Retro Race Report: She Said/She Said: The Ogden Half Marathon

Steps from the finish...and we look like it. (Photos from GOAL Foundation.)

Today, we're going to flash back to one of the few races we ever ran together. Long time ago. Like April 2011.

SBS: Standing at the starting line at the Ogden half-marathon, we stood out slightly. Two tall mommas dressed in matching outfits: our new hot pink “another mother runner” tanks (in our store later today!) and sassy Skirt Sports skirts that coordinated to perfection. Alas, Dimity stood there shivering in the morning chill, while I was quaking internally, wondering if my heel would hold out.

Dimity: I loved, loved, loved the outfits SBS put together for us, but I needed sleeves. Despite my saying out loud, “Don’t forget your arm warmers” twice while I packed on Thursday morning, I forgot them. And I think I was a lizard in a former life: I run cold.

SBS: Some backstory: Tuesday of last week, I was ripping off some last-minute quarter-mile repeats at my local track when my right heel—the one that had been emitting some low-level pain signals in the past few weeks—suddenly forced me to pull up lame. The pain was excruciating, leaving me to wonder if I could even hobble home, let alone race on Saturday. I tried to assure myself my foot had time to improve, but I was scared. Honestly scared. My mind raced to worse-case scenarios (was it my turn—finally—to be the sidelined half of the Dimity-SBS duo?) as I obsessively rolled my foot on a Trigger Point Footballer, then a frozen water bottle. I didn’t decide to race until the morning of, which left me feeling ambivalent and worried at the starting line, despite the dandy duds. I even asked a volunteer what I should do in case I had to bail mid-race.

Dimity: I was definitely not going to bail mid-race. I was (finally) going to run a smart race. I had a couple goals for this race: to go under 2 hours, to negative split (run the second half faster than the first) and to stay present: not worry about the future miles, but enjoy the one I was in. Oh, and to take in the net downhill course that runs through the kind of canyon you see in car commercials.

Yep, the course is that beautiful.

SBS: The snow-covered peaks of the surrounding mountains were breathtakingly beautiful, but it wasn’t the scenery that had me breathing hard within the first 50 steps. It was the altitude: The half started at 5,000 feet elevation—4,869 feet higher than where I live, sleep, and run. The only real climb in the race came near the end of mile one, and I fretted I might have to walk. Thankfully, it was a gradual ascent, and I even passed a few runners. (Probably the race’s only other flatlanders.) On the subsequent descent, my breathing rate made me feel like I was cranking out sub-8:00-minute miles—but my Garmin told me otherwise.

DMD: Meanwhile, I was sticking to my plan. I live at 5,280 feet, so I was in familiar air. I consciously tried to keep the first three miles as a warm-up, and I wanted to get to mile 6.55 as comfortably as possible. I passed about two more miles chatting with Laura and Tess, a sweet mother-daughter duo. It was hard to keep my pace slow, though, when gravity was literally tugging on me with every step.  Still, because I could easily speak in full sentences, I knew I was running easily enough.

SBS: My exertion level wasn’t producing the desired outcome. It was like some warped scientific formula. A mere two miles into the race, I was a mass of conflicting feelings: awed by the beauty, yet not emotionally invested in the race. Winded as I usually feel at mile 12, but with many more miles to cover.

Thanks to the stunning scenery, though, the miles ticked by. Accustomed to running in an urban setting, it seemed almost heavenly to run though a tree-lined canyon alongside a rushing river and to view a massive waterfall of winter run-off hurling itself down a canyon face.

Dimity: Around mile 7, I saw my doppelganger ahead of me by about 200 yards or so.  SBS was walking. I immediately freaked: I wondered if it was her heel or the altitude. She started running within a few steps, though, which eased my mind—and kept her in front of me for about 3 more miles. My plan was to slowly reel her in, and then around mile 12, I’d catch up to her, say “Hey sister from another mother runner!” and we’d be so excited to be together, the last mile would be the easiest of the bunch.

SBS: My mantra became, “Each step brings me closer to oxygen,” because of the race’s 700 feet of elevation loss, but it was hard to enjoy the aid of gravity when respiration still felt like such a chore. (Did I mention I suck at running at altitude?!) The course’s elevation profile made it look like there was a huge drop-off after mile 9, so I pretty much banked on being able to markedly pick up my pace at that point.

Not the finish line photo I thought of, but a close second.

Dimity: At mile 10, I saw SBS  walk again. I caught up with her. “How’s it going, SBS?” I asked, a bit quickly since I wanted to keep my momentum. “I’m taking a GU,” she replied, which I heard as, “I feel like doo.” (SBS walks through her GU stops, which is what she was doing at mile 7...perhaps the only running tidbit I didn't know about her.) Being the aggressive mentor I am, I said, “Let’s go, SBS! We can finish this!” She finished her GU, and we carried on together.

When we hit mile 10.5 or so, though, the downhill course suddenly became very less downhill. We went under a couple bridges, hit a few rolling hills and I couldn’t hang anymore. The energy I thought I had conserved was nowhere to be found. So she trotted ahead, and I told myself I’d slow for a bit from 11 to 12, and then turn it back up and catch her.

SBS: I knew Dim's plan was to run the final mile the fastest. But I knew I didn't have a finish sprint in me, so I tried to bank some distance on her. Yet explaining my plan to Dimity--heck, even thinking it--took more energy and effort than I had left in me. I knew if I tried to talk, I'd sputter on every level. So I tried to channel my thoughts back to her, as I kept pushing forward, wishing for a sudden downhill with every turn in the course.

Dimity: We hit 12, and she was still 25 steps in front of me. I closed the gap a little, and yelled, “Sarah. I really want a finish line picture with you!” Backstory: I am pretty weenie-ish when it comes to asking for what I want, and SBS is much more forthright. I’ve often heard her say, “If you don’t get what you want, you probably didn’t ask for it.” So I asked for it, and I did my best to speed up more. She slowed a bit, and explained to me that she was ahead of me because she thought I had more stored up than she did. I most definitely did not.

We turned down Grant Avenue, with about .75 left, which seemed as long as a marathon. I could see the finish line, but it was about 6 (very widely spaced) stoplights apart. We were side by side, and we alternated telling each other, “This is all I’ve got.” Translation: Please--please--don’t go any faster.

What I really wanted to say was, “Can we just walk for 10 steps?” Instead, I counted 10 steps on my left, 10 on my right, 10 on my left, and just hung in there tighter and harder than I ever have. I must have been breathing in the fumes of SBS' mental toughness.

I pictured a finish line photo, us hand in hand or high-fiving or looking at each other smiling, but neither of us had any extra energy to give. We crossed the line in 1:58:16.; I made both my goals and SBS got her Half-Fanatic status. Most importantly, we made one of the few times we got to run together really count.

58 responses to “Retro Race Report: She Said/She Said: The Ogden Half Marathon

  1. Long time lurker, first time poster…how could I NOT post?? This was a fabulous post and just what I needed. I was on the internet getting ready to hunt down my first “half” to run when I decided to read your blog…thank you for encouraging me. Been doubting my desires for running…I have to stay focused and your descriptions of your last few steps to that finish line rang a bell with me, because I have felt that many a time.

  2. Oh you guys, I love this. Felt like I was right there with you along the route. SBS, I was feeling your altitude pain right along with you through that re-cap. yuck! Way to stick it out and get across that finish line together!! Congrats on Half Fanatic, SBS! awesome.

  3. See, I can’t even pretend that some day I’ll run under 2 hours …O.K, I can. Congrats on the race, and thank you for being my inspiration to run (OK, I’m not-so-much running as I am a lil’ broken these days).

  4. Love the outfits! Love the race report! Congrats on meeting your goals, Dimity and on becoming a Half Fanatic, SBS! My running partner and I have started many, many, many races together and we have yet to finish one together. I’m really happy for you that you finally did that. I think it would be awesome to do it just once with my rp.

  5. love it, ladies!!! What great race reporting! That course is stunning. You met your goals and looked fabulous doing it!!! Congrats!!!

  6. CONGRATS!!!! The Ogden course is beautiful. This was my second year running the full marathon…though, I use the term “running” very loosely. Still, I did manage a PR on this race, 5:33:3. Pretty ecstatic about that since for the last month, I’ve been doing nothing but lying around on beaches in Europe and eating everything in sight. Hey, that’s what you do on vacation!!!! Maybe one day I’ll really put in the work and get into the 4 hour range. Ah, we can dream, can’t we??!?!!

    It was fun meeting you guys at the expo the night before; a quick “hello” to the two crazy authors of one of my favorite running books!!!!

  7. Wow! I really loved reading this! Good for you guys! I plan on hitting Ogden next year, so I loved hearing about the experience. You guys really know how to tell a story:) Hope we end up at the same race sometime. It seems I’m always a year behind you!

  8. you ladies are true rock stars. i love that finally your different approach got you the same result and you got to finish together. YAY!

  9. I was glad I got to meet you at the Ogden Expo. I loved readying your recap of the Half. I always read thinking, “I’m a little bit Dimity and a little bit Sarah”. I love the contrast, that we can see the beauty of diversity in all of us and the way we approach this running business. The Full was tough for me this year, I think I should have counted my steps too. That would have been a lot of counting, I needed it from 15 on.

    I love my two new Run Like a Mother shirts!!

  10. I love, love, love this post!!! I often think of SBS as Wonder Woman and it is comforting to see that even she has “real world” moments like the rest of us. Dimity I am so proud of your time and the way you stuck it out. Truly inspirational ladies! Plus, you both looked AWESOME!!!

  11. LOVED the story! I especially love how you both ran your own race, but were there for each other in the end! I often feel like I’m holding my running partners up or slowing up to keep with a partner. It’s nice to see a story where you ran for yourself but came in at the end together. Perfect ending!

  12. So awesome. I wish my sister was going to be able to run with me in our half in a few weeks. But she hasn’t been training like she should have been (aka hasn’t gone over 5 miles) so I really don’t want to walk with her. :S We’ll just have to take some pictures after the race.

  13. Okay. I’m not afraid to admit the girl crush I’ve had on both of you since reading your book and following your blog. But sharing this experience, has me head over heals for both of you!

    What an amazing day for you both!

    Thanks for the inspiration for my race this weekend.


  14. Great recap! I have not finished with a friend (yet.)

    Love the outfits, and I’m not the matchy-matchy type, hmmmm.

  15. Awesome story (and well-written)! I am working up the courage to train for a half. For now, I’m focused on doing a few more 5K’s. Thanks for the inspiration!

  16. I’ve never managed to finish a race with a friend, but I love the idea of both of you crossing the line together.

    And what a gorgeous race! I might have to add that to my 2012 wishful racing list….

  17. I loved the recap but better than that I loved seeing you there in the darling skirts. One of my daughters said she ran along with the two of you for a while, you were a great pace for her, THANK YOU. My other daughter took second in her age group, and for me, I was just glad to finish and still walk the next day. We were so lucky with the weather, it must have been for the two of you. WAY TO GO Mothers!

  18. You guys look great! I can’t wait to get my hands on one of those tanks!! I’ve held out on all the shirts so far because I haven’t seen one that really feels like me, haha (hope that doesn’t offend. I love the shirts, you know what I mean, right??). But I am loving that pink tank!!

  19. Love this post, ladies! and the outfits are divine. Dimity – I’m with you per arm warmers and the cold. (My father claims I’m “part dead…”) Sarah – this brings back memories of a certain Oregon race and I continue to admire your doggedness!

  20. Sigh. Choked up. Happy tears, as my kids say. GREAT outfits. Splendid writing. You guys rock like an 80s big hair band.

  21. Dimity, your legs look killer in the first picture! Congrats to you both on finishing a tough race. I am still chasing a sub-two hour half, and I love reading recaps that give me something to aspire to.

  22. Great recap! There is nothing like crossing the finish line with a great friend! That is an emotional moment! My friend Odelsa and I both cried at the end. The race was beautiful and Odelsa and I learned a lot about both of our running styles. We both loved this race for different reasons! I loved the fast pace and watching the scenery fly by. I learned I love running fast and executing the perfect run! Odelsa loved the scenery and the energy of the crowd. She was awesome and left it all out there on the course, mostly during that last dreary mile that lasted forever. I was so proud of her. We can’t wait for next year! We both think those hot pink tanks made us run faster!

    1. Please tell us you successfully got her to sub-2:00, yes?? It was great meeting you both and having your smiling faces in audience during our talk. xo

  23. Loved this post! I’ll be running my first 1/2 in Vegas with my soul/sole sister (it will be her second) and I am soooo looking forward to crossing the finish line with her!!

  24. Wow! I must be a little emotional because this brought tears to my eyes at the end! Love the outfits, and I have that skirt, so I’ll be stalking your shop this afternoon 🙂 Great finish photo!

  25. Awesome story! As an asthmatic running in Utah all the time, I get the gasping for air, SBS. you guys are awesome. Goals met all around! Huge congratulations.

  26. Awesome job you two! The story was very inspiring- thanks for the candid play by play. And Dimity, I must say that your legs look KILLER in that picture! Congrats to the both of you!

  27. Awesome story. Inspiring! Reminds me of the ‘running is hard’ blog. Having a strategy for when it gets hard is key and if you have a friend who has a strategy for both of you when it gets hard even better!!

  28. What a great recap, I am just sitting here grinning for you two.. finishing in your goal time and getting your Half Fanatic! I just got your book in the mail yesterday (already halfway through), and this made me think about the chapter on mental toughness. Thanks again for sharing and giving us all a mental boost!

    1. Thanks for getting our book–and we trust you’re a fast reader (or we are Lit Lite). Yes, we had to mine some mental toughness in Ogden.

  29. Awesome! Your finish sounds like almost every finish with my husband, except I’m the only one saying, “This is all I’ve got.” There’s hardly ever a perfect finish line photo for us, despite my visual image of the two of us holding hands and crossing the finish line all smiley and happy… Congrats on making your goals!

  30. Oh, I loved this. What a great race recap. There’s nothing quite like crossing the finish line with a friend. No matter what the actual finish photo looks like, the one in your mind, I’m sure, is beautiful! Meeting your goals–awesome!
    Sarah, I hope your heel is OK. And the altitude– ugh, I’m a sea level girl, too and I’m wondering how I’ll “run” at the trail run/yoga retreat in Aug. Hoping the scenery carries me….I’ll have to work my butt off just to keep up with you!
    Really enjoyed reading your two perspectives.

    1. Jo, you and I can suck wind in the back of the pack. Honestly, add in UPhills and TRAIL…and any bravado I have will evaporate! We talked to Elinor with Run Wild Retreats yesterday, and we were so pleased to find out you are confirmed. “:>)

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