Ogden Half Marathon

I entered the Ogden Half Marathon lottery when it opened up last October. I was 8 months pregnant and on bed rest due to preterm labor. I was originally planning on doing the full marathon but entered the lottery for the half as a precaution. I had no idea how my body was going to handle post baby running. I thought the best case scenario would  be that I’d bounce back immediately and then I’d sell my half spot and buy up someone’s full spot. Getting back into running after I had my baby was rough to say the least. It took longer than expected to ease back into being active again. I’m very glad I ended up registering for the half instead of the full.

A couple of nights before the race I had the craziest pre-race dream I’d ever had. I dreamt that I was at the race and I decided to drink 4 liters of soda before the start, it was so cold the race directors were instructing everyone to run in wetsuits, the shoe timing chip turned my running shoes into ski boots, I missed the start of the race, and lastly, the course led through people’s homes! I woke up smiling that morning. Hopefully I wouldn’t encounter any of those circumstances!

I have relatives that recently purchased a home not very far from the start of the half marathon. My plan was to spend the night there, get a good night sleep and then just walk to the start. No 5 AM bus ride for me! My advice for people with kids – If you want a plan to succeed don’t invite a 3 year old to the party. I had my 3 year old and my 6 month old with me along with my husband and my in-laws. My 3 year old, Olivia, was up nearly ALL NIGHT. No joke. At midnight I was tossing and turning and decided to go try and sleep on the couch.  At 1:30 I heard Oliva wake up. I tried to get her back to sleep but no dice. Finally, at 4:30 AM we both fell asleep. 5:30 rolls around and BAM! The event music at the start of the race can be heard from every corner in the house. Oh well, who needs sleep, right? I ended up getting maybe only 2-3 hours of very broken sleep.

I got myself ready and headed out the door with my husband at 6:35 AM, just 10 minutes before the start. We jogged to the start and it ended up being a good little warm up. The weather was perfect for running in shorts and a t-shirt. I tried to find my friend so we could run together but with nearly 4,500 half marathon runners, it was like trying to find a needle in a hay stack.

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At 6:45 AM the race started. No matter how many races I do the thrill of being at the starting line never goes away. I ran the first 4 miles around Pineview Reservoir very conservatively (8:30 min/mile pace). I caught up to my fellow TBR team mate, Melanie at this point and wished her and her husband good luck. I was feeling good and my heart rate was where it needed to be. Once the road started to drop down Ogden Canyon I let my pace pick up (8-8:15 min/mile pace). When I hit the downhill my feet started hitting the front of my shoes, which was a problem. I caught up to my husband at this point and we ran a few miles together which was awesome.

I decided not to run with music during this race. I’m training for Ironman Arizona (11/16/14) and music is not allowed during the race. I’ve been doing 90% of my workouts without music to get used to it. I ended up really enjoying it without music. I was able to be in tune with what I was doing and also with those around me. I could hear the steady rhythm of my breathing and the pounding of 4,500 sets of feet hitting the pavement. It’s an amazing sound. It reminded me of the sound effects in cartoons for when soldier ants march together.  I don’t think I’ll forget the sound of when one of the runners in front of me tripped and hit the pavement. Ouch!

At mile 6 I could feel the blisters starting to form on every one of my toes. I’d done all my training in the same shoes but very little of it was downhill running. Looks like my shoes were half size too small. Oops.

The scenery running through Ogden Canyon was breath taking. The road ran alongside the river and there were beautiful mountain trees and rocks everywhere I looked. Once the course exited Ogden Canyon it joined the Ogden River Trail system. The course became more flat and it was difficult to maintain my faster pace. Those last two miles were of course the hardest for me. The temperature was starting to rise and it was getting toasty.  My endurance was starting to wane but I kept telling myself positive things (You can do this! You’re not exhausted or sore! These blisters don’t hurt at all!).

When the course made a left turn on Grant Avenue I could see the finish line. Every step I took forward felt like I was going backwards. The finish line seemed to stretch further and further away. I pushed myself through the finisher’s chute and across the finish line. Whew! I made it and right at my goal! 1:51:27 (8:30 min/mile pace). My goal was to be between 1:50-1:55. I placed 25th out of 268 women in my age group and 272th female out of 2,535 total women. Top 10-11% in each category. It ended up being 7 minutes slower than when I ran it two years ago but hey, 6 months postpartum, I’ll take it!!

An armed force officer in his fatigues put my finisher’s medal around my neck. I then grabbed some post-race recovery food. I don’t think a Creamie has ever tasted that good before. A women came up to me afterwards and told me that she had been racing me. I looked down at her leg and noticed her knee support sleeve. Hey, it’s knee sleeve girl! I do remember her popping up in front of me throughout the race but I didn’t realize she was racing me in particular. I usually do pick out one or two people that I try and pace off them but I didn’t this time around. My husband crossed the finish line shortly after. He finished in less than 2 hours with very little training. This was his first half and I was very proud of him.

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This race is such a quality event. I first ran it in 2012 and registered for it in 2013 but ended up selling my spot because of a wedding I had to attend. I think it will be an annual tradition from now on. The race organizers do such a great job. I didn’t experience any unnecessary unpleasantness. Every volunteer I came in contact with was overflowing with positive energy. I ended up taking fluid from almost every aid station and each one was well stocked and well manned.

After I got home I took off my running shoes and discovered blood blisters on all of my toes. Do’h! One thing I thought while I was running the race was the profound respect I have for marathon runners. I’m doing my first full marathon in September and I’m just now coming to the realization of what a big deal it is. It’s a goal I’ve set for myself that I know I’ll reach. A goal, that involves a lot of pain and growing along the way.

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