Monday, August 25, 2008

My first HALF

Saturday's Top of Utah Half Marathon was an awesome experience I hope to never forget.

The day before the race I seriously thought I was getting the flu. My stomach was sort of pulsing, I felt achy and lightheaded and my throat was even sore. Looking back I think I must have just been a basket of nerves or a hypochondriac. LOL. I really wanted to enjoy the experience and that night I prayed for the umpteenth time that my body and mind would be strong.

On Saturday morning, I woke up at 4 AM to get ready and my ride came at 4:45. There were five of us girls and even though I was the fifth wheel I enjoyed having some company to keep myself from getting too nervous. I was feeling more calm come race day which was a huge blessing.

We got on the buses in Providence and rode up to Hyrum. There were 4 long lines of porta potties and we all got in line. It was fun to watch all the runners get ready to race and to see what kind of running apparel they had. My favorite was the woman in her 70's that sported a green running skirt and matching tank... she was awesome!

Finally, my neighbor said "It's time to go to the starting line", and I freaked out. I said "Doesn't it start at 7:30" and she said, "No, 7:00!" Okay, I was really sweating it now because I had told all my family that it started at 7:30 and I wouldn't be getting to the finish line until after 9:30. My DH, who works at night, was planning on picking the babysitter up at 8:15 and then driving the 1/2 hour to the finish line just in time to see me finish. We grabbed her cell phone and tried to call and wake him up but duh no cell phone reception that far up the canyon.

Well, it was time to start and I kept telling myself not to worry about the family and just run. After the starting gun went off it was shoulder to shoulder for at least the first mile. The five of us ran kind of in a clump and then after about a mile I lost the other four runners. Two were in front of me and two were behind (I think). The weather was beautiful (overcast) and the slight downhill course was perfect. I really didn't mind running alone. I'm a people watcher and so I just ran and watched those around me, absorbing the energy of the race and the excitement of it all!

My GPS watch is addicting and I kept checking my time. I was running faster than my regular pace and kept telling myself I should slow down but I felt really good and was having too much fun. At the first water station (Mile 3) I grabbed a cup of water and took a couple sips and was off. Just before the Mile 6 water station I got my GU out (that I had safety pinned to the inside of my shorts) and sucked it down just before they handed me a cup of Gatorade. I'm not usually a Gatorade drinker but decided to take the advice of some other runners and give it a try.

At about 6 1/2 miles I started worrying about the family again because my parents and brother/SIL were suppose to be waiting for me as I came out of the canyon. I had given them the wrong info also. I figured they wouldn't be there in time but still found myself scanning the faces of the spectators as we left the canyon, hoping to see them. They weren't there. Bummer.

At about mile 8, my feet started hurting. I started counting the miles in my head and worried that I had started out too fast and began doubting myself. When I reached the Mile 9 Aid Station I walked through it with my Gatorade and orange and then I was off! I think choosing to walk through the aid station really helped me because about a mile later there was a hill and I was able to keep going. My legs felt quite fatigued by mile 11 but another packet of GU and some water and I was able to keep going. I was running along with a pack of runners when all of a sudden I hear someone yell, "GO MEL" and I look behind me to see my mom jumping out of a car and running after me with a "Go Mel" poster. I was really excited to finally see someone I knew and the runners around me started laughing... it was enough to give me the extra boost I needed. Finally, as I was running down the final stretch and the road was packed with spectators I saw my sister there cheering me on. I was really happy about that too because I had no idea she was coming. Surprisingly, I did have some juice left in me for that final stretch. I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:55. Not bad!

Sheri, followed me to get some water and we walked around for a couple of minutes. I explained the time mix up and we started looking to see if Carl and the boys made it. I turned around and there was Carl at the finish line waiting for me to come in. I grabbed him and he hugged me. I asked him how long he had been there and we figured he made it just 3 minutes after I had finished. Darn it!

It's okay... I was so happy with my time and the family support that I got over it. My brother and his wife took us back to their house and cooked a huge breakfast for everyone.

Today, two days later I am a little sore and my very tender feet are recovering nicely. I will be ready to hit the road again tomorrow. The HALF is definitely my type of race and it won't be the last. Anyone want to join me next time?

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