Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Big Cottonwood: A Personal Best

So, as I've mentioned before, I've signed up for three half marathons this year. One in June, one in July, and one in September. All nicely spaced for recovery, but also requiring a little bit of training between to stay fresh.

Near the beginning of June I had my first of these three halves (halfs?) and it went incredibly well for me. This first one was the Drop 13 Half - coming down Big Cottonwood Canyon. The only previous time that I'd run down this canyon was when I did my one (and only) full marathon in 2013. But I've done many other canyon half marathons, so I didn't expect anything special out of this one. Except that I'd trained more consistently than I usually do.

The morning of the race, Brandon woke up at 3:45 AM and drove me to the bus pickup area near the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon. We were supposed to get on the buses between 4:00 and 4:30. However, when I got there a few buses were pulling away and there were still a lot of runners hanging out where the buses were supposed to pick us up. And so we waited. And waited. And an hour after I'd arrived, at 5:15 AM, the buses were finally back to pick up the rest of the runners to take us to the top. The biggest fault of this whole thing on the part of the organizers was that they failed to communicate what was going on with the runners. They didn't tell us that they didn't have enough buses to take everyone up from the beginning. All we'd known going into it was that we needed to be on a bus by 4:30 AM at the absolute latest, and that the race was supposed to start at 6:00 AM. So we sat cold and shivering and frustrated for those buses to arrive.

However, despite the frustration, it worked out fairly well, as we waited where it was marginally warmer, rather than at the top of the canyon where it was quite a bit cooler. And the race started a tiny bit late, but pretty close to that 6:00 AM goal.

Once the race began I headed down the canyon with gusto! The first mile was my fastest, at 7:14. But my second fastest mile, at 7:18, wasn't until my 10th mile! My overall pace varied, but I came in with an average pace of just under 8:00, finishing at 1 hour 43 minutes - 15 minutes faster than my previous best time (as far as I remember). I was pleased, to say the least. :)

How did that personal best happen? I'm blaming it on the steepness of the canyon, my music, and the much better training. :) Do I expect to beat that time in either of the two more halves I have coming up? No, I do not. ;)

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