I got a sweet discount to the SoJo half marathon since I placed top 3 age group last year. I signed up thinking it would keep me in shape though pregnancy. I didn't get pregnant as soon as I expected, so the time to start training came around and I wasn't sure how to approach the training. Would I get pregnant? Should I push to PR? Did I want a goal or not worry about it? I don't think it is really possible for me to do a race without some sort of a goal, so I decided I wanted to enjoy myself and run the same time or better than last year, a 1:49, and hopefully place top 3 again.
I followed a novice training plan because I wanted a chill training schedule. It was perfect. I was coming off of a break after the Utah Valley Marathon and didn't want to stress over running. I am working on keeping my love for running instead of forcing myself to do it just because. So, this training plan was perfect. I knew going into it I could have done longer runs, tried to be faster, etc., but I was comfortable in my ability and happy with the training experience.
Mom and Dad came up for race weekend, which I was really happy about. The day of the race I got there early for my packet and rode the bus up to the start. I sat next to a middle aged man who had apparently ran a lot in life but had never done a race. We had an enjoyable conversation. After arriving, I spent a fair amount of time stretching and thinking of how to best enjoy the race. It is a small race, but the atmosphere was still exciting.
I went out slow and tried to keep my pace around the 8:20 ish that would be necessary to finish in 1:49. It felt good and I took in the scenery and the sunrise. Literally when I hit 10 miles I couldn't help but think I wish I was done. Not even two minutes after that thought, I saw Mom and Dad up the road ready to cheer me on! It made it easier to keep going. They drove past then parked further up and it filled me with determination and resolve. I got a little adrenaline from seeing them again, but then it was a few more miles of just me and the trail. By now, I was mostly alone with a random runner that I would pass or that would pass me. The trail is probably the flattest part of the course, and there was a slight headwind. It was hard. I walked more in the last two miles than in the whole race (which had just been at aid stations). The feeling of wanting to stop and be done was so strong, the group behind me had taken a wrong turn so I was completely alone, and it was pretty miserable. But I kept going. I saw a lady I had chatted with at packet pickup who ran the 5k and she cheered me on. I imagined my family at the finish and kept pushing through the tiredness and pain. As I was nearing the last turn, my ever ready tears (ever since I had a baby they come so easily!) started to well up because I knew I was near the finish, I knew I had dug deep, and I knew my family was up there. I saw my dad first and it pushed me harder, then I was at the finish, filled with pleasure at my success. Turns out I ran a 1:49, 1st in my age group! Shortly after I crossed I found everyone waiting, and got hugs from Zach, Terran, Dad and Mom. Seriously, it was a good five minutes that we were able to be together and for me to feel their support.
The course is nothing spectacular, but it is pretty, good time of year, and I have now had two years of a good experience so I wouldn't be surprised if I do it again.