Friday, October 26, 2012

Big Cottonwood Canyon Half - Race Recap

A couple months ago my brother convinced me to sign us up for the Big Cottonwood Half Marathon. This was the first year they were doing this race. I was a little skeptical because usually inaugural races can be pretty unorganized since they're new. This was my sister in law, Rachel's come back race too. Coming back off of her broken foot from Ragnar. I'm so glad she decided to do another race this year. Especially since she swore up and down to me as I continued to beg her to sign up for other races that she hates racing and that's why she only does it once a year.

Ha! I will make a racer out of her .. she just may not know it yet.

So up we were at 4:30am on yet another Saturday morning. That's by far the worst part about running races. The early start times. When we arrived there was this huge line of cars waiting to get in and park so we headed across the street to park in a different lot. We barely met up with Evan and Rachel at the top before they started with the 5 minute warning for the start. We literally had time to drop our warm clothes at the bag drop and then we were waiting on Jeramie to pin his number and get his gear all situated. In the end I think we actually started the race about 3 minutes after the gun went off. Not something we really worry about because it's chip timed so we don't officially start until we cross the starting line. Or so I thought anyway.

As we headed out we ran the first couple miles together. The first one being quite quick. I was feeling really good. We ran on the other side of the road for quite awhile because we were just passing runners non stop. After a couple miles though Evan, Rachel and Jeramie started to slow down. I didn't realize this until they were quite a ways behind me. I really hadn't gone up there planning to run really hard at all. Just go with the flow and enjoy it. But I guess I just can't help myself. I am so competitive with myself. And truly it's just myself and my desire to beat my own times. Well and let's be honest starting at the back of the pack and picking off other runners the entire race is kind of a confidence booster. Since I was feeling good I just went with it. I figured I would give it everything and when I ran out of gas I would plant my butt on the side of the road and just wait for the rest of the group.

This right here is one of my favorite race pictures of all time.
See how both my feet are off the ground? That means no dimpling on my legs.
I really debated about what to wear to this race but I'm happy with what I chose.
I was worried the long sleeves would be too hot, but it worked out fine.

The outfit:
Socks:  Saucony Compression Socks (I've had these forever, can't find a link)
Shoes:  Brooks Ravenna 2's (link to the 3's)
Hat:  Brooks Printed Mesh Cap  (this hat is my all time favorite!)

So as I continued on down the mountain one by one I passed the 2:30 pacer, then the 2:15 pacer. I kept thinking, okay the 2:00 pacer will be next. I just have to pass this pacer and stay ahead, then knowing I started a few minutes after the official start meant that I would actually pull out a sub 2 hour half marathon.  In my head the first goal of a new runner is to complete your first half marathon with no walking this is usually the next big goal. Next, to finish in under 2 hours. I'm still a very new runner. I ran my first half marathon less than a year ago. Which even to me sounds very strange considering how many I've run since then. I finished Timpanogos (which was my "A" race this year) in 2:01! I was so close. As I got closer and closer to the finish line I kept telling myself I'm actually going to do it!! There are absolutely no words to describe this feeling.

This is a seriously downhill course.  And that can be a good thing and that can be a bad thing.  By about 6 miles my quads were screaming.  But my heart rate was nice and low so I just kept going at that same pace. It's like a drug really.  Looking down and seeing myself running so fast (speed clearly being a relative thing), I just couldn't help myself.  I felt like I was flying.

 I love that my husband does this with me.
I think if he'd stuck with me in the beginning he'd have finished with me.

He however stuck with my brother and sister in law for awhile.  I'll be honest, I'm bummed I missed out on this adorable picture.  These three are so fun to run with!

And really there aren't words to describe this sport / hobby. I wish that I could. We tell my other brother Mike all the time that he needs to start running, he still maintains it will never happen. And frankly he's stubborn and so I really believe that it will never happen. But boy you guys are missing out. The sense of accomplishment. Running is such a prime example of you get out of it what you put into it. If you work your ass off then you WILL be successful. It's really just that easy. But if you don't put the work in then I feel like you will set yourself up for failure. And that's where I think it becomes harder to stay motivated and stick with it. There are plenty of lunch times at work when I think to myself I really would rather not go run. I don't want to change out of my work clothes and then ruin my hair for the rest of the day. And then I just tell myself to stop thinking like that and get to it. And I swear there are LOTS of Sunday mornings where I would rather sleep in than go for a run. But it's true what they say, you will never ever ever regret a run. You just won't. Even when it was a miserable run (and there are plenty of those) you still don't think to yourself, well I wish I hadn't gone out and done that. Another thing about runners, they are the most enthusiastic to get new runners added to the group. BEST. THING. EVER.

Big Cottonwood Half Marathon

The Stats:

Official Finish Time: 1:52:25

Overall Rank: 242/646

Overall Gender Rank: 139/448

Age Group Rank: 29/86

Mile 1: 8:37
Mile 2: 9:16
Mile 3: 8:58
Mile 4: 8:43
Mile 5: 8:46
Mile 6: 8:31
Mile 7: 8:13
Mile 8: 8:13
Mile 9: 8:22
Mile 10: 8:16
Mile 11: 8:13
Mile 12: 8:19
Mile 13: 8:43
Mile 13.1: 8:58

I could not have been happier about my performance. I didn't go out there with these expectations and I feel so lucky that I was able to accomplish what I did.
This is truly what mile 13 of a PR race looks like.
Now let's talk about the race itself.  This was an supremely organized race!  Like I mentioned, this was the inaugural race.  And from beginning to end it was organized so well.  Just to name a few reasons why I would recommend this race to anyone:
  • Their Facebook presence with updates and the such was awesome. 
  • The medal was one of the best ones I've gotten. 
  • The course support was fantastic.  Water at all stations.
  • The tech shirt is great .. I've worn it for many training runs since then.
  • Timing chips attached to the bib.
  • Bag pick up the night before was super fast and easy.
  • Gorgeous views down one of the main canyons of the Wasatch Mountains.
  • All of the food and stuff after the race was really awesome too.

The hubs and me.
The whole family.

If you want an awesome race to travel to Salt Lake City for this is the one.  I can't wait to run this again next year and attempt to beat my PR. 

Have you run a specific race where you just loved it from beginning to end?


  1. Congratulations on an awesome race! Nothing better than a PR and a sub-2 :)

  2. I can't even begin to tell you how much this post and all the pictures made me miss Utah!! Oh, how I want to move back. Hopefully soon!

    One of my favorite races is the Top of Utah marathon. Gorgeous course, gentle downhill and not too far from home (when I lived in SLC, that is). I love that race so much I've done it 10 times!

    (thank you for your comment on my breastfeeding post... I replied to it there, if you're interested. xo).

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