SLC Track Club Winter Series 15k

Lately I’ve been choosing to complete my long runs on Friday’s instead of Saturday’s in an effort to spend more time with my family on the weekends.

My long runs take a considerable amount of time and I find myself really enjoying “sleeping in” till 7:30am on Saturday mornings.

Last week when my coach opted to lessen my mileage in an effort to prepare my body for my last major marathon mileage build up, I found myself mentally preparing for a cold 8 mile Saturday recovery run. 🙄

When my good friend and running buddy Rachel mentioned she was working a local 15k that weekend, the thought of running a new route and saying hi to good friends put me over the edge and I signed up for the race.

Winters are always long in Utah. The snow often starts in October and some years will last into June. This winter season Mother Nature has really had it in for everyone because during the entire month of January and February we’ve had MAYBE 5 total sunny days and lots of snow. February alone has seen over 100″ of snow!

Winter makes runners want to hibernate anyway, but the consistent moisture, cloudy skies and frigid temperatures have really tested my running resolve. I needed to have something to look forward to and the Salt Lake City Track Club Winter Series 15k fit the bill.

I’d only be over my weekly mileage a little more than a mile so I wouldn’t have to worry about taxing myself too hard on a lesser mileage week.

I’d never been out to Saltair before but my friend promised a flat course with good competition. The only downside would be the 20° weather.

Sure enough, the weather was crispy but the view of the Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island would be more than enough to keep my mind occupied.

The race was an out and back course that ran parallel to Interstate-80, starting from a building that looks like a small Arabian castle but doubles as a concert venue pretty much out in the middle of nowhere.

I arrived about 8:15 am, found the bathroom and said hi to some friends when I figured I should probably do a mile warm up before the race started to help me stay warm and get the blood flowing. After my warm up, I worked my way back towards the starting line when I heard a female ask if anyone would be willing to sing the National Anthem.

In front of the starting arch was the Salt Lake chapter of Team RWB (red, white and blue) which is a veterans support group that uses athletic activities to help veterans cope with life after military service. They were posting the colors and standing in attention when the race director announced that they couldn’t get the audio for the National Anthem to play so they needed a volunteer to sing.

The flags make a beautiful background for a couple of my running friends

When no one else came forward, I stepped up and offered my voice. Without warming up, and dealing with some “cotton mouth” from just coming off running my warm up mile, I sang the National Anthem and was offered a free entry to next year’s race for my efforts. 😁

As we lined up and started to run, the sun peeked through the clouds and I thought we just might have a sunny run after all. Since my recovery runs are scheduled for me to complete according to how my body feels, I actually felt pretty good at an 8 minute mile pace as I approached the first mile. At this point, I decided to just to go with it and settled in for some sub-8 miles.

As I ran, my mind drifted back towards the Phoenix Marathon and my Boston Qualifying race I had ran exactly 1 year earlier.

The memory always fills me with gratitude as I consider the fact that for once, everything came together for me on that day. I truly was running happy knowing I’d be back East in Boston in just 51 days. 💙💛🦄

The sun eventually went behind the clouds and I had to put my second pair of gloves back on when the wind picked up. When the runners started heading back towards me, the competitor in me started counting the females in front of me. By the time I hit the turn around, I had counted 14 women and because I was still feeling good despite my hilly 16-mile run the day before, I decided to race the last half.

After all, I was only running just over 9 miles anyway, so I might as well have some fun.

As I headed back towards Saltair, I worked on passing one runner at a time. When I had just over a mile left, I spotted a familiar face in front of me. A friend my age who was actually leading the track club series standings for our age group from the previous 5k and 10k races.

Kicking it into a little faster gear, I nearly caught her at the end and came in 10 seconds behind her. Pleased with my efforts in the race but realizing I might get shanghaied by my coach for not doing much of a “recovery run,” I decided to see how I fared.

Looking at my data from my watch, I was surprised to see that 95% of my run was a zone 4 workout, which meant according to my heart rate, I technically didn’t over do it. 🤣

Rachel found me and told me I’d placed 1st in the Athena division and 3rd in my age-group, just behind my friend whom I nearly ran down. I could only place in 1 group, so I opted to take the Athena and let the series women enjoy what they earned in the 3 races.

All in all, it was a great race and fun memory. I think next year, I’ll actually sign up for the whole series and see how I do. I only get the big bling/medal if I run all 3 series races.

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