The past few months have been filled with a conscious effort to run more. I have this idea in my head that I want to be able to run an ultra and do well in it. I have this picture in my head, as silly as it may seem, that I can run 5 – 10 miles every day and excel at doing so. I’ve always found a sort of peaceful meditation with running on a trail in the middle of nowhere, with only the rocks approaching my feet to concentrate on. I guess I’ve always had this inclination that one day I could be good at running. I feel I am always constantly looking for some sort of ‘in’ into the running community- no, rather, I have been looking for someone close to me with a passion for running that cannot be overlooked.
For this I turn to one of best friends, Whitney, as a role model for her mental dedications to running and she truly inspires me to be a better runner, to have more will power, to truly commit to something that I have never truly enjoyed. This does not go to say I do not enjoy running, but it does hint at the fact that running has never come easily to me. I could swim a few miles straight off the couch without a problem; but ask me to run those few miles from the same couch and I’d literally be worked and put back in my place, on the couch, for a few days. That being said, I committed to running my first half marathon with Whitney in Vernal, Utah, on May 4th. That Tuesday I had done an 11 mile trail run with another friend of mine just outside of Boulder. It took me 2 hours and 20 minutes. I decided to register for Utah’s Dino Half Marathon an hour before registration closed. I told myself, “You can do this, just try to do it in under 2 ½ hours.”
Besides the excuse for a road trip with friends, the race had a lot of perks – I could do it to support Whitney and her Racing the States goal, I could do it with my dog, the run was supposed to be gorgeous as it followed the Dry Fork Canyon, and the topper: we would get a spankin’ sweet dinosaur medal at the end. The only down fall? We arrived at our campsite at 1:30 in the morning and had to be up by 5 a.m. in order to pick up our race packets during a 10 minute window. Can you say oof?
Before I knew it, Whitney and I were standing at the starting line freezing our asses off in the brisk morning air. Whitney chose her pacer who had a time of 1:50 minutes, which would shave a few minutes off of her PR. I wished her luck, told her I had tons of faith in her, and that she would crush it with no problem. She wished me the same and said she’d see me on the finish line.
As mile 2 approached, I needed to use the restroom desperately but knew I would have to wait until mile 3. I’m not sure how much time I wasted with those shenanigans, but I was thankful for the option. Afterwards, I knew I was in it for the long haul. I had my iPOD on lock and my dog on my arm with hardly anyone around me. I reached mile 5 and our friend Duncan was there with my camera to take pictures. Mile 6.2 was marked for a “Sprintasaurus” award. The idea was to sprint for a half mile as fast as you could – so I did. I couldn’t help but think it was a mistake after I slowed my pace.
At mile 7 I grabbed a GU for later, stopped to water my dog, and took off again. As I ran, I tried to keep a clear mind and just tell myself that I had to keep going and that I couldn’t stop. At mile 8.5 I decided to eat the GU. Mile 9 I noticed my feet hurt really bad. I had previous blisters from my other runs that I was positive were blistering over each other all over again. I forced myself to will a mind over body reaction that would allow me to not feel the onset pain step after step. Needless to say, my mental capacity felt weak at best. Mile 11 was on the horizon and my hips were aching and stiff. Each stop at the water stations for my dog became harder and harder to recover from. At two points in my run, a dog from the neighboring lands came out and followed Akeyla and I in a menacing way. The last 2 miles of the half were the hardest. I felt sluggish and like I was hardly making progress with my strides. Mentally and physically, I knew I was losing ground.
When I saw mile 12 I thought to myself, “It really cannot be that hard to run a mile, right? You run at least 3 every day after work. Just suck it up and do it.” Painstakingly, I did and when I arrived to the corner just before the finish line, Whitney was there to greet me and run alongside me. My time as I crossed read 2:02. I literally couldn’t believe it. My dog and I had just ran our first half together in barely over 2 hours. I was immediately handed my dinosaur medal and a bottle of cold water. As soon as I reached the grass, I watered my dog and took off my shoes. The sock on my right foot was unexpectedly soaked in blood. To boot, moving and walking became increasingly more difficult as the minutes passed.
Whitney received 3rd in her age group and 34th overall out of 195 runners with a time of 1:48:55.4. (She beat her time!)
Yeah, I’m super proud of you Whitney.
I finished 14th out of 28 in my age group and 90th overall with a time of 2:01:58.9.
As for the Sprintasaurus section, I placed 24th overall with a sprint time of 3:14.0.
Afterwards, we had hopes of exploring the climbing scene in Vernal. But let’s face it; I could barely even get in and out of the car in a decent fashion.
Instead, we went to the Dinosaur National Monument before driving home.
Now maybe it’s just my current mood with how my running has been going the past few weeks, or even tonight for that matter, but I did have a great time during my run. I couldn’t think of a better way to complete my first half with my furry companion at my side and the support of a great friend.
And as Whitney always says, maybe one day I’ll learn not to be so hard on myself. That said, you should definitely check out her blog. Maybe she’ll inspire you too.
© /skin/ /ˈpōətrē/