GOING BIG AT BIG COTTONWOOD…
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).
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.
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.
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.
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!