2013 Park City Trail Series Half Marathon Preview… whew, that is a mouthful, isn’t it?! After the workout that your lips just got – no, not that kind of workout – we want you to sit back and picture yourself on a beautiful mountain. The air is crisp, the sagebrush is emitting the scent of the desert as it blows in the wind, and you are staring at a post-card-perfect vista of the Wasatch Back. Sounds enticing? Just wait.
It is the future, but not far into the future, just about a week from now on September 14, 2013. You have been hoping for an early fall getaway into the mountains and you heard about this cool trail run in the mountains of Park City. You decide to make a weekend of it and take those closest to you up for a night out before the race and a little pool time after.
Last night, you set your alarm for 6:30, the latest alarm you have set for a race in a while. In the morning, you amble out of bed, brush your teeth, slop on some sunscreen and bodyglide and head to packet pickup. The sunrise on the drive over is spectacular, foreshadowing of the run to come. You pick up your race packet, all the flyers and swag tucked neatly into the pint glass that you had heard about and think to yourself, I’d take a pint glass over a t-shirt any day. You stride back over to your car and stretch out a little. Not the pre-race geek stretching that is the thing of rookie 5k-ers, the stretching that shows how relaxed you are when your body is trying to tell you that there is a race coming.
You pin your bib number on, head over to the start line and find your spot in the corral. There are a couple hundred other people around but the mood before the race start is lighthearted, even chill. The horn blows signaling the start and you are off with the rest of them. Up the trail and out to the next 13.1 miles and whatever they bring.
Within the first couple of miles, you come to the first aid station. The course is still relatively flat and you think to yourself, this is going to be a cinch! Then you turn the corner and start the first climb. It is only about 1.5 miles to the top and the next aid station but you wonder during those miles if anyone else was cursing the race director under their breath? You splash some water on your face at the aid station and grab a second cup for a small sip and head down the other side of the hill, the steeper side. The switchbacks are fun and winding down the hill reminds you of a bobsled course while the color of the dirt makes you think of a rusty shovel and the yard work you are craftily putting off until next Saturday.
At the bottom of the hill, you meander around the mountain, a false-flat climb that makes you wonder why your heart rate is slightly elevated. At the third aid station, you grab some more water and some ProBar bolt chews. You have never had them before but they remind you of the jam your Grandma made back when you were a kid. You munch on the chews as you make your way up the rocky section of the course. At the top, you feel some relief, especially because it comes with another aid station and an excuse to walk for a few minutes. While you are drinking your water, you catch your toe on a rock and take a few goof-ball steps to catch yourself. You look around to see if anyone saw and realize that the few people around you are just as focused on their footing as you are.