I’m lucky that almost everywhere I travel for work there’s a half marathon on the docket within a reasonable distance. Such was the case with Salt Lake City. When I learned I would be here for 2 weeks, I quickly googled races in Utah in June and the American Fork Canyon Half Marathon popped up.
So, while I didn’t register until the day before, I had this race in my back pocket for a long time, making it sorta my goal race to crack that elusive sub 2 hour time barrier. Given the net downhill, it was a totally reasonable expectation.
Spoiler: I didn’t quite get there. le sigh.
The race venue was amazing, although a bit on the early side. I was up at 3am, left my airbnb by 3:30 and got to American Fork high school by 4:15 to catch the bus to the start line, up the canyon. It was amazing to watch the sun rise while in the canyon. It was also quite remarkable at how not cold it was. You could tell people were prepared for much cooler temps–plenty of down jackets, etc. This did not bode well.
The race (small-ish at about 2500 people) started promptly at 6am. And the first half mile was a very steep downhill. But after that initial shock, the downhill evened out and the race meandered around the curves of this beautiful canyon road.
Given the grade of the slope, my breathing, even at this elevation, wasn’t labored. I made a pitstop between mile 5 and 6, and it was at that point, as I walked to the porto-johns, that I realized how “funny” my legs felt. I knew at that point the downhill was going to take a toll.
Miles 1-8: 9:25, 8:52, 8:25, 8:44, 8:01, 9:27, 8:38
At about mile 8, we were out of the canyon and the course transitioned to some grassland trails. This is not quite as picturesque as it sounds–there was a golf course and its ubiquitous housing development along the outskirts of the trail, but the undulation of the course was very welcome. The beating sun (yes, even at 7am) was not. I did some walking along these miles.
Miles 9-11: 9:48, 9:38, 10:34 (some walking there, too)
We then turned into the town and made our way back to the high school. At this point it was quite hot. At one point, my eyes got all stingy from the salty sweat. More walking.
Miles 12-13: 10:03, 10:30 and :47 (for the .1)
Garmin finish time: 2:01:43. That was a new PR. But the kicker? My chip time: 2:03:57. That’s not a PR. :(
I should be happier about this. It’s a decent time (esp considering the bathroom break and the walking). The heat was on, but as it was not humid in the least, it wasn’t as debilitating as some other races I’ve done. The course was amazingly beautiful, and god only knows when I’ll get a chance to run a canyon again. But I’m not happy with how I approached the latter miles. I think it was around mile 10 or so when I realized I would really have to hoof it to make the sub 2. And I chose not to. And between miles 12 and 13, when I realized I could do some damage to my PR, I actually slowed down! I can train my legs and lung capacity til the cows come home, but it’s the mental game where the wheels come off. I’m not quite sure how to remedy this, because it’s clearly the lynchpin between me and sub 2.
Anyways, the big issue for me today is how to actually move. After the race, I spent a delightful (hahahahaha) 7 hours standing at my booth. And now, after a well-deserved night’s rest, I cannot move. oh lord.