Monday, July 21, 2014

My 5th Half Marathon: The Timp Half Recap.

Poor Mark. He hates how he looks in this picture. I love it. While he was stuffing his face with bagel, I was forcing him into pictures. This one is joked about in my running group as being a "racer's engagement photo."

    Wow! What a difference a week can make! On July 12 I ran the Hobbler Half and was incredibly disappointed in my performance. The course was much hillier than I gave it credit for and the canyon got hot very early on causing me to have a 3:01:51 finish on a race I was really chasing a sub-2:45 finish. I shed lots of tears over the whole experience and was disappointed all week.  This was race #3 where I was chasing a sub-2:45 and I still didn't get it. I was actually moving further from my goal! When will all my training pay off?
  My chance for redemption came this last Saturday.  Joshua, my running bestie, had an extra entry to the race and Mark was already signed up, so the entry was mine if I could find a place for Miss Addison to stay. Several babysitters later, we finally got our very great friends, the Copelands, to let her sleep over. Then, their child got super sick with a fever and I almost lost our babysitter at the last minute. Prayers, chants, and good thoughts were offered by everyone and their son's fever passed and the sleepover was back on. YAY!
The start line, the gorgeous view, and me. 
   So after staying with Addison until she felt comfortable in her place (which meant she went to sleep) until almost 10 PM and then waking up at 3:20 AM to get to the buses on time, Mark and I were ready to race. Who needs sleep when you can run on endorphins anyway? We met up with Christy, her friend Misty, and Angie at the buses and headed up to the top of American Fork Canyon. We met Josh, Susette, and the rest of our running group soon after getting off the buses. There is always a party atmosphere at the start line prior to race start because everyone has race nerves and at this point, ready or not, you just want to get the race over with. The time to prepare is over. And soon Joshua, who was pacing 2:40 (a doable goal for myself in this canyon race) and I set off down the canyon.
   The weather was perfect at the start. Not too cold, but not as hot as outside the canyon. The road we were running on was surrounded by tall cliffs that kept the temperatures almost perfectly cool the whole 7.5 miles of the canyon run. I kept with Joshua and Jay (the other 2:40 pacer) for the first 2 miles. They ran the perfect warm up pace. I always struggle the first couple of miles finding a good pace. You don't want to start out too fast, even on this downhill  portion, and finding a comfortable pace can be difficult. It was nice not thinking about it. I just ran beside Joshua and found inner strength and confidence for the race.
  Christy and Misty were also hoping to stay somewhat with the 2:40 pacers during the race. Both were nursing injuries and wanted to get out of the canyon before they closed it down. If you were still in the canyon after it closed, you were to be swept off the course and given a DNF. To make sure they made it, they tried staying either ahead of or with Joshua down the canyon. After the first 2 miles I realized that Jay and Josh were actually running too slow for how I was feeling that day (I always run by feel. That is what kind of runner you are when you run naked. That is without a GPS watch for you people who are trying to picture me without clothes. Perverts.). Soon I caught up with Misty and Christy and then I was past them too. I looked back to realize I could no longer see Joshua and Jay. I was racing with myself.
   The miles passed quickly. I didn't start the race with my music because I thought I would be staying with Joshua and talking the whole way down. As I sped up, I didn't feel the need for music. I chanted with myself to the beat of my breathing and watched the race unfold ahead of me. I could feel how good this run was going. It was amazing. It was just me, the road, and my happy thoughts. I knew at some point I would want my music, but in that canyon, in that moment, I just needed the run.
   All too soon, the canyon ended and we entered a trail for the last 5.5 miles of the race. After so much downhill, the hilly portion of the race attacked my legs and my perfect pace started to slow. I ran some of the hills, walked some. I knew this was costing me time I really wanted as a cushion at the last 10 miles, but hills are not my thing. You do what you have to do. We were also now in the warm valley and the heat was getting intense quickly. I knew that I would have to really push in order to finish at in the time goals I had set for myself.
   So I did. I ended up running most of the first 10 miles. I didn't do my usual run/walk intervals. I didn't need them. I ran everything but the steepest hills and just kept going. My head started hurting and I took Advil at the 9 mile watering station, but other than that, the race was going really well. At the mile 10 marker I reminded myself of something London said the night before "At mile 10 I just think, 'it is only a 5k.' You can do that!" I was being chased by a couple who pointed out as we passed the marker that we were 2:05 into the race. I thought at that point "If you try really hard, you can beat your 5k PR of 34.55! You would be a sub-2:40 racer!" Then the race got to me. The next mile was off the trail and on an incline. Not a hill, but a steady climb. I ran. Then, when I had nothing left, I was forced to walk. I kept looking back realizing that Joshua and Jay should be right behind me any minute and tried running some more.
   I don't know how to explain it, but it is like my tank ran out of gas. By the mile 11 watering station my head started really pounding. I was in trouble. After the watering station, the race joined the running trail again. It was at this point I looked back and saw Joshua. CRAP! I ran when I could, walked when my legs would go no further. The race because a game of beat those pacers. It was now really hot (in the high 80's) and my stomach started protesting at the effort I was putting out. I started looking for places to throw up. I could hear Jay coming behind me. Mile 12 came. I was still ahead, but not by much. I still hadn't put in my music and thought about doing it for motivation, but listening to Jay approaching was all the motivation I needed. Come on body. KEEP GOING. Jay and his now large group passed me. He yelled "Keep with us! You were so far ahead of us!" I was in the midst of trying to keep my cookies down and my head was pounding and I started wanting to quit. I was able to ascertain that Joshua was pushing another runner behind me. So I just wanted to finish before him. Still, there wasn't anything left to run on. Joshua and first time halfer, Jeremy caught me. We started running/shuffling through. We passed Monte, who was running extra miles after his PR race, who yelled that Mark rocked the race and crushed his PR. Of course he did.
   Joshua, sensing I had nothing left to give and my bad mood (I think the cuss words flooding out of my mouth tipped him off) started reminding me what I was doing this for. "Remember what you are running for. Remember a certain blog of yours? Your girls are still so proud of you. You are still going to get a PR today." I shed a tear. I shed a few. Sometimes realizing that you are a half marathoner and that you just did more in almost 3 hours than most people do all day is huge. It really is a spiritual experience. You are more tired than you have ever been and emotionally spent and in that vulnerability, you find out who you really are and how much self worth you truly have. You can go 13.1 miles! That is huge.
  The course ended on a high school track. You entered the school and ran around the track to finish. I fully expected to meet Mark at the beginning of the track portion to help me run in. Instead, I met him about 1/2 mile from the end. I LOVE THAT MAN! He ran with me and lied about it being downhill (it obviously wasn't). He also was met with all the love I could show at that moment "Bleep, bleep, bleep, hot races, bleep, why?" Apparently hangry hot runner Jill is a drunken sailor. Did I mention that the more I cussed, the funnier Josh thought the whole situation was and the more he laughed. If I didn't like Joshua so much, I would have punched him.
Robert's picture of me coming in to a PR!
In that moment, it was just me, the clock, and my girls
 pushing me across the  finish line. Poor Joshua
 was left in my dust. 
  We entered the track and I knew at that point, there was no more walking. I had to just GET THE RACE OVER WITH and NOW! Mark was right, the flat track did feel easy and downhill and my pace sped up a bit. Then, it happened. I saw the race clock as we rounded the 200 meter mark. It read 2:43:something. I HAD TO BREAK 2:45 by as much as possible! I took off like a bullet from a gun. I started hearing Joshua yelling, then others from my running group joined him. "JILL! GO JILL!"  It was loud. It was a moment every runner dreams of ending a race with. I passed someone, and caught up to another. I finished with every single scrap of energy I had, and some that was given to me by Isabel, no doubt.  I left every last shred of myself out on the course and it felt so good. I ended it the exact way I wanted to: with a PR and with my husband, friend, and baby by my side. My official time was 2:43:08.4. I crushed my previous PR set in May of 2:51:25. Honestly, there has never been a better ending to a race in my book.
   I was delirious after I crossed the line. Joshua grabbed me and gave me the biggest hug. Sonja, who was in the race corrals, joined us. Soon I realized there were others there too. London, Robert, Susette, Mark, Josh, and Sonja were all there. It overwhelming and I have never felt so loved and supported in my life.  I am still in awe of all the wonderful people I surround myself with and how amazing every single one of them are to me. I am very grateful for my running group. Thank you.
Sonja, Joshua, Mark and I just after I received my medal. 
  Mark did, in fact crush his PR. London, being the awesome friend she is, promised to push him to a sub-2:00 finish. She lived up to her word and was nicknamed by Camille and Mark (who were both wanting the same time goal) Slave Driver. Maniac was another loving nickname. I heard that at one point during the hilly portion of the race (a portion that London excels at because she is unnatural and insane, clearly) London got ahead of them and was found sitting on a bench teasing Camille and Mark about their pace. Camille soon realized just how intense the pace was (she is just getting over being sick) and backed off, leaving Mark to fend for himself. Mark crossed the finish line with a 1:55 finish.  At least, that is what we think happened. Somehow his timing chip got activated when the marathoners set off a half an hour before us half marathoners and his official race time was 2:25:36.3. We are working on fixing it.
Finished and ready
to race again.
Mark crushed his last PR
by 10 minutes!
   Of course, the race ended with me stuffing my face, the necessary post race pictures, and the realization that I would do this again next week. I know in my heart that I need to wait to race again until my marathon so I can just focus on my training. but racing is like childbirth: You regret doing it in the hardest parts of your journey, then it is over and you start to recover and want to do it again. I told Joshua I never wanted to race again in mile 12, then after a piece of bread, a banana, and a cookie, I couldn't wait to race again. The hangries always get me. And as we walked from the race to our car to go pick up Addison  (who slept the whole 12+ hours we were gone), I realized that I had sweat so much that my phone had water in it while riding in my sports bra. It now sits in rice drying out. It will probably always carry memories of this race, just like I will.
  Joshua also wrote about his pacing experience. It is a must read.

I love this picture. I am so thankful I ended the race
with these two amazing men by my side.

The Run Aways. I love this group.


  1. I'm SO happy you were able to run AND PR! What a great morning for you. I love you and your cute family so much!

    1. Thank you! You are so sweet! I really missed you being there. I can't wait until our next group run so I can see you.

  2. My favorite line ... If I didn't like Joshua so much, I would have punched him.

    1. I am glad you find that funny. And it is looking back. The seasoned runner laughing at the cussing girl. I seriously couldn't have made it in that time without you. You probably dragged me to the track and Isabel helped me with the rest.

  3. But, seriously, Jill I am SO proud of you. Probably not as proud of you as your daughters are! Or Mark! But, I'm up there. I'll always remember watching the SLC Marathon finishers with you three years ago and you could believe ANYONE would do something like this.

    That's where the sparked flicked.


    1. And I still think marathoners are nuts. Someday being one doesn't change my mind on that point.

  4. Love it! Congrats! Proud of Mark too! For the record and for anyone that cares I finished in 2:06:29. It is my second best time I am not too sad.

    1. I was going to ask you your time. Great job! That is really good for just getting over being sick. You should be really proud of that time. And I loved your finishing picture. YOU ARE A MACHINE!!!!


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