Upon crossing the front porch finish line for the last time before the race I thought, ‘I’m ready.’ I had run more than 100 miles in preparation for The Other Half, the second of two annual half marathons run along river road outside of Moab.
Like many who climb don’t consider themselves “climbers,” until recently I was someone who ran, but not a “runner.” But in the months before The Other Half, I learned to listen to my legs and lungs. I kept a schedule independent of whims and weather, losing an ipod to rain in the process. I pushed myself to failure without failing and then I rested.
And what’s a trip to Moab without climbing?
We had some memorable moments on the rock as well.
To avoid hiking before the race, Tyler and I kept the climbing close to the road. There is nowhere better to do so than Moab’s Wall Street. Some highlights included Baby Blue, a 5.11 finger crack that I could barely fit my tips in and Dark Horse, a techy 5.12 with both powerful and delicate cruxes.
We caught up with the Red River crew that night. They had just returned from a noble shutdown on Vivarium (5.11), a route west of Moab with a difficult boulder problem off the ground that guards an amazing deeply huecoed line. I had suffered the same fate several years ago and being reminded of the struggle made me want to revisit the line.
This time there was no such struggle. It always feels good to send a line that owned you in the past. After that, we visited another line in the area that looks like fun 5.10 from the road. I should have known to stop upon sinking the first hand jam into the sand-filled crack. The route hadn’t been climbed for years – for practical purposes it was like embarking upon a desert crack first ascent.
At several points I reached up to clean key sections before making the next moves, showering myself with sand and dirt. Other instances I reached out to break choss off of footholds I would need. It didn’t help that I brought a single #4 on a climb that really needed two #4s and a #5 to protect well. Fortunately, I made it to the top without peeing myself and left a biner to rap off of the drilled piton anchor.
The rest of the day was devoted to relaxing and preparing for the race. We were up before 6 on Sunday morning and the stars were still out when we boarded the school bus shuttle to head up the canyon. Excitement and anxiety grew as the bus washed over the rolling hills of the course’s last five miles.
Soon we stood, cold at the starting line, waiting for the pistol. The first mile is always full of adrenaline as the 1500+ runners are released from the crowded bustle and begin to separate.
In the middle of the first big hill during mile 8, I was questioning my sanity. During mile 10, I focused on all the hard work I put into training. That me would have been disappointed if I slowed my pace. During mile 11, I imagined lying on the soft Sorrel River Ranch grass after the race. The burning hill of mile 12 brought thoughts of trying to roll down the steep backside. Mile 13 made me long for the free beer at the finish line, not because I really wanted a beer at that point, but because of what is symbolized – a war within won by will. Upon seeing Ryan shortly after he finished and witnessing the desperate contortion on Tyler’s face as he rounded the last bend, I knew they were thinking the same things.
Ryan finished in 1:32:52, a 7:06 pace and good enough to finish 31st out of 1573 finishers and 4th out of 71 in the male 25-29 age group. His time was good enough to medal. Congratulations to Ryan!
I wasn’t far behind with a time of 1:33:34, a 7:09 pace that put me 34th overall and 5th in the male 25-29 age group.
In Tyler’s first half marathon, he finished 273rd, in the top fifth of runners, with a time of 1:51:31, an 8:31 pace. Good work.
We finished the trip with a few beers and some more Wall Street climbing. We hit up the 5.10R slab circuit, climbing Shadowfax and Jacob’s Ladder.
Along with becoming a gym rat, I’m going to try to keep running through the bad winter weather. A long term goal for both Ryan and I is to break 1:30.