Drove to Timpanogas Park in Provo Canyon for the Timp Trail Half Marathon. Really fortunate to have a break in our week long stretch of rain for the race. The marathon started at 6:00 am. 26 miles on these trails requires a good deal of training. I wasn’t there yet.
The half started at 8:00. This is at least the 3rd race I’ve begun at this park. I was just here for the Operation Smile 5K. There’s a tough climb right off the bat. We started at 4,900’ and slowly make our way up to the mid ridgeline road at 5200’. My strategy for this race was to treat it like a training run for the first 7-8 miles, then do whatever it took to get up Dry Creek Canyon before giving it everything I had left into the finish line.
Mile 1 10:00
101 runners out for the half marathon. 61 guys, 40 girls. 90% of them are wearing hydrations packs around their waist, strapped to their back, or in their hand. I brought my hydration pack, but wasn’t sure whether I wanted to wear it. I found out there were only 2 aid stations—somewhere around mile 7 and another close to 10. It was a warm, sunny day. I drank like crazy on my training run here last Saturday. However it’s so much nicer to run without the extra weight and misbalance caused by the pack.
In the end I decided to risk it and not bring any liquid with me. I slipped two GU’s in my pockets though. We followed the fire road north up Provo Canyon with views of the narrow valley below. It was 2 miles of rolling terrain. I’d guess I was about 30 back from the front. Past Nunns Park below, 2 ½ miles in, we turned onto a single track trail climbing higher up the ridge. We went from 5200’ up to 5800’ in less than a half mile. Legs burning. Got onto another rolling fire road that hovered around 5700’ running south back the way we came.
Mile 2 9:12
Mile 3 11:54
There must have been snow up here recently, because it was extremely muddy. I passed several people on this 3 mile stretch because of my strategy of running through the weeds on the edge of the road. There was a drop off on my left, but most of the time I had a couple feet to work with. I stayed relatively un-muddy with only minimal buildup on the bottoms of my shoes.
Mile 4 9:02
Mile 5 9:08
After exiting Provo Canyon the road dropped down to 5100’ over the course of about a mile. I’ve run this section on several training runs. We hooked onto the Shoreline Trail that runs above Provo, Orem, and then Lindon. I made the right decision not to bring my hydration pack, because I was fine as I arrived at the first aid station. I drank some Heed and continued on my way.
Mile 6 7:39
Mile 7 10:21
It was warm out and I was sweating like a mad man. I had guzzled a lot of Gatorade before the race to make up for not bringing anything with me, but the heat still sucks my energy. Reached Dry Creek trailhead in good shape with the 3 mile climb to the top of the mountain ahead of me. I slammed a 2X Caffeine tangerine gel. (nasty) A lot of power hiking during this stretch. It’s straight up.
Mile 8 13:47
Mile 9 20:38
Plenty of day hikers and campers out. I got passed a lot on the way up. I’m not a strong climber. Maybe 10 people went by me. ¾ of the way up I reached the second aid station run by some youths. They were energetic and seemed to be having a fun time. Perhaps because of the gels and Red Bowl they had been sampling from the table. I drank some water and then downed 2 cups of Red Bull myself. It really helps during a race like this.
There was a cameraman stationed midway up. These are from him.
Mile 10 8:55
Trudged my way up the mountain until finally reaching the high point of 6500’, 10 ½ miles in. It was all downhill from there. 1600 feet straight down a muddy, rocky, root filled, twisting single track trail. As terrible as I am at climbing up mountainsides, I am exceptional at coming down them. It’s always been my strength in trail races. I let myself fly down and trust my eyes to communicate what my feet need to do to stay upright. I hate to jinx myself, but I’ve yet to fall while doing a descent.
Mile 11 7:03
I blew by every single person who passed me on the climb up, plus a few more. I spent a lot of time in the grass and weeds along the side of the trail to avoid slick mud. You can have thousands of perfect steps, but it only takes one wrong one to send you headlong into a 6 month recovery from a broken bone. My eyes almost never leave the trail. I know where every single rock and root is located in front of me for a split second before it’s replaced with another split second of trail obstacles further ahead.
Mile 12 7:46
Anyway, I love running downhill on difficult trails. The last 100 yards into the finish line are really steep. I had just passed another runner and was in a dead sprint—faster than I should have been going on that slope. I felt two mini pulls in my left calve and had to take most of my weight off of that foot as I finished the last 50 yards. It was a close call, but ended up being fine. Gave me a little scare.
Mile 13 7:32
.41 Miles 5:37 (reminder: this is my pace, not how long it took to go .41 miles)
Drank a bunch of water and cooled down in the shade. Stretched out my calves. I ended up doing better than I anticipated. I finished in 2:15:01. 17th overall, 12th male, and 5th in my 30-39 age group. My Garmin measured the distance at 13.41 miles, a bit longer than a half marathon. Average pace was 10:05. My fastest pace held at some point during the race, according to my Garmin, was 3:43. (it was in that last .41 miles—which is what led to the calve pain.) Calories burned = 1,414. I never felt at want for more than the 2 drinks I had and the 1 gel.
They had to massive pots of chili cooking for the runners. 20 minutes after I finished the hunger hit me. I had two big bowls, some chips and a roll. So good. A 10 minute ice bath after I got home helped my aching legs to recover. Great race. I'd love to try the marathon next year.
This photo is from the start of the Hope For Sarah 5K on April 30th. That's me in the middle.