17 April 2011 By Rachel’s

Salt Lake Half Marathon

Running Straight past the Bayou. Good thing it wasn’t open or I may have stopped for Chimay on my way home. Not a good breakfast idea….

I choose to race both the road and trails for many reasons. I feel as though the road helps give me mental focus, good leg speed and a chance to work on form. I also don’t always have the opportunity or time to hit a trail. The beauty of the road, at least where I live, is right out my door I am free to dance immediately with roads and traffic and living. I seriously get thrills out of it.

And then there is off road. This is where heaven lies. I again learn focus of a different sort. The trails challenge balance, foot work, and give me strength that I could never find just always running in a straight line on a man made surface. Roots, rocks, sand, mud, water is love. Snakes I could do without, but I am working to make peace with scary thoughts of  death by venom. I love nature. I like smelling earth and watching the quivering of aspen leaves in the breeze. I find freedom in nature; it is my best therapy. I love the perfect feel of my Newton Running shoes softly tapping the ground as I fly through the bliss.

Yesterday was a time to hit the road in the Salt Lake Half Marathon. I don’t race a lot locally and it is refreshing to be able to sleep in my own home and know how to get to the event. I love it that as I am racing I have friends in the crowds cheering, running mates racing with and against me, and familiar sites to pass by.

Despite being familiar with the University of Utah campus as I spent five years there completing my bachelor degree, I am amazed at how I still managed to cause myself pre race grief. I had planned on taking an exit off the interstate below campus as road closures wouldn’t be an issue yet. But as I got to the exit I would normally take I suddenly panicked as I almost missed it. My sigh of relief turned into a big duh as I realized what I did. Sweet. No left turns. I meant to park my car about 2 miles up from the race finish and then take the train up to race start. That way post race I would have a perfect 2 mile cool down. Instead I ended up finally parking 25 min later than I hoped at the top of Federal Heights and running as fast as possible to make the race start. Sweet! At least I had a mandatory built in warm-up.

I loved despite the huge amass of runners, I still found or was found by many friends. I was especially happy to see an amazing woman I helped to train for the event. Lisa is inspiring. She had all sorts of troubles getting signed up, had pre race medical issues, and still made it. Not only that, but she ended up hitting a personal record. Go Lisa! I am so proud of you!

At race start, I stood next to my new road training partner Walter Brown. He has a heart breaking story himself. Years ago his left leg was paralyzed in a terrible car accident. His pelvis was also broken in 23 places. A man of true miracles, he not only has worked incredibly hard and believed and given his all to come back, but he holds a recent personal record in the marathon distance of 2:31. Today he smoked me with a 1:12! In my dreams and hopefully some day soon I will run like Walter. Straight from the heart with wings on my feet.

Running Down State street at 8AM on a Saturday morning.

When the gun went off, the runners took off all smiles and bounds in the overcast damp morning.  It was perfect running temps for everyone except myself who thrives on sunlight. Oh well. I took off at a typical pace I find comfortable. My bright orange Newton’s flashing the crowds. Within the first mile I took the lead for the women.  This was short lived as I was over taken by the eventual winner at about mile 3. I realized I was still not fully reovered from my race at Lake Las Vegas the week before and couldn’t quite match her. I had to make a decision of staying with her and risking blowing myself up, or remembering this was one race leading to bigger things down the road. Despite my little ego being “mad” I didn’t try to challenge her, I know that in the long run staying back was a better choice. About mile 7 I was passed by another girl, Michelle Lowry. I have beat her many times in St. George. Today was her day to get me.

For the remainder of the race I focused as I strive always to do on my form and thanking volunteers at the aid stations and police stopping traffic of angry hurried drivers….  I thought of the good people and things I have in my life. The fact that my body feels good without ever taking medications. That I am able to run. That I have the best running clothing company ever CW-X backing me. And on and on. This is how I keep going when I start to slip. It helps so much to find the positive. And yes I did slip some. My legs didn’t quite have the snap that I love when I am on. But how would I know how much I appreciate being “on” if I didn’t have off days?

I am grateful to my friend Art for once again riding his bike all over the course and taking pictures of me so I have some action shots for my site and sponsors. Yes. The world takes such good care of me. Plus it is fun to have a cheerleader. I have raced most of my life until recent years without anyone there for me. It was for years just the dreams in my heart that carried me. It makes a difference to know now people care.  I love it that here in the 801, as well as almost anywhere I race, there are people I know and show up for me. I love that so many of my clients and friends leave me texts and messages of encouragement. It all makes my world so bright.

As always, on a mission…

Near the finish in the last 2 miles there is a good long uphill section. I was happy for it as I hoped that perhaps Michelle might slow down. No such luck. She was determined to keep her lead. At the finish line I place 3rd female overall of 2,715 and 25th overall of 4,444 males and females. My time was 1:21:53. Allie was almost 2 minutes ahead in 1:20 flat and Michelle in 2nd was 1:21:20. I was almost 5 minutes off my PR. Yikes! Next time will be better.

Post race was fun. I hung out a bit with Walter and his wife and 2 of his kids. I also was able to see more friends I hadn’t even know were running the race. One of the coolest girls ever ,Kathyrn Conner ,came in less than a minute back from me. I had no idea she was there. I guess today I never looked back. I love reunions with my ever growing family.

All that was great and fun, but I needed to be home by 11AM for a client. When I left, I paid my price for my driving mistake earlier. I was parked six miles up into the foothills from the race finish. On tired legs I jogged back. At least I knew the general neighborhood my 4runner was in, but I forgot to note the streets. It turned into an hour long expedition searching for my vehicle. Details. Gotta remember those.

In all, the Salt Lake half marathon has certainly helped put me on track for later this year which is shaping up to be absolutely magical. Thanks to all of my friends for the support, Newton Running, CW-X, Zarephath Trading, XTERRA and many more for my beautiful life.

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I will always remember waking up at the age of 12 to the pain I saw in so many while simultaneously realizing how lucky I was to feel fantastic.

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