I’ve been crazy busy at work, which is a good thing, but I’ve had no time for anything else but family and so have become extremely behind with everyone here. But I thought for those who check in once in a while to see if I’m alive I’d post my SLC HM race report.
All the sisters in my family, there are four of us, decided to run the half together. I needed something to shoot for after the marathon, another sister was just getting back after a year off from an injury, another was a trail runner and had never done a road race, and the other's game for anything so we all got together and decided have a group race to keep each other going and SLC was at the right time and location.
Saturday morning was perfect weather for the marathon. Mid 40’s and a touch overcast. I’d booked a hotel nearby the finish and so I’d decided to take the advice of the marathon and take the UTA Trax (light rail) to the starting line. When the train got to our stop it was full. People were standing on the stairwell. But since I wanted to meet my sisters before the race I squeezed on. The doors to the car shut and I thought we were good but nothing moved and then I saw the engineer walking around the cars. I thought it must be someone trying to squeeze in and keeping the doors from shutting. We waited a bit more. “I need your attention,” a voice said over the loud speaker. “The train is extremely full and is resting on the tracks,” she said. “I need everyone to shift to the right as much as you can. So we did and the train started moving. I took a picture just to memorialize it.
She didn’t open the doors at any of the other stops though and we did finally make it. I found my sisters okay and checked my gear in (bad move – but I’ll get to that). Made my obligatory visit to the Port-o-Jon, listened to the Anthem (and tried to find the flag, someone finally pointed it out) still waited in line. No worries though, it was a chip timed race and we were planning on waiting anyhow. There were no corrals or pacers so being at the start when the gun went off was guaranteeing you a shove or an elbow. I found an aerial view of the start and you can see that a lot of us had decided that it was a good idea to get our business done before our clock officially started regardless of the gun start. You can see the lines to the Porta-Potties on the left of the photo. The starting line is just behind the bridge
So after we’d made it through the line and the starting crowd had thinned, we were off. None of us have even close to the same pace so we all shortly dispersed but there were still plenty of people to run with. I really struggled with finding my pace at first and finally resorted to turning on my tunes. By the time we got to Sugar House Park I felt loose and was able to find my stride. The first part of the course had some wonderful views of the Wasatch Peaks and I really enjoyed being in the mountains again.
The second half of the race I was feeling good and the crowd support had picked up. There even was a cute little girl, she couldn’t have been more than 4, in her little cheerleader suit and pom-poms cheering us on. They ran out of cups at the 6 mile water stop but the volunteers were going above and beyond. Two of the guys had jugs on their shoulders filling up water bottles for the runners and encouraging everyone as they did it. -Just amazing.
Just before I got to Liberty Park I got to see the Marathon leader and the rest of the incredibly fast folks swoosh on by. Fritz Van de Kamp was way out front and finished in 1:30. Its a medium size marathon and the home town guy won! Everyone was cheering him on. We took a quick left around the park and the, we took a right onto State Street and – Whups! The elevation chart did not give that climb justice. It was just a little speed bump of a climb but because of where it was it seemed like a mountain. I took a picture of it the next day and you can see what I mean.
I was able to keep running, though a lot of folks did walk at this point. One mile uphill no matter what the grade near the end of a race is a bit brutal but it afforded a great view of the State Capitol and Eagle gate. So I just turned my attention to that and enjoyed the view. We turned West at the gate and the last mile was flat and a huge relief after that climb. I was even able to kick myself back into gear and finished the race at 2:47:45. Here's the race map.
I was feeling awesome as I got my medal, chocolate milk, banana and an apple and then went to get my gear. The volunteers said turn to the right for the gear check and so I did and then I saw the line. It kept going and going out around the parking lot. Well, I was not going to give up my gear so I hoofed it to the end of the line and waited. I called my two sisters who finished before me and told them to go on but they needed to stay because Mom wanted a group picture (4 sweaty sisters – can you imagine?). My final sister finished about a half hour later and I’d gone about 100 feet up the line. At least I’d had plenty of time to stretch. I called them back and told them I would probably be another hour and so they ran up to the line and we got our group picture and then they all went to my youngest sister’s house about ½ hour away.
I waited about an hour more and was getting stiffer by the minute. But it gave me plenty of time to talk to a mother and a daughter and compare shoes, kids, pira formis stretching and general life stories. Finally one of their friends actually got into the gear area and was looking for their bags and called to say he couldn’t find them and the crew said it was okay to come help look. They said come along and I wasn’t going to say no at that point. So after we found their bags and I found mine I was out of there.
The poor volunteers. There was only one line for the half and two lines for the marathoners and they had over 1,000 bags that they had grouped alphabetically A-C, B-E etc. That’s more than 100 bags per pile. Someone had wised up by the time I’d gotten there and split them up 1 letter per pile but that was still over 30 bags to dig through before they could find yours. It was an awful system. -Just had to vent there. To quote a 17 year old in the line, “OMG that was the worst gear pickup ever.”
However kudos to the volunteers who kept a great attitude in with an unmanageable set up. Hopefully the race committee will get things figured out for next year. Anyhow it was about ½ mile walk to my hotel and after I smoothed out the kinks I walked it at a pretty good clip and limbered things up a bit just in time for my ice bath. The race was incredibly well supported and there was enough hydration for even the back of the packers who had been cautioned to carry their own, the medical crew was just where they said they would be, the crowd support was fun and the finish was awesome. On the downside I don’t think I’d suggest this run if you are one who checks gear unless you’re assured the gear check situation is fixed.
It was great to see my sisters at the start and we were close enough at the half way point and the turn around was long enough that I got to see and cheer them all on at the turn around. All in all I had a great time and it was a wonderful reason for all the sisters to meet up. It looks like we're going to do it again at the Bryce Canyon Half.
Here's the link to the story from KSL TV that has the full aerial shot along with lots of other info on the race
And for those that are interested here are my splits:
Mile Pace ......................... Mile Pace
1 13:39....................... 8 12:48
2 12:18...................... 9 12:30
3 12:32......................10 12:35
4 12:26......................11 12:32
5 12:36...................... 12 14:39
6 12:35......................13 12:58
7 12:49...................... 0.1 1:22