Need to catch up on Part 1 of our adventures in Utah? Find it here.
After spending a few days having a blast exploring Arches and Moab, my mom and I woke up early on Friday for a quick 3-mile shakeout run. We happened to come across a paved bike trail – perfect for running in an area we didn’t know that well! Of course, that didn’t stop us from getting slightly lost.
The run ended with iced coffee from one of the many cute cafes that line the Main Street of Moab.
Once we were cleaned up and properly caffeinated, we made the drive north towards Provo where we had rented an Airbnb close to the race start. The place ended up being quite cute and the hostess was so friendly! We would definitely do Airbnb again to cut down a bit on hotel costs traveling to races.
The drive was a long one, so we spent most of Friday relaxing after we picked up our bibs. There really wasn’t an expo for this race (the race was capped at 1,000 runners, so definitely on the smaller side). The pick-up was at a running store, so they had some stuff to check out, but nothing too new or exciting. We laid out our running gear when we got back and called it an early night.
At the crack of 4 am, we were up and at ’em! 🙂 This race was a point-to-point course with a shuttle ride up the canyon road and the organizers had stressed that everyone had to catch the buses between 5:30 and 5:45. If you missed the shuttle, you weren’t running the race! Luckily, we made it there in plenty of time to spare. The ride up the canyon took a surprisingly long time and my mom jokingly asked if I was sure we hadn’t accidentally signed up for a marathon. 😉 I have to say, I got a little nervous too there for a sec!
We finally arrived at the drop-off point, and one of the organizers hopped on the bus to warn everyone about hunters driving on the road and not to pee in the woods because rangers were watching. Ummmm, what?! Things were off to an interesting start. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any porta-potties at the drop-off, and we ended up having to walk up the road probably another 20 minutes or so before getting to the start area. My mom and I were slightly desperate by the time we got there!
(When you pretend to look happy, but are actually freezing to death.)
After a short warm-up, we arranged ourselves behind the starting line (drawn in chalk on the ground – yeah, it was that small a race!). A couple more quick announcements and we were off! My goals going into the race were pretty loose. A big part of me was hoping that I would be able to use the elevation profile to my advantage to score a new half marathon PR (my best time was 1:45 back in February at the Augusta Half). However, I also knew my training leading up to that race had been much more consistent and had included a lot more long runs at 8 min/mile pace. I figured I would start out in the mid 8’s and try to slowly bring that time down to sub 8-minute miles in the later miles of the race. If a PR happened, then awesome, but I wouldn’t be crushed if it didn’t because I hadn’t really put in the work for it.
Only a few miles into the race, I realized I was going to have to stop at one of the water stations to use a porta-potty again. Damn, that hasn’t happened to me at a race in ages! I knew that stopping would unfortunately add a couple minutes to my time that I would have to try to make up, but I also wasn’t about to run 13.1 miles feeling like I was going to pee my pants. 😉
Mile 1: 8:43, Mile 2: 8:37, Mile 3: 8:25, Mile 4: 8:55 (my porta-potty mile)
While I had been pretty cold before the race, once I was running, it really did feel perfect. It was early enough that the road was mostly shaded and we were running with Hobble Creek gurgling along next to us on the left. It was really scenic and SO nice to be running a race where I didn’t feel like I was melting into a pool of sweat.
Most of the first 6 miles looked just like this.
Mile 5: 8:12, Mile 6: 8:02, Mile 7: 8:02, Mile 8: 8:03
It was around Mile 5/6 that I realized I would have to start hitting some sub 8-minute/miles if I was going to have any chance of a PR, so I started picking up the pace. Whenever I felt like I was getting in the groove of the faster speed though, it seemed like we would hit a small uphill and my pace would slow again. I felt like I was putting in the effort, but no matter how hard I tried, my GPS just kept chirping 8:00/mile – no faster.
Mile 9: 8:17, Mile 10: 8:21, Mile 11: 8:22, Mile 12: 8:40, Mile 13: 8:24
Around Mile 9, I think I accepted that a PR was clearly not going to happen for me. I still wanted to push the effort though and continued to work hard (apart from Mile 12, which I was clearly slacking on.) At this point, we were on a bike path, which was quite pretty but also sunny. It was around these miles where I was wishing they had a couple more water stations.
But finally, I was rounding the bend onto the road that wrapped around into the finish. There were actually spectators at this spot cheering, which felt awesome after such a quiet race. I saw the clock as I crossed the finish, which read 1:50. By my GPS watch, I finished just under in 1:49:54. About 4 minutes slower than my PR, but still a decent time. I was a little bummed though because I just missed out on receiving one of the special “Elite Top 100” medals they had for the first 100 male and female finishers. I still got a flower though, which I thought was kind of different and cool.
After chugging some water and sitting down for a few minutes, I started waiting for my mom to come across the finish. I knew she wasn’t planning on racing it hard, but I started to get more and more nervous as the time on the clock got later. Was this race going to be her turn to get transported by ambulance? I was probably being really irrational, but I really got panicked as the time ticked past 2:15. I knew she had been experiencing some hamstring issues, so my mind immediately jumped to her being injured and unable to finish the race.
I waited another 15 minutes and finally called her, remembering how she could easily answer her phone while running. Just as she answered, I actually spotted her coming into the last 1/2 mile. Hobbling slightly. She did not sound good on the phone, and we hung up quickly. Finally she crossed the finish line and filled me in on her race.
She told me how her hamstring started acting up after the first few miles of downhill running, and how by Mile 6, she was so in so much pain she had to walk. She had been mostly walking since then, not wanting to risk any further damage to the muscle. Hobble Creek Half Marathon was unfortunately a bit too aptly named for her.
So not one of the best for either of us, but we made the most of the day, hanging out at the finish for a bit before heading out to a nearby cafe for a bigger breakfast. We had plenty of time to discuss and analyze the race and came to a couple of conclusions.
- It was probably the drastic downhills that set off her hamstring, which was already bothering my mom a bit. She had thought it had been feeling better in the days before, but 13 miles of hard downhill running, was probably a bit too much.
- When you’re trying to run at least 50 marathons/half marathons, you’re going to have some bad races. Period. Life happens, training isn’t always perfect, and it is what it is.
- That said, my mom and I race pretty frequently. We did the RW Classic Half back in July, a bunch of 5ks before that, and then of course, there was the Delaware Marathon in May. If we want to run better quality races, it would probably be wise for both of us to back off a bit and pick only a few races to really target. This is what the elites do, and while I’m not looking to run a 2:40 marathon just yet, I do think it makes a lot of sense. Of course, I’m now signed up to run Baystate in October, but I promise I won’t do any races before then!!
So overall thoughts: The Hobble Creek Half is a good, small race. I probably wouldn’t run it again, and I know there are some more popular half marathons in Utah with more bells and whistles, but it’s worth checking out if you are local to the Mapleton/Springville/Provo area. Also, I think it’s worth noting that they ran into issues with their timing equipment and ended up only being able to provide gun times for the racers, no chip times. Not a huge deal for us since we didn’t hit those PRs, but I’m guessing this was pretty frustrating for some other runners. But all in all, it was a really fun way to cap off our Utah vacation and to cross off State #12. Only 38 to go! 😉