Bryce Canyon Half Marathon Recap | Race 10 of 14 for 2014

So, you all know how much I love my sister, right? It's apparent.  She rocks.  She's my bff, my biggest supports, she puts up with my craziness.  I could go on and on, but for today's blog post we're going to talk about how she became my super hero/lifesaver!  Here's the story:

Jason and I, along with the kiddos, headed out to Bryce Canyon, UT early Friday morning.  My sister & nephew would be coming later that afternoon.  We took our time driving out there and stopped in St. George to have Chick-fil-a (YUMMM!!) We saw Dick's Sporting Goods had a tent sale, so we walked around the tent full of running shoes for a bit but didn't buy anything.  So, off we went.  We made it to Bryce Canyon around 2pm.  When we pulled over to one of the lookout points and were ready to walk a short trail, I go to the back of the car to grab our shoes.  You see, I packed the kids hiking shoes and my shoes in a separate bag and we just wore our flip flops for the trip.  It's way easier to travel with kids in flip flops than in shoes that need to be laced up.  Well, alas, there was no bag.  I asked Jason if he put the bag in front with the kids, but I knew the answer....the man forgot to pack our shoe bag.  How was I going to run a half marathon in flip flops?!? I may have started to panic, but then I quickly thought to call my sister and see if they were near St. George.  It was about 2 hrs away and the closest town with a sporting goods store.  We had to drive a bit to get signal, but when I called and spoke to my nephew and he told me they were about to drive into St. George, I knew I'd be ok.  Big sister to the rescue.  Long story short, she found me some Saucony ProGrid Ride 5 sneakers on sale at Dick's Sporting Goods store and grabbed some shoes for the kids at the Old Navy next door.  I was pretty nervous the rest of the day, but glad that I would at least have sneakers to run in for the half marathon.  When she arrived, I was so anxious to try on the shoes and even more relieved to see that they fit and were comfortable.  

I had a rough time sleeping that night.  I was still anxious about running in new shoes in a brand I'd never used before.  What a way to break in your shoes, huh?!?  4am came way to quickly.  I felt like I was in a fog getting ready and drank some bad in-room coffee maker coffee to help wake me up.  I went through the motions, but just couldn't get excited.  I was more nervous and scared than anything.  My super hero sister came to to our room to keep sleeping with our kiddos & we walked out of the room to catch the bus driving us up to the start line at 5am.  I really lucked out when booking our hotel room because the pick up was right across the street from where we were staying and the half marathon ran right in front of the hotel too!  

Thanks to Jason for taking these pics of the starting line and during the first part of his run! I still can't manage to get myself to take pics during a race! 

Thanks to Jason for taking these pics of the starting line and during the first part of his run! I still can't manage to get myself to take pics during a race! 

It was still pitch black as the bus drove us to the start line and I couldn't help but think how crazy we all were sitting in this cold bus way too early in the morning, to go run downhill for 13.1 miles!  We managed to stay warm(ish) by standing next to one of the 4 or so bonfires that were set up at the start line.  A few runners made small talk with us, I ate my Larabar, had my Island Boost, and just waited to start feeling better.  Well, I can tell you that that didn't happen until after mile 2.  At this point, Jason was running way ahead of me, I had told him it was ok and he took off!  After the first flat 2 miles, I found my groove and the road started to go downhill.  The scenery was beautiful and was really enjoy the downhill speed.  I was able to see Jason up ahead of me running with the 2:20 pacer but I didn't try to catch up.  I was already running way faster than normal and I didn't want to push myself too much so early in the race.  By mile 8 he started to slow down, so  I ran a little sprint and caught up to him.  We were running through the town so we slowed down to see my sister and the kiddos!  They were out there with their cow bells making noise and cheering us on in their PJs!  It was awesome to see them and it got me pumped up for the next 5 miles.  At this point, the downhill incline wasn't as steep and I knew I was slowing down, but I was keeping a nice pace and feeling really good too.  Jason was also slowing down and I could tell that he was starting to struggle around mile 10 or so.  By mile 12, I was ready for it to be over!  I wanted to run faster, but Jason couldn't go any faster than what he was already going so I stayed running by him.  I knew I was going to PR at this point and I remembered how crucial it was for me to have my cousin with me for my first half marathon and I wanted to do the same for the hubs...even if he did forget to pack my sneakers in the car!!! When we spotted the finish line, we did a mini-sprint to the finish line together and it felt great!  Our official time was 2:25:27:06!  Jason finished his first half marathon, I PRed by 9 minutes and couldn't be happier!  The finish line had the regular post-race snacks of bagel pieces, orange slices, bananas, water, and chocolate milk.  We stayed around the finish line area,  walked around, stretched, enjoyed some free ice cream, and waited for my sister to pick us up.  

All and all, the race was very well organized, we had no issues at all with packet pickup or at any point during the race.  There were plenty of water stations along the road and port-a-potties at about every mile (Woohoo to not having to use them, though!)  The scenery was lovely and the downhill course was just fantastic!  And, although I wouldn't recommend trying a new running shoe on race day, the Sauconys worked out just fine!  

Be sure to come back tomorrow to read and see pictures from the rest of our trip and our family time hiking through the Bryce Canyon hoodoos!  

I loved running with my  Swings! !! They added that extra little "umph" I needed!  I think I'll be wearing them on my next race :) 

I loved running with my Swings!!! They added that extra little "umph" I needed!  I think I'll be wearing them on my next race :) 

Being Grateful for Friends and Family

We head off to Bryce Canyon tomorrow and, like I mentioned in my previous post, I'm really excited and hoping my knee doesn't give me too much trouble on Saturday!  All my races, thus far, have been local and I'm looking forward to a bit of a change in scenery and for cooler weather.  Just really hoping it doesn't rain on us ;) 

This past Sunday, I had my last long run of 12 miles and I'll admit it was a challenge.  The sun was starting to burn layers off my skin & my knees were aching, but I finished.  I didn't give up, although I did consider it! Towards the end of the run, I reflected on all the support I've had throughout this journey and began to think of how lucky I am to have people who really care about me in my life.  Especially, my family!  Yes, I started crying on my run! Please tell me this has happened to you before or I'll be super embarrassed...Yes, you have too?!? Ok, on with my post!  

I am beyond grateful and appreciative to my husband for making my favorite post-run breakfast countless times.  In case you're wondering, it's sweet potato & bacon hash with eggs over medium and avocado!  I'm grateful that he's joining me on this adventure and running races with me!  He's never once complained about me going to the gym or when I go out for a run and he stays with the kiddos!  He's always encouraging me and never doubts I can achieve my crazy goals, even when I do!  I love that about him.  

I am grateful for my kiddos for embracing this active and healthy lifestyle.  They love talking about my races and going on runs with me.  I love that they are involved and get excited about running their own races.  I've never felt guilty about running or going to the gym because I know they appreciate it and it's showing them that exercise is important and beneficial in our lives and that it can be fun!

I am grateful for my friends who have stuck with me in this crazy adventure!  My friends who've come to watch me run or even better that have come out and ran some races with me!  Thanks for trudging through the mud, running through bubbles, and jumping off planks with me! Woohoo!! My friends who have gladly watched my kiddos so Jason and I could run some trails or get some training at Camp Rhino!  To my friends who listen to me talk about Paleo and upcoming races: Thanks for pretending not to be too bored with me ;) 

I am grateful for my parents who also support  me without end.  Without their support (read: they watch my kids most of the time) I wouldn't be able to do so much of what I do. They're on a 3 month trip now and we are totally missing them!!

Lastly, I am grateful for sister.  My #1 supporter, my BFF!  We've ran 5Ks together.  We've ran an obstacle course race together.  She was there to watch me run my first 5K and she's been there for most of my other races too.  She's the best race photographer and cheerleader!  

When I signed up for this half marathon at Bryce Canyon, she said she was coming along too without being asked.  She just knew she'd be there for me and I couldn't be more grateful to her for that.  I mean, who does that? Who says they're going to take a 4 hr road trip to wake up at 6am to watch you run by for like 15 seconds? Only the best sister in the world, that's who!  

So really, I just want to say "Thanks" to all of you.  I couldn't be here following these crazy dreams of mine without you. You all mean the world to me! xo 

I'll be off the blog scene for a few days, but I'll be back on Tuesday to tell you all about the Bryce Canyon Half!  In the meantime, follow the fun on instagram @jessieemeric!