Zion Half Marathon | Race Recap

April 1st was my first half marathon of the year, the Zion Half Marathon! I would love to say it started off amazingly, but when your first mile is 18+ minutes, you kinda know it's gonna be a doozy! 

My friend and I took off from Las Vegas early Friday afternoon and the drive took us about 4 hrs. Yay for the S-Town Podcastfor the in-car entertainment! Packet pickup was at Zion Ponderosa Ranch which was north of Zion National Park from the direction we came in.  So, we had to pay the $35 admission to the park to drive across. Seriously wish there would have been some mention of this on the website.  Anyhow, we made it just in time for packet pickup and our spaghetti dinner.  The weather was very cold and it was super muddy.  The race directors had communicated this to us via emails, updates on facebook, and even text messages, so we knew what to expect when we arrived.  As a matter of fact, their communication throughout the evening and race morning was very good.  

We stayed in Kanab, UT which was another 30 minutes north of the start line at the same Zion Ponderosa Ranch.  Traffic was expected for race morning and we were told to plan at least an additional 30 minutes to our drive.  However, the night before the race, we were given notice that the parking area was being moved to their Plan B location due to the muddy conditions at the original parking lot.  This created even more traffic and congestion as there was only one entrance to Zion Mountain Ranch and cars were simply parking alongside of the road.  We then had to walk back towards the main road to where the buses were picking up runners.  This ended up being about a mile away from our car.  We finally arrived to the buses, waited in line, and boarded the lovely warmth of the bus! Kudos to the volunteers for being out there in the dark and cold morning in such good spirits! They rocked! 

Once we arrived to the start line area we found out the race was being delayed due to the traffic congestion caused by the parking lot change.  Once the race finally started it was pretty confusing and rushed so we ended up way in the back of the pack.  I thought we'd be ok once we started running and we found our groove but that never happened for me.  Unfortunately, all the melted snow created some pretty muddy trails that were nearly impossible to run through.  Runners ended up just walking along the edges of the trail or completely around the trail so we just all walked in a row behind each other.  Yup, more congestion.  By the time we were out of the 1st muddy mile, it'd been 18 minutes and I was feeling pretty defeated.  The downhill course that was promised was not really downhill.  It was way more hilly and more of an up and down course.  Add to that the super muddy trails where we were forced to walk most of them and we had ourselves a PR for slowest half marathon!  It was definitely not the race I was expecting.  Having to run past our cars around mile 7 was especially cruel! 

This was right before the finish line! Hardly a downhill run....Ugghhh Thanks  @penguincity  for capturing this shot! 

This was right before the finish line! Hardly a downhill run....Ugghhh Thanks @penguincity for capturing this shot! 

Clearly, I was not the only one who was a bit disappointed.  @gimmeapaw  was spot on with her post!  

Clearly, I was not the only one who was a bit disappointed. @gimmeapaw was spot on with her post!  

It hurts me to write this recap because I've seriously loved all the half marathons I've ran.  I understand no one can predict the weather and the havoc it can cause on race day and the race directors did a good job handling it.  I think they did the best they could with the weather conditions. They also gave all this year's runners a discount for next year's race and sent a very well written email afterwards.  However, it wasn't just the weather that did it for me.  I wish I could say it was just the wet, cold, muddy conditions that made it difficult for me to enjoy the race, but it wasn't just that for me.  I was also expecting a much more scenic race and the locations we ran through just didn't have spectacular views.  For this year only, the race was east of Zion National Park, so maybe the regular location is much more scenic, but I'm not sure. Ultimately, I know a race is what you make of it and I am glad I experienced this race.  It taught me that I need be prepared for everything and  sometimes races just don't go as expected.  I need to learn to go with the flow.  This race was definitely a mental game for me and I gave up quickly.  I did not give it my all and I let unrealized expectations, bad weather, and muddy conditions defeat me.  Lesson learned. 

I gotta say, I do love that big wooden medal and now I can mark off running while it snows from the bucket list! Ok, it was just flurries but still...

Did you run the Zion Half Marathon? I'd love to know what are your thoughts of the race.  

Trails of Fury 10K | Race Recap

On May 21, 2016 I ran the Trails of Fury 10K.  My daughter also ran the kids 2K race that day.  Trails of Fury is a trail race organized by Desert Dash and they always pull off a great race.  I'd volunteered a few times on other Desert Dash races, so I had race credits for this race, bonus!

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We had to wake up even earlier than usual for a race, since we had to take a bus to get to the race location. The BLM (Bureau of Land Management) didn't want a lot of cars out on the trail parking lot, as to not to disturb the environment.  The weather was unseasonably cold for end of May and pretty windy.  They provided plenty of snacks and hot cocoa and coffee to help keep us warm, as well as space heaters.  We had to wait for the half marathon and 5K runners to go before the 10K got started.  Thank goodness there were seats for Elysse and hot cocoa and space heaters to help keep her warm and whining was down to a minimum ;)

I hadn't really trained much for this race.  After the L.A. Marathon, my running has really been sporadic.  I decided to sign up for this race to help me get my running mojo back.  During the entire run I felt sluggish and slow.  I took way too many walking breaks and the gradual uphill really got me!  The downhill, as usual, was fun and I was grateful that the downhill was at the middle and then again at the end.   I started the race wearing my jacket but after the first mile I got hot and took it off.  Since the 10K consisted of 2 loops, I passed the start line and saw my husband and daughter.  I handed them my jacket and just kept on going.  After the 1st loop, I really was trying to give it my all, but sadly, my all was not much to give.  My lack of running and especially my lack of trail running, was evident.  I was glad to be done after the race, but I actually did enjoy the run.  It made me remember how much I did enjoy trail running and I really hope to get back to it.

Now, about 30-45 minutes after my race it was time for the 2K kids race.  Elysse was ready to run and was super excited to get started.  Desert Dash just recently introduced the kids races to their lineup, so there were only a total of 3 kids for this race.  I sure hope they keep it for future races and that more kids show up for them.  Running is such a great sport and it can really help teach kids the importance of training, endurance, and rewards for hard work.  Elysse started the race strong and she finished strong.  She led the whole time and came in first place. That really made her feel so proud of herself and in turn, we were also so proud of her.  She gave it her all and it paid off!  I can't wait for her to run another race again and that she can find a true love for running!  

Wild Land Fire Awareness Trail Half Marathon | Red Rock Canyon

I ran the Wild Land Fire Awareness Trail 5K last year and although it was not a great race for me, I kinda left wanting to do the half marathon.  So, when registration opened up for this year's race, I signed up right away!  I have done 5K, 10K, and 12K trail races before but this would be my first trail half marathon.  I was both nervous and scared.  My training was pretty sporadic and I didn't really stick to my running schedule like I should have.  Also, I really wanted to do more specific hill training, but yea, that didn't happen either.  I did get some good runs in and had quite a few long trail runs beforehand, so I knew I would finish, just wasn't too sure of my time.  I ended up giving myself the goal of 3 hours.  

Of course, I hardly slept the night before the race.  This happens to me all the time and I wish I had better sleeping techniques I could use.  Any suggestions?  Fortunately, I didn't feel terribly tired in the morning and we were able to get everyone ready and gather our stuff (that we'd set up the day before) and head out the door with little drama.

Just like last year, everything seemed to go smoothly at the start line.  I chatted with a few running friends, took photos with my family, and then it was time to go!  The first half of the course was pretty brutal.  The inclines were no joke and there were some pretty technical parts with huge rocks we had to get up.  I walked up most of the inclines and was wishing I hadn't skipped that hill training!  About halfway through the race, my family found me right before an aid station.  It was so nice to see the kiddos running towards me and having Jason help me refill my hydration pack with ice and water.  It definitely gave me a nice boost, plus I knew I was getting close to some downhill trails after seeing them :) The rest of the race went well.  I picked up speed on the downhill and walked a bit more of the uphill.  I started to feel my calf cramping and I was happy I had put some mustard packets in my pack.  I took them and it helped to not get a full-on cramp.  I'm not sure why I started cramping, but I'm thinking it was a few factors.  Primarily all the uphill climbing, but I also didn't wear my compression socks and I always wear them for long runs, especially half marathons.  Plus, it was really hot out there that morning!

Again, it was so awesome seeing my kiddos cheering me on as I approached the finish line.  My son came up and ran alongside me for a bit, which really helped me push the pain aside and finish strong!  I didn't meet my goal of 3 hours, but I was still happy with my time of 3 hours 12 minutes.  Just gives me something to aim towards for the next one ;) 

This was my last race until the fall.  I'm kinda sad not to have something coming up soon, but I'll use these summer months to continue training and focusing on my goals.  How about you?  Any races scheduled for the summer? What's your next event?