The Zion Half Marathon was my 2nd half marathon while pregnant, but this will be my first honest race report (which is why I waited 2 weeks to post it)! I ran the Surf City Marathon at 6 weeks pregnant, a time when it was too soon to talk about my pregnancy and therefore my race report was pretty vague. I’ll talk about my feelings about that race in a separate post.
As I mentioned in my Zion Half Marathon weekend recap, the race started at 7:30 and we stayed near the start so we got to sleep in til 6 a.m. I had a bagel and cream cheese (I’ve never had dairy before a race but didn’t really care!) and we were out the door by 7 a.m. Although I didn’t ask him to, Mike said he would run the entire race with me. He has been focused on surfing lately, and not running, so to him, this was all for fun anyway. Based on the times I’d been putting down in my training runs lately combined with the fact that this course was pretty hard (400 foot elevation GAIN, 3,500 higher elevation than San Diego, rolling hills, and a nice headwind for the entire race), I knew it was going to be slower than Surf City (which I finished around 2:10).
I really knew that I was there to enjoy the race when I realized on the way over that I had forgotten to put on my Garmin. Oh well! Although we didn’t spend a lot of time at the race start, it seemed well organized and there were nice warming tents. The temperature was in the low 50s or high 40s and it felt very cold because there was a very strong wind chilling us all to the core. The one complaint I have about this race in general is that there weren’t enough port-o-potties so there were long lines at the start AND at all the aid stations. I didn’t have to go when we got dropped off since we had just left the house but of course as soon as we were waiting in the corral to start the race, I started to have to go again. It was a long 3 miles to the first aid station and the line was about 20 people long for 8 porto-o-potties.
One awesome thing that I noticed that morning was that I had NO morning sickness ! After being nauseated 24/7 for 7 weeks straight, this was a relief.
As soon as we started to run I checked in with my body and decided I felt pretty good. The head wind was strong and cold and I was freezing and regretting not wearing gloves (I wore arm warmers, my Oiselle singlet and shorts), but overall I felt ok. Mike was nice enough to lend me one of his gloves so we ran side by side, each sporting the Michael Jackson look.
As soon as we started running I was stunned by the beauty of the course. Although we’d driven it the previous day on our way to the expo (the course is 1 way from the town of Virgin where our VRBO house was to the town of Springdale where the entrance to Zion National Park is), it was even better seen from a run (as are most things in my opinion!).
Despite my pressing bladder, Mike and I took the time to stop for a selfie somewhere around Mile 2.5 before we arrived at the first aid station at mile 3 to wait in the line. The only reason I was impatient to get to the front of the line was related to freeing up some space for our baby to move around, not because I wanted to make it to the finish line any faster!
From here on out, I counted time with aid stations. There were a couple of times early in the race where the distance was daunting (I only ran one 10 miler before this race). It helped that there was an aid station at every other mile with a porto-potty as well. At Mile 5 we stopped and refilled our water bottles. I had already drank the entire thing! My goal for the race was to drink 3 entire water bottles and I succeeded! All Vacation Race series races are cupless meaning that there are no disposable cups on the course. You must provide your own means of carrying/drinking the water. This didn’t bother me at all because I’ve gotten used to carrying my Nathan handheld in all races longer than 10k.
Somewhere around here we started to run near Mike’s coworker, her husband and their 11 year old daughter. It was Natascha’s first half marathon! We ran with them for a bit and chatted – this 11 year old is seriously inspiring! Not only is she running a pretty darn tough half marathon but she’s also organizing a 5k for kids to raise money for the charity Kids in the Game! Incredible!
At the Mile 7 aid station we stopped again for the bathroom. There was a line but it was shorter this time. Natascha and her family stopped too and we kind of leap-frogged with them for the entire race. We also chatted with some people during our porto-potty breaks – I found in general that i was talking to WAY more people (read: more than 0) than I usually do during a race and I was liking it! We were having a great time!
Mike and I even chatted quite a bit and he’s not normally a chatty running partner. At times we’d talk about our baby. We had just had an ultrasound the day before we left for Zion so the image of our baby in our minds was strong. We talked about our hopes for our child – that they will see our active lifestyle and have it positive influence them, just like Natascha.
We stopped a few more times for photos, another bathroom break (yes, 3) and water refills. They were handing out Stinger Gels, bananas and oranges at various points on the course and I ate as I felt like it, taking some of each. There was also a candy aid station where I grabbed some peanut butter pretzels and found them very hard to eat while running!
When we neared the finish line, I was happy and also sad it was over! Finally, there were spectators to cheer for us and hand stop slap as we ran by. As we neared the downhill finish, I saw our time on the clock was 2:45 and could have cared less (Gun time was actually 2:35:58) that it was a personal worst (in retrospect I was very glad to have left my Garmin at home so I would never be worried about pace). It was one of my favorite runs. I got to run 13.1 miles with my growing family in one of the most gorgeous places in the United States.
Zion, we’ll be back! Next time with a stroller!
Have you ever run a half marathon while pregnant?