This year’s race season didn’t go the way I hoped at all. After a strong start at Ironman 70.3 St. George in June, I failed to finish Ironman Coeur d’Alene and had to drop out of the Echo Triathlon in July to deal with my knee pain. My make-up race, Ironman Canada, was canceled at the last minute due to the wildfires in British Columbia. After all that, I was looking forward to this year’s Hole Half Marathon, so I could at least get one more race in the books this year and finish the season on a high note. It went pretty well, so without further ado, here’s my last race report of the year.
This summer in Jackson Hole has been the wettest in 25 years, with frequent storms and rainy spells, and this week was no exception. While race day wasn’t as cold as last year, I woke up to blustery, overcast weather with chilly 43ºF (6ºC) temperatures and a light drizzle that made me want to stay in bed. Still, I somehow managed to drag myself out of bed and to the start line at the Presbyterian Church of Jackson Hole. By the time the race started, at 9:00 AM, the weather had begun to clear up, and it ended up being a lovely sunny day, albeit maybe a touch too warm for the long-sleeve shirt and long running tights I wore. The race was cupless, but I didn’t feel like carrying a bottle, so other than a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast and a Maurten Caf 100 gel with a few gulps of water right before the start, I didn’t have any nutrition or hydration for the duration of the race. I targeted a pace of 5:00 min/km (8:02 min/mi) or faster, but my priority was to finish without injuring myself, so I planned to back off at the first sign of trouble.
This year’s route was slightly different than in previous editions, replacing the loop on the side of WY-22 in Wilson with an out-and-back on Boyles Hill Road. I assume this change was made due to the ongoing construction work to replace the Snake River Bridge, but I hope they keep it for future races—it’s far, far better to run on this quiet, bucolic country road than on the shoulder of a busy highway with cars zooming by just inches away.
After this out-and-back on the road, the route followed the Jackson Hole multi-use community pathway for the remainder of the race, with a slight elevation gain of 94 m (308 ft) and the finish line at the Teton Village. Almost immediately after joining the pathway, I had an altercation with a cyclist in a narrow section of the route; despite the pathway being packed with runners, this guy refused to yield to anybody and instead rudely cursed everyone out while riding through the crowd and almost crashed head-on into me. Unfortunately, he wasn’t the only inconsiderate cyclist I saw during the race: shortly after the halfway point, another cyclist almost crashed into a pack of runners ahead of me while trying to pass them at high speed without announcing himself. A few miles later, I had a near miss with someone going at full-speed on an e-bike, despite me running all the way to the edge of the pathway. Incredibly, every driver with whom we had to share the road today was more patient and considerate than most cyclists I saw on the pathway—sometimes, it’s no wonder people hate us.
Thankfully, the rest of the race was uneventful, although I had to dig deep in the last few miles to hold my pace. I’ve cut back on my training since Ironman Canada was canceled and, in particular, reduced my running mileage to give my knee a break. I can tell I’ve lost some running fitness since then, but on the upside, my knee felt pretty good; it’s still not 100%, and I had some minor niggles here and there, but it feels much better than it did in St. George back in May. Despite that loss of fitness, I was able to finish the race in 1:46:10, with a pace of 5:02 min/km (8:06 min/mi), not quite as fast as in the Grand Teton Half Marathon earlier this year and just shy of my target pace, but still over a minute faster than last year’s race, and my second-fastest half marathon ever. I even finished third in my age group. Not bad!
Despite my race season fizzling out this summer after only completing a single triathlon, I’m glad I did this race and managed to end the season on a higher note than I would have otherwise. Now it’s time to relax and enjoy the rest of the fall before kicking it back into high gear in January to prepare for next year’s races. With any luck, things will go better than this year.