October 19, 2017

Earlier this year I told Stefan I wanted to run another half marathon. He told me if I ran a full instead he would be so proud of me, and he would get me a big prize. I really like big prizes, so I signed up to run the Big Cottonwood Canyon marathon in September. 

I mostly had fun training all summer. We live up on a hill on top of a hill on top of a hill, so for every run I drove my car down to our church building, parked it in the shade, and went from there. I started with a three and a half mile course around town and usually ended up building off that for my longer runs. I used the Nike running app and always listened to music, and somehow after a few weeks found myself running faster than I normally did. Before this summer I felt like I had run the same pace - no matter the distance - for a solid ten years of my life. Maybe because I was running more hills this summer - not intentionally, I just really can't get away from them in this town - but somehow I was going faster and it felt crazy and really good.

The week before the marathon I decided to run a local 10k race. If I was already training faster, I wanted to see how fast I could go when I was really racing. (The marathon wasn't going to be much of a race for me - more of just a finish.) I tried to be really smart about how I ran, and I ended up finishing five minutes faster than I thought I would. I even took second place in my age division so I got a big mug and a ribbon - first place beat me by four minutes, I beat third place by three minutes and there were fifteen total in my division.

The marathon maybe didn't go quite as well.. We waited a long time to book a hotel in Cottonwood Heights, so we ended up at a junky motel the night before the race. Our non-smoking room had apparently just become non-smoking right before we showed up - based on the smell - and it was hot and loud. I woke up really early to get a ride to the shuttles and there was a couple fighting outside the hotel.. good times. I ate a little breakfast and kept pretty warm up at the starting line, and before I knew it we were running.

I tried to stick close to the 4:25 pacers, but that canyon was so steep - it hurt my knees and quads more to slow down than to just let gravity pull me down the mountain faster. So I probably ran too many middle miles too quickly, and I think I missed out on some of the aid stations with food, and by the time I made it out of the canyon to the sunny uphill miles.. I was dead. That's finally where I was able to see Peter and Stefan though, so that cheered me up! But man.. those last couple miles were KILLER and I was walking a lot which made me really mad. It wasn't the way I wanted to finish the race, but I can't say I was upset about my 4:26 finish time. I'm still pretty proud of that.

I've decided half marathons are the sweet spot for me - it's a training program I can commit to without feeling overwhelmed and feeling like a burden on my family. It's a distance that still leaves me feeling accomplished, but doesn't beat my body up quite so badly. And now that I know I really am capable of keeping a faster pace, I'd love to push myself for faster half marathon times.  ..someday.

Hopefully I've said this enough already that he knows I mean it, but just to be sure I'll put it here too. I could not have done this without Stefan! He really always believes in me and lets me know it so genuinely. He sacrificed a lot of time to hang with Peter so I could go run. He's the best support team I'll ever have.

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