My first running event since last year's marathon and The Big Injury was an official success. Hooray! Running is awesome. This is my third or fourth time running the SLC Half Marathon, and my sixth or seventh total Half (Is it weird that I can't remember? I also can't remember all of my finishing times. Going slowly crazy, me.).
Here are a million wordy details of how it all went down for me:
Rainy! Rainy and 40 degrees from start to finish. I fussed about my choice of clothing the night before the race. Then I had running anxiety dreams all night. I dreamt that I had to stop mid-race to remove my jacket and repin my bib for 30 minutes, which just killed my changes for a PR. I woke up in the morning and decided to ditch the jacket completely and run in two t-shirts (one short sleeve, one long sleeve) and running capris. Perfect choice for the conditions.
Getting to the start line:
The Trax train I rode to the start line was packed to the brim with people. We smashed in like sardines, veeerrrrry uncomfortably close with all the strangers around us, until they stopped the train a couple stops from the start line and made us all get off so the train could be searched by police with dogs.
At the start line:
The runners were surrounded by security. There were police cars, fire trucks, and a bomb squad car. National guard were walking around among the runners. Totally surreal.
The race committe decided to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing by passing out wrist bands for us to wear through the race. We observed a 30 second moment of silence at the start of the race, and then they played Sweet Caroline as we began running. I didn't know that song was a Boston Thing until now, but it felt significant, and I still have it running through my head. I liked it before, but I think it will always be a favorite song of mine now.
I wish I could say it was a great run for me. It wasn't. I suffered through the entire thing! I'm blaming it on altitude. My diaphragm muscle cramped up in the middle of the first mile(!!!), and I could hardly breathe for the first four miles! It felt like such a bummer. I went out with a PR in mind, and I felt myself slowing up because I just couldn't get enough breath. But a couple of water breaks were helpful, and I was able to stay on track.
There were 7000 runners in this event. There were pace groups at the start line, but it really felt like everyone ignored them. I felt crowded for the ten miles. I was constantly fighting for space to run and dodging and passing people almost the entire run. Kind of annoying.
The last four miles were rough. I'm still blaming the altitude. I was on pace for a good PR, but struggling. I was so tired, my calves were cramping up, and I needed a distraction. So I started up a conversation with a guy who happened to be running by me at the time. And let me tell you, he was my Race Savior! He talked and provided the perfect distraction. I found out that he is a physician living in Boise. We talked about medical school and medical life. When he found out what my goal time was, he said, "Oh, you'll make it! Just stick with me!" I wish I could have, but I had to slow up for the last mile. What a nice guy. I saw him after, and I think he came in a minute or two ahead of me.
I finished tired but strong (I love feeling the technique carry me through). My sisters and Dad were at the finish line, standing in the cold and rain, cheering me on. Offical Time: 1:53:16. A PR of about 5 minutes (the last one of 1:58 set in Sept. 2011 at the Pocatello Half Marathon). I seriously couldn't be happier with it, although I know that it's going to be a hard time for me to beat next time.
I got so cold after I stopped running. So cold. My running clothes were completely drenched. I shivered for a couple of hours afterwards.
My calves and the tops of my feet got really sore afterwards. Sore like, here is a flight of stairs, and I can't walk down it! Aaagh! I normally don't calf pain. I rested for a few days, and then went on a short jog yesterday to loosen things up. My calves immediately cramped up again. Ow! I think it's all related to my orthotics breaking, and now I'm running without them, and my legs are in a transition phase. Spiff thinks I have some minor muscles tearing in my calves now that will need some time to heal. Blah. Being injured stinks, and I don't like having to rest.
Some things that made this event so great for me:
I watched my awesome friend, Lindsey, finish her very first half marathon! So excited for her and proud of her!
I have always enjoyed this event, but there was a change in event administration this year, and I liked it even more. The course was changed for the better (I loved running through Sugarhouse Park and ending the race at Liberty Park, instead of running into downtown), and the money allocated more efficiently, which included a big bonus for me--a decent race t-shirt, which is not the oversized monstrosities from previous years that sit in my drawer as nothing more than a momento.
I loved running through SLC this time. This is the first time I have run the race after living in SLC. I loved running through my old stomping grounds, my old training routes. It felt so familiar, yet fresh and awesome since it has been a year since I have run there. Awesome training memories from running in SLC!!!
In the wake of the Boston Marathon Bombings, this race was an emotional experience for me. No crying, or anything, I was just moved by it. I have followed every piece of news about that horrific event. I was not directly affected by it, but it is so close to my heart. The Boston Marathon is the pinacle of running accomplishments, a celebration of the human spirit, and it was such an offensive venue for terrorism. Despite all of that, I saw something amazing happen as I participated in this event:
I saw thousands of runners out there who showed up and performed with enthusiasm, refusing to be intimidated by terrorists. I saw people on the sidelines throughout the entire course, standing in the rain and cold, cheering for us with "We Heart Boston" signs. This is a community of people who truly celebrate the joys of the human spirit, and I am honored to be a part of it.
Running is awesome. I can't wait for my next race.