Monday, April 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Gardens Half Marathon

Race #11 of 2013
This was my second time running the Thanksgiving Gardens race and last year I vowed I wouldn't run it again because it was so hilly.  But I think running races is oftentimes like childbirth in that you forget how hard the experience really was.  Plus, the gardens with all the tulips in bloom just draws me in. I really wish this whole race could be run in the gardens only and I would have had a smile plastered on my face for the entire run.

There are 3 major reasons I liked this race this year: 
♥No bus ride to get to the starting line-just park and walk to the start. Love that!
♥The gardens are gorgeous and the golf course is beautiful too!
♥The after-race treats felt like a feast! 

The only thing I didn't like about this race were the hills.  

I just recently got the opportunity to run Ogden marathon on May 18th and so I am quickly heading to the final weeks of a marathon training plan and realized I needed to run 20 miles today for that.  So I got up a little early and ran 3 miles on the treadmill.  Then I showered and changed my clothes and headed to the race.  I was about a half hour early which gave me plenty of time to put on my bib, my timing chip on my shoe and use the bathroom in a nice pavillion area.  No port-a-potty necessary here.  You just had to know where to go.  I kept my jacket on until about 10 minutes before the race and handed it to the drop bag people and snapped a couple photos and then headed to the starting line.  
This is the map of the half marathon.  You can see where it winds all over the place.  That is the area right inside the gardens.  I smile the most when I'm running in there.
It was fun to see the Utah Race Pacers there pacing this race today.  I have met a few of them since pacing the Salt Lake Half Marathon the weekend before and I chatted a little bit with Scott Ivans here.  He was pacing the 2 hour time and I wanted so badly to be able to hang with his group.  Someday this dream may become a reality if I am willing to work hard enough.  I'm not sure about that yet.  I want running to be fun and attempting this speed may then turn to a feeling of work.   

The race started at 7:00 am and we were off!  I tend to start a little fast with each race I run and then taper a little bit.  I was averaging about 9:30 minute miles which is pretty fast for me. I tried to keep this up as long as I could and then when the hills started I watched that average start to go down a little at a time.  I tried to keep it under 10:00 minute miles but the hills are relentless and finally my little garmin clicked into the 10's around mile 9.  I tried so hard to get it back under but it just wasn't happening.  For the next three miles I was just maintaining a 10:05 and finally near the end I gave a little extra kick and finished with a 10:04 average.  

It's a constant mind game I have to play to keep my pace up.  Some good music on the headphones helps as well.  

The most exciting thing for me though was realizing I had just beat my time from last year on this same course by 20 minutes!!  Maybe I am making some progress a little at a time.     
After I came in to the finish line and got my medal and treats I headed back out to finish up my mileage for Ogden Marathon training.  I needed 4 more miles to complete the 20 for the day.  So I headed back down the course in the opposite direction and just watched the runners still coming in.  You could just see in their faces the challenge of what they were going through.  Many were walking.  Many had companions with them.  I wondered how many were first timers?  I was just proud of them for continuing and persevering to get to that finish line.  After a little distance I turned around and ran back towards the finish line but then headed off in another direction where I saw the kids fun run 1 mile happening and decided to hop in on that course for a short distance.  I also decided to keep running around Thanksgiving Point and discover other areas.  I was super surprised to find a little 'mini' gardens of some kind that I hadn't seen here before.  The following pictures were taken there which wasn't part of the course I had ran earlier.  Since I wasn't being timed I decided to stop and take a few pictures.   
I finished up my additional 4 miles near the awards ceremony going on and enjoyed listening to all the speedy winners times.
I don't usually pay attention to my standings in a race because I always know I'm near the back of the pack, however I thought I would check it out in the results page.
Final time 2:12:12
I was 8th of 32 in my age category.
I was 199th out of 530 women who ran the half marathon,
or 401st out of 835 people who ran the half.
So happy to not be near the back of the pack.
Race registration will be opening up next week for 2014 and I will be signing up.  
See?  I have already forgotten about those hills!


Gina Horkey said...

Wonderful! Flowers are beautiful! You've already come so far ina year. I think more mileage makes you faster, which you're proving!

mCat said...

Heck, I should have stuck around and wandered the gardens with you - they are beautiful!

Great job friend!

Amy @ Run Mom Run said...

What a happy race recap! I loved it! For some reason seeing that areal shot of somewhere so familiar that I haven't been in years made me smile. I guess I'm the sentimental sort.

You could totally break 2 hours quickly if you focused on one race. But you love racing, and it'll come eventually anyway! 20 minutes is a huge jump! Way to go!

Kathee said...

That is great! It looks like a fun race. I have to admit I have not been to Thanksgiving Point in years. Maybe next year I'll give that race a try. Awesome time! Especially if your battling hills!
Good luck on your marathon!

Cory Reese said...

You had me at "No bus ride".

I love your pictures and recap. You are tearing up the races! Keep up the good work.

Jerilee E. said...

That's what I've heard from everyone about this race- beautiful and HILLY. Great job on totally smashing last years time :). Awesome pictures, too.