I don’t usually enter races, for two main reasons:
1) I am slow.
2) I am a tightwad.
Just over a week ago, I experienced a rather significant (cough, cough) birthday. I was faced with two choices:
1) Curl up in fetal position on my couch with a five-gallon-bucket of ice cream and do nothing for days on end but watch The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel through my alligator tears all the while contemplating my own sad demise into Depends and a cane.
2) Do something to prove that life does not end on the 11th anniversary of your 29th birthday.
I couldn’t find Marigold on Netflix, so I decided to sign up for a half-marathon instead. And then I broke my foot. ‘Cuz that’s the way I roll. (Or fall.) Luckily, I broke my foot waaaay back at the very beginning of the summer, so I thought that if I just signed up for a race at the end of the summer, I would be fine. And I probably would have been, except that about three weeks ago (when my foot was feeling absolutely, 100% healed), I ran too hard on it and retweaked my ankle along with giving myself a nasty case of tendonitis. Bummer.
I took a few days off, and then carried on with my training. My foot did not get better. In fact, it has been KILLING me this past week.
Luckily for me, my supercute friend Jessica ran her first half-marathon last week, and she totally ROCKED it, even though BOTH of her legs were giving her trouble through the whole race. I decided that if she could do it, so could I.
Thank you for inspiring me not to be a pansy.
On to the race report:
I did not sleep a wink the night before the race. Not a wink. I had a massive case of pre-race insomnia.
The upside of not sleeping is that at some point I decided to just get up and get ready. So I took a long, leisurely shower, shaved my legs (just in case my ankle went all the way out and a handsome doctor had to come to my rescue), put on make-up, ate breakfast, and watched a documentary on polar bears. Polar bears can run up to 35 miles per hour. They also enjoy playing with ice. I think it would be fun to be a polar bear.
I digress. My point is, it was 5:00 AM and I looked cute.
I then made the long, long
12 minute drive to the bus pick up spot. Because did I mention that this particular race was in the most beautiful canyon in all of Utah and practically right in my back yard?
I hopped on the bus and grabbed a prime spot next to a window. A few minutes later, a tall, sinewy gentleman took the seat next to me. As we began to chat, he told me that this was his ninth half this year. Impressive! AND, in January of 2011, he weighed over three hundred pounds. He started running to lose the weight, and has never looked back. Inspirational! We had a nice visit during the FORTY FIVE minute bus ride up the canyon.
That’s right, I was about to run a course that took a bus 45 minutes to drive. Granted, the bus was going uphill in the dark and I would be going downhill in the light, but still…
As we approached the starting line, I smelled the heavenly scent of campfires. Those campfires turned out to be very useful, because BOY HOWDY was it ever cold outside! (I also watched an old episode of Andy Griffith.) I immediately became best friends with a group of total strangers as we packed in around a fire like sardines. Occasionally, one of us would venture off to a port-a-potty or the bag drop spot, and the rest of us would guard their place like a family of polar bears around a seal kill. You do not mess with a bunch of crazy lady half marathoners at 6:00 AM on the top of a mountain.
Before I knew it, it was time for the race to start. We were directed to line up according to our projected paces. I made the walk of shame to the very back of the line. Don’t worry, fast runners. I know my place.
The bullhorn sounded, and we were off!
The first seven miles were AMAZING! The scenery was gorgeous, the runners were fun to talk with, and I was running much faster than expected. (Those of you who are actual runners just did a face-palm, didn’t you?)
One of my worries before the race was that I wouldn’t hydrate enough. So in true Jennifer fashion, I over hydrated. Which meant that starting around mile two, I needed to pee. (What? TMI?)
There was line in front of the port-a-potties at mile three, so I kept going.
There was also a line at mile five.
But at mile seven, there were only two people waiting. And two port-a-potties. That shouldn’t take long. I stopped running and got in line.
And got passed by about 50 runners.
And waited some more.
Apparently the person in port-a-potty one was having some tummy troubles. I felt some sympathy, but was mostly annoyed. A smart person would have just given up and ran on to the next aid station. I am not smart. I am stubborn. I had stopped at these particular port-a-potties, and dadgumit, I was not going to stop again.
Finally, port-a-potty two opened up, and I was in and out in no time flat.
I was so worried about getting back on track that I *almost* forgot hand sanitizer. THE HORROR!
I raced through the next two miles super duper fast, trying to get back on track, and then, right around mile nine, it happened. I fell apart. I was hungry, my pinky toes hurt, and I still couldn’t see the group that I had been running with. I slowed waaaay down.
By mile eleven, I was feeling much better. But I had an empty water bottle in my hand. I meant to throw it away at that aid station, and then I totally forgot. I spent the rest of the race trying to ignore the little voice in my head that was saying, “Just throw it on the side of the road, no one will know.” I fought that voice and won. I am not a litterer.
Then I hit the hills.
This particular race is advertised as being all downhill. That is a blatant lie. There are some very long uphill stretches at the end, and I just didn’t have it in me to run them. I figured that my time was already shot, so why push it? (I am so mad at myself for doing this, but in my defense, it was also PMS week. It is a well-known fact that due to plummeting testosterone levels, it is harder for women to race during the week before their period. Really. Look it up if you don’t believe me. But don’t disagree with me about it until next week. Because you know, PMS. You don’t want to take me on right now.)
In true wimp fashion, I leisurely walked the ups and half-heartedly ran the downs until finally the finish line was in earshot. And then, I took off running like a shot, thinking I could fool all of the bystanders into believing that I was actually a really fast runner who just started the race late. I’m pretty sure they didn’t buy it, but I still got a medal, so it’s all good.
My goals for this race were:
1) Finish without having a heart attack. Check. (In fact, due to my mental breakdown, I wasn’t even breathing hard at the end.)
2) Finish without falling down. Check. (Although I did trip once.)
3) Not be the last person to finish. Check. (It’s a miracle!)
4) Finish before the awards program started. Check. (Luckily, they started a few minutes late.)
5) *THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE* Finish in time to make it to Josh’s football game. CHECK! I hopped in my Suburban, gave myself a good cussing out for not even trying during the last few miles, and made it Josh’s game with minutes to spare before the opening kick-off. Josh was outstanding today – he made some important
tackles flag grabs and kept the opposing team from scoring some very important bonus point thingies. Yes, my understanding of football is mindblowing. I am a very loud cheerleader nonetheless.
This is my self-portrait while I was waiting for the game to start. I have never mastered the art of taking a picture of my actual face with a cell phone. And I’ve tried, oh, how I’ve tried. Notice that I have a hole on the big toe of my left shoe. And the stitching is starting to come apart on my right shoe. I might need to replace my beloved VFFs soon. I’ll totally pick a better color next time.
6) Finish in under 2:30. No check. I finished in 2:32:02. Stupid port-a-potty line. And stupid me for wimping out at the end.
Do you know what this means? DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS?
It means that I am going to have to run the race again next year without wimping out at the end so I can meet all of my goals. Does anybody want to run it with me? I promise not to drink too much.
I am also thinking that my awesome plan of eating a few fruit snacks and pretzels during the race didn’t quite work out, and that drinking Power Aid at any point during the race might have helped, so I will spend the next year slowly building up my tolerance for the disgusting stuff.
We had a celebratory lunch at Casa Salza, because after all, I did just finish a half-marathon, even if I was pathetic.
Do you see those fluffy little deep fried bits of cloud covered in cinnamon sugar on the right side of the picture? They are sconuts. As long as Casa Salza serves sconuts, there is really no reason to ever eat at another restaurant again.
Dear Casa Salza Owner,
You are a crafty one, aren’t you? I thought you were just being nice to me that time when you gave me complimentary sconuts. Little did I know that they are the culinary equivalent of crack-cocaine, and after one bite I would be hooked for life. Well played, Mr. Salza man. Well played.
After eating a completely unreasonable amount of food, I sent Todd and the munchkins off the airport for the Planes, Trains, and Automobiles show while I took a nap. I’m smart that way.
We capped off the day with a family trip to see Brave. It was the perfect way to end my first half-marathon.