On Friday, April 30th I ran Revel Wasatch Special Edition Half Marathon! It was my first in person race since the Covid-19 Pandemic!
Over the last year and a half, I’ve been running virtual half marathons and even a trail marathon while combining my training with various Beachbody program and workouts. Along with running, I did #MBF, 30 Day Breakaway, 80 Day Obsession, 10 Rounds and various hybrid Beachbody and running calendars that I created with a run coach as part of the Run the World Virtual race group. This has kept things interesting and kept me strong and fit during the pandemic, but I was very eager to get back to racing.
Training for the a Half Marathon With Beachbody & a Running Coach
In January, I decided to hire a dedicated run coach of my own. I found Montana on Instagram and I’ve loved working with her. I already have a good idea of how to mix in my Beachbody strength training with my running and she schedules in the Beachbody workouts I want with my training. When we first started working together, I did 9 Week Control freak while we build up a base.
Around the end of January is when I signed up for this half marathon. I wanted to go all in with 9 Week Control Freak to lose the weight I’d gained during my last marathon training cycle and through the holidays. I ended up losing 7 lbs and 7 inches and felt so strong!! One that program was over, we bumped my strength training down to 3 sessions a week instead of 4 and she had me running 5 days a week. We did a lot of solid training including two 15 mile long runs, and I felt very strong and confident going into the race!
Pre Race Preparations
When I found out about this special edition race, I messaged a few of my Beachbody coaching teammates from Team Run The World and Tess and Jenny both hopped right on board! Jenny and I made plans to room together and Tess came with her family. I knew that I wouldn’t be brining Mike or the kids, I was thankful to have Jenny as a travel companion and it was so nice to get to know her better too! Although the race takes place near Heber City, Utah, we stayed in Park City, which is a 30 minute drive away, because there would be more for us to do there.
Once we arrived, I went out for a short shake out run on some trails near our hotel. I quickly realized that Park City is an outdoor paradise and there are running, biking and walking trail everywhere! Even though the weather was unseasonably warm – in the 70s – there was snow on the ground in certain parts of the trail. My legs felt heavy and my breathing labored – I could really feel the 7,000 feet elevation difference from my sea level home! By the end of my short shake out run I felt better and I know better than to predict my race result based on my shake out run, but I certainly knew that the elevation would be a factor.
Despite this warmer than expected weather mid-day, we knew that the race itself would be nice and cool since we were starting early. I honestly wasn’t even sure exactly what to wear as it was predicted that temps would be in the high 30s at the start. I live in Southern California and have NEVER run in temperatures this low. Tess picked up our race packets at the small expo for us so we met her for some shopping and dinner in town the afternoon before the race. We ended up walking quite a bit because half the restaurants I found for us to eat at on Yelp were closed! Apparently late April/Early May is “mud season” in Park City – many establishments close down temporarily because there aren’t a lot of tourists.
Revel Wastach – Special Edition – How it Works
Revel Wastach is a special edition Revel race, meaning that there were a lot of covid-19 safety protocols in place and the race was set up very differently than a normal race. The race took place over the course of 2 race days with only about 200 participants per day on Saturday or Friday. Saturday and filled up by the time we registered so we did the Friday race. The race had very staggered start times and specifically assigned bus loading times based on those start times. There entire race felt very safe and was extremely well organized! The swag bag was really great and included really thoughtful goodies like gloves, arm warmers & an emergency blanket in anticipation of the cold start! It also included a really nice coffee mug!
Getting Ready to Race
With our predicted finish time of 1:45, Jenny, Tessa and I all had the same start time of 6:20 and bus loading time of 5:30. We left our hotel room at 4:30 – unfortunately I wasn’t able to use the rest room for important pre-race We arrived at the parking lot to board the bus a little early and still, I wasn’t able to use the restroom.
Once we got on our bus, we sat there for a long time and then once we left, we were told we were running late. We arrive at the start line around 6:20. We were told that we’d have only 10 minutes to get off the bus, use the restroom and make our way to the start line (we already knew we’d only have a short window so this wasn’t a surprise). Our “bag check” was to put our provided plastic bag under the bus.
The Half Marathon
My coach had instructed me to do a warm up with strides, but because we got dropped off on the side of the road in a small truck inlet that had 5 portopotties (which yes, I finally got to use!), my warm up ended up being the short jog with a couple pick ups on the way down to the “start line.” The weather felt a little warmer than expected. I ended up not using my running beanie and instead just used a running hat. I wore a tank top, arm warmers, long sleeve shirt (that I intended to ditch at some point), capris and mittens (these were provided by the race in our swag bag!). I wore an old jacket I didn’t want anymore to the start line.
The start line was literally a small timing mat (maybe 4 feet wide) on the shoulder of a winding mountain road. We were asked to line up by the last 2 digits of our bib number indicated by cones with a number range on them. Since my friend and I signed up at at the same time, we had bib numbers in order. A race employee simply said, “Ok, bib 1 let’s go. 1, 2, 3, GO!” And that person ran across. Then he kept calling bib numbers one by one and we started the race, one by one. It was very anticlimactic. I noticed that I had almost no nerves – not on the bus, not the night before and not at the start. I’m not sure if it was because I was engrossed in conversation with friends, if it was because the race was so untraditional, or because I didn’t really care about my race result. Probably some combination of all 3.
I went off first and then Tess and Jenny went and they caught up to me. The course itself has a 800 feet decline (all Revel races are down mountains), but the first 4 miles had 400 feet of the decline. My coach instructed me sternly to go out slower than goal pace for the first 3 miles, even though we’d be going downhill. The idea was that we’d start slow and then later I’d be able to pick it up.
The first few miles felt good. We ran together and chatted a bit. We were right around goal pace, with miles 1-3 being 8:18, 8:20 and 8:08 pace (my goal was 8:10-8:15 for these miles). My legs felt OK, not great, and my breathing was controlled. I started to warm up quickly. At one point, I got really happy because I’d had this vision of running a race with my Beachbody coach team and now I was actually doing it!
Mile 4 we picked up the pace to 7:58. The goal for miles 4-10 was 7:55-8:05. I started to shed layers. Somewhere after mile 5, I tried to take off my long sleeve and it knocked my AirPods out of my ear (I wasn’t listen to them yet, just it in so I could use it later). I had to stop and grab it from the ground and then maneuver everything (I was also carrying a handheld water bottle) so I could pull off the shirt while running. Honestly I wish I had just take it off at the beginning because I didn’t need it for long, but oh well!
There were absolutely no spectators and we were running on the shoulder of a country mountain road, so it was definitely not a typical race feeling – no excitement, not rush or thrill of spectators or tiny children putting our their hands for high fives. However, the views of snow covered mountains and farmland were beautiful. I was thankful I was running with my friends and Beachbody coach teammates to keep things interesting, although at this point we weren’t talking as much. Tess asked how I was doing and I told her that “Im having a low moment.” I really try not to let any low moments in the race define how I’ll feel later because often I can turn it around.
Around mile 6 Jenny stopped at the aid station and we didn’t see her again. She was running her 45th race in 3 years to celebrate her upcoming 45th birthday and had decided ahead of time that she wouldn’t be pushing the pace, just enjoying the race. Tess also wasn’t racing, just running for fun, and she express that she as pretty committed to helping me achieve my sub 1:45 goal.
Our splits for miles 5 & 6 were 8:00 and 7:54, right on track. Miles 7 and 8 were 8:02 and 8:17, but I wasn’t feeling as good. Around this time I turned on my music. The elevation loss now seemed completely inconsequential and I was starting to feel it in my legs. I felt tired and unmotivated. I kept trying to tell myself that I wanted to hit my goal and I better keep on pace. Luckily Tess was keeping pace so running with her helped. I’m not sure how I would have done on my own!
I had taken my Huma gels on schedule – one at 35 minutes and another around 1:15 and so far my stomach felt ok. I was drinking my water – this was SUPER important since we were at elevation which is super dehydrating – but in retrospect I should have had more to drink.
The most difficult portion of the race was once we turned onto a busy road. We were running in the shoulder, as we had been, but now there were WAY more cars. The sun was out and we were running down a long, sunny highway with cars rushing past us. There was a headwind and it felt hard. I kept telling myself that this was a tough section and I needed to just get through it. I could pick it up later when I got to 10 miles as was the plan.
Tess encouraged me to pick up the pace because we had fallen behind but I just didn’t feel like it. At one point she got ahead of me and I decided to listen to my coach’s advice and make a surge to catch her, which I did & it felt encouraging! Soon after, I ducked behind her to use her to draft off of (she’s much smaller than me so I’m not sure how much this helped but I do think it helped a little bit!). My pace for mile 9 was actually not as bad as I thought – 8:16.
Shortly after this point, a guy who was breathing heaving and kept saying encouraging messages like “Yes!” “Let’s do this” caught up to us and was running side by side at times with us. This was one of the only people I remember engaging with much on entire course, as there weren’t many people out there! I felt mixed emotions that he was annoying and encouraging. I knew that I was about to get to the 10 mile mark which was where I was supposed to pick it up. I tried and the next mile was 8:02. I felt a brief surge of encouragement when I did the math and figured if I could run an 8 minute mile or just under, I’d get close to 1:45. Tess was still with me and encouraged me to pick it up to 7:30 pace. I told her to give me a minute – I actually thought maybe I could!
As we ran through a beautiful country neighborhood in the final miles, the energy burst drained quickly and it got hard – my legs felt heavy. I did not have that burst of energy to make my goal. I did not have it in me – mentally or physically. I started to get in my head and get discouraged. Tess pulled ahead and I slowed. I let negative thoughts flood my mind and I told myself I didn’t really care what my time was in the end. I knew I wasn’t going to hit my goal. But then, a minute or so later, I talked myself out of it and said outlaid that I needed to finish strong. I picked up the pace for a bit. My legs felt SO heavy. My breathing wasn’t that labored, but my legs felt like led.
I was disappointed that I never felt great during this race. There’s a difference between suffering in a race and suffering in a GOOD way when you’re making progress toward a goal and you feel energized and motivated. It’s hard to describe, but there is a distinct difference. Maybe it’s all in my head, I’m not sure but I know that many people describe it as feeling “flat.” I just really didn’t care about much other than finishing at this point, though the thought that I’d like to finish with my fastest half marathon time sine having the twins was a non-negotiable (this was set at the virtual holiday half marathon back in December and I knew it was somewhere in the 1:48-9 range). Miles 11-13: 8:31, 8;42, 8:58 (ouch).
It was pretty cool to cross a REAL finish line! The announcer said even person’s name! But there was about 2-3 spectators there at the finish line so it didn’t feel QUITE the same. It was really cool because was soon as I finished I found a friend I’ve made on Instagram, Kerry and got to chat with her and her friends for a bit before Jenny came in (Tess jumped in and helped run her in!).
The finisher area felt the most “race like” of the entire event. There was some really cool photo opportunities set up (like the giant 13.1 !) and great post race snacks! I got to meet a few runners I’ve only known through Instagram and Tess’s family met up with us. It was way less crowded than a normal finish line area but still really exciting and fun!
Post Half Marathon Thoughts
This race really helped me gain some perspective on where I stand with racing and running right now. While I LOVE it, it isn’t as important to me as it once was. I wasn’t invested in the result of this race like I have been in past races. Which is ok!!! I also recognize that traveling to altitude to do a goal race may have affected how I feel. Plus, 1.5 years of a pandemic and being pretty out of practice with in person races could be a factor too. While I wish I’d felt better overall and ran a little faster, I’m totally ok with this race result!!!
In the end, it was a fun experience and I had a blast in Park City with my Beachbody teammates Tess and Jenny! We had a great time after the race at brunch and then later on Main Street for drinks, shopping and dinner! I’m happy that we went, I’m thankful to Revel for putting on a great race (and fort he free race photos!) , and I know I’ve got some work to do to chip away toward that lifetime half marathon PR that I DO still want.
Run the World Half & Full Marathon & Beachbody Training Group
What’s Next!? I’m craving some strength training. I’m going to finally complete #MBFA (I never did it start to finish last year due to 30 day breakaway coming out and transitioning into my full marathon training) before our trip to Costa Rica. On May 30th, we’re leaving for Costa Rica and staying there for 34 days!! When I get back, I will start getting back to more serious training again – I still have yet to chose a fall half marathon but I definitely plan to run one!
I am also really excited to announce that I am teaming up with professional run coach Jen Vickery to put together a half and full marathon training group!! This group will have a monthly training schedule for half and full marathons that combines running with Beachbody on Demand workouts! If you want more info on that group, please fill out this form. The group officially kicks off May 24th but enrollment will open every single month. Use this to take the guesswork out of training for a half or full marathon of your choice & be part of a really fun community!