Yippie-Kay-Yay! This weekend I WON my age division at the Porter’s Half Marathon in Draper, Utah! That’s right – I won it! I’m still in shock!
This was an absolutely incredible race and I had so much fun that it just might be one of my top favorite race day experiences so far. (Nothing will top the Cincinnati Flying Pig, but what could top your first marathon?)
Ok, before I get ahead of myself, let me start from the beginning. I know I had been a little hesitant about this race. It was smaller and I signed up quite late. I was excited about the elevation map and the potential for medals, but really it was just going to be a training run for me. This totally turned around on race day.
The race began at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon in Draper, UT. They bussed runners from the finish line at the bottom up to the start. On the way up the bus stopped at the 10k start, which was literally a whole in the wall you have to run through – about 3′ wide that you would barely notice if you were running solo! I joked with the people on the bus that this was their last chance to switch races.
On the way up the girl I was sitting next to, Emily, also pointed out these huge houses. It turns out they were old polygamist compounds before they were shut down! Her husband does real-estate and they were able to take a virtual tour of the place and said it was eerie. I can only imagine! Only in Utah – right? This is exactly why I’m doing this Race for 50 States – you get to see the coolest, and craziest, things.
The race start was gorgeous! My blog about it being ‘bustling’ didn’t do it justice – eventually more people showed up and we had about 350 people ready to run. At the start I met quite a few interesting people, including one gentlemen from St. Louis. (He had a Go!St.Louis Marathon shirt on – how could I not chat him up?!)
I also met Todd and Kayla – a father and daughter doing their first half together. They were really nice and I love meeting people on their first race – it almost makes it feel like mine again! Kayla was in my age division and hearing that re-sparked my desire to compete for the division winner belt buckles.
As excited as I was to meet new people, I was also ready to get running! This was one race that I absolutely had to have start on time. I had it figured out to the minutes. Start at 7:00, finish around 8:56, and be out of the park by 9:15 (hoping to get some kind of ‘shower’ in during that time.) Of course when you’re counting on it, it never happens. Being the inaugural run, there was a little disorganization, but at 7:10 the race director gave us our pre-race pep-talk and we were off with a big “Shoot-Dang” and “Yee-haw”! I actually wasn’t too worried about it because all the rootin’ tootin’ fun cowboy talk kept me in good spirits.
I immediately noticed the elevation map wasn’t lying. Downhill we went! Around mile 1 we saw a sign for the Salt Lake City half marathon on September 1st and I joked with runners that it was time to sign up for that next! That joke is funnier with people who think running is ridiculous as it is, much less doing two half marathons in a month, but it’s no that ludicrous of an idea to runners who would actually do it! haha!
The first portion of the race was roadside and it was still open to traffic. I was a little worried about that, but all the cars kept a good distance. Without fail, I tried to get every single car to honk that passed by us. Even with a measly 10% success rate, I didn’t lose my enthusiasm and kept trying. Every honk was inspiring.
I spent miles 1-8 running with pretty much the same people. Leading the pack was a smoking hot middle-aged couple who would always say “sexy hill, sexy hill!” each “hill” we went up. I’m not sure why, as I know it was some kind of inside joke between them, but I loved hearing that and it really kept me going. I also ran with Chad, who was running with his brother. Chad had done Ragnar and was good at keeping the pace up for sure. His brother was a bit faster and left us in the dust early on. (I caught up to him and blew by him at 12.5 though!) And then I ran with Todd, who I met at the start. This guy was awesome! At one point there was a serious downhill and I said to the people around me, “alright, this is our chance to feel like Olympians!” and did the whole, “Wheeee – no hands!” enthusiastic run down. Well at that point Todd BLEW past me, sprinting down the hill. I called out, “I know what you’re doing…” and we raced to the bottom of the hill. Probably not the wisest decision mid-race but it sure was fun!
The second half of the race was on trails and it was a little less of a downhill grade. Because the group had thinned out it was a little bit lonelier. Along the way I met David, from France, who told me all about his next marathon – the Marathon du Medoc. It’s a 26 mile race with wine and cheese tastings at every mile. Does this belong on the Race Bucket List? I think so! I’ll have to save it until I’ve done all 50 states, but this is a race I definitely want to do!
Course support was great! I’ve gotten to the point in my racing now where I don’t need the crowds to cheer me on as much. I’m glad I started with bigger races, but now I know I can do it! Even still, any time along the way I saw families I always ran out of my way to go high-five them, even though they’re not for me! Also there were water stations every two miles, which is the perfect increment in my book.
The last three miles went by really quickly! There were some interesting sights – zebras and dinosaurs – oh my! At one point I ran back to get a picture of the zebra (for the blog!) and David from France remarked how crazy that was.
Here I was trying to PR, but took time to take pictures. My philosophy though is that I’m never going to sacrifice the moment for my time. I’d rather take all the pictures I want and come in two minutes later than not have any memories! (I think I take that from my mom who wanted to finish her marathon in under 5:00, but came in at 5:06. She said she wouldn’t take those six minutes of goofing around on the course back for anything. I totally believe in that!)
I’ve really been working on having a strong finish with the last mile being my best mile. The last mile of this race was great! You could hear the announcer at the finish from .5 mi away. I love that! Gives you that little extra push needed to get in. I also love passing that crowd at the end, knowing you paced yourself perfectly. Finish strong, but also finish on empty – that’s my goal. I never want to coast in on fumes! Right before I got to the finish I saw the Wienermobile in the distance – Abe was waiting for me at the end and had the horn honking as I ran in to the end!
I crossed the finish line and melted with excitement. The runners high was definitely coursing through my veins. There was a kiosk you could check your official results at and I plugged in my bib number. 1:50:10 – A new PR by more than 7 minutes!! And then right there in the Division Place – the number 1. HOLY. SHIT. I DID IT!!! I GOT FIRST PLACE IN MY DIVISION. Commence freak out immediately! Was I screaming? Yes! Was I in tears? Almost! I absolutely couldn’t believe it!!!
I was absolutely thrilled, but I knew there was a caveat – the course might have been short. Everyone I talked to had GPS readings of anywhere between 12.79-12.95. No one’s broke 13 though. So I knew that the PR probably wasn’t going to count in my book. While I wasn’t going to trust my time too much though, I knew we all did the same race, so I was still ridiculously excited about my division win. Having never even placed in my category before, this was a huge deal! I jumped up and down, hugged the race director, and then promptly hugged everyone else I knew from the race.
At the finish I tried to grab pictures with everyone I ran with along the way. I got almost everyone except for Todd! Bummer too because I ran with him the most!
After the all-out-hug-fest I grabbed some grub from their impressive spread from the Corner Bakery.
I wish I could have stuck around longer because there was quite a bit of fruit I wanted to stay for. Then I headed to the company car and did a water bottle shower, quick change, and then we hit the road! Talk about one hell of a way to start the work day!