Provo City Half Marathon 2014 Recap

by Daniel Johnston

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Wow, this is an article about one of the best days of my life.

I’d better start at the beginning, though. I never imagined myself running a half marathon. Most certainly not. In fact, I was never a super fast runner. In middle school I was one of the very slowest, and my first few 5k times ranged from 26 to 28 minutes.

You never know your potential, though, and amazingly one week after running a 26 minute 5k, I ran a 20:45! I shaved more than 5 minutes off of my time! There are many reasons why this happened, but really it came down to patience and running.

Right before my eyes, I had turned into a fierce runner I had never expected myself to become. When some of my friends talked about signing up for a half marathon, I decided to do it, too.

Related Article: Deciding to Run a Half Marathon

It was around late February at the time, and the race wasn’t until May 3rd, so I still had a good amount of time to go. I was already running 20 miles a week, so I had no question I would finish it. One of my friends had finished it the year before in 1:40 without training, though, and I wanted to best him.

At first in my training I continued to run some 5ks and build up my base. Eventually, though, I needed more serious training. I got the Hanson’s Half Marathon Method book, which gave me a lot of good tips. Although I originally wanted to break 1:30, I realized a more realistic goal would be 1:35.

So I dutifully trained (maxing out at 27 miles a week), and got everything ready for race day. I read a lot about the course, had my GU ready, got plenty of sleep the week before, and (most importantly) filled out an awesome playlist 🙂

The next before the race, though, I just couldn’t sleep. I had put it off until then to select a killer playlist, which I did. Once I was done, I lay in bed, but stayed wide awake. Even though I had to get up at like 4 am, I was way too excited; I knew the next day would be life changing. I maybe got 3 or 4 hours of sleep total. It didn’t matter, though. Sleep two nights before is what counts.

One of my friends picked me and my friend who was running the race up at 4 the next morning, and we headed out to Provo to get on the buses that would take us to the starting line. I had heard it would be cold, so I brought an extra layer of clothing. I also brought a blanket, so although I was shaking a little bit, I wasn’t freezing (weird to be worrying about in May!).

At around six thirty we dropped our stuff (actually I threw my pants away because I forgot to drop them). The drop worked great and we got our stuff after the race no problem. We each went to the bathroom an hour before the race. Although I wanted to go again, the lines were simply too long.

Finally, after months of training, we were at the starting line! I saw a pacer sign saying 1:35, and lined up close to them, although I knew pacers can be erratic and followed my own pace instead of them.

The first mile was fast, but I tried to keep myself from going too far above my pace of 7:15/mile. The first mile was about 6:30.

One thing I noticed immediately about the race is that we were all in it together. Whereas in a 5k there is a lot of competition, I sensed that we all realized everyone was doing a major thing by running the race and I felt we were all there for each other.

After 7:05, 7:25, 7:07, and 7:03 miles, suddenly the first five miles of the race were in the books. Given the difficulty of 5ks, I was expecting the half marathon to be even a lot harder. Surprisingly, even though I was going at a fast pace, I felt nothing other than spectacular. It was awesome listening to my favorite tunes, running fast through the early morning, fulfilling my dream of the last few months. I felt amazing.

At every mile there were nice aid stations. I had a gatorade at each one, but was going so fast it was hard to swallow. The course was very well set up and there was no chance of going off course. They shut down like half the city just to have the race! My friend said a car pulled in front of him, which isn’t good, but it’s remarkable for the race going right through the city.

At mile 6 I had my GU and ran 7:22. Around mile 7 things started to get a little bit more difficult (not quite as effortless), but not hard or anything by any means. It definitely helped that the net elevation was a drop of more than 900 feet. Definitely a fast race and a good first one to do.

Around mile 7 was also when we left the canyon and went over to the road. That was kind of monotonous and it was definitely not as fun as the canyon. But whatever.

The 8th mile was 7:20, the 9th 7:37, and the 10th 7:25. I was slowing down a little bit, but had my phone as a pace tracker and was constantly checking it to make sure I was hitting pace. The 11th mile I ran in 7:38, and the finish line came into sight even though there were more than 2 miles to go. I had been expecting this so I simply kept on with my pace, running the 12th mile in 7:30.

The last mile is when it really started getting hard for me. It was definitely a bit of a struggle, but really not too bad. I started passing people who had been slightly ahead of me the whole race, so they were feeling it too. Me and another guy (who said he was training for an Ironman) started racing towards the finish line, him even jokingly taunting that he was going to beat me.

I pushed myself a lot the last mile and just let my effort carry me. I didn’t sprint with him to the finish line, though. I was afraid I might’ve collapsed 🙂 The last mile was 7:06.

That leads to a total time of 1:35:28.72. Not bad for my first half marathon at all! After the race I was feeling great, just on top of the world! Before long, my friend finished, getting a time of 1:45 without even training! Neither of us could believe how well he had done.

They gave us these real nice medals just for finishing the race, which was good. They had a bunch of nice stations after the race, including free breakfasts and massages (although I didn’t get one). The biggest problem of the race was the wait for the award ceremony. Given the results the previous year, I was convinced me and my friend would probably get first and second, so we stayed around. In fact, many people left the race because we literally had to wait like more than 2 hours! In fact, some of our other friends had time to run the 5k (which started two hours after the half marathon) and leave before the awards.

Finally the award ceremony started. Surprisingly, the race had gotten a lot stronger, but I still got third place in my age group (15-18), which meant a lot to me as you can tell by my smile as I got my medal!

Actually that picture of me smiling on the podium made me think about myself differently in a lot of ways. Not to get too personal, but running this race and doing so well meant a whole lot to me, and I’m very proud that I did. Even today, a few months later, I can feel the positive effects of having ran it!

After the race my legs felt really sore and it took me several days to recover. The day after the half marathon I just couldn’t resist playing sports with some of my friends. Although I dominated, I had to drop out because my legs literally collapsed from underneath me. Within five days, though, I was feeling good and running again.

As you can probably already tell, I really enjoyed this race and would definitely recommend running a half marathon if you feel it is right for you to do it. This is a very good one to do because it is well organized and relatively easy due to the elevation drop.

No matter where my running takes me in the future, I’ll always remember this race, the Provo City Half Marathon 2014, as one of my all-time running highs and some of the best memories that I’ll never forget.

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