At mile 8, I heard a voice behind me say "you're doing good, young lady!" It was a guy named Dale and I ended up running with him for the next mile. He told me I was on pace for a 1:44 to 1:45 finish and I thought that was too good to be true. He asked what my goal was for the race and I said I didn’t have one but that my best half was 1:48. Once he told me what finish time I was on track for, I really thought I could beat my existing PR and that idea began to run through my mind. I decided to go for it. I walked through a water station at mile 9 so Dale ran ahead but I could see him in the near distance and just tried to keep him in sight for the rest of the race. 

Course elevation and my pace overlay.

Course elevation and my pace overlay.

I realized that I had barely looked at my watch until that moment. My race so far had been run going by effort and feel. I occasionally would glance down as my watch beeped for each mile but for the most part, I felt comfortable with doing what felt like a good effort to me. With the course being more downhill at the beginning, it really contributes to a fast start. The miles level out as you get further in the course.

My legs were starting to get more fatigued in the final miles and I just pushed and pushed. It was getting harder to keep my legs moving as fast but I made them do it. I was determined. With less than a mile to go, the 1:45 pacer came up on me. He told me I was doing great and I remember telling him I was tired. He said he was planning to run a 1:44:30 finish and that made me extra motivated to stay with him. Another girl came up on us and ran with us for the last half mile. I listened to them chat for a little because I was breathing harder and didn’t feel like talking (haha). We turned the last major corner at 12.7 miles and I could hear the crowd at the finish. We were getting close. We picked it up in the last 0.3 miles and the girl began to run ahead and so did I. There was one last turn to the finish line in the school parking lot and I ran it in! When I crossed the line, I almost couldn't believe it. I had no idea I could run that pace for that long! I surprised myself. Final chip time—1:44:21.

Photo: Flo-Foto

Photo: Flo-Foto

Mile Splits:
1—7:30
2—7:35
3—7:40
4—7:48
5—8:03
6—8:12
7—7:56
8—7:58
9—7:57
10—8:09
11—8:11
12—8:21
13—8:24
0.12—1:04
average pace: 7:58

I found Geof at the results area. He ended up running a PR of 1:36:28 (yay!). I printed off my official result and saw the 1:44:21 and was so happy about that time that I didn't even realize the paper said I had placed in my age group! Geof pointed that out to me and I was SO shocked and SO excited. We took some photos and waited around for the award ceremony.

Photo: Flo-Foto

Photo: Flo-Foto

Dale saw me in the crowd and asked how I did. He congratulated me and I told him it was because I kept him in sight the whole rest of the race and that helped me. He ended up first in his age group (M60-69). I ended up getting second in my age group (F30-34) and the girl I ran the final half mile with was first in our age group! We were six seconds apart. So funny. We laughed about it on stage when we both realized it. I don’t even know how to summarize how I felt about this race because I was so stunned, so proud, so happy.

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Afterwards, we went back to the hotel to clean up and check out. We ate sandwiches and fries at Freddy's and made the drive back to Salt Lake City to reunite with Izzy pup.

Next up: Utah Valley Marathon. It's less than three weeks away and I still don't feel fully prepared. My goal has always been to run this race in under 4 hours. I'm not sure if that's possible as I haven't been consistent with marathon-specific training, but I'm going to go into it with a positive mindset and be happy with whatever my body wants to run that day.

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: 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:
1—8:23
2—8:25
3—8:33
4—8:30
5—8:35
6—9:27
7—9:13
8—9:57
9—9:40
10—9:29
11—9:13
12—9:25
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!