Race recap – Salt Lake City Half Marathon

It finally happened. The race that I’ve been training for – and blogging about for the last 12 weeks. Packet pickup was on Friday at the Energy Solutions Arena where the Utah Jazz play. Quick and easy. With lots of free yoghurt (?).




I had set my alarm for 5 AM so that I could eat some toast and drink some Nuun before the race. My body clock decided 4.30 AM was a better time – so after failing to catch the last few precious zzzzzz’s I got up and decided to hang out until we needed to leave.

The race started about a 10 minute drive from our house so we hit the road at 6.15 AM and were able to make it to the starting area with half an hour to spare. J did a warm-up on the track while I waited in the lines for the portapotty. My stomach was surprisingly calm – usually I get major race day nerves. I met J briefly to wish each other good luck before I dropped my bag at gear check and started to move forward to the 8.00 min/mile marker in the starting corral.

The race bibs included a free ride to the start on Salt Lake’s tram system. It looked like one of the trams was a little late and the race was delayed a couple of minutes as we watched people get off the train and sprint down to the starting area.

And then we were off! Or tried to be. The guy right in front of me couldn’t get his Garmin to work so decided the best thing to do was to stop at the timing mats as 4000 runners needed to cross………….not a smart idea. The race started with a short and narrow decline before we headed up and into the Federal Heights neighborhood.

At the start line I had placed myself between the 1.40 and 1.45 pacers. Training had gone pretty well and I was hoping to break my PR of 1.42.01. My reach goal was to try and break 1.40. At the start line I decided to go for it – go big or go home right? This would mean an average pace of 7.38 min/mile. Gulp.

I watched the 1.40 pacer in front of me for the first 2 miles. The first mile flew by and it took me until the end of the second to get into a comfortable rhythm. I remember looking at the 1.40 pacer and wondering if I could catch him and stay with him for the rest of the race.

I took my chance at mile 3. This was the start of a three mile stretch of fast, downhill miles. I passed the pacer and never saw him again – averaging about 7 min/mile for this section. I had banked on gaining time in this section as the second half of the race looked to be slower and a bit more challenging.


After this downhill portion we came to the first significant climb – not very steep but LONG. Just shy of 1.5 miles straight ahead. This was one of the more mentally challenging portions of the race. You could see where the uphill ended but it felt as if you weren’t moving forward at all. A little demoralizing but the top of this hill marked the halfway point (47.41 mins).

The race had spread out by this point and I wasn’t really running with a group. This is also a race with a small number of spectators – I mean the ones that were out were awesome – but not enough to carry you home.

I did have a secret weapon – not my salted caramel Gu which I had at about mile 7 – but a group of friends and neighbors who I knew would be out at the 8.5 mile mark. It really gave me a boost knowing that they would be there. And seeing them and hearing them shouting my name was so great. Now I just had four miles to go. That shouldn’t seem that far?

By now I had a slight sideache and my legs seemed to be running without any input from the rest of my body. I decided to break the rest of the race into 1 miles segments – anyone can run a mile, can’t they? At mile 10 we split off from the full marathoners – and I was so happy that I didn’t have to run 26.2. At this stage I felt that I was running so slowly – but looking at my watch I was surprised to see that I was maintaining my pace.

The hardest mile for me was mile for me. I wanted to be done. I thought about stopping to walk for a bit. It was my second slowest mile (7.44 min). I needed to have a good talk with myself in order to stay on target for a sub 1.40. I remembered a blog post I read recently from hungryrunnergirl about her mantra “I can do hard things”. So this is what I said to myself during this mile. It reminded me of the end of my tempo runs when I wanted to give up. And I think it was a mental block –  I mean I was pushing myself hard but my body could do it. I just needed my brain to agree.

Seeing the mile 12 sign was a total relief. One more mile. I could do that. I only needed to run for 8 more minutes max. So I dug in. Turning the corner I could see the finish line – but OMG it was still half a mile away. Ugh. Not a fun finish but I made it. And just under 1.39 – 1.38.57 official time and overall pace of 7.33 min/mile. Goal complete. 3 mins off my PR on a harder course. But I gave it my all.

As soon as I stopped I could feel how tight my quads were. And have been ever since. Stairs have not been my friend yesterday or today. But everything else seems OK. And I am desperate to run again…………..

133rd overall/2929

26th female/1781

8th in my age group


1 – 7.29

2 – 7.37

3  – 6.56 Start of fast downhill

4   – 7.02

5   – 6.57

6   – 7.44 Long uphill section

7   – 7.17

8   – 7.45 More uphill

9   – 7.33

10 – 7.38

11 – 7.17 Surprise, you can still maintain this pace

12 – 7.44 Worst mile

13 – 7.26 Almost done

.1   – 2.34

April mileage: 73.5 miles/118.3 KM

ATWRBR mileage: 195.4 miles/314.5 KM

29 thoughts on “Race recap – Salt Lake City Half Marathon

  1. what an awesome race!!!! congratulations on the PR. i’m new to your blog but i’m so impressed with your pace and determination!

    i’m just returning to running after having a baby and then back surgery. i dream of the day when i might be able to break through the 1:40 barrier 🙂

  2. Oops! It’s Carolyn – delete my last comment via porchtoporchmusic – that’s for a friend’s WordPress site I work on and I didn’t realize I was logged in as them.

  3. Here’s my real one:
    Congrats Sarah! I love the “i can do hard things” quote – good mantra to think of when out running. I like it! Congrats on a great race!

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