Saturday, June 14, 2014

Utah Valley Half Marathon

June 14, 2014
Utah Valley Half Marathon

I was a little nervous about going into this race since I had just ran the Squaw Peak 50 mile mountain trail run the previous Saturday.  Blogged about it here. Mentally, I had just decided to just go do it and whatever happens, happens.

I went to the expo to pick up packets for myself and a few other friends.  I was able to also collect my trilogy medal for running 3 races with Runtastic Events.
Inside this runner's guide/magazine that was being handed out at the expo was this photo of me and Josh from the previous years race for ringing the PR bell.  It was because of this photo they took that I had earned a free entry into their race for 2014.  Yeah, totally worth it.  
I was a little surprised to find they were handing out Red Bull in the runners packets for a half marathon.  It serves a purpose though for some.  I find it very useful in ultra marathons way further into the race when energy needs to be amped up. 
The night before the race a few running friends got together for some carb loading at the Pizza Factory.  I was in heaven getting to hold a brand new little baby girl of Ty and his wife.  Oh, I just love little babies and could cuddle them all day.
A few friends from up North decided they wanted to come down and spend the night so they didn't have to get up as early and travel.  It was fun to have Becca, Josh, Christie, and Ella hang out here.
In the morning we got up early and headed off down to Provo for bus pick up.
Josh was struggling to get his timing chip on and so the mother instinct in me kicked in and I had to help him.
We got to the bus loading area and hopped on with some more friends.  I was so happy to see my friend London.  We rode the bus together to the starting line.  My other friends who stayed at my house were running the full marathon and so they had to ride different buses.
Now, imagine my surprise as we are sitting in the front seat of our bus directly behind the driver just chatting and laughing and minding our own business when all of a sudden the bus driver brakes instantly and swerves the bus and then we hear and feel a big THUMP!!  He had just hit a deer.  Wow!  Poor bambi........sigh.  It made me sad.  He pulled over and radioed his bus garage to report it, and then we went on our way. Since he was driving the route of the course we would be running, I did see poor bambi on the side of the road later.  I was hoping somebody would have removed his little body, but such wasn't the case.  
Ty and Nathan saw the whole thing!! Yikes!!  Glad I wasn't sitting where they were.
Getting off the bus we were pleased to find toasty fires to stand by.  We didn't hang out long there because the weather was actually not too bad this year.  I was very grateful for that.
I also had a little blanket I had brought to keep my legs warm and then throw into the drop bag.  We found some more runaway friends and chatted and mingled until time to start.
The gun went off and away I went.  I decided to not look at my watch and just run with all the heart and energy I had.  My body felt good and my mind was excited and ready for this challenge.
About half way down the canyon I decided to see how I was doing.  I was running a little faster than I had anticipated and then my brain started kicking into miles per minute mode and what I could accomplish on this course.  I determined around mile 10 that maybe I should try for a sub 2 half marathon, something I had only ever done once before on an all down hill course.  Could I do it?  I decided to throw it all out there and push hard and try for it.  This meant no casual running but only focused determination from this point on.  I ran my little heart out!!!
Did I do it???
According to my watch I did it with one second to spare.
I was ecstatic and thrilled!
Well..........then I went to the official results table for a print out and the actual timing was 2:00:01 GAHHHHHH.  There was a 2 second difference and I didn't make the sub 2.  So crazy!  I guess this just means I have to come back next year and try again.
I did ring the PR bell because this was definitely a new PR for me for this specific course.
Celebrations at the finish line for a lot of people who were having PR's was quite enjoyable.  
The Utah Valley marathon and half marathon is a great event!
video




Saturday, June 7, 2014

Squaw Peak 50 Mile Trail run

June 7, 2014
Squaw Peak 50 Mile Trail Run

The long awaited day finally came to run a 50 mile ultra course in the mountains. Having run a 100 mile race back in February of this year should make this seem easy but those 100 miles were on a flat course going round and round a 2.37 mile loop.  These 50 miles would consist of 14,000 +/- elevation gain and loss.

Was I nervous?  OH YES!
Was I excited?  OH YES!
Was I prepared?  I sure hoped so!

I got all my drop bags prepped and everything ready to go the day before the race.
I went to a pre-race dinner that evening where we got a lot more information from John Bozung, the race director.  We enjoyed a nice meal of spaghetti, salad, pie and ice cream.  It was nice to mingle with other ultra runners and hear their stories.  The more I dabble into ultras the more I realize these runners are just regular people.  I used to think they were some kind of strange bunch but it's just not true.  Or, maybe they are strange and I'm now a strange person too? 
I got to bed at a fairly decent hour of about 9:00 pm and got up at 2:30 am to be to the starting line ready to go at 4:00 am. This was an early start option for those worried about making cut off times and I being a newbie to this race wanted to take advantage of that. I dropped off my drop bags to their location and wandered over to get lined up to start this beast.  There were only about 20 people maybe who were doing the early start as well.  
This is what 4:00 am looks like, and I'm excited and ready to go!
A couple hours into the race and still smiling.  I must be having fun!!!  Yes!  I am having fun!  I love the mountains, trails, and scenery. EVERYTHING about being out here is awesome!
Around 6:00 am looking down into Utah County.  What a great place to live, with these beautiful trails and mountains so close.   
One of my ultra friends, Galen Garrison, who is from Florida but had traveled here to run this race last year.  He moved recently to Utah just because of all the great mountain running options.    
Still smiling at about mile 12
One of the aid stations had this protein drink available and I have drank it before, but not on a race day.  I was a little nervous to try it this morning but then decided to. It worked ok but I did get a little crampy tummy that didn't last too long.
As I was descending down a big section of the course into Hobble Creek I passed this guy named Grant Holdaway.  The RD told us he is 80 something years old and has done this race every year now for 15 years.  He starts way before everyone else because he walks it with his daughter.  Now that is some amazing dedication and spirit right there!!
At mile 22 I picked up my pacer friend, Monte Riding.  Mark drove him down to Springville and dropped him off to find me.  I think he only had to wait about 15 minutes for me to get to the aid station.  I was worried I was going to miss him because they were stuck in construction and traffic.
Pacers are such a mental boost when you are tired and needing conversations.  They also help make sure you are staying hydrated and fueled.  Although I think I could have done this alone, 50 miles is a long way to go without a friend by your side.  If you have a good pacer then the race seems to go by quicker too.  Monte is a very kind person who knows how to have fun and carry on conversations.  He did a great job as my pacer.  
Aid stations at ultra races are pretty amazing!  You don't see goodies like this at half marathons, that's for sure!
I'm just proving I love to eat and I was enjoying it with a thumbs up!
Jarom Thurston in the black shirt is an amazing Ultra runner.  He was probably the first person that really got me interested in this crazy adventure.  He came to a youth activity a few years ago before I even considered myself a runner and did a whole presentation on all the ultra races he has done.  My interest was instantly piqued!!  People really ran 135 miles?  Even 100 or 50?   The Badwater 135 in Death Valley is a pretty crazy race that he has done multiple times.  He also ran a couple times in the  Brazil  135 Ultra and has done many other races.  
I'm sure in this photo he is just giving us some great advice as we are getting fueled up and ready to continue on our way.
He now heads up a group of recovering addicts who have turned their life around from addiction to being an athlete.  This aid station was being run by these great volunteers.  There's no way we could run a race like this without volunteers help, and for that I was completely grateful!
As we got to a major aid station at mile 33 called Little Valley I did a shoes and socks change and applied more body glide, and ate some food and drank a big shot of caffeine for the next portion of the race which I knew was going to be challenging from practicing a couple weeks previously.  It was also becoming more hot as the day was moving on.  We had a lot of tree coverage until we got to the dreaded Bozung Hill around mile 38.  This section I knew would be hard but I struggled as I got to the top of it and had a bonk moment.  I must have gotten behind in my fueling and hydrating.  I was nauseated and just completely out of energy.  Monte forced me to eat gu and drink.  I sat down for about 10 minutes feeling like the world was spinning and like I was going to throw up and pass out.  I didn't want to lose much time so I got up and just slowly kept moving forward.  After about a half hour I was completely fine and moving better.  I learned my lesson to just keep eating and drinking!!  I didn't want to experience that again,  
At around mile 41 at Windy Pass Aid Station after my big bonk and feeling much better.
It's amazing how yummy a fig newton can taste.
There would be only one more aid station after this one at Windy Pass and so I fueled up well and filled my water bag for the final 10 miles.  The super exciting thing was this last part would be all down hill. YAY!  I love downhill running.
As we were getting near the finish line area my friends Laurie and Annaleesa were there to cheer for me and take photos.  It was so fun to see some familiar faces.  Mark was there as well, back there in the red shirt doing some video as I crossed the finish line 15 hours and 23 minutes later.
Wow!  I did it!  I was glad yet sad to be done.  I love races.  I love being in the mountains.  I love the whole ultra running experience and look forward to many more opportunities of doing this.  
I was so grateful to Monte and his help in doing more than half of those 50 miles with me.
I was so grateful for the Race Director, John Bozung, who put on a great event and truly cares about this course and the people who experience it.  

I'm sure I will be back next year!
This would be a photo of how I looked 24 hours later after a Sunday Afternoon 4 hour nap.
I was completely wasted!!
(But still smiling somewhat)