Running, part II

As I was saying, a few months ago I challenged J to run “The Other Half,” a half marathon in Moab, UT.  Moab happens to be one of my favorite places in the world.  It is home to both Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, as well as a lot of climbing bums and mountain bikers, a couple of breweries and a .  It also happens to be a spot of blue on Utah’s electoral map.  Definitely my kind of town.

I slowly but steadily started training, egged on by a certain dog who goes batshit when he doesn’t get enough exercise.  Pretty soon I was hoofing it up City Creek Canyon.  City Creek, like most good canyons in the Wasatch, is a butt-busting 7 miles straight up hill.  It’s nice though because there are water fountains at strategic intervals, distractingly gorgeous scenery and a delightful downhill to look forward to.  By September the up portion, which in July felt like a stair master on steroids, was actually starting to feel remarkably okay.  Not pleasant by any means but certainly tolerable.  My last long run, the weekend before the race, I took the aforementioned dog, and was disappointed to reach the watershed gate where I had to turn around.

Last weekend was a whirlwind.  We had planned to head south on Friday after work but J is just a big of a gear fiend as me and wanted to stick around for the Black Diamond Ski Swap on Saturday morning.  I’m glad we did, J sold a bunch of his old gear and I landed a pair of Alpine Touring boots for a ridiculously low price.  Here’s hoping they work.

We finally got into Moab just in time to make the expo, wander around a few galleries and gorge ourselves on pasta.  The whole town was packed with pasta seekers so it’s a miracle we were able to score any kind of nourishment, let alone of the carboloading variety.  We were also very pleased with ourselves for having made our hotel reservation a month in advance, as we drove past a hell of a lot of no vacancy signs.  Thank god for that foresight I was talking about.

On Sunday morning we hauled ourselves out of bed at the crack of dawn. Technically, before the crack of dawn, it was still pitch black out.  The desert gets chilly at night, without any humidity the temperature can drop from 90 during the day to 30 at night.  It was quite shiver-inducing when we left the hotel.  We finally reached the race start, via school bus,  a good hour and a half before the gun, and were greeted by packs of runners huddled around trash can fires and holding onto steaming cups of hot chocolate for dear life.  One of the organizers, over loudspeaker, kept reminding us all that we would need to ditch our extra clothing fifteen minutes before the race start so our sweats bags would make it to the finish before we did.  Needless to say, in the dry, bone-chilling morning air this prospect was rather unpleasant.  The sun finally rose over the canyon wall about half an hour before starting time which made it somewhat more bearable.

At this point I was absolutely giddy.  I had somehow forgotten how much fun races are, especially the waves of nervous anticipation at the start.  As J and I made our way to the starting line my legs felt fresh and ready to go.  J was less excited.  I didn’t mention this before, but he barely trained.  A combination of IT band issues and a nasty flu meant that he hadn’t done a run longer than about 3 miles for months.  I just hoped he’d be able to finish without ripping his knee to shreds.  I also wanted to beat him.  He didn’t help matters by making this comment as we were waiting for the start: “I don’t think we’ll finish together, but if I’m with you at the end I’ll gut it out and try to beat you.”

Oh, you are ON.

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