Friday, May 30, 2014

Iron Will Half-Marathon




Robert and I both ran our first half marathon a couple weeks ago. It was the Ironwill Half Marathon at Camp Williams, celebrating 100 years of service from the military at Camp Williams, a National Guard Training site in Bluffdale. It is also where my Dad currently works and where he worked for most of my childhood.

First, the back story, aka, the training. I've been itching to run a half-marathon for the past few years. I almost signed up for one last year, right before I found out I was pregnant with Camden. Obviously, that put my half-marathon plans on hold since I was no where near in shape enough to run a half-marathon yet and it would require too much strain on my pregnant body to start training. So those plans were on hold, until we moved out to Utah.

The first week we were here my Dad told us about the half-marathon in May and I immediately said I was in. It took a bit of convincing on Robert's side. Contrary to what he might imply, Robert did tell me he wanted to do it so I signed us both up. (So don't believe him when he says something like, "I get an email out of the blue at work one day saying "Congratulations, you're registered for a half-marathon!")

Neither of us had run since before Camden was born, so the first day out we only we one mile and we were dying. If you are not a runner, trust me, it gets better. But I know that first little while getting used to running is hard. We moved up to two and three miles that week and ran about three miles, five days a week for a couple weeks. We were both sore for weeks and getting out of bed in the morning was hard. I may have started off to fast, because I injured myself after the second week. Not in one rolled-my-ankle motion, but the sudden strain took its toll on my feet. Honestly, I don't know what exactly was wrong, one day I tried to go for a run and I had strong pain every time I put pressure on my heel. So I stopped running for a week and then tried to come back easy by running on softer surfaces anytime I could. After a couple weeks I was thankfully back to normal.

Robert also had some problems, knee problems that developed later on as we started doing on long runs. Our training schedule has us doing long runs on the weekend, starting with a 5 mile run, then adding one mile every week until we got to 12 miles. When we started doing runs in the 7 mile range Robert found his knees would start hurting around mile 7. It's something he dealt with all the way up to the race, doing things like training on a bike instead and wearing knee braces on his long runs.

I hadn't run anything farther than 5 miles since high school, and even then my norm was 3 miles. So I was a little worried about those long runs. My goal when we started was just to finish the race. I had no idea if I would be able to keep up a good pace, or even run the entire way. You had to finish with a 15:00 min/mile pace, so that was my goal initially. When we started getting up into the really high runs, like 10, 11, and 12, I realized I would be able to do this and I could do it at a fairly hard pace. So by the time the race day came around I set a goal of finishing under 2 hours, or about a 9 minute pace. I had done that in some of the long training runs, but those were all flat, and this half-marathon course had a lot of hills, so I figured it would be a challenge, but doable.

I am amazed at how just being consistent made it so much easier to run. At first five miles seemed so long, but by the end we were doing four or five miles like it was nothing. And that really has to do with just going out there and running five times a week and getting those miles in (to be honest, there were weeks we didn't get all five days done, but we tried). The race was 13.1 miles, but that was the just the end of the 224 miles we ran to train, around 36 hours of running and 11,000 feet of total elevation gain. We wouldn't been able to do this, especially together, if it hadn't been for my parents being willing to watch the kids so many times while we went out running. Thanks Mom and Dad!

One last thing about training, I love fartleks! They really helped me bring my pace down, lose weight, and plus it just makes your workouts more fun. If you run, you should be doing them too! And speaking of losing weight, I was hoping to loose all the baby weight from Camden while training for this run. Except running made me really hungry so I ate whatever I wanted and didn't lose any weight-- in the first month. The next month I joined a Biggest Loser Competition with my friends, and being held accountable for my weight to other people made a huge difference in my eating habits. So I did lose all that baby weight and am now back to my pre-pregnancy weight! Plus, losing the weight made running easier, win win.

Now onto race day.  This was no ordinary race, this was a military celebration. There were actually six different races people were participating in that day: 5k, 10k, half-marathon runs, 25K mountain bike, 50K mountain bike, and 100K road bike. The special guest that day was the Governor of Utah, Governor Herbert. He spoke to the crowd and then fired the canyons to start the races after everyone was in place. Since this was a celebration with all the towns surrounding Camp Williams-Saratoga Springs, Eagle Mountain, Bluffdale, and Herriman- Mia Love was also there running (we passed her on the first hill ;)). The base commander was also running and as we passed him he told us, "Hey, don't you know you aren't suppose to pass the base commander? Or at least take me with you!"


Governor Herbert

Before the race

One of my favorite parts of the run was the Apache helicopter that flew around during the entire race. It was a nice distraction watching him fly around.


Before the race Robert and I decided that we would run the first eight miles together, then if one person or the other felt like they wanted to take off faster we could. After eight miles we were both really comfortable running together. Robert had taken Aleve prior to running and his legs were feeling fine. I was actually surprised at how little feeling I had in my legs, it was pretty much just let your body go on autopilot and keep moving forward. 

There were a lot of hills, like, we were either going uphill or downhill. Luckily most of the uphill was at the begining, but mile 11 was a killer almost one mile hill that just kept getting steeper and steeper at the end. Besides that one killer mile I felt really good the whole time, just a little hot at times (yay for water aid stations!). It was nice to be able to run with Robert, so when one person was feeling tired the other person could keep them on pace. There were times when I kept Robert going, and there were times when he kept me going. 

My Mom brought the kids to see us finish. Camden was asleep half the time.

Julia on the lookout for us (BTW, thanks to Reah for taking most of these pictures!)

The last mile was mostly downhill, then a little uphill, and then mostly flat. The downhill helped us pick up the pace for the last mile and we booked it across the finish line, despite being really tired.


We ended up coming across the finish line at the same time, 1:58:25, placing 34 and 35 out of 139. And I was the eighth woman to finish (!), but only the fourth in my age group, so no trophy. But we made the goal of coming in under 2 hours! I was very happy with how we did.

The trophy's were made out of artillery shells that had been used at Camp Williams. Pretty cool. We had four people bring home trophies from placing in their age groups.



My Dad finished 18th overall and the first in his age group. 

They also had a kids run. Here Julia stretches out with me before her race.

I kept hearing the race was one mile, but I didn't really believe it. One mile for a kids race? Well, turns out it it really was one mile. But it was out and back, so they told us if your child needs to turn around early go ahead and turn around when they want to. Here we walk up to the starting line.

We kept asking Julia if she was going to win, and she kept saying "Yes!" But I guess she really thought she was going to win, and even beat all the big kids. When the race started and the big kids started running past her she freaked out and started crying. My Dad and I ran with her, but she kept crying because she wasn't going to be first. So 200 yards out we asked her if she was ready to turn around, and then she would be the first one across the finish line. She said yes, and she happily crossed the finish line as the first one back.

Besides the kids run they also had a good amount of inflatable bounce houses and slides that the kids had a blast with. Each of the events was code named after a military vehicle. The half-marathon was the Stryker, so here we are in front of their Stryker.




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