Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Half

“I don't run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run towards it because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your foot” ― Nadia Comaneci

I haven't talked much about the Halloween Half this year in my blog other than mentioning that I was training for it and it was coming up.  Last year, it was my first half marathon ever and I was running (pun?) a little scared leading up to the race.

This year was quite different.  I had already run the Hobble Creek Half in August and I wasn't going to run the Halloween Half this year but after a couple of weeks of recovery runs, I was ready for another challenge.

There were a few things that happened that made me wonder if I had made a mistake.  I chose a different training schedule to work off of.  My previous two halfs were based on Hal Higdon's training schedules. He has generously provided training tips and schedules at no cost.  You can pay for additional help, but this is a great resource for runners who want to run anything from a 5K to a marathon.  This time, I used a Runner's World schedule.  In all fairness, I used their beginning schedule since it was about were I was in running when I decided to run this one.  The longest "long run" was 10 miles and I was struggling on the long runs just a bit.

Packet Pickup for Justin Bieber Fans
Most of my reservations were pre-race experiences however.  The first was at Packet Pickup.  They only had one day to pick up your packet.  I went Friday night about 5pm to a local mall and we had to stand in line for an hour and a half to get our packets.  I talked with others later who waited 2 hours!  That's a long time to stand in line the day before a race.  The line went half way through the mall.  I tried to tell curious mall shoppers that we were in line for Justin Bieber, but no one fell for it and joined the line. :)

Morning Fun
They had us get up nice and early to catch buses at the same mall to drive us up Provo Canyon and then head up past the Sundance Ski Resort to the race start.  Even though the race started at 9:00, they had to get the buses up the canyon early since it impacted traffic.  The only problem was is that the race starting point was at a new place this year and the first buses up didn't know exactly where.  The bus driver asked for help to get where we needed to go.  I was on the front seat behind the bus driver and knew where the start of the race was supposed to be so I was his Garmin voice giving him turn-by-turn directions.

When we got to where the race was supposed to start, I could see some starting gates, but the "heated tent as big as a football field" was not seen from the road.  There wasn't anyone from the race there either.  The bus driver got off and asked the bus drivers behind him if they knew where to let us off.  On of them told him there was a drop off point ahead.  So off we went up a narrowing road with barely enough room for one bus.  We soon were stopped by a bus load of people walking down the same narrow road.  On runner said, "He nearly drove off a cliff so we got off."  Our bus decided to take the same action.  Soon we were traveling in the pitch dark down this narrow road with four other bus load of runners going back to where we saw the starting gate.  It was about a half mile back to there.  For about 10 minutes, we gather in the cold (20*) while someone tried to figure out where we were supposed to go.  Finally someone finds and empty lite up heated tent behind some buildings so we headed en masse to our temporary shelter.

I won't say much about the tent experience except to say there is nothing like sharing a tent with thousands of other runners who are dressed up in Halloween costumes for about 2 1/2 hours.

The Race Itself
The Tail End of Last Years Start (Halloween Half Web Page)

When we actually got going, I purposefully got way back it the start.  I knew it would help me not to go out too fast.  I was lined up a ways behind the 3:00 hour pacer.  It was a good strategy except being near the guy dressed as a cow.  The costume wasn't that bad except for the cow bell that he had hung around his neck that clanged for miles.  His race strategy was fun/walk.  Every time he passed someone, he would say "MOOO!"  This went on for miles and was only slightly irritating. :)

Race Pace
I thought my race pace was good.  The first part of the race is really steep.  I eventually caught up to the 2:40 pacer (dressed as a gorilla) and stayed with him through about mile six where he went a little ahead of me.  I thought this was great and I wasn't really that tired yet and felt I had reserves.  I stuck to my nutrition plan fairly well.  My only problem was the early steepness took a bit of a toll on my calves which felt like they wanted to cramp, but thankfully never did during the race.

During the last part of the race though, my pace kept slowing.  I didn't have to walk except when I took some water and Gu's, but I couldn't keep my pace up.  The way my long runs had gone before, I was afraid I was going be right around three hours to finish.  Toward the end, even though I was running (shuffling), I would have trouble passing power walkers.  But I never really thought about quitting, I knew I just had to go at my pace and keep after it.  I know if I would have pushed any harder, I would have cramped up big time.

The Finish
I don't run from a challenge, I run through it.

I saw this on the back of a shirt as I was headed down the stretch. This race was definitively a challenge, but I was close to the finish.  Right after mile 13, with only .1 miles to go, I got a huge cramp on my left inner thigh, I had to stop, massage it out, and then headed for the finish line.

Post Race
I will save until next week what my next plans are, but I would like to suggest a challenge that comes from my work that fits right in with other challenges you might have.

Maintain your weight during the holiday season!
To complete this Wellness Challenge:
1. Maintain (or lose) weight during the coming
holiday season
2. Begin with an initial weigh-in around
November 1, 2010 (the last day to join this
Challenge is Monday, November 15)
3. Have a final weigh-in on January 2, 2011
4. Use the same scale for the initial weigh-in
and your final weigh-in
5. You’ll be weighing yourself. So be honest
6. Keep records of your completed challenge
Maintain, don’t gain!

I'll be weighing in tomorrow and promise to report on my loss/gain on  Monday, January 2, 2012.  Feed free to join in!

Hang in there and I will too!


  1. Sounds like after all the waiting and the standing and Justin Bieber watching that you had a decent run! Love the holiday challenge - my goal is to lose, and for sure will not gain!!!

    Staying MOtivated MO

  2. Justin Bieber, you are so funny. I am glad to hear that the race went good except for the leg crap and noisy cow bell. Way to run the whole time. Woot Woot. I will definatley be gaining a little weight over the holidays, but I will commit to not overdoing it because I am eating for two. Love you dad. Keep up the great work.

  3. Boy that Halloween half seems like it had a lot of spooky moments for you. Sort of lived up to its billing! Glad you made it through to the finish. I know it was a hard one for you and with that leg cramp, tough. But, you inspire me. Plus your posts are informative for this eventual runner. Have a great week, Bruce. Thanks so much for all your comments, too, on my blog. You are very encouraging and I appreciate it.

  4. Thanks for sharing this story. The cow guy was fun to read about - although maybe *more* than a little annoying. :)

  5. Nice write-up, Bruce. All-in-all, we're you happy with the race? I think you should be proud.