The other day, I mentioned that things might be a bit “iffy” at my first half marathon in five months (the REVEL Big Cottonwood Half Marathon).

Why yes, I shall go big.

Why yes, I shall go big.

As it turns out, “things” actually went pretty well.

The trip itself was a bit of a blur… I was in Salt Lake City for just a little more than 24 hours.

But the race was rather memorable. As I’ve written before, Big Cottonwood features an incredibly scenic (“nature-gasm”) course. And the REVEL gang gives their all to put on a good race.

I woke at 3am on Saturday morning (when the first of my three alarms went off). And then I quickly took care of the 3 “S’s.”

Now some people ask why I Shower and Shave before a race knowing that in a matter of hours I’m going to be utterly grubby. I think it’s because I know that I’m going to transform into a sweat monster (a frothy Frankenstein, if you will) that I feel the desire to be clean and clean-shaven… if only for a moment. And I’ll leave the other “S” alone for the time being.

Bibbed to run.

Bibbed to run.

So my squeaky clean and color-coordinated self (no fashion disaster this race) boarded the hotel shuttle at 4am for the trek up the mountain at Big Cottonwood to the starting line.

My bus was the first to arrive and I had almost two hours to kill before racetime. So, I ended up helping out Jared the race director (a good Jared, not that Subway one) by filling up water and PowerAde cups. The REVEL gang has been very good to me and I was happy to lend a hand. But damn, that PowerAde gets your hands sticky after you fill up about 200 cups.

After that I wrapped up in my Mylar blanket (things get nippy at 7,500ft. at 4:30 am) and chatted with a bunch of the other runners… also wrapped in Mylar blankets. I couldn’t help but notice that we all looked like a very social group of Hershey kisses.

Jump ahead to the airhorn going off and 2,000 half marathoners and I began our 9+ mile trek down the mountain (the final 3.5 miles go through the town of Cottonwood Heights). FYI, the full marathon runners started much further up the mountain and I’m sure have their own fun stories to tell.

Big bling!

Big bling!

In my last post I stated that I was just going to take things as they come and see how my body responded. Now remember, Big Cottonwood is a downhill race so you are naturally able to go faster than normal (running by effort as opposed to pace). I did my first mile at a leisurely 10-minute pace. And I felt good, quite good in fact.

So, I sped up a little. Then a little more.

Around mile 5 I realized that I was running a sub 9:30 pace, much faster than I had thought I’d be able to run… and not that far removed from my pace at last year’s race (which was a PR).

For a brief time I thought I might have a shot at getting a new PR, maybe even breaking the 2-hour barrier. But I’d have to go even faster.

But try as I might, I just couldn’t get my engine to rev any faster without risking a potential blowout (aka “bonk”). So I altered my plans and concentrated on keeping a steady pace, aiming to break 2:06:00.

The final three miles ended up being a bit tough and my pace fell off a tad (no negative split for today’s running forecast). As I hit the last mile, my tank started sputtering. I was running on fumes.

The digits.

The digits.

I decided to stop glancing at my watch until I crossed the finish line. I huffed and puffed and after what seemed an eternity, crossed the timing mat and stopped my watch. I looked down and was happy to see a 2:05:51 staring back at me.

It wasn’t my fastest finish and it wasn’t my 2nd fastest finish. But it turned out to be my third fastest time out of 39 half marathons. I’ll happily take a bronze.

Now I know my finish time was helped significantly by the downhill course and that I’ve still got plenty of work to do to get back into proper running shape, but for the moment I’m a pretty happy boy. And I can’t wait to Big Big Cottonwood another crack in 2016.

Yup, the iffy ended up to actually be rather spiffy.

Go Big… and Run on!

Posted on September 14, 2015, in General and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Hanna @ TheMillennialNextDoor

    Congrats!! Great job!! From pictures I’ve seen the course looks so beautiful. I’d love to run it one day.

    • Thanks for the kudos. Big Cottonwood is a stunningly beautiful course and a wonderful experience (although my quads are still killing me). I highly recommend it.

  2. Wish I could have been there again this year, but it just wasn’t in the budget when I had already raced in Colorado at Rockies event. I do want to go back though, as I loved it last year. Canyon City is totally not doable for me in my current job because of the timing so close to Thanksgiving, so I will have to make the decision to do Utah again or try again at Rockies. Time will tell. Glad you did well!

    • Another fun time at Big Cottonwood. Sorry you couldn’t be there, but I totally understand how those travel races can get pricey (one of the main reasons I passed on Madison). I’m planning to run Rockies as well next year (the one I keep missing). I’m sure we’ll bump into each other at one of the races next year. What’s next for you?

  3. Nice! Glad everything went well, and that’s a very good time. You gotta go sub-2 one of these days, brother! And I’m the same way with the shower and shave before a race. It doesn’t make a ton of sense, but I always prefer to enter a race fresh.

    • Thanks Chris. I’m still gunning for the sub-2 hour race… just gotta keep working and training… might have another crack at it with the REVEL Canyon City. And nice to know I’m not the only weirdo who gets cleaned up to go sweat.

  4. Bronze! Nice! Enjoyed your report, and cool medal. Congrats!!

    • Thanks for the note and the read. The REVEL races have many cool things about them (medals and shirts among them). Looking forward to their next race in Azusa (REVEL Canyon City on Nov. 7th).

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