During the middle of the week last week Kat called to let me know that she and a couple of her friends had decided to run the Kelly Canyon-Ririe, ID, half-marathon on Sat the 17th, and she wondered if I would be interested. My first thought, often the best one, was that since I hadn't been running consistently since the Utah Valley half marathon in mid-June that it'd probably be better if I didn't, but I told her that I'd take a look at the race, and let her know later that day.
I checked out the race at www.ririedays.com/ririemarathon.html, looked at the timing, the course, and then decided that since I'd had such a good experience at the Utah Valley Marathon, and since it was only a few weeks ago...OK...a month ago that I'd give it a shot.
By the time I'd decided to run, the race was only about 4 days away, and I had already run 5 miles that morning, and I then ran a few more miles a few days later. I contacted a friend of mine from work who also runs and he decided he was "in". I guess I was committed, even though I'd run only about 5-6 times since the Utah Valley 1/2 Marathon in mid-June. So this morning at about 5:45 Kat and I picked up Janeese Summers and Heidi Christiansen (Kat's running friends) and Brian Lemon, my friend, and we drove up to the Kelly Canyon Ski resort where the starting line was, and where we could register for the race before it started.
We pulled up to the Kelly Canyon Ski area around 6:30am and NO ONE was there...the gates to the parking lot were locked, and we started to wonder if the race was happening at all. The published starting time was 7am. Well, other people started to arrive shortly after we did, and then a race official started taking cash and dispensing race packets.
By 7am there were probably about 50 runners there, ready for the start.
The race started a little after 7am, and we were pleased to have cloud cover, 60 degree temps, and a light breeze. The first 2-3 miles were quite steep, foot-slapping downhill miles until we got to the mouth of the canyon. I was feeling pretty good, but I knew that I might have been going a bit too fast. Oh well, it's downhill!
The course wound along one shore of the South Fork of the Snake River, and then across a bridge and along the other side of the river through a cottonwood forest, and finally west toward the town of Ririe, ID.
I felt pretty good through mile 6 or 7, but it had to have been about 4-5 miles between miles 8 and 9, and that's when I started to run out of gas. Oh, I had water, electrolytes, GU running energy gel, etc., but by the time I got to mile 10 I was struggling to maintain a 9 min mile pace. By mile 11 I knew that I was not going to finish in under 2 hours...oh well, it would have been nice, but it didn't really matter. I then did something I'd not done in a race before...at least like this...I rewarded myself for reaching mile markers 10, 11, and 12 by letting myself walk for one minute each time. My energy levels had bottomed out.
For quite a long time I was able to see Kat and Heidi a few hundred yards ahead of me, but this was where they pulled away. I knew my pace had dropped off considerably, down to maybe 10 min miles or so, but I kept plugging along.
Fortunately we had cloud cover and a cool breeze most of the race. That was a tender mercy! Whenever I lost the wind or cloud cover it was devastating. Fortunately, those times didn't last too long.
Finally I entered the town of Ririe, and Kat was there on the roadside to cheer me on. She then ran with me the last few hundred yards or so, and she encouraged me to pick up the pace because there was a guy right behind me and it looked like he wanted to pass me just before the finish line. I was luckily able to kick things up a notch and finish the last 10-20 yards quite strong and didn't get passed. Ahhhhhhhhh...the finish line...the promised land.
My final time was 2:04:11. I 'd hoped to finish in under 2 hrs, but I wasn't well-enough prepared to do that. This reminds me of the Shel Silverstein poem, "The Little Blue Engine." It goes like this:
THE LITTLE BLUE ENGINE
By Shel Silverstein, from Where the Sidewalk Ends
The little blue engine looked up at the hill.
His light was weak, his whistle was shrill.
He was tired and small, and the hill was tall.
And his face blushed red as he softly said,
"I think I can, I think I can, I think I can."
So he started up wtih a chug and a strain,
And he puffed and pulled with might and main.
And slowly he climbed a foot at at time,
And his engine coughed as he whispered soft,
"I think I can, I think I can, I think I can."
With a squeak and a creak and a toot and a sigh,
With an extra hope and an extra try,
He would not stop - now he neared the top -
"I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!"
He was almost there, when CRASH! SMASH! BASH!
He slid down and smashed into engine hash
On the rocks below...which goes to show
If the track is tough and the hill is rough,
THINKING you can just ain't enough!
Yep, I thinking I could do it in 2 hours just wasn't enough. I hadn't put in the miles between the Utah Valley 1/2 Marathon and the Kelly Canyon 1/2 Marathon to perform at that level. So, I was the little blue engine...I had to stop and walk or surely would have "slid down and smashed into engine hash!"
On the up side, I feel pretty good overall, and I actually won my age division. Of course, that's not really saying much since there were only two 50-59 year-old males in the race (I did beat him by 5 mins though). That's an advantage of being old and running in a very small race.
So, to wrap things up, Kat did great, finishing at 1:55, only a couple of minutes off of her personal record for the 1/2 marathon, and I finished without being permanently damaged. Then for lunch we went out to eat at Bahio :-)
The course was enjoyable, and it might be fun to try it again next year when I'd trained up better and more consistently.
And, yes, by the time I was done I was "running on empty!"