Skip to content

Adventure in Half Marathon #33 – Going Big Cottonwood

September 18, 2014

Lifetime #33, 2014 #8, States 5

I have done many races, big and small, and they each have their own identity, rhythm, and atmosphere.  I enjoy each one. But Big Cottonwood in Salt Lake City raised the bar on my enjoyment scale. Off the Chain!

My great girlfriend Connie Many and I made our reservations at the Crystal Inn and registered for the race very early in 2014. The race course is down the Big Cottonwood Canyon – sounded great to us. So we flew from Seattle to Salt Lake City to go ‘Big Cottonwood’- downhill!

Flight with Russell

Leaving the expo with my swag bag still wearing Russell.

Leaving the expo with my swag bag still wearing Russell.

The hotel had an airport shuttle. Had a free spaghetti dinner the night before, and a morning breakfast bag, too. The hotel chartered comfortable buses that were directly outside in that cold dark thirty of race morning to take us up the canyon to the start line.

On the bus to the start line drop off

On the bus to the start line drop off

The half marathoners (us) were dropped off first, and then the buses continued up the canyon a few more miles to the marathoners start line. The hotel also ran shuttles all afternoon so when you finished you didn’t even have to call them, the shuttle just appeared! These were amenities that any racer appreciates. Knowing the logistics were in place allowed my enjoyment to increase.

The Race

The swag bag included Mylar blankets and gloves, perfect because it was a bit chilly waiting for the start.  A Half Fanatic friend loaned me fingerless gloves that I kept on for quite a few miles.

Fingerless gloves helped with the cold.

Fingerless gloves helped with the cold.

Connie took pictures. The excitement permeated the huge silver-wrapped crowd.

Before the race started, lots of Mylar kept us warm.. sort of! Check out the mountain!

Before the race started, lots of Mylar kept us warm.. sort of! Check out the mountain! Photo courtesy of Connie Many

Plenty of toilets, a bit late starting the race, but then we were off.

Down the canyon Photo courtesy of Connie Many

Down the canyon! Photo courtesy of Connie Many

I ran for 9 miles down the canyon. Not only was it fun, it was beautiful.

Green shirt - that's me! Photo courtesy of Connie Many

Green shirt, black pants – that’s me! Photo courtesy of Connie Many

The leaves were turning color, the road was all ours, the hydro-stations were plentiful and amazingly well-stocked with volunteers as well as supplies.

I am sure taking this cost me 45 seconds off my time, but it sure is amazing to see where I was going!

I am sure taking this cost me 45 seconds off my time, but it sure is amazing to see where I was going!

We had been schooled that we were in a watershed, so no peeing was allowed except in the portable toilets. The long lines made me decide if I got desperate I would just tinkle down my leg like I did when I did my one marathon. Fortunately, I didn’t have to follow through on that decision!

I caught up to Connie (on the right) because she waited in  line so she didn't harm the watershed.

I caught up to Connie (on the right) because she waited in line so she didn’t harm the watershed.

For someone who is a race walker, being able to run was quite different. My body does not like to run a long ways but a little gravity was all it took for me feel comfortable.

I was having fun!

I was having fun!

I tried to walk a couple of times, but no, that wasn’t going to work. My breath was good, the views were spectacular, and the first 9 miles were great.

still having fun

Still having fun!

I knew I was doing well, and when Connie caught up to me (she waited in the toilet line!) and said “You keep this up you are going to crush a PR.”

Then we came down off the canyon into town and there was no shade and the sun was out in full force.  I pulled my Half Fanatics buff over my head so only my eyes were visible.  Runners had our own lane and it was so cool to see people honk and cheer us, including two handcuffed young men who I guess didn’t follow the rules. I felt sorry for the Marathoners when they had to veer off to a several-mile uphill and I could go straight.

89f827d0b0d970773bfa8f4221f0e267cafe978d9d31b302d61ff64890b6a685And straight I went to the finish line. It was a long four miles. The sun was unrelenting with its beat down on my head. I saw the finish chute and ran a bit faster, held my breath so I could get there, and YAY for me!! I had the best time I have had in my last 25 half marathons.

I was really working it!

I was really working it!

Finish Line

The very best thing after crossing the finish line were these cute young men putting a cold wet towel on my head – I was immediately better.  The massage tables were plentiful and really helped ease my aches. I ate pizza, cookies, took pictures, marveled at the huge medal.

Still wearing my towel! Photo courtesy of Connie Many

Still wearing my towel! Photo courtesy of Connie Many

Love the medal.

Check out the medal!

Check out the medal!

The Best Parts

Runners who do these events are special people – friendly , helpful, supportive, generous – the best of us, I think.  I met so many new friends and listened to new stories and was constantly awed and amazed – the 55-59 year old woman who was giddy because she had qualified for the Boston Marathon, had a goal of 325 marathons before she is 70 and already had done 34 countries. The 65 year old woman who had a PR of 2:29, won 3rd in her age group, and was on her way to do Center of the Nations – 5 marathons in 5 days. The woman from Baltimore on her 50 state marathon quest who considers a 5k a “gateway drug” as Utah became her 22nd state. And so on and so on…

Bye, Big Cottonwood!

Bye, Big Cottonwood!

Utah must have the friendliest people on the planet. No matter where we went, they were genuinely nice. There were also great personal stories in the Sunday Salt Lake Tribune obituaries that I read on the plane trip home. Interesting state worth exploring again!

Last Line

If you are going to do a race in Utah, do Big Cottonwood. It was so much fun!!!

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: