Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Salt Lake Marathon

Last Sunday I had a friend ask me if I would be interested in a free bib to run the Salt Lake Half Marathon.  He said he had a nephew that couldn't run it and so if  I wanted to run it with his bib under his name I could for free.  He had me at free!  I like races, but I love FREE races, especially for one that would really just count as a training run for me.  So I jumped at the chance not really sure if he would come through with it or not.   But his nephew text me and we set up a place to meet in Bountiful so he could give me his race packet.  Dave and I drove down to get it and discovered that there had been a miscommunication and he was planning on me paying full price for it.  That's never fun news to get especially after spending another $50 on gas to get there and back.  It was an awkward situation and I ended paying him $50 (plus a pie I took to give him to thank him when I thought it was free).  He paid $60 for it, but I wouldn't be running under my own name or get my size of shirt. Most runners either give their bibs away or ask about half price. I felt like I got ripped off.  If I had been on the ball I would have told him that I changed my mind about running it because I thought it was free. I was not happy about the whole situation, but I did learn a valuable lesson about communication.  

Saturday morning, I got up at the crack of insanity (3:45 a.m.) to get down to SLC and to park and try and jump on Trax in order to get to the starting line.  The race had over 8000 runners and so I was a little nervous about finding a place to park. But it was a piece of cake.  The ride on Trax to the start was even fun.

Once I got off Trax, it was still dark and the view was gorgeous!  As I headed straight to the porta potties (of course!), someone yelled out my name.  I turned and it was my friend Rendy.  I know her best as runrunren from Instagram.  We also pace together with the American Flyers.  I was SO happy she spotted me because it was so nice to have someone to hang out with before the start.  She was also running the half.  She was the only fellow runner I saw all day. 
The before race photo with traditional backdrop and photo bomber!  This is my favorite! haha
The start of this race was so exciting!  They had VERY loud music playing and a couple radio DJ's getting us hyped and excited.  We were lined up to start and everyone had their hands on their Garmin's ready to start but then suddenly they said we had to wait because Trax just stopped with a few hundred more runners on it!  I was happy to wait for them, because I have been one of those that arrived late to the start (at no fault of my own) at another race and they didn't wait.  At the Provo Halloween Half this year, I was on one of three buses that arrived late and as we were pulling in we heard the gun go off and watched the start of the race while sitting on the bus.  Never a fun thing.  So I was happy to wait for them.

I was really pumped up and ready to get going!  There is just no way to describe the start of a marathon race unless you have experienced it.  You are squished in with thousands of other runners who are just as nervous and excited as you, who have trained so hard to be there and the energy in the air is tangible!  This one was one of the best as far as getting us excited and ready to run than any I've been to.   

I was excited to run this course.  It was my first time running this race. It started up by the U of U under the Olympic Bridge and then went through Federal Heights and then up behind the cemetery through the avenues and then down through Memory Grove which is beautiful.  A man and a women were on their bikes in Memory Grove and as I ran past I heard the man say to all the runners, "Do you want to trade?", meaning his bike.  We all laughed and then the woman yelled, "Jodi!  Go Jodi!".  Unfortunately I had NO idea who she was!  Luckily she later posted on Facebook who she was.  It was my friend Tiffany.  But she had on a helmet and sunglasses and her hair pulled back, so I really didn't recognize her.  We then ran down past the Eagle Arch by Temple Square and I loved that part.  Once again I heard someone yell out my name and cheer me on.  I knew that they knew me because my bib had the name Chris Miller on it.  But just as before, I had NO idea who it was!  I just waved at him and said thanks!  Luckily he also messaged me later on Facebook and told me that it was him.
 Loved running in downtown SLC
 Memory Grove was a beautiful part of the course as well.

 If you look really close, you can see the runners going right down State Street.

The rest of the race was mostly through neighborhoods until we came to Liberty Park and then ended at Library Square.  It was a tough course!  More hills than I expected.  Everyone that ran it before said that this course is the tougher than before and everyone's time was slower. But, I was just happy I got to have the opportunity to experience it.  I felt good most of the way, other than the usual feelings of, "I am dying, when can I be done!?",  that run through your head.  I really wanted to finish with a sub two even though I had no idea how tough the course would be, but that was my goal.  I was happy that I crossed the finish line at 1:57!  I stayed with the 3:50 and 3:55 pacers for the full right until we split and the full runners went one way and half runners another way.  That made me feel pretty happy that I was able to keep up that pacing group for those 9 (or was it 11?) miles.
Yes these are watermarked.  But I don't care because I'm not going to pay $25 for a photo!
 Rendy (far left in first photo) and I ended up together in this shot!  I didn't even know until I saw this photo on the website.
The worst part of the entire race was when I couldn't get my shirt pocket zipper unzipped to get my GU.  The pocket was in the back of my shirt and it was stuck!  I was about at mile 8 and so I knew I really needed that GU and I had just grabbed some water and since you have to take GU with water, I knew I HAD to get that thing out because the next water station was at least two more miles.  I kept trying and trying, but to no avail.  And to make it worse, I was going up a HUGE hill!  Probably the hardest hill on the course!  I was having no luck and so I finally ran over to a spectator and asked her if she could unzip it.  She couldn't get it open either!  She kept saying, "It's stuck, it's stuck!", as I watched a herd of people continuously pass me!  I knew my time was ticking away but she finally got it open and I thanked her as I ran off trying to get the GU down and get up that killer hill.   Then just as I finished my GU, I looked down and there was a packet of the exact same kind I just ate laying in the street untouched and unopened.  I have to be very careful with which GU I take because many of them give me a really upset stomach.   I had tested out the Salted Caramel on a long training run and so I knew it sat well with me. If I had just kept going a little farther, I could have picked that one up off the ground and forgot about my stuck zipper. 
This flavor is like having a treat in the middle of a run!  It's my favorite!  I would do commercials for it! For free!  Or for a lifetime supply! ☺
The weather was the perfect running temperature for a race.  It was about 55-60 degrees during the race.  It was a little chilly at the start, but once I hit mile 6, I got rid of my jacket.  One of the best parts of running a long race has to be the things you see along the way.  I saw a couple people watching that were visibly psychotic and a few that looked like they belonged in New York City, but the worst thing I saw were two dead rats in the middle of the road at two different spots.  One was enormous and when I saw him, I nearly lost my GU.  I was beginning to think I was running in New York.  I also was happy that I found a penny and a dime on the course and I even managed to stop and pick them up.  Not always an easy task.  I hate to stop even for a second when running race pace because my legs start to tighten up and cramp.  But I am glad I did. 

There was also this cute little boy that had a table set up in front of his house with a bowl of jelly beans on the table for the runners.  He looked sad that no one was taking any and so as I approached the table I grabbed a handful and told him thanks.  I had no intention of eating them because I didn't want to chance upsetting my stomach, but when I opened my hand and looked at them, I had grabbed ALL purple jelly beans and a black one.  What are the odds of that?  I know maybe that's a little out there, but when you are at a point in a race where you need something, anything, to help you get through the miles, little things like that do amazing things to your mind to help you keep going.  I knew it was just a little special gift from heaven sending some encouragement.

The finish was right in the heart of SLC.
Library Square is very pretty, but you never want to see a Bomb Squad van near the finish line! 

My medal, shirt, and bib.  Yep, today I was Chris Miller.
All in all, it was a great experience and a great training run. I finished 14th in my age division out of 106.  And 721 out of 3442 overall.  

Only four weeks until my real marathon!  That one I will run under my own name!   Let's hope I am glad I did.  hah