July 2, 2012 by fitterfatty
My first half marathon: the High Desert Trail Run race recap ahead (read: more details than anyone could possibly ever want)!
Being a mom of two babes 2 years and younger, I get a lot of support on a daily basis from my friends and family. Today was no exception.
I have to start my recap from when I got up on race day, because wrangling babies is pretty much a necessary part of anything I do these days. I woke up bright and early to a crying 1-year-old who was ready for a feast. I nursed him back to sleep, and knew I had a good 30 minutes before he would be up and ready to party. So, I started gathering my stuff, and the last few odds and ends that needed to go to my parents house with my boys. My parents kindly offered to babysit, which was awesome on so many levels. The boys love playing with their nanna and grandpa, but I will have to save my bragging about how fortunate I am to have my parents so close and active in our lives for another post.
I loaded my things into the car including my hydration pack with frozen water bottles, an extra frozen water bottle, my iPod, a cooler for my breast milk, my pump, and my battery converter pack. I also loaded the double stroller to leave at my parents’ house in case they wanted to walk to the park. By the time I threw my clothes on and got the car loaded, the boys were up ready for action. I set them up for a quick breakfast, made some toast and an egg for myself, and gulped my coffee down while slinging Cheerios.
At some point the boys got some clean dipes and clothes on, and we were out the door. I dropped the boys off at my parents house and was out the door for Pearl by 8:15am, which was perfect timing because that got us to the starting line by 9ish (and I was able to pump in the car before the race started). It is such a relief to leave the boys and know that they are well taken care of and are guaranteed to get a heavy dose of lovin’.
We took hwy 16 to Jackass Gulch Road, and I am so glad we did. I got a full preview of the entire race course. We parked a ways past the start/finish line because of the limited parking. They were originally going to have us park in a little meadow area, but instead we had to park in a single file line along the dirt road because it had been really hot and dry; they didn’t want cars starting a brush fire. Fair enough.
I made my way to the start area and picked up my timing chip, and used the bathroom. There were 2 port-a-potties at the start/finish line in addition to potties at each aid station (every 2 miles along the course). Super convenient! We all gathered around the start line area, and the race director made some announcements…wildlife, water, snakes, blah, blah, blah, badgers getting “romantic” with each other, blah, blah.
The race director was great. He emailed everyone the night before with directions and also an update about expected weather. He recommended that we pack our own water because it was going to be hot (there was plenty of water and Gatorade at each aid station, but this was more of a just to be safe and for your own comfort type of thing). I am really glad I took his advice. I drank all the extra fluids I packed. Towards the end of the race he drove his car up the course and checked in with each runner still out there to make sure everyone was doing ok.
We all lined up for the start. I felt a little intimidated with everyone all decked out in their trail shoes,
spandex performace fabrics, hydration packs, and watches the size of a Commodore 64. I stumbled up to the starting area, looking like a deer in headlights with my cotton T-shirt, old sneakers, and my fanny pack that I wear on my fupa (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=fupa). I am sure they were thinking, “geeze, that girl doesn’t even know where her fanny is…I hope she doesn’t get lost out here today.”
It turns out I shouldn’t have been intimidated at all. I have never encountered such a friendly bunch of people. Even the leaders of the race, who were pushing themselves as hard as possible…clearly without a breath to spare, would smile and cheer me on as they were passing me (or already making their way back to the finish). Everyone was out their struggling in the heat and cheering each other on. Hard. I would say, I got at least 3 high fives from complete strangers. Awesome.
Back to the race. We took off, and I must say it is really hard not to start out too fast. There were a lot of much faster runners passing me (even though I started out in the back, trying not to get in anyone’s way), and it is hard not to get caught up in the excitement of it all and run fast. I knew I just had to stay steady in a comfortable pace, and that is just what I did…after the first few rolling hills. It always takes me a mile or two to find my rhythm.
There was a woman who was jogging the flats and power hiking the uphills…super awesome strategy. It was such a good way to save the legs. As I passed this woman on a small hill, we chatted briefly. She asked my what distance I was doing (10k or half), and shared some kind words of encouragement. She was the first of many that day to offer encouragement. It made me realize more than ever that these people aren’t my competetors…we are all in this together.
There were aid stations every 2 miles, stocked with both water, Gatorade, and uber clean port-a-potties. When I reached the first aid station, I drank a little water. I wasn’t thirsty, but I knew I was in for a long hot day. I was sure to thank the friendly volunteers (who were from the Horseshoe Bend school baseball team I think), and was on my way.
Pretty much the first 6 miles had a couple of rolling hills, but was mostly downhill until the turn around point. The boys at the aid stations where really encouraging and sweet. At mile 4, I had to use the bathroom and when I got out they said, “you are doing great, we’ve only seen like 40 people come through so far.” Only 40, huh. Solid middle to back of the pack confirmation. But cute.
I made it to the turn around and started the next 6 miles of the uphill battle. I had my iPod, which I hadn’t used the whole time. I was too busy taking in the scenery and enjoying the downhilliness of it all. I had to turn it on around mile 7 because it was starting to get pretty brutal. I was tired, and hot. And being the genius runner that I am, I didn’t train on any trails/hills. The thing that made this race especially tough is that the uphill is the whole last half of the race, when your legs are already pretty tired. But discomfort is where progress occurs, is temporary, and is totally necessary. So, I did my best to find a new rhythm.
When I made it back to the same aid station with the boys that gave the “pep talk”, which was the station at mile 4 (now mile 8 on the flip side), I didn’t feel like I consuming anything other than a keg of water. The same sweet boys said, “ok here is the water, but just so you know…the Gatorade is REALLY COLD.” Sold. I pounded some gatorade and it hit the spot. And I was off.
The next 3 miles or so were a sweaty mess of struggling uphill. I passed a few people who I thought were going to be bat-out-of-hell fast at the beginning, but ended up walking the whole 2nd half. Each person I passed said something encouraging, and I think I said something nice back. But realistically it probably sounded like some grunting, mumbling, and panting (my regular voice isn’t much different).
I stopped to talk to a girl on a hill, who was hunched over. Well, actually I kind of accosted her because I thought it was someone I knew and it turns out I didn’t know her after all. We chatted for a few minutes and I went on ahead. We gave each other a high-five at the finish line, which looked like someone smashing a water balloon over our fists (we were just that sweaty).
The last couple miles were rolling hills (with 2 bigger ones right before the finish) and it was here that I saw the race director in his car out on the course checking in the all the runners still out there. I was feeling good, and I am so glad I had the extra water. I knew I had 2 more hills to tackle. I followed a girl with pretty red hair, she probably didn’t even know I was right behind her, but she really kept me going. At the top of the last hill there were a bunch of people gathered that had already finished. They were cheering each person on as they passed. It was so nice to have people so excited about my mediocre finish! The last 100 meters or so was a downhill into the finish. I crossed and they announced my name and time, then they had someone handing out cold water bottles and finishing metals. My forward momentum from the downhill and finish about took them out. Ooops.
Finish time: 02:32:24- 2nd in my age group; 11th out of women; 40th overall
I didn’t stick around for the awards and raffle, but I understand they had a nice spread of food, bevs, and “door” prices. I grabbed a cup of fresh-cut fruit, snapped a pic of my
messy sweat ball glistening face, and we were on our way. My man friend didn’t want to stick around. Evidently he had a really exhausting morning of reading Rolling Stone magazine, and napping in the sun. That’s ok, I really wanted to get back my boys. We headed back to town, I pumped, and we grabbed a sandwich (devoured in one minute).
It was my first half and I just want to recap things that went right, and things I need to improve on:
I stayed well hydrated, and didn’t let my blood sugar get too low. I finished feeling good uncomfortable. I think I managed my pace well. It was slow but strong and steady, and allowed me to pass a few people during the 2nd half.
Areas of improvement:
I have an awesome sports bra shaped chafe. I need to get some body glide or a new bra. I haven’t ever had that problem with that bra before, but I also don’t usually sweat that much. Which leads me to my next point. I really need to practice/train in a similar environment in which I will be racing (i.e. trails, hills, heat).