Zion Trail Half Marathon Recap

(It started with the warm-up)

20 minutes until race time and I had to get the girls moving - girls meaning my legs.  I sure dislike tapering but the girls are feeling fresh and bouncy! Reaping the benefits 💪 As I jog by the mass crowd of runners I size up my competition. I never judge how fast someone is by their physical attributes.... more so by their facial expressions.  Determination is noticeable! A lot of runners out here seem prepared for a strong race. 

“Why is my chest wet?! ...there’s no way I’m sweating.” I disregard this, thinking I must’ve just spilled some of my morning caffeine🤷‍♀️  I find a good place to start activating my glutes as I’m going through my routine I see drip drip drip 💧 hitting the dirt below. My water pack is leaking! It’s  just a slow drip ...must be from the altitude or maybe my bladder wore out from being out in the heat for the last eight days? Slow drip and 3 aide stations - I should be fine.  I decide to not stress about it (plus, on the upside I smell like tangerine now from my Tailwind 😋 )

Time to step up to the starting line. I make my way to the front.  This is risky - we are starting on a downhill and I don’t plan on taking off like a jet airplane, so I might be stampeded 😳 but I also don’t wanna weave in and out of people by starting towards the middle. 

This is a fast course with only a little over 940 feet elevation gain. The course is mostly ran on 4 Wheeler sized dirt road...and only one semi technical single track section for just about 3 miles.

The 10 second countdown begins- I take one deep breath  and let it out slowly, I gently shut my eyelids then open. Im focused and ready. We’re off! No one is flying by me. I’m holding a 6:20 pace.  A little less than a quarter of a mile and we shoot uphill. I did not pre-run this course but I did memorize elevation gains , the descents, and the map layout. I start to calculate (as I will do throughout the course) “if I run this fast here how much faster do I have to go there” I enjoy this part about racing... I enjoy numbers😜

 I can now feel my waist line wet - my water pack and it’s “little” drip it sure starting to create a sticky mess!

Wow! It’s so beautiful out here🤎 By mile two I seem to have found my place. Im sitting 6th overall, 1st woman.  I don’t know where the next female is. I don’t look back... I never look back, nor do I gaze that direction on sharp corners. The idea is to run “my race” and hopefully that’s enough🤞🏼 ... until the last few miles, then it’s definitely a “try to beat that person”  mentality.  I sip often on my fluids, I don’t know how long it will last.  The nozzle now seems to be spitting at me like a sprinkler.  I can see the first aide station ahead. Looks like the lady is taking pictures..... hope it doesn’t look like Ive peed my pants 😕 At this moment I notice the guy in front of me changes his stride, not like a ‘change it up to preserve muscles’ but a ‘change it up cuz im tired’ ..... I pass him on the next uphill.

I only have 2.5 miles of the main climb left to scramble up.  During this time my mind wanders and I have to keep bringing it back into the race. “Wow! it’s beautiful out here”, “ I wonder if I can move out here?”, “did my daughter finish her homework last night?”,  “was that a snake?!”, “I’m almost out of fluids”,  “it’s funny how I can feel the stickiness on my chest without touching it with my fingers”, “hey here is someone new!....im gonna catch youuuuu!”

I use this runner to keep my mind focused. I stay right on his tail. We hit the descent- our legs are turning over and dust is kicking up in the air. With one more mile until the second aide station, I suck down a third Gu and drink the rest of my fluids. (Of the 70 ounces, that was in my pack, half of it is soaked into my clothing... including my socks!) 

About 3 car lengths after aide station 2 is the start of the single track trail!!! This fun part carries on for nearly 3 miles before coming into the final aide station. I make a quick decision to forgo aid station 2- I should be able to make it onto the final one before needing more fluids.

I’m in sixth place again and first female coming through the 2nd aide station. I could start to feel excitement coming over me ...not for my position, but that I was about to hit the single track!!!! I love single track! The more technical, the more switchbacks, the more up and down, the more I love it!!! There’s  no way I’m gonna let this guy get away for me. Just as I see that he starting to tire Another guy fly’s by me 💨 I use this as a motivator and I pick up my pace and pass the runner that I’ve been following the last 5 miles.  I notice that he too picks up his pace- that’s fine he can follow me for awhile.  Then out of the blue this lady sweeps past me. She leaves a big gap! Now, I’m going pretty fast for the area that we’re in - pushing a 7:10 min mile on these outrageous curves, but she’s smooth as butter and pulling away quickly! This is at mile 11, one more mile before I can get some liquids AND one more mile of absolute gnarly trail! This portion is on the edge of a canyon (like death defying stuff we’re about to run) Im not seriously scared of heights... but I am scared of falling to my death 💀!!! I keep my eyes on the path and forget the beautiful scenery. I’m trying not to let the runner in front of me pull any further ahead. Then life slows!!! I hear the runner behind me trip 💥please no, please no, please no!!! I feel my stomach knot up...

“You okay?!” I yell- I don’t stop I don’t look back ....man Im a jerk (but you have to understand I am flippin out thinking this guy has fell to his death!!! I don’t want to see the evidence) “Yeah... go GO!”

Holy shmolly!!!!! Relief washes over me. {ya’ll im really a good person 😇 I would have stopped if I didn’t hear a reply OR if all I heard was a moan... this reaction that was probably less then 1 second Felt like 10 minutes 🙃Can you tell I still feel ashamed for not stopping instantly?}

Two more minutes and I’m at where the last aide station is suppose to be 🤔 I don’t see it! I still have a little over 1.5 miles until the finish. Where is this dang aide station?!!! There’s  a bunch of vehicles and people- but it’s mountain bikers getting their bikes ready to ride. Seeing the situation as it is I decide there’s no reason to carry my pack any longer. I take the pack off , smile at some of the mountain bikers (thinking that if I show them kindness they won’t mess with my pack ), then I throw my pack to the side of the road.

 I have a half mile climb on a dirt road where cars are driving. Evidently the drivers of these vehicles are not runners, nor do they care about people running, because they are zooming by - kicking up dust! I run most of the hill with my head turned to the side running like my dog Tater (at an angle)! ...but probably not with my tongue hanging out 🐶

I reach the top. I go to search for a Gu... well stink!! I threw my pack down on the ground a half mile ago! “OK I just got to try to keep up with this chick....I got to get this chick... she’s right there! I got to get her. I got to get her.” I keep telling the girls 🦵 this but the girls aren’t listening. They’re  keeping a solid pace, but they will not turn over any faster. I’m getting a slight headache. I know I need some fluids ... less than a mile to go. I just have to keep pushing. I can’t hear anybody behind me- though at this point I don’t think I’m hearing any sounds. Cars are passing, but in silence. My focus is completely on leg turnover and the back of the female runners head (who is inching away). 1/2 mile to go! No holding back! This is where I sprint ... I give it everything I have! I give it such a good push my nose bleeds 😏 It’s an awkward feeling coming across the finish line with only a handful of people there to cheer.  I bend over, stand straight up, take a big deep breath then to no one in particular I say “ wow, good race!” 

I take a moment,  shake my head, grab a chocolate milk and slowly make my way back down the road I just sprinted....my pack! My pack has my truck key in it 🤦‍♀️Ahhhhhhhh good race 🙃