The thunder shook my house, in fact, it woke me up just before my alarm was set to go off at 3:15 am. My sleepy and slow senses began to calculate the impact of the torrential downpour that accompanied the rumbling. Pouring rain on a race day always reminds me that there are worse things than being simply tired. I had planned on heat, but not a storm.
I drove what felt like a snail’s pace of 30 miles per hour on I-15 with my hazard lights flashing to meet up with friends, jump in their van, and drive about an hour to Parowan, Utah. It was a prayer filled drive and thankfully we made it safely. We had just enough time to grab our packets, jump on the buses, and catch a ride up to the start. It began to rain again as the buses pulled into the parking lot next to the Yankee Meadows Reservoir and I began to worry this would not be a day to attempt a personal best.
I always head into a race with specific goals. I like to have an A goal and B goal, that way I’m able to make adjustments if the conditions don’t merit my hopes. I had missed a key workout the previous week of an 8 mile, all-out, 6 minute pace tempo run, so my A goal was to complete that workout and use this race as a training run, but my B goal was to continue the momentum and fight for a strong finish.
The Parowan Half has all the charms of a small race including the “Okay runners…GO!” start. No gun, no horn, just go! The first 3 miles felt forced, almost stiff, like the effort I was giving was not reflected in my mile splits and I really thought about quitting. Not like dropping out quitting, but I thought about slowing down, turning around, and just running with my friend. I’m so glad I didn’t. Sometimes it’s good to just let yourself think it through. I thought about how I would feel if I gave up the fight and just ran this one for fun, and that feeling of disappointing myself was enough of a kick to get my legs moving and refocus on the work I needed to do.
As soon as my mindset changed, the miles started to click. This course has some serious downhill assist and my splits ranged from my fastest at 5:40 to 6:10. Once we were out of the canyon I knew even the flatter parts of the course would feel like an uphill, so I banked a little time with those extra seconds on the downhill portions. I was running as third female and I could have stayed there, but by mile eleven I wanted to dig deeper and see what happened. The last mile is an incline and with my quads gassed from all the downhill pounding and my lungs burning with the elevation I felt like my legs were just dragging. I was able to stay focused on ticking off that last mile one tenth at a time and even moved from third to second female. I was surprised to go back and see on my Garmin that the last mile was actually a 6:49, even though it felt like a 9:49. It was one of those good reminder to press on. Sometimes it feels like we’re not making any progress, but really, we’re doing so much better than we think.
After the finish line, I sampled some of the fare and I loved that they had freshly popped popcorn popcorn, the salty snack really hit the spot for me and I helped myself to two big red cups. I also saw this genius idea, why is this the first time I’ve even seen hand sanitizer wipes? They need to be at every race. The teacher in me wanted to begin handing them out.
When I got home that afternoon my husband asked me what I ran this race in last year. I had to go back and look it up. Last year, I completed this race in 1:24:48, one year later, I finished it in 1:21:29 (Garmin shows me coming up a little short on the distance). That difference was larger than I was thinking and it struck me that despite those time differences, each time I ran this race I had given it my all. Our “all” or our “very bests” won’t always be the same. I love the quote from Don Miguel Ruiz, he says, “Your best is going to change from moment to moment.” That is so true. We grow, sometimes we slow down to enjoy the journey, we change, life changes, even our motivation changes. But that’s what I love about races, we all get the same medal for doing the most important thing and that’s to do our very best in that moment. That sense of self satisfaction is the real reward of racing. Happy running friends!