The family and I had a long overdue visit to a dear and close friend of ours who lives in Midvale, Utah. We made an attempt to visit her in August of 2013, but I chickened out of the road trip because I was not ready to ride 8 hours in a vehicle with an 11 month-old who was still nursing. I found it too overwhelming and the thought of being stuck in a car with a screaming baby gave me too much anxiety, so I promised my friend we’d visit her when my daughter was no longer nursing.
That promise turned into a reality this past weekend! On Thursday night (approximately 7:00 PM), my brave husband took control of the steering wheel as we headed for a road trip to Utah with an 18-month-old – who was no longer nursing -, a ten-year-old, a beagle-basset hound dog breed, and myself. Best of all, we were lucky enough to be in town during a scheduled half marathon on Saturday morning, so I went ahead and registered both my husband and myself prior to the weekend. Registration fees were only $30 and it included a finisher’s medal and a technical T-Shirt – what a steal! We incorporated a couple of stops between Eastern Oregon (our starting destination) to Midvale and spent the night in Boise, Idaho to break down the trip. Our trip continued Friday morning at approximately 10:00 am. One of the biggest fears I have while traveling is having to urgently use the restroom but finding myself in the middle of nowhere with the closest rest stop hours away. Thus, I made a conscious decision not to over-hydrate.
We arrived in Utah close to 6:00 pm and I gave my friend, Beth, a much-needed hug. Beth had delicious enchiladas and a green salad waiting for us for dinner. It felt great to visit with her and learn about all her new endeavors. Later on in the night, we had the honor of meeting an individual who is a great source of happiness to Beth – her man Phil. Thank you Phil and Beth for hosting us, feeding us, and watching both my girls on Saturday during my run date with my husband.
While I enjoyed my meal, I found myself feeling extremely nervous about the race. It had been exactly two years and two months (to the T) since I last run a half marathon. On January 22, 2012, I ran the Vancouver Lake Half-Marathon. On that same day, I found out I was pregnant with my second child. I made it a personal goal to continue running for as long as I possibly could throughout my 40 weeks of pregnancy. My goal was only fulfilled for about the first two months because my body was not able to carry the extra weight I put on past the first eight weeks. After a total weight gain of 47 pounds, my mind was ready to start racing, but my body needed more time. The Riverton Half Marathon was going to be my first half marathon since 2012. My first half marathon since I gave birth in September of 2012. My first half marathon since I started running consistently once again in late August of 2013 (almost a full year after I gave birth), and sadly, my first half marathon since my dear grandmother passed away. I was filled with so much emotion, doubts, and fear. I tried to tell myself it was a “just cross the finish line” kind of race. A race symbolic of what had transpired in the two years between 2012 and 2014 – life, death, leaving behind my friends and moving to a completely new city filled with strangers, taking a year leave of absence from a profession I worked so hard to attain, becoming a stay-at-home mom, and starting from scratch and reviving my goal of running a half marathon in under two hours. Furthermore, without knowing it at the time of registration, I was going to be running my first half marathon at an elevation of more than 4400 feet. I knew the altitude was going to slow me down and played out in my head all of the different finish times as a result of the elevation – 2:10, 2:20, 2:30. While each finished time seemed disappointing in my head, I figured that if I set myself up for those expectations, then the disappointment would be more bearable. That night, I told myself I could only do my best, and I was going to be proud of the results no matter what happened.
Race day came. The starting time was 9:00 am (sweet time) and I ate a slice of toast and a banana and sipped a small amount of water (I did not want to fill my bladder). My hubby and I arrived to Riverton, Utah (short drive from Midvale) to pick up our packets and there was about a half hour wait until the starting time. I chose to go with short sleeves and shivered for the half hour. I knew that my body would warm up once I started racing and opted to leave my running jacket behind because I did not want to check anything in. Looking back on it, I should have brought it. There was an honor system going on and bag check-in was actually placing our bags in front of a house that had a cyclone fence with two sweet dogs guarding them.
The race began promptly and here are my times, mile by mile:
Mile 1 – 8:58
I was cold and my body was warming up.
Mile 2 – 7:52
I’ve always considered mile 2 as my slowest mile, but apparently I was going too fast!
Mile 3 – 8:25
My husband suggested we slow down, as we had passed the 9:09 pacer at this point. I did not feel like I was over exerting myself and was wondering if the elevation was going to affect my race at any point now.
Mile 4 – 8:49
I slowed down right after mile three and took some water. I still felt great at this point and wondered if it was possible to run a sub-2.
Mile 5 – 9:01
I noticed my pace was slowing down, but did not feel fatigued. I decided to continue keeping my pace and being mindful of my running form.
Mile 6 – 9:09
After I passed the sixth mile, I noticed the mile markers were off by almost a half mile in comparison to my Garmin. I then started doubting I could run a sub-2 if I was going to run 13.6 versus 13.1.
Mile 7 – 9:10
Something started happening after my watched beeped indicating I had completed 7 miles. I started to feel cramping on the right side of my abdomen, close to my rib cage. I tried to work on my breathing, but the cramping was becoming stronger and stronger.
Mile 8 – 9:25
Mile 8 included a steep hill, and the cramping on my right side was becoming increasingly painful. I realized this was the result of my lack of hydration while traveling the day before.
Mile 9 – 10:22
I knew at this point I was not going to finish in under two hours. I drank some Gatorade and consumed some gel in order to just be able to finish. I walked for a couple of seconds but pushed myself to keep moving so my body would not call off. I kept telling myself “The pain is temporary. It will go away.”
Mile 10 – 10:02
I focused on my breathing. We were now facing the wind and there was a killer steep hill. The 9:09 pacer, who had passed me around mile 9 had now gone out of sight at this point. The mile markers and my Garmin continued to disagree on how far we had run and the distance kept getting bigger between both. It was playing with my mind. My husband reminded me that there was only one PFT left (3 miles – the distance we had to run while serving in the Marine Corps).
Mile 11 – 10:27
My least favorite mile – so close yet still two miles remaining. I tried to focus on my form, as I felt myself slouching. I focused on my breathing, trying to keep a steady rhythm after the steep hill I had just climbed.
Mile 12 – 10:17
The pain on my side was gone. According to my Garmin, I had 1.1 mile left, but according to the mile marker, I had more than 1.4 miles left. I found myself being irritated at this, but I tried to brush it off and see it as a longer run.
Mile 13 – 9:53
The miles marker were off indeed. I saw people who had already finished with their medals around their necks. I pushed myself to the finish line. I wanted to celebrate my two year-hiatus with a strong showing across the finish line.
Mile .13 – 1:04
I did it!!! I could finally say, in writing “I ran my first postpartum half-marathon.”
My unofficial finish time: 2:02:52!!!! I was so proud of myself. There were tears of joy running down my cheeks. A very nice medal was placed around my neck and a cold carton of TruMoo chocolate milk went down the hatch. I also had a banana, a bagel, and some water.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate! I’ve never had any cramping during any race I’ve run.
Don’t start out too fast.
Take energy gels before the start of the race and in between.
Overall, I had a great time on my first race of the year with my husband and our first race outside of the Pacific NW. I enjoyed visiting with Beth, meeting Phil, and traveling to the State of Utah. I am hoping this will not be my last visit to Utah, where life is definitely “elevated.”