AF Canyon Half Marathon Recap

I can’t believe I haven’t written about my race yet, but I guess two weeks late will have to do! You guys, I RAN A HALF MARATHON. Ha! It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but always seemed out of reach. Or something I’d do LATER, you know? But earlier this year when parts of my personal life crumbled around me, I realized: I can do anything. I can do whatever the heck I want. (And maybe it was a little bit of, I’ve already lived through this sucky crappy thing and I survived, so of course I can do this other really hard thing, BY CHOICE!)

My friend Sam Monsivais coached me, and I will forever be grateful for that. Having a training schedule helped me work toward something when I was climbing out of that broken place. It was a huge part of my healing. My friend Haley and I trained together, running just about all of our long runs together, and running the entire race together. She has been such a blessing to me this whole time. We balance each other out very nicely when we run, as you will soon see an example of!

I should note: The night before the race I got 26 text messages from Haley in a row—mostly nervous emoticons and gifs. Ha! Haley is the best. But also, while she was nervous, I was surprisingly calm. I think I had gone through my nervousness a couple weeks earlier, and I figured, this is just another training run, and we’ll go on this adventure and just keep running and enjoying it. And I knew I was bringing just-in-case stuff in my running belt, and there were aid stations + bathrooms every 3-4 miles, so I knew we’d be okay. And, I just wasn’t nervous— I was EXCITED!

I got about 4 hours of sleep, Haley got like, none. Ha! We drove up to American Fork, boarded a bus, and got to the start line at Tibble Fork Reservoir with plenty of time.

One of the first things that anyone would probably ever tell you about this race is that it is SO WELL ORGANIZED. Like, I felt I had very little to worry about, as I mentioned earlier. We got to the start, wrapped up in our space blankets that the race provided (which worked SO well to help keep us warm), then when the time got closer, put our stuff in our drop bags (which the race also provided at packet pickup the day before), threw it in the back of a truck, and got ready to run.

Then, we started running!

We went in the first wave of runners, which was anyone with a 9:30 pace or faster. (Spoiler alert: we came in with an average page of 9:29 haha!) I was in charge of keeping our pace. I was surprised how many people were barrelling past us the first mile or so. I knew we had to conserve energy and take it easy starting out, so we just kept doing what we were doing! (We maintained about an 8:30-9 minute/mile pace through the canyon). Walked at water stations. One bathroom break around mile 8. And just kept going!

*One very, very heartwarming thing about this race for me is that all of the money from entrance fees goes to local cancer patients, and they were able to raise over $380,000 for that purpose. Holy moly. I get teary eyed thinking about that. Many people—myself included—wore the names of loved ones who had battled cancer on their backs. I ran for my grandma Judy Williamson who passed away from pancreatic cancer last year. As I ran down the canyon my thoughts went to my grandma, and also to a friend’s mother who had passed away from cancer a few years ago. I never met my friend’s mother, but there was a moment when I felt she was with me (as odd as I still feel like that sounds, ha! yikes). I got teary eyed thinking about these women, and also seeing the many names of loved ones along the course. This is a very special race.

Back to the running itself: Haley was super out of it as she really didn’t sleep well the night before, and so the first 10 miles or so was me giving a lot of words of affirmation, singing the few words I knew of Moana, and pushing her with pace every so often when I felt us lagging. She was amazing. She handled that lack of sleep WAY better than I would have.

We ran out of the canyon and onto a paved trail through a really beautiful golf course. Some rolling hills but it was still great. Then onto a trail through some shaded neighborhoods.

Again, so many amazing volunteers and so many resources for the runners. It was such a good experience.

We then hit mile 10 (the furthest either of us had run up to that point). And THEN, the Murdock Canal Trail. Haley and I ran parts of the Murdock Canal Trail during training, but it’s always a bit rough. Very little shade, and just flat. The last 2-3 miles of this race were on that trail, and yes, there was NO SHADE and it was just flat. The sun was luckily at our backs, but it was still really hot, and I don’t do well with sunshine while running. This is where our roles changed: Haley had to pull me along those last 2-3 miles. She was feeling much better at this point and I’m so glad, because I needed her here. (See? We really do balance each other out as runners. I love being her running buddy!)

We ran, ran, ran, and finally, the finish line.

Two hours and 4 minutes. Average pace of 9:29 min/mile

We saw Sam there waiting for us (he rocked it, by the way, and I think was 11th overall? Maybe? His Strava says he finished in 1:20 with an average pace of 6:07), and our other friend Mikala who also rocked her race! Haley’s mom and brother were there waiting for us as well, which I loved. (Basically my fake family lately 🙂

Fact: Sam had anticipated that we’d finish closer to 2:30. Was proving him wrong a motivator for me? Yes. Absolutely yes. Ha!

I finished the race and went straight to the giant bucket of ice cold water bottles, and squatted, holding the edge of the bucket. Haha! I FELT AWFUL. I THEN got water, and got my medal (totally passed them before). We hung around in the sun chatting with Haley’s family and Sam for a bit and I casually was like “hey, can we go to the shade?” and finally I just walked away to find that shade, and luckily everyone followed! Ha! This is me after a race: feisty and demanding, apparently.

We picked up our drop bags and again, as everything else was, the process was simple and the race volunteers were SO on top of it. We got our card with our official times, took a group picture, then Haley went to get the free Kneaders french toast and I left. (Because I was pretty sure that post-race stomach + rich french toast = vomit, so, no thank you).

I was drowsy all day, and sore for 2 days. The worst day was probably Monday morning, waking up still sore, knowing I had to teach yoga at 8am. Ha! But I taught yoga and Erin came, who also ran the half on Saturday. Yay, friendship! So we had a good chat while we practiced yoga together. I think yoga is exactly what I needed, because by that evening my muscles/body felt much better.

It’s crazy that this was just two weeks ago. I still haven’t decided exactly what race I’m doing next, but I’ve kind of decided on a training plan to keep doing all the things. Ha!