It’s June 23rd 2012. The sun rises as I drive down to the shores of Lake Mead, anxious, excited, and all by myself. I decided to run my first half marathon and the first one I could find in the time frame I wanted was a race called Running With the Devil. The race director actually offers several distances but I chose the half – it would be my first.
The morning was already warm. 85 degrees at 6:30am, the start of the race. They don’t call it Running With the Devil for nothing! Not really knowing what to do with myself, I tried to loosen up in the parking lot, doing some light jogging. I still had time to spare, so I joined the small crowd and watched runners in the longer distance races take off.
While I was waiting, I met another woman about my age, also signed up for the half. Her name was Beau and we talked about the race, where we were from, and why we were there. She told me she had planned to drop down a race but, by having a friend to run with, she’d stick with it. So, off we went. We chatted the whole way, not running super fast, but totally enjoying the morning and the company.
The temps continued to climb as we made our way to the turnaround over rolling hills, hot pavement, but nice lake views. It was 95 degrees when I finished. I met my goal of finishing under 3 hours. Not very fast, but I cut myself some slack for the hot temps and it being my first race. Beau and I exchanged contact info and hope to race together again one day.
Fast forward two weeks to July 7th, where I ran my second half in just two weeks. This time it was the Bryce Canyon Half. The race starts at the edge of the park and heads away, down toward the towns of Tropic and then finishes in Cannonville. My new running friend Mary wanted company and asked me to join her. So, we drove up the night before and enjoyed the evening together getting our race packets, having dinner, and just having fun.
It was dark and cold the morning of the race. There are so many racers that they also offer pacers to help runners line up and race more appropriate to their abilities. I joined the 2:20 group and Mary joined the 1:40 group. She’s quite the speedster! Maybe…one day….well, probably not. 😉 The morning was pretty cool and damp, a stark contrast from just two weeks ago. But, the horn blew and we were off.
The first mile was a very slight uphill and it was downhill after that for about the next 5 miles. It rained off and on but turned into a steady rain as the road flattened out. I felt pretty good during the whole race and was proud that I never stopped running once. As I approached the finish line, Mary ran out to take me in. I looked like a drowned rat but it was fun. I felt pretty good that I’d shaved nearly 30 minutes off my time from the race two weeks ago.
The half marathon is a nice distance for me. I think I like the longer races since it provides a longer experience and is less focused on speed. Also, they provide a longer break from life.