So I did it! YAY! I finally was able to complete my first half marathon. Two months prior to the race, my girlfriend mentioned that she found me an available bib for Zion and asked if I wanted to race. I figured, why not, my knee isn’t hurting anymore and two months should be enough time to train and who could say no to a National Park run? After watching Zion Vacation Races on Youtube, I was pretty confident that this half marathon was going to be epic and the perfect race for my first half marathon.
I didn’t do all my training runs as scheduled, but I was able to accomplish most of my long runs. I was running between 9 – 9:30 minute/ mile pace for most of my long runs and all my experienced running friends were confident that I was going to sub 2 hours for the race. I was excited, nervous, and scared, but I was hopeful that I could accomplish this goal as well. Along with my self directed running program, I was incorporating BBG, Classpass, and fitness events as cross-training sessions. I was also more conscientious of my running form, doing my best to run less with a heel strike and more with a forefoot landing. I believed incorporating all these fitness activities as well as being more aware of my running form definitely helped me reduce my risk for injury this time around during my training. I was confident that I was prepared for race day and was eager to get it done.
Race day arrived and you can feel the excitement shared by the participants in the air. I was nervous, but ready to get this run done. It had snowed the day before so temperatures were in the low 30’s in the early morning. Knowing this, many runners were prepared for the cold temperatures, but what we didn’t expect was the amount of mud encountered during the race. I had heard from a previous runner who ran the race last year that there was a bit of mud at the beginning, but the course was a downhill road descent with spectacular views. Little did we know, Vacation Races changed the running course from previous years to a new running trail and while many of us were expecting a road race, my lovely running shoes can vouch that we encountered miles and miles of mud. I realized that not only did I sign up for my first half marathon, but I signed up for my first tough mudder as well.
My feet felt heavy from the mud and running up and down the rolling hills became extremely difficult, so I have to admit, it was really hard for me to truly enjoy the entire 13.1 miles. There were so many rolling hills and several runners began walking the course feeling defeated by the trail of mud that weighed their feet down. I remember thinking to myself after mile 9, when will my runner’s high kick in? And why is this race so hard? I’ve been pretty consistent with the high after my long runs, but this time around, I didn’t experience any of it. I had to dig deep within and tell myself “this is what you trained for, just keep going, no pain, no gain”. It was difficult to keep a consistent cadence since I had to maneuver through people and there were points when I was forced to walk behind the runners during the race. When I reached 12 miles, I will be honest, I was disappointed in myself. I really wanted to run a sub 2 hours as originally planned and I knew I told myself that I will enjoy the journey and the views, but this year’s course didn’t have the same views that were previously shown. I’m known to be hard on myself at times, so after the race, I couldn’t help but be a bit disappointed that I didn’t complete my race within the time frame I had originally imagined.
A few days after the race, I had the opportunity to do some self reflection during my stay at Zion National Park. After discussing with several experienced runners and scrolling through social media accounts, I realized one, it was a difficult race and many PR their slowest half marathon to date, and two, I did finish my first half marathon. That is an accomplishment in itself and I did it with a PR time of 2:16:53. While it may not have been my original PR goal, given the conditions and being my first half marathon, I realized I should be grateful and happy that I was able to run without any injuries and that I was able to complete the race in what many stated were difficult conditions. This is my first personal record and that only means that I still have many opportunities to improve, learn, and train to be better for future races. With that in mind, I’m researching for upcoming half marathons in Southern California the following months – thrilled to sign up for another race. I believe Zion definitely trained me to be a better runner and gave me insightful tips to better my run every day. However until my next race, I need to rest up and get over this bad cold I got from Mother Nature this past weekend.
Thank you for reading and following along my running journey.
Beverley – xoxo
P.S. While the Zion Vacation Race didn’t live up to my expectations, I am extremely thankful that they did bring me to race in Utah to explore a beautiful state and National Park. Thank you for organizing these races, I understand that you cannot predict weather conditions, so I am grateful for the opportunity to explore and create memorable adventures after the race.