Pacing the 2:20 group
I wanted to run this race as soon as I learned about it but was totally taken back by the price tag attached to it. The early bird pricing was 65 dollars and I decided no half marathon is worth that price to run. I guess I've been pretty lucky in finding half marathons for a lot cheaper and signing up when they are rock bottom prices. So, I determined that I just wouldn't have a race to run this particular weekend and that maybe I would set up my own long run in a canyon somewhere to sort of make-up for it.
Having started in this new venture of pacing races has been fun and money saving for my pocketbook. So I casually asked Jonathon, whom I've paced a couple races for now, if he was possibly pacing for this particular race. He said he wasn't but would check into it. Well, I told him if he got the opportunity that I would be interested in helping out. A number of days went by and I didn't hear back from him. I asked the Big Vigor people on Facebook if they planned on having a pacer group help out with their race and they told me no. I then responded with a polite comment of being a little disappointed because I know that pacers perform an important job and that when I run a race I appreciate having them there as a guide. I also told them that I had done a little pacing myself and that people have told me personally they appreciate what I was doing. Well, a few days later Jonathon contacted me and told me that Big Vigor changed their mind and would be having pacers. They hired Jonathon's group, the Utah Race Pacers, to pace this race and he gave me a spot to participate. To say I was thrilled would be an understatement. I would now get to run this race for free and help others with their goals as well. 2:20 seems to be the perfect time for me to pace lately and so that's what I requested to do. Due to the extremely fast course I wish I would have gone with the 2:10 but I had a great time anyway.
This race started at 6:00 am, the earliest race of the year so far. Bus pick-up was 4:00 am. That meant getting up at 2:15 am and on the road by 2:45 am to meet a few of the other pacers to carpool to Salt Lake at 3:00 am. These early morning hours have me questioning my sanity at times.
Everything went super smooth and we got to the starting line area at 5:00 am up at Solitude Resort. We got to wait in a nice warm building while enjoying hot chocolate. I didn't dare drink any since I hadn't ever drank that before a race. I decided to play it safe with the rule of never anything new on race morning. At precisely 5:30 am they told us it was time to walk a mile to the starting line, what? They had warned us that was the case and it was fine. I was just glad it was a mile down the canyon and not another mile up. Being able to wait in a warm building was totally worth the 1 mile walk since it was about 39 degrees out there. Plus it helped warm up my muscles.
The race started on time and we were off. This was a smaller race with supposedly about 500 runners. Turns out there were only about 300. I only had a couple people who wanted to attempt the 2:20 goal. The morning air was clean and beautiful and I just was enjoying running down this mountain. It was a challenge to hold back on such a downhill course. I talked to a few people while pacing but mostly people just wanted to get past me to attempt a faster time.
Some of the mile markers were way off and so that played tricks with my speed. Mile 11 was way beyond what it should have been and then when mile 12 came I was expecting it way sooner. It just makes pacing a little more tricky when the race people don't set them in the right spot. Coming into the finish line the 2:10 pacer found me about a minute before the finish line and said to walk the rest of the way. The course was short and fast and that all the pacers had been coming in way too early. I was no exception. I still had about 3 minutes left and so I stopped and even went back a little way around a corner to encourage any behind me to hustle quick and beat the 2:20 time. I then walked in the rest of the way pretty slowly and still came in early with a time of 2:18:46. We aren't supposed to be any earlier than 30 seconds but Jonathon was fine with it because the course was barely 13 miles and it was extreme downhill running.
End of race treats were nice with beautiful water bottles, fruit, Jimmie Johns sandwiches, and creamies. I even won a prize of a big bag of coffee, and handed that off to my friend Angela, since I'm not a coffee drinker. I sat in the grass and stretched and ate my treats and visited with a few people. Then it was time to head home with the pacers I rode up with.
Beautiful day! Beautiful weather! Beautiful course! Other than the super early morning hours this was a perfect race!
Oh look, this little card was in my race packet already advertising next year's race, hmmm?