I have looked forward to this one since I registered MONTHS ago! Simply because of the route! American Fork canyon. Starting at Tibble Fork reservoir and ending at American Fork High school. Not many canyons are more gorgeous than this one. And a downhill course means a fast course and maybe a new PR.
I didn't put a whole lot of thought into training, just my normal stuff because in the back of my head, it was always "just a half". Lesson learned - don't do that! Anything more than a 10k requires your best prep.
I prolly should have took the prep Friday night as my omen. I couldn't find my ipod. That is sheer disaster. One canNOT run more than a 5k without tunes. Splenda and I turned the house upside down and inside out looking for it. I was frantically texting the Shark, and her husband since she wasn't answering her phone, to see if I had left it in their vehicle. I was sick to think that I had no ipod. Gratefully, when I finally connected with her, she assured me she had it, and not only did she deliver it later that night, but fully charged! Best.Shark.Ever.
Since Ana, Amy and Kris were all running as well, we agreed to meet at 3:40 in the morning so as to allow enough time to get to AF and the bus loading area before the last bus. You would think with the early morning alarm ahead, I would have gotten to bed at a decent time. Not so much.
At 3:15 I woke up thinking 'who in the crap is ringing our doorbell in the middle of the night?' - um, oh yeah - that's my phone alarm. Got out of bed, dressed, and out the door. With a quick stop at the Sev for the best pre-race breakfast ever, I met up with Ana. No Kris. Not like him to be late. I reviewed the texts in my phone to make sure I actually told him the right time since I am known for screwing up and yep - the time is right. I text him. No answer. Finally I tell Ana to go ahead, I'll hunt Kris down and meet up with them. I call him. He drowsily answers the phone realizes what's happened and I give him 5 minutes to be ready. Poor guy. I didn't realize until later that he had not gotten home from girls camp until midnight and was running on about 3 hours of sleep! Add to the fact that he was still rehabbing an injury and had pneumonia. Dude is seriously an ANIMAL!
We quickly headed south and after a wrong turn or two, made it to the high school, parked and in line for the buses. It was warm, but I was prepared for it to be cold when we got up the canyon.
The bus ride was typical too. A lot of quiet chit chat as people talk about their runs, meet new people or do their last minute pinning on their bibs. Once at the top, we dropped our bags for the truck, hit the porta-potties and as we were headed for the start, there were race coordinators hollering for us to hurry up. They were already late getting started and didn't want to wait any longer.
At least we had time for a quick pic at the start
Ana, Amy, Me and Kris
We fell in line right near the 1:50 pacer but I had no plan of being able to keep up with him. The horn started and off we went!
The first mile was a FAST downhill. Almost a little steep. It was a quick jump start and I had to remind myself to slow it down and ride with the hill a little bit.
By mile 3, I was in a nice pace and felt comfortable. The scenery couldn't have been any better! It seriously is one of the prettiest runs I have ever done!
It was a nice consistent downhill through the rest of the canyon - about 9 miles or so. I was able to snap a shot - forgive the blurry
*cell phone shot*
While the down hill was most def helping my pace, I was starting to feel it in my legs. They were taking a beating to be sure! I was wishing I had packed some ibuprofen in my belt. Instead, I had some gu, water and kept pushing through.
At about mile 9, we turned out of the canyon and onto a quiet little trail that again was absolutely gorgeous.
And again, a crappy cell phone shot that isn't even worth putting up here since it's so bad, but imagine a paved trail with a small bubbling brook running alongside it and surrounded by lush green trees, bushes and wildflowers. Yeah, it WAS that pretty!
By now, I was feeling some pain on the inside of my left ankle - just above it. I focused on trying to evaluate was it pain I should stop for, or push through? I decided to push through. It felt like tight muscles and figured I could work it out when I was done since there were just a few miles left.
Once we came out of the trail, we were onto surface streets in American Fork. Spectators were sporadically out cheering on the runners and that always helps. By now, I was playing leap frog with the 1:55 pacer and thought I might actually achieve my goal of sub 2 hours. I kept him in my rear view sights and made sure that if he started to creep up on me, that I would push to put some room between us.
At mile 12, I couldn't hold him off any longer. He slowly inched past me with the couple of people pacing with him. I started to feel deflated, but when I looked at my own watch, I knew I was still in good shape. As long as I stayed strong the last mile I could do it.
By now, the crowds are much larger, so I pulled an ear bud out to hear them. If you don't think that a perfect stranger cheering for you makes a difference, you are sadly mistaken. I don't care who they are holding a sign for, in my head I pretend it's for me!
At last I rounded the corner and saw the finish line. It was within sprinting distance so I grabbed everything left in me and took off. I crossed the line at 1:55 and some change!! WAHOO!!!
I quickly found Amy, and with her Pam, another friend from the gym. They killed it with 1:40 somethings. So proud of them!
Found Kris who had finished with a 1:40. I was amazed and impressed.
I got my medal, t-shirt, some watermelon and a quick rub down on my knees and calves. Then, we were headed out.
My legs were really feeling it. They felt like they had just been hammered. I forget how hard downhill is on one's body!
I dropped Kris off - and then headed home and one last picture.
After an ice bath, apple cider vinegar bath and hot shower with a whole lot of stretching, I was feeling a little better. Protein shake, diet coke and some ibuprofen and I darn near felt normal again.
That being said, several hours later, I am starting to feel it. No stairs for me tomorrow. And there will a lot of icing and ibuprofen for the next couple of days.
Was it worth it? Abso-freakin-lutely! Couldn't have asked for a better day for weather. Overcast, not hot, not rainy - just perfect. The canyon and trail were gorgeous. And even though me and my friends didn't actually stay together for the run, just doing it together is enough. Love them!
Next time though? Not gonna underestimate a downhill half marathon. I will be scheduling my magic masseuse before and after. I have learned there is real value to implementing that as part of the whole training and race routine!
To Kris, Amy, Pam, Lisa - congrats on all your fabulous times!
To Chris - great job pacing - I know you had to hold back, you are faster than a 2:10, but you were there to help someone else reach their personal best.
To my beautiful Ana - WHAT.A.DRAG! Girl spent part of the race in the back of a paramedic bus. Blurry vision, not well. She's good now, and the upside is that the paramedic was cute and had an awesome Australian accent. She got to cross the finish line, get her shirt and medal. But still......... you are owed another chance!
And to myself. Good job. You reached your goal. It's not the best 13.1 time you've ever done, but you are older and your training has changed significantly from fast miles to endurance miles. Next season we'll work on speed. And never, ever forget to schedule Cassie. You need her!
22nd place out of 77 in my age group
214 place out of 720 women.
Timp half - you were awesome, and see you in 2012!
Postscript - just read a FB update from a friend who paced. Apparently they aren't as well organized or treated the pacers as well as American Fork half did. Might need to do that one next year instead. Or both.