The Zion Half Marathon, A.K.A. The Most EPIC Weekend Ever!

I did it.  

I ran a half marathon! 

Even as I type that, I can’t believe I did it, and I am smiling so big it splits my lip open…because I ran 13.1 miles, and I didn’t die, and I ticked another box off of my bucket list.

The entire weekend was completely wonderful. Zion National Park is too beautiful for words. We haven’t been camping in almost 5 years, so it was so exciting for us to be able to camp again for this trip. This was the view from my chair by the fire.  Don’t even get me started on the stars at night!  I haven’t seen a night sky like that since I was a child.

photo 1 (4)

In spite of a hectic start to the trip (and setting up camp that afternoon), by the time I took this picture, I was totally relaxed and blissed out just by the fresh air and the fact that my entire family was camping…on something like an actual vacation. It has been too long. 😀

I went to bed early because I had to wake up at 4:30 to eat some breakfast, get my gear together, and make my shuttle to the start line. Let me just say right now, my husband is a rock star when it comes to runner support. He was AMAZING. He woke up at 4:00, started the fire, made me coffee & a bagel with cream cheese, and had most of my stuff ready to go before even waking me up. I felt totally loved and and cared for, and that meant everything when I was feeling anxious.

I sort of missed the last official shuttle (in spite of our efforts to be early), but there was one last shuttle at the resort, and since it was paid for (and I had paid for a spot), the driver took me. I was the only passenger, so it felt a little like being a VIP. However, the ride was LONG, and for the first time, I was able to really appreciate the distance I was about to tackle. The driver didn’t help. He said at least THREE TIMES that it seemed farther than he remembered.  Um, thanks, pal!

The “warm up” tent was freezing, the line for the bathrooms was almost 20 minutes long, and I felt like the only person there not running with a friend, but I didn’t let it get me down. I stretched, tried to stay warm, and made sure I had what I needed.  I couldn’t wait to get started, so it was a relief when they finally asked us to line up at the start.  The gun went off at 7:00, and like usual, I was in the back so it was a few minutes to even cross the start line, and the beginning is always really slow until the crowd finds their pace and things thin out.  It was dark, with just a hint of pink starting to peek over the horizon.  I was PUMPED!

The first few miles literally flew by, and that was when I realized I was mentally prepared for how long this would take. I knew I had trained my body pretty well, but I wasn’t as confidant about the mental prep.  So, yeah!  That was a good thing.  The sun continued climbing and the views were spectacular.  I stopped to take a few photos and down a GU between miles 4 and 5.

photo 2 (4)

 

photo 3 (1)

The beauty literally took my breath away, which I sort of needed, so I decided to focus on running after that.  Between mile 6 and mile 7, this happened:

Zion Half Elevation

The entire course was going uphill with various rolling hills in between, but do you see that monster in the middle? Yeah, that was a BEAST.  I felt like I was vertically climbing and my knee started really protesting, especially on the downhill, but I pushed on.  Mile 8 brought us to a small town called Rockville, and then it was really a matter of pushing past being tired, being in pain, and trying to finish this thing and see all the awesome people waiting for me at the finish line.

My husband and kids were there, but I also had four of my closest gal pals, and a whole gaggle of their kids (and I love them all) waiting for me. I still can’t really put into words how wonderful it was that they decided to come camping with us and support me for my first half. My feelings about it are big and overwhelming, in a really good way. It made my happiness cup overflow.

I got to mile 11 and I started to do a bunch of walk/run intervals because I was pretty beat, and that threw my planned finish time of 2:25.  I am ok with that.  It was a tough, tough course and my first time out. I did do my best to run (ok, shuffle) the entire last mile. Crossing that finish line was a sweet, wonderful moment. I came in with a finish time of 2:36:36.

After I finished, I got a hug and the most delicious chocolate milk of ALL TIME.  Mostly, I wanted to fall down.  After a little walking, a shower, and some lunch, I felt so much better!

FinishedBAM, BABY!

 

Gina and I at finishWith my friend, Gina, my daughter, Sydni, and my husband, Lonnie (the photo bomber).  

Family at the finishThe whole family, including the dogs.  No, my teen son is not pregnant, he has our puppy tucked into his jacket!  

The rest of our weekend was spent with friends.  Hiking, campfires, s’mores, and even a game of Balderdash and Spades.  It was a perfect, beautiful weekend and I will cherish the memories for the rest of my life. And as crazy as it sounds, I am already planning to run it again next year!

photo 5 (1)This photo is totally untouched.  How could you not want to visit a place like this again and again?

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3 thoughts on “The Zion Half Marathon, A.K.A. The Most EPIC Weekend Ever!

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