Sunday, September 21, 2014

Part 1:Revel Big Cottonwood Half Marathon, State #18. UT

The Revel series Big Cottonwood Half Marathon in Salt Lake City was quite an experience. I hardly know where to begin with this race post. I chose this race based on the description from race organizers that it was an entire downhill race on a beautiful canyon in Utah. The race description also mentioned that runners would receive free gloves & mylar blanket at the starting line as well as free race photos and video post race. Sounds pretty great, right? Well indeed it was!
The week leading up to the race was crazy as we were getting back in to the routine of school and after school activities, and my husband was away all week traveling for work. I felt like a scatterbrained crazy person and waited until the last minute to pack, check my itinerary and get up to speed with all the race details. One thing that was just amazing was that the hotel I stayed at (Doubletree in downtown Salt Lake) sent me an e mail prior to the race to check and see if I would need transportation from the hotel to the starting line and then back to the hotel from the finish line. This absolutely flabbergasted me. I have never had a hotel reach out to me like that. The race organizers had obviously done a spectacular job coordinating with the sponsor hotels. To top it off, the hotel also offered a free shuttle to and from the airport, so no need to spend money on a car rental. Love that.
I arrived at the Salt Lake airport on Thursday evening, and immediately I could feel the dryness in the air. I swear my skin started to dry out the second I stepped off of the plane. My lips were chapped from the instant I got there. I didn’t get to the airport until around 9:00 pm (which was really 11:00 pm east coast time), so basically I got settled and went straight to bed. 
The next day was number pick up which was a train ride away. I took the local public transportation to the South Towne Expo Center which was about a 30 minute ride from downtown. Along the way I found some other women from my hotel heading out there so we chatted a bit. The expo was well organized and I picked up my number, goody bag and t-shirt. There were several vendors there, but as I didn’t really need anything, I moved along quickly and headed back to the downtown area. 
Posing for a photo at the expo.
On the train ride back, I met a woman who was working on full marathons in all 50 states, so we traded some race information. A man who was on the train overheard our conversation and became interested in the race, as he was a former runner. So we chatted with him along the way back. He and his wife were volunteers at a genealogical library in the downtown area, so he suggested it might be a nice place to visit. Being a librarian, this of course interested me, and I had already read about the library in the guide book I had with me from the hotel. It was on my radar, but I just didn’t know yet where the day would take me.
Mormon Temple
I spent the rest of the day in the downtown area, visiting Temple Square where the Mormon Temple and other religious buildings were incredibly beautiful. I also walked around an open air shopping mall, indulging myself in a little me-time shopping. I don’t often get to go to a clothing store alone with the luxury of trying clothes on in the dressing room by myself. I didn’t buy anything, but it was fun to just look. 
Salt Lake City was very nice, with some beautiful buildings, but what struck me as I walked around was how unbelievably clean the city was. I didn’t see one piece of litter anywhere in the downtown area. The city had a strange feel to me though. It was eerily uncrowded for a major city. I’m not sure where everyone was, but there were no crowds anywhere. There was also a real sense of religiousness permeating the area. Religious officials could be seen walking about in the Temple Square area, or at least I assumed they were religious based on their outfits. 
I wrapped up my afternoon of walking about by stopping at the Harmons grocery store for my pre-race necessities. Without hesitation, this grocery store was the nicest one I’ve ever stepped foot in. I loaded up on fruit, water and gatorade and walked back to the hotel.
For dinner that night, I walked to a nearby Italian restaurant called Buca di Beppo, which was a fun, casual spot that offered a great plate of spaghetti and meatballs. The staff seated me at a booth, and a few minutes later, they seated another single woman at the booth next to mine. When she sat down, I recognized her as one of the women from the hotel who had been on the train out to the expo center for number pick up. I invited her to sit with me, as it would have been pretty awkward for us to sit facing each other but not actually with each other. We had a nice chat about our racing. She was from Louisiana and worked on an off-shore oil rig as an engineer. All of her training for this race was done on a treadmill, as she was on the oil base and couldn’t really run outside. We had a nice time and walked back to the hotel together afterward. It would be an early night. 

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