Canyonlands Half Marathon

Believe it or not I got to sleep in for this race!  I didn’t have to get up to until a little after 5 am…it was awesome!  When I woke up I snuck out of bed and warmed up my oatmeal.  Josh was still sleeping so I pretty much hung out in the bathroom while I ate and read magazines and surfed the web.  By around 6 it was time to start thinking about taping and getting dressed since the team was meeting in the lobby of the hotel at 7 am to get on the buses to the canyon.

Once taped up I started getting on all of my layers.  I put on my race gear including Josh’s arm sleeves then the sweat pants, windbreaker and hoodie.  I knew it was going to be cold up there while we waited.  With my gear check bag packed I headed out the door to meet the team.

We all walked to the park where the race was going to end and jumped on school buses up to the canyon.  We got to the bus stop in the canyon at 8 am..to wait to very cold hours for the race to start.  At least I was able to kill about 45 minutes waiting in line for the porta-potty. Apparently a lot of people have never used one and didn’t realize when any number of porta-potties open, you jump in regardless of if it is the one right in front of you. Why this concept was so hard for people to wrap their head around I have no idea. I mean come on…not that hard. Jenn and I started cheering people on to get them into them. 

After about a 1/2 mile walk up to the starting line I stood with Aaron, Amanda and Tina anxiously awaiting the start.  The race actually started a bit late but that’s ok. Having all of those people around me really kept me warm.  The race started and we were off. For about the first 2-3 miles it was pretty crowded. Slowly people started dropping bag so it was easier to get through the crowd. 

My legs felt like they were made of cement. They felt heavy and sluggish but I was able to maintain a pretty good pace.  By mile 6 or so I saw some awesome TNT volunteers cheering me on which really helped me get my feet moving.  I ran into Deanna shortly thereafter and she was nice enough to run with myself and Amanda for a few minutes.  After mile 7 I was off.

I knew there was a hill coming up around mile 9 but I was determined not to let it slow me down.  My legs started to feel much lighter and before I knew it the hill had come and gone. I could almost see the end of the canyon where we made the turn into town.  The stretch from the hill to the turn seemed to fly right by.  The weather and scenery were beautiful and I was feeling good…no gel digestive failure finallly!

I made the turn into town and knew I needed to pick up the pace. I was on track for a new personal record which was super exciting and unexpected.  About a mile from the turn in I saw Josh and a group of TNT supporters. It was awesome seeing them. 

I handed Josh my fuel belt because it was dragging me down.  I didn’t realize he was going to run along with me. Jeans and all Josh ran the last mile or so with me to be my personal photographer.

One final turn and the finish line was in sight.  Right as I saw the finish Hero by the Foo Fighters came on…perfect!  My iPod apparently read my mind.  I wanted to finish strong and for the first time in a distance race I was able to not only pick up the pace but move into an all out sprint.  For the last 200 feet or so I race as fast as my legs would carry me.
I even passed several people along the way, including this guy right at the finish line.
Time: 2:05:52  Avg. Pace: 9:34 min/miles

My Garmin actually said I went 13.18 miles so my average pace was actually a tiny bit faster, you know a few seconds.  There it was, a new personal record. I was so happy!  What amazed me is that I wasn’t even trying to PR. I didn’t even think about it until I was about at mile 7ish when I looked down and realized that I was on track to beat my Denver half time.  Not only did I beat it, I beat it by about 8 minutes!  I’m hoping that I’ll come in under two hours at my next half marathon. 

Afterwards I took my finishers photo and went to check in at the team tent.  I was super disappointed to learn that they stopped giving out medals. Instead I get that dayglow shirt and hat I was telling you about. I’ll have to take a picture. Luckily TNT brought us medals. I think that I’m going to get mine engraved with Canyonlands 2010 and a kokopelli runner. 

The rest of the team started trickling in. It was such a beautiful day we hung out and soaked up the sun before walking back to the hotel. 

You better believe I rocked my compression socks. Those downhill portions were brutal on the legs.

I got back to the hotel, iced, rested and relaxed before our victory dinner.

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