Monday, August 22, 2011

Hobble Creek Half Marathon - Lessons Learned

Training and running in a half marathon is one of the most physically, emotionally and mentally challenging things I have ever done.  Last year is the first year I even considered that I could do it.  Thanks to the encouragement of running a 10K and having running friends telling me I could do it, I took it seriously and trained in earnest for the Halloween Half Marathon last year.

This year, I knew I could do it and I wanted the challenge again so I signed up for the Hobble Creek Half Marathon.  It has a reputation locally of being one of the best courses, so I eagerly signed up in time.  It sold out in about 1 hour this year.

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Last year, I was happy to be able to finish.  This year, I had hopes of finishing around 2:30.  My training runs had given me the confidence to think it was doable.  When I finished though, I was disappointed with my finish time of 2:43:10.  Training right leads to a good race, but it doesn't guarantee it.  Here are some things that I just couldn't train for:

  1. The buses that drove us to the start line were late and there were not enough buses.  This lead to a late race start and got us down to the bottom of the canyon as the day was getting warmer.  I really started to tank when I got out in the sun.  
  2. I have been training getting my nutrition down, but I didn't train on carrying my Gu's pinned on the inside of my running shorts.  I ended up having one of the Gu's leak and run down my leg.  I knew I was having a problem with this as we went up in the buses, but it didn't become an issue until I used the porta-potty and when I came out, the Gu (chocolate no less) started oozing out more.  Looked like I had a bad accident.   This lead to getting yelled at and threatened.  We were starting at a campground which they blocked access to the runners going down into the camp area.  I asked the host if there was a water spigot near by that I could rinse the Gu off.  They were more than helpful in letting me use a nearby tap.  An ornery lady was camped near the spigot and kept yelling at me to get out of the area.  Even though I told her that the campground host said it was ok, she kept yelling at me.  She stood up with her German Shepherd and asked if I wanted her to sic her dog on me.  By this time, I had had enough and told her to go ahead.  She said, "Are you sure?"  I said, "I didn't care."  I think that surprised her.  One of my running buddies came by about that time, I finished cleaning up and left without incident.  I told the campground host about her.  He said to his partner, "She's the one I was telling you about that I would like to kick out of here.  She's the camper from *$%%!"
  3. I finished in 1013 place!
  4. I finished last in my age group!
  5. I finished 13 minutes later than my goal time. 

Recreation of the killer German Shepherd!
Uncredited photo.

It took me a while to get out of my funk, but I started thinking about some positives from the race.

  1. I cut 10 seconds a mile off from last years run.
  2. I set a PR for my half-marathon pace.
  3. Walked only once besides the water breaks.  Even jogged up the hills.
  4. I wan't last.  About 80 people finished after I did.
  5. I rode up with two running friends from the neighborhood.  Matt who finished in 213 place and Todd who finished in 46th place!  They were both very encouraging and patient with me in finishing long after the did.
  6. Even though I was a bit sore in the calves today, I still was able to go out and run 3 miles.  Last year, I wasn't able to run more that a mile for about 6 months due to getting hurt during and after the race.

Things I learned

  1. Losing the weight I talked about last week will make a big difference.
  2. The heat is a killer for me.  I need to do some of my training in the heat to get used to it.
  3. Something is always going to be different than you expect. 
  4. Don't do something new that you haven't trained for.  The Gu didn't work out well.  Should have tried it first.

Funny stuff 
I have had many funny things happen while running.  This race was no exception.  During the latter part of the race, we went through a sub-division.  There were three young girls and one house with a toy drum, a tambourine and water sprinkler.  As I passed, the first girl half-heartedly shook the tambourine, the the little drummer girl did a tap-tap.  Even though I was pretty tired at this point, I waved and smiled.  They both just stared straight ahead.  I guess after a thousand runners had gone by, they were tired themselves.  The last girl was still enjoying herself as she pointed the water sprinkler out to the street for us to cool ourselves off with.  I was appreciative for a small break from the heat.

I am grateful for the lessons learned while training and running this race.  Even though I was disappointed in my time, there were a lot of positives from the race and I am going to stick with my plan to lose the weight and get ready for the Ogden Marathon next year.  Thanks for all the encouragement you have given me through all of this.  It really makes a difference!  Hang in there and I will too!


  1. Your attitude is inspiring as is the number of miles you have tallied so far!. There are lessons learned in all we do, righ? that is the "life" part. But you did great, .I think you were very respectful in what you told that woman with the dog, I bet you left her speechless. Have a great training week!

  2. So proud of you Dad! Sorry you had a bit of a rough time. Soon these will be funny anecdotes whether you tell them or all your kids do. When it comes down to it you finished what you started & that puts you at the head of the pack.

  3. I am so proud of you dad. I am sorry that you ran into some challenges that you couldn't have prepared for. But you didn't let that stop you and you finished the race even better than last time. That makes you #1 in my book. I love you and keep up the good work.

  4. The chocolate GU thing was very funny and I am so glad you did this. I will look forward to your weight loss and training plans for a marathon!

  5. Bruce, thanks for the supportive and inspiring comment you left today. As a part of my jump start I'm going to go back and read your older posts from when you got most of your pounds off.

    I see progress in your half-marathon effort and am impressed with how fully you have thrown yourself into everything active and healthy.