REVEL Big Cottonwood Half Marathon Race Recap

Utah is so amazing! It does help that one of my favorite runners and friends, Kim, lives there :) This race weekend was just plain old fun and I got a shiny PR to go with it.  

Yah for PR'S

Yah for PR'S

Peter talked me into this race a few months ago. I knew Kim was training for the full and she was hopeful for a big PR to guarantee her a spot at Boston 2017. I wasn't too keen on doing it because I promised myself I wouldn't race, let alone a downhill race that could risk injury, so close to Chicago. But we made a weekend out of it and I figured I could just relax and use it as a training run.

We got to Salt Lake City late Thursday night and were completely exhausted. None of us were used to being up so late and we crashed as soon as we got to Kim's house. I woke up on Friday and did a 6 mile run around Kim's neighborhood - and of course I got lost, but it had beautiful views of the mountains which made the extra mile worth it. 

Views from my run - stunning!

Views from my run - stunning!

We ate a quick breakfast and went to the Nike outlet so Kim and Peter could get new shirts to wear for the race. Aaron met up with us there and then we made our way to the expo, which had to be the smallest expo outside of the Zion Half Marathon expo. But Revel gives a goooood swag bag. We got throw away gloves (I would not know their value until early Saturday morning), a foil blanket (also very valuable), a beanie with a ponytail hole for the ladies, and pancake mix! 

Gettin' pumped up at the expo!

Gettin' pumped up at the expo!

We grabbed lunch afterwards and then made our way to the grocery store to pick up some things for dinner that night. We made Kim's go-to meal - spaghetti with red sauce and garlic cheesy bread. It may become my go-to meal too considering our results in the race. Aaron joined us and we kind of lounged around for a bit after dinner. This was when Kim realized her watch wasn't working. It had a hard time connecting to GPS at a half marathon she ran a few weeks ago, but worked fine since. When we turned it on, it couldn't connect. We went outside, updated it, did a hard reset. Nothing worked. It put a really bad air on a great day. This race was so important to Kim. While she had 2 other BQ's for the year, the times weren't good enough to guarantee her entry. She'd spent the last 3 months training this course, knowing it, making it hers so she could get a stellar PR. And now her watch was gonna shit out on her the night before?

We went to bed and I thought about just giving Kim my watch. You can run a half without a watch... but there is no way you can run a marathon without one. There was a 1:30 pacer I planned on staying with, and I knew Kim wasn't comfortable going with a pace group. We got up the next morning and got ready. I ate my apple and Honey Stinger chews and Peter and Kim had their bagels. Kim tried to convince Peter and I that we would need more clothing than our foil blankets and gloves, but we refused. Idiots that we are. On our way over to the bus stop, I gave Kim my watch. She was so surprised and happy and I'm so so so glad I gave it to her. We said our goodbyes and Aaron and Kim got on the marathon buses while Peter and I rode up on the half marathon buses.  

Geez it was cold up there. You could see your breath! I had hand warmers Aaron have me before we left and thank god I took them! I wrapped myself in my foil blanket, throw away gloves and hand warmers on, and then Peter and I cuddled for the next 2 hours while we waited for the start. If Peter is cold, that means it's really cold! One thing I wish Revel did was put a heating tent or heaters up at the start. It was frigid. That was one thing the Zion half did that was super cool. We made our way to the Porto potties about 20 minutes before the start and hen made our way to the start. The 1:30 pacer, Edgar, showed up just before go time. The start was a little strange and informal. There was no announcer or National Anthem. It was literally a race organizer who shouted 10, 9, 8.... and we were off. 

I'm smiling in every photo because the course is gorgeous!

I'm smiling in every photo because the course is gorgeous!

There were a few others that started out running with the pacer, and the first 4 miles flew by. The canyon was absolutely stunning and so peaceful. My legs were numb from the cold up until mile 3, so that was fun. We just passed mile 5 and Edgar said, "Less than an hour left to go. We just ran for 32 minutes, about 58 more minutes to the finish." We chatted and it was amazing how easy the run felt on my aerobic system. I won't deny that it is tough on your legs to go fast on a downhill, but my lungs and heart felt great. I told the pacer I would love to do a sub 1:30, not too much under, but just enough. He said that was good because we were about 1 minute under pace. 

Around mile 7, I had to pee. I was trying to calculate how long it would take until the finish and whether I could hold it or not. This kept me focused on trying to hold it in for about 2 minutes and then I just said, "Nope, I'm going." I told Edgar I was going to speed up to the next aid station to pee and that I would meet him there again. Luckily it was just around a bend in the road which meant he wouldn't be far behind me. I opened a porto potty and the seat was still down - nice, it was clean at least - but I had to pull the seat up, had just enough time to lower my shorts and barely squat, pee (where much of it got all over my leg) and then jump out again and Edgar had just gone by. I raced to meet him.

Almost out of the canyon.

Almost out of the canyon.

I told him I was going to probably break off once we got out of the canyon at mile 9.5 to see if I could get a few more minutes off my time. I knew my legs might be shredded at that point, but my lungs would have a lot more to give. Coming out of the canyon you go into a slight uphill. After so much downhill, it was strange to run uphill at all. My legs didn't seem to mind though. I pushed ahead of Edgar and one guy kept pace with me for a bit. I asked if he had a watch so I could see what our pace was, but he didn't. I started picking it up and left him. I passed a few others and then at mile 11, we hit a huge downhill. I was so excited. You could already hear the announcer at mile 12. I just kept thinking the race would be short if I could already hear the announcer. Nope. I saw the 26 mile sign and then the finish shoot came into view. There was a man about 10 seconds in front of me. I saw the clock and it read 1:25:50 as the man crossed. I tried so, so hard to pick it up, but ended up with exactly 1:26:00. I cam in 15th female (7th in my age division - all these speedy 30 year olds!) and 49th overall. It was amazing!

I was relieved to be finished and knew I had some time before Peter came in. I grabbed a water and thanked Edgar for pacing me when he crossed a few minutes later. I stayed in the shoot, walking around so they wouldn't kick me out. I kept looking at the pacers - Peter was hoping to break 2 hours. When the 1:50 pacer crossed, I got closer to the finish line. I finally saw Peter come in just shortly after the 1:55 pacer!! He crushed his PR by 14 minutes! And he could barely walk. We got him some water and we sat down on the side of the finisher's shoot so we could rest for a bit. It would be at least another hour before Aaron and Kim came through.

Having some fun after the race with REVEL's awesome signs!

Having some fun after the race with REVEL's awesome signs!

Peter and I were tracking both of them, and the final checkpoint before the finish was at mile 23. I refreshed the page and Kim had already passed mile 23 and she was doing a kickass pace! Aaron hadn't crossed that point yet, so we were a little worried - he'd been fighting a nagging injury the last few weeks leading up to the race. We got closer and kept looking for her blue Nike tank. Tons of marathoners were coming through now and they were dropping like flies, filling up the medical tent as soon as they crossed the finish line. I had my camera ready as soon as the 3:15 pacer crossed and then Kim came in! She finished in a 3:16!!!!! Such an amazing pace!!!!!!!

We met up with Kim's family just after she finished. I kept checking to see where Aaron was and he had crossed the 23 mile mark at this point, so Kim, Peter and I made our way to the finish to cheer him on. He experienced some serious pain and didn't get the outcome he'd hoped for, but still kicked butt and finished in 3:31. 

Our amazing crew!

Our amazing crew!

We said goodbye to Kim's family and went to grab breakfast. I was starving at this point because I'd been done with my race for about 3 hours. Kim and Aaron had a tough time eating, which is expected after a marathon. It always takes me about 3 hours to want to eat anything. We finally made it back to Kim's house and got cleaned up. We spent the afternoon lounging around, eating, napping, and sharing our race stories. Aaron and Kim's awesome friend Megan, who is also a runner, came over that night for pizza and ice cream to celebrate the race and Aaron's 40th birthday! It was safe to say we were all pretty pooped after such a long day, and we crashed out early. 

The nice thing about Utah is that most of the races are on Saturdays, which means you get an extra rest day before you gotta head back to work. They also have tons of races - almost every weekend between April and October - you can find a race. I will definitely be back to this beautiful State for another race in the future!

J

Week 3 - Chicago Marathon Training

I had another tough 20 miler this past weekend. After 2 speed workouts on still tired legs, I was happy my long run this past weekend called for an easy pace. I've been incorporating so many marathon paced miles into my long runs, that I realized I was overdoing it, so I cut back this week and my goal was just to run an 8:30 average. I thought that would make it easy, but it didn't.

I had to use this past weekend as an opportunity to try a new fuel again too. This time, I tried Glukos gels that Peter gave me. He really liked them when he ran the San Diego Half Marathon, and they are more liquid than gel, which is what got me interested. The biggest downside to these gels is they are huge compared to the typical gel. They didn't fit into my water bottle's pouch (that can fit two regular gels), and they felt pretty bulky in my FlipBelt. I put them on the backside of my belt, above my butt, and while it felt a little less awkward than in the front, it was annoying to reach back for them rather than just reaching down. They went down much easier than the regular gels though, and I didn't need as much water to chase them. I was able to take two of them (well, half of the second one), but I'm not sure I could carry 3 of these during a race because they are bulky. They are still pretty sugary too. It's an option - I can at least carry one in my belt during the race.

I looked at this week's schedule and realized I have to start toning down my miles. Which I hate. Who else hates tapering?? Ugh, it was hard to get rid of some miles this week, but I figured out how to cut back and I'm really looking forward to crushing the long run I have scheduled. 15 is a good number for me to get in a tiny warm up and lots of marathon paced miles to hopefully give me a last boost of confidence before the race.

Week 3 Schedule:

Monday: 7 aerobic miles
Tuesday: 10 mile threshold workout - 6 x 6 min at 6:45 pace (2 min recovery btw) + yoga
Wednesday: 9 mile track workout - 3 x 1000 @ 4:00 or better + 3 x 800 @ 3:30 or better
Thursday: 5 recovery miles + yoga
Friday: Rest/Yoga
Saturday: 15 miles - 2 mile w/u + 13 at GMP (7:27)
Sunday: Rest/Hike

After going to the chiropractor for the first time this past week, and it was a great experience. He really understood the importance of keeping me healthy and running, rather than telling me not to run. I spent some time in compression boots as well and it was AMAZING. I kind of want to buy some for myself! The visit helped me refocus on recovery and the importance of taking care of myself. I'll be doing weekly appointments leading up to Chicago to keep myself feeling good!

What do you do for recovery?

Have you been to a chiropractor before? Love it or hate it?

J