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    • Derek Carlisle

    A Race of Thrones
    Looking to wing your first long-distance running event? Read on.
    By Ray Howze

    So I winged my first half-marathon. Don't get me wrong. I trained, but for only less than a month ahead of time. Experienced runners and fitness coaches might cringe. "You could be injury prone. Don't forget to stretch," I imagined them telling me.

    But dammit, I had to set some goal and I figured the Salt Lake Half-Marathon was as good as any. Except I'm also lazy. As a half-baked New Year's resolution, I said I'd start training for the April 13 race date. Then March 18 rolled around. Still no training. I signed up, though, telling myself if I ran for three days a week, I should be OK. My goal was to simply finish and not necessarily in a certain time.

    After I signed up, I started my "training." 5Ks on Monday, run for an hour on Wednesday and try to go anywhere from 5 to 10 miles on Saturday. To my surprise, it wasn't as impossible as I imagined.

    Coronation Day
    I woke up on race day around 5 a.m. to a fresh layer of Beyond The Wall snow. Yikes. My first long-distance running event and it was going to be cold AF. I'll admit, if it was raining, I probably would have passed and said, "Not today." But the weather was clear enough to run.

    After the race started, though, there were a few brief uphill climbs to get to 11th Avenue. Hey, I didn't sign up for this. There was still 12 miles to go and I was afraid I'd wear myself out. But I got that out of the way as quick as possible and headed toward City Creek. Then, a woman passed me power walking faster than I was jogging. Sheesh!

    At the beginning, I had to keep telling myself to ignore the others and go at my own pace. I averaged 11:30 per mile. Not fast by any means, but I was going to have to get to 13.1 somehow.

    When I made it to South Temple, I was already starting to feel the grind after about 5 miles. To my surprise, though, the people cheering along the route really do help your psyche. I saw a sign that read "Pain is just the French word for bread." A little humor helps.

    Next came the climb up to 1100 East from 900 East on 800 South. That's not the steepest part of the hill, but it was uphill nonetheless. I had to walk. And so did just about everyone else.

    After that climb, I figured it would be smooth sailing down to Sugar House. But my energy started to drain. If you're new to endurance events, you might not be as familiar with those energy gels. But, boy, I took one down at mile 7 and it gave my body the boost it needed.

    When I reached mile 10, I had never run farther than that—so this was all new territory. Friends advised me though that at this time, it was going to be adrenaline that carried me the rest of the way. Sure enough, that's what I needed. I turned the corner to see the finish line and couldn't believe I was going to finish. My time: 2:30:31. Plenty of room for improvement. But I think I proved to myself and hopefully to anyone else looking to get in shape, it can be done. Just get started. Set a goal. And you'll be happy you did. Meanwhile, I've already signed up for a full marathon next year. Lord of Light, help me.

    Dracarys Dos and Don'ts
    Here are a few tips I learned from my short time as a long-distance runner:

    Do start training earlier than a month before. Maybe at least six weeks ahead of your race.

    Get shoes that feel comfortable. I stopped by Salt Lake Running Co. to get new shoes. The place offers a video analysis of your running so you can get the right kind of fit, as well as a more thorough analysis to understand your "run signature."

    Don't worry about all the accessories. When it comes down to a race, it's just putting one foot in front of the other. Air pods? Too fancy. Heart monitors? Sure, if you really need it to monitor your heart rate.

    Do take it easy. If you're not an experienced runner, just focus on reaching your distance first.

    Get in the Game
    Here are a few races around the Wasatch Front you might want to check out through August. (These include races that offer distances longer than 5K.)

    Ogden Marathon (Full and Half)
    May 18, Weber County,

    Timp Trail Marathon (Full and Half)
    May 18, Orem,

    Race for Grief (10K)
    May 27, Bountiful,

    Oquirrh Mountain (Half, 10K)
    June 1, Tooele,

    Utah Valley Marathon (Full, Half, 10K)
    June 1, Provo,

    Corner Canyon Half Marathon (Half, 12K, 6K)
    June 8, Draper,

    Drop13 Half Marathon (Half)
    June 8, Cottonwood Heights,

    Lantern Run (Half, 10K)
    June 8, Liberty Park

    Squaw Peak (50 mile)
    June 8, Provo,

    Butterfield Brawl (10K)
    June 15, Herriman,

    Huntsman Hometown Heroes (10K)
    June 15, Salt Lake City,

    Wahsatch Steeplechase (17 mile)
    June 15, Salt Lake City,

    American Fork Canyon Run Against Cancer (Half, 10K)
    June 22, American Fork,

    Heber Half (Half)
    June 29, Heber,

    Freedom Run (10K)
    July 4, Provo,

    Riverton Country (10K)
    July 4, Riverton,

    Park City Trail Series (10K)
    July 13, Park City,

    Crack of Dawn (8K)
    Millcreek Canyon, July 20,

    HandCart Days (Half)
    July 20, Bountiful,

    Deseret News Marathon (Full, Half, 10K)
    July 24, Salt Lake City,

    Steel Days Run (10K)
    July 20, American Fork,

    Legacy Midnight Run (Half, 10K)
    July 26, Farmington,

    Timpanogos Half (Half)
    July 27, American Fork,

    Wasatch Half (Half, 10K)
    Aug. 3, Midway,

    Wasatch Wellness Run (10K)
    Aug. 3, Provo,

    Park City Trail Series (15K)
    Aug. 10, Park City,

    Herriman Hold 'em Half (Half)
    Aug. 17, Herriman,

    Mid Mountain Marathon (Full)
    Aug. 17, Park City,

    Run Elevated Half (Half)
    Aug. 17, Sandy,

    Porters Half (Half, 10K)
    Aug. 17, Draper,

    PC2PG (Half, 10K)
    Aug. 17, Provo,


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