Where do I even begin with writing this race recap? My heart is so full and my pride overflowing.
Here’s the scoop. I ran the Revel Mt. Lemmon limited edition race on 2/26/21. I have never run a Revel race, and Revel races are known for their fast courses because their races are all downhill. It was limited edition because there were only 262 spots available on either day of racing (Friday and Saturday events were held). In this blog post I will touch up two different things, my actual experience running the race and my experience running a race during the pandemic.
Where was my head at? I was training to PR my half marathon at this event. In 2019 all of my half marathons were much slower than my PR. I set my PR in 2016 weighing 168 pounds (2:26:01). My half marathons in 2019 ranged anywhere from 2:55-3:35. I am not proud of the runner I was in 2019. I struggled with my weight more than ever and found myself running CIM 2019 weighing 234 pounds. I was slow. I was tired and I was heavy. In 2020 I focused on losing weight and training hard – and then the pandemic hit. I took this unfortunate time as a opportunity to work on myself. I proudly lost 35 pounds and toed the line at Revel weighing 199 pounds. With that being said, I knew that going for a PR weighing 30 pounds more than when I set my current PR was a huge stretch. I kept telling my friends it wasn’t going to happen, and they were so kind the entire training cycle and reminded me it didn’t matter. I was aiming big and even if I didn’t make it I was going to have one of the best races I’ve ever had. So instead of focusing on the end goal as I do often do (my finish time), I told myself it wasn’t going to just HAPPEN. I wouldn’t magically show up on race day and because I showed up I wouldn’t automatically earn a PR. I told myself I had to show up to every day of training. Every damn day. And give it everything. And that’s what I did.
Training for this race I love working with my running coach Coach Patrick at Good Fit Coaching, and though he’s coached me through multiple halfs, four of my marathons and my ultra, I believe deeply that the training plan he gave me to PR my half was the hardest plan I’ve done to date. I had midweek long runs, I had long or hard speed workouts (anything from 400m repeats to half mile repeats depending on the day). I had 14-15 mile long runs on my training plan, I had 11-12 mile long runs on my training plan with middle miles at goal pace. I would open up my Training plan when he put a new week in and really firmly believe I couldn’t do whatever was on my plan. I told my husband multiple times “Coach Patrick is trying to kill me”. He always reminded me I paid for the murder then (ha). I focused on showing up and going for every workout as best I could. I didn’t always succeed at them. Some days my body needed an unplanned rest day, or to cut my run short. I felt particular drained during my first 15 miler on my training plan and only made it to 14.5 miles and I didn’t even do the second 15 miler. I listened to my body and I pushed when I knew I had it in me and I backed down when my body really told me it needed it. I also continued to strength train at Crossfit Santa Rosa, which I think doing a lot of heavy barbell work helped strengthen my quads to prepare for this downhill race. I went into race day feeling as prepared as I could and felt like I executed my training plan very well. I knew I was set up for an amazing race day.
On to race day. I loaded by 6:10 bus for a 7:15 start. At the start, we had a few minutes to get ready and use the restroom etc. It was the fastest turn around to start a race I’ve ever had. As soon as I got out of the Porto potty they said we had to line up. I freaked out and made a mad dash to put my arm sleeves on, get my music on, put my Koala clip on my sports bra, and throw my check bag under the bus.
I was the third person in my wave to go and as soon as they sent me off, I knew I was going to spend the race telling myself not to go out too fast. The downhills immediately sucked me in and I knew that I would pay for it in my hips and my quads if I didn’t take it mindfully. I hit my first mile in 10:29 which was FAR too fast. My goal was to run the first 5k in about 36 minutes, hit halfway around 1:15 and then negative split the end of the race. Once I saw that first mile split I eased up and got into a better pace. I ended up hitting halfway in 1:12:58 according to my Garmin. This was a good thing because I was close to my projected time but it also felt like a bad thing because I was afraid I had gone out too fast. But at that point it was too late to do anything about it.
My running coach advised me to aim for negative split for the race and to kick in at Mile 8. The issue I began to face was that I absolutely could not stomach any fuel. I was planning to take one Maurten Gel every 40 minutes minimum. I packed four – three I planned to use and one extra in case I needed it. I should have taken in 3-4 Maurten gels for this race and my stomach wouldn’t even finish two of them. I had been having some GI issues for about 4-6 weeks before race day and while my doctor eventually helped me navigate them, I ultimately decided I would rather risk having less energy in the tank than risk a bathroom problem with no portopotty around. I did take in Powerade at two aid stations and that helped a bit. I have to wonder if my stomach hasn’t acted up what the outcome of the race finish time would have been but now I know for next time.
As soon as I hit the start of mile 13 I knew I wasn’t going to make my goal. The last 1.1 miles was flat and after all that downhill and no fuel left in me, I couldn’t get my legs to turn over the way I needed them to. It’s so frustrating to see this time on your watch and know during a tough workout you have previously cranked out the pace you need but to just not have it in you when you need it. I crossed the finish line and saw my time of 2:26:15 and I expected to be heartbroken but surprisingly, I wasn’t. I was elated that I had done so well! I didn’t really think I had a PR in me, even though that was my goal. I expected a 2:32-2:35 finish. (For reference my virtual half I did on Halloween 2020 was a 2:47 finish). My Garmin read 13.23 miles in 2:26:15 and if I was going by pace, I would have made my PR (11:03 pace). But that isn’t how real life races go. It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day I ran an excellent race. My mantra during the race was “but what if you fly” as a reminder to myself that I needed to focus on succeeding, not on all of my past failures to make my time goal. And I did just that!
The next section of this post will address the COVID precautions from the race company
COVID precautions this race had a number of safety precautions in place for COVID. I felt safe through my entire race experience. Here are the precautions the race took:
- The race was a very small field, there were no more than 262 spots available to register for.
- Before the race they sent out a video clearly laying out expectations for race day. That was very helpful for me
- Each race had a waved start. You were assigned your wave based off projected finish time. Your wave had a bus loading time and you could only get on your waves bus. There were very few people (I think ten or twelve) on my bus and you were required to space out on the bus
- In order to load the bus you had to submit a questionnaire about your previous 14 days health history and have your temperature taken. They reserved the right to not let you on the bus if something was off
- Masks were required at all times except if you were racing. You had to wear at bus loading, on the bus, at the start and at the finish. They gave out masks at the bus loading if you didn’t have one and they gave masks as soon as you finished if you didn’t have one. I CHOSE to wear two masks on the bus. I put my cloth mask in my check bag and threw away my disposable mask at my start time (there was a garbage at the starting line and you could throw away your mask right as you crossed)
- At the start you had maybe 10-15 minutes to use the Porto potty and get ready. Then they called you over to line up in numerical order of bib and sent runners of 1 by 1 with 5-10 seconds between runners. As a result of this, I was rarely passed by runners and when I was it was mostly the fast marathon runners
- The aid stations only gave out bottles of water or Powerade. No cups. There was no one there handing you a beverage either. You had to grab your own bottle. Volunteers were simply there to push the bottles to the front of the table as needed
- At the finish you put your mask back on and got your own medal from a table. There was a table of beverages with coolers of drinks and you could pick up your pre-packaged meal (I got a sandwich, chips and a cookie which I didn’t end up eating because I couldn’t stomach anything). There were chairs for you to cool down at but they requested after you felt okay that you got up and left. Anyone who was there for you also had to wear a mask and chairs were set out socially distanced from each other
I felt very safe and would definitely do another race like this!