Pretty desperate for a road race, a little over a month ago I searched the USATF-Utah website for anything that might still be on the schedule. I was pleasantly surprised to find two half-marathons that were happening a week apart. Both were about an hour away so I looked at the websites, results, and course profiles and they both looked pretty similar – big drops. Well, those kinds of courses aren’t my favorite, but beggars can’t be choosers. Why not do both and make it interesting?!
The first one was the Hobblecreek Half Marathon in Mapleton Utah. I had never been to the area, but was willing to make the drive. The description said the race originally began as a prep in training for the St. George Marathon in the fall (at the time I was planning on racing St. George, but it was unfortunately cancelled a few days ago). Hobblecreek boasted a 1250 foot drop from start to finish and the elevation profile looked pretty smooth. Of course, one doesn’t really know until they run it.
I didn’t taper too much for this race, cutting my mileage plan by 40% the week of. I had had an easy week after the 50k so I felt a little awkard in how to best approach race day. The morning of I felt excited and also nervous. It had been a minute and I knew this race was very competitive. My legs felt mediocre – fine, but not fresh. I didn’t get quite the warm up I wanted to have in, but I was as ready as I was going to be for the day. Go time!
I went out pretty hot. I wanted to see how long I could push the pace, especially with the big drop. It turned out to be 6 miles – ha! After that, the course started adding a few rolling hills and flattened out a little (or at least felt like it flattened out). My pace slowed by 20 seconds per mile for the next few and then I blew up. I pushed with what I had to the finish and felt confident it was all I had for the day, but was surprised that I couldn’t hold on for longer. In hindsight, there were two sessions in the week that I would have altered and probably would have given me fresher legs. When the course profile changed, I still would have slowed, but probably would have been able to level my pace and shave a few minutes off. Hindsight is 20/20. Below is the course chart courtesy of Strava.
Final Stats (race #1)
36th of 345 overall
7th of 196 female
3rd of 24 in age group
Alright, on to the next one! Having just put forth a hard effort, it was time to really really rest up. Coach Judd wanted me to try barely running at all in the week between and keep activities mild. I had a 5-mile recovery run Monday and that was it until race day. I walked, I yoga-ed, I swam, I slept, I ate, I did my body-weight workout cut in half a few times….it felt weird. I didn’t start to get agitated until Thursday. I think it helped knowing that I was trying something new and different than what I’d normally do. I wanted to see what would happen and how I’d feel.
Again, I hadn’t done this course before, but the profile looked smooth and 1100 foot drop. The results said that historically this race wasn’t competitive, but with covid who knows. At the start it was easy to tell that this race was much smaller than Hobblecreek and much more laid back. We started with the “waterslide” method and I was the only one willing to admit I was shooting for 1:20 so I was up first. It was weird going out by myself.
I was instructed to go out at an easier pace with the idea of maintaining and speeding up. I wanted to go by effort and mostly ignore the watch. Around mile 3, another local runner caught me and we ran together through the finish. The first 7 miles flew by, even though it felt like my quads were…not firing? Isolated only to my quads. I hadn’t felt that before. Two other guys passed us, but that was it as far as the racers go. We did have a fair amount of weaving to do with other people walking, running, and cycling. There were a few more uphills than the last half and the downhill was a little gentler. The last 4 mile I faded and couldn’t recover. The rest of my legs felt good, but my quads never got to work – still troubleshooting that. The race was a bit short, coming in at 13 even.
Time – 1:23:39
4th of 96 overall
1st of 56 female
Having done things very differently the weeks before each race, I gained some new insights for what works best for me. We’ll see how the rest of the year unfolds with what covid will allow. I’m still hopeful about getting a marathon in.