Yesterday, I ran the American Fork 1/2 Marathon. I love this race because all of the proceeds go to help raise money that will benefit cancer patients in our community.They also encourage runners to “Race in Honor” of someone they know who has fought, or is fighting the battle against cancer. It was really neat, as many people in my little community (myself included) ran the race in honor of an amazing man in our neighborhood who lost his life to brain cancer. His cute wife was there cheering us on. It was really, really neat.
The week before, we were down visiting family, which was really nice. There were a lot of visitors in the days we were there, and as often happens, sicknesses spread, and the kids and I ended up with a mild case of strep (or at least that’s what the symptoms indicated). I was pretty run down on Thursday and Friday, but thankfully was able to get some rest (thanks, Mom 🙂 ).
Also, a couple of days prior to the race, the mountain just by our house caught fire, burning over 5,500 acres of absolutely breathtaking land. I blogged about much of this area here. Hundreds of homes were evacuated. We were out of town at the time, and were getting text messages from neighbors, and seeing things unfold on facebook and the news. We came home to a very smoky mountain. Very sad. There were concerns about the race, as it was not all that far from the fire, and the wind had shifted so much, that air quality was a big worry for many.
That morning, I woke up and my throat wasn’t hurting, and the wind had died down. When we got up the mountain, I didn’t notice much of anything relating to smoke. It was shaping up to be a good morning. I did about a mile warm-up and a few strides, and felt ready to go.
At the starting line, I met up with a Melanie Burnham, who I have run many races with. There was another lady (Danielle Johnson), who I didn’t remember ever seeing before, but overheard someone saying that she had won the race last year. I knew that the winning time was 1:18.xx, so I was glad to have her to pace with, as I had a goal of hitting a sub 1:20.
We started out the race, and were going pretty quick, at about a 5:30 pace. It was hart to keep track of pace, as there were many times through the canyon and under a tunnel, where satellite signal was lost for minutes at a time. I ended up having to go by feel, and try to keep a good pace behind Danielle.
The first 6-7 miles were a pretty good windy downhill. It felt good until mile 6, and then I could tell that my quads wouldn’t be able to handle much more. By that time, the course flattened out and began to wind through a paved trail. There were even some gradual uphills and even more turns. It was there where I lost sight of Danielle. I am a visual person, and when I could no longer see her for that mile, and when I couldn’t tell my pace, it was kind of hard to focus. So mile 7-8ish were my slowest. I also still struggle with water. I always slow waayyy down at the water tables. Once it straightened out a bit, and I was able to see her, I maintained my distance between her for the rest of the race, but never gained on her.
My goal was to get a sub 1:20, so when I saw the 10 mile maker on the road, and saw that I was at a 59:5x, I knew that I had to maintain about a 6:30 pace to reach my goal. I really thought that I could do it. I picked it up to a 6:25 pace, and then the course started to incline quite a bit. I struggled to maintain that pace for mile 10-11, but then really tried to pick it up for the last 2 miles. It began to get pretty hot at that point, and at the last water stop, I didn’t want to waste any time by grabbing a water, so I just asked the volunteer to poor water on me…and guess what she did? She splashed the whole cup right in my face and up my nose. So awesome. I couldn’t see or breathe for the next minute, but it made for a funny story :).
The finish was flat to slight incline, and it has quite a few turns before you finish on grass. When I made the last turn, with about 100m to go, I looked at my watch, and it said 1:19.42. I knew I had to sprint it in, to get my goal. I did, and when I stopped my watch, it said 1:20:00.24! Crossing the finish line, I said “oh, crap,” because I hadn’t met my goal. (I can’t wait to see that picture!). I was praying that my official time was faster, but I had to wait. Also, I really wasn’t all that tired when I finished. The race director actually came up to me and said “you’re not even sweating.” I really need to learn how to push it past that point where it hurts. (I’m kind of a wimp).
Meanwhile, I grabbed a delicious recovery drink, AKA, chocolate milk, and was able to watch and cheer on many of my friends as they crossed the finish line. Not long after, I looked over to see Adam with all the kids in tow! This is the first time that they have all been at a race. I almost cried. I am so proud of my little family, and it was so good to have them there.
A few minutes after they got there, they called us over to announce the winners. I was a little anxious, as I hoped that they had my official time a split second faster. When they called my name, they announced my time as 1:19.58! I was so excited! I did it! It really was so exciting. Results here.
The conditions for the race really were ideal for me to reach my goal. I am grateful especially right now, for being healthy for the race, as I am now nursing that same sore throat with a delicious bowl of strawberry Jell-o 🙂