I can finally write a half marathon race recap after a 3+ year hiatus from my last one [which was the Disney World Half in 2014!]
We all need a hiatus from something in life when things get crazy or when you are in another season. If it’s meant to be, that something can always held a special place in your heart to make a comeback even stronger than before! For me, that was how I felt about running. This past week I wrote a post about how my reasons for running have changed. My training for the past 3+ months has been focused on getting me safely to the Bryce Canyon Half marathon so that I could finish STRONG as I could.
I decided on the BCH because of it being in a new location we hadn’t traveled to before, amazing views on the course, the slightly downhill elevation on the course map, and temperatures that were 40 degrees cooler than our Vegas summer weather.
My training involved hills and downhills + intervals to keep me prepared for the course. Even though it was downhill, I knew that could still reek havoc on my body if I wasn’t ready.
They had me at the elevation map!
On the Friday before the race (July 8) we headed out on a family roadtrip to Bryce Canyon City, where we were staying at the hotel where the starting line was.
With the race start at 6:00am, I only had to roll out of bed by 5:15am to be race ready! In true pre-race-jitters-tradition, though, I barely slept a wink the night before. I got ready while everyone slept soundly and head out to the front of the hotel where the race start was. We had runners being bused in, since this was a point-to-point race. Once the final bus made its way in, the gun was off and so were we!
I was so enamored with the views on this course. From the jump, we were surrounded by farm fields and a beautiful sunrise going right into the first 5k of the race. I had to remember to keep myself level at around a 9-9:30 pace (my goal race pace was 9:30 or better) so that I didn’t let adrenaline + a steep downhill start = disaster.
After I settled into the feel of the run, I decided to not use my ‘planned’ race playlist and instead listened to podcasts from Revelation Wellness and a playlist from a friend who I’ve been doing my bible study with. I decided to use this time as solitude away from the craziness in my life, even if my feet were still in motion.
Through about mile 7 of this race, I was cruising. I was well within a consistent pace of 9:00 or better and didn’t feel like I was pushing very hard. I totally forgot there was such thing as ‘pace teams’ and began to see some run towards and past me. Of course, this can mess with ones mental state as they are trying to NOT focus on pace and racing. Even still, I decided to hang out with the 1:55 pace group for a while. A friend’s daughter was running and hanging out with them, and we all seemed to be gliding along with intermittent conversation between controlled breathing.
Somewhere around mile 8-9, I started to get into my own head. I said “see you at the finish” to my pace team friends I’d just made. I decided at one moment I was going to PR my previous half marathon time of 1:58:57 (Women’s Half Marathon – my 1st EVER half marathon.) At another moment I decided I just wanted to beat 2 hours. After a lot of back and forth in my little brain, I decided to begin to take walk breaks. I was taking water off and on at water stops, but I also remembered how I did intervals during my long runs and that I wouldn’t hurt a thing to slow down and take in the experience of my first post-baby race. Besides, my A Goal was to finish in under 2:10 so why was I putting so much pressure on myself?
I started talking to other runners including another runner from Utah who came for a girl’s weekend and someone from Hawaii who was struggling to breathe in the high altitude [surprisingly, I hadn’t noticed any issues with my asthma since living in Vegas I’d acclimated to the thinner air myself.] I high-fived the high schoolers who were handing out water for us at the aid stations. As I listened to my RW podcast, I was reminded to tell others “good job!” and “we’re almost there!” (One of the episodes I was listening to was geared towards finishing the last hour of a race – what a gem!) I regained some positive juju, even if I was now at a much slower pace for the remainder of the race.
Even though I live in 115 heat during Vegas summers, it soon became hot to me as I neared the double digit miles of the course. Our comfortable 50-degree start quickly turned into an 85 degree finishing temp.
We were in a very rural area of Southern Utah in the Bryce Canyon area throughout the 13.1 (I think it’s actually 13.3 miles total) of the course, so there was no service. I was able to start my Nike Run app at the Hotel when we started, so it ran throughout the course. I noticed, around mile 10, that my phone’s battery was significantly dropping in power. I was at 19% with over 4 miles left go! I prayed to God for him to just let me have enough battery to last me to the finish to be able to find my family … and take a finisher’s photo!
I kept telling myself, as I had in previous races, that I had two more miles to go .. 1.5 more miles to go … less than a mile left to go! I saw finishers coming back who’d already completed the race and immediately pushed to get it done already!
I remember seeing the finishing sign and turn on my left. As I lifted my heavy legs to gun it in for the finish I saw the numbers 2:02 on the clock. I knew that I’d started the race right at the start so I was pretty spot on with my official finish time.
I was spot on with my official time of 2:02:19! I was about 3 minutes shy of a shiny new PR BUT I definitely was well within my A Goal of finishing under 2:10! I’d shot for a race pace of 9:30 and hit 9:20 (I was at 8:48 for the first half of the race – shucks!)
I ended up finding my friend and her daughter again to congratulate her on her finish (her 2nd half marathon.) They were nice enough to take my finisher’s photo for me right as my phone died. I decided to wander around the finisher’s area, noshing on all of the free fruit and water I could, before finding where people came in to pick up their runners. I hopped into our car to kiss my support team as we headed back to the hotel we were staying at. I got to see the course, this time in reverse, and cheer on those still finishing the race. All of the adrenaline was still running through my veins as I made it back in time to nap with my little inspiration of a daughter.
I thoroughly enjoyed this trip, this race, this whole experience with my family. We ventured out to a few trails and got in a wagon ride to see the canyon’s rim up close.
I have a feeling that Bryce Canyon Half Marathon will be a destination race next year and I will have hubby along side of me, let’s bet on that! It was a very well-organized race with support, a great race shirt, plenty of aid stations, and a well-planned course. I loved the downhill challenge; after seeing the course for the first time I know exactly what I can do to improve the next time I tackle it!I really enjoyed the peace and quiet of this race. There was a total of only 860 or so runners for the half marathon, so there were moments where I had lots of runners around me and others where I had solitude and quiet. I now know that without the cell signal, I should bring my charger case and I’ll be golden!
What was the race that gave you your mojo back?
What is one destination race you’d love to run?
Do you prefer a flat, downhill, or middle-of-the-road course?