Tuesday, July 28, 2015

PA Grand Canyon Half Marathon Race Recap

PA Grand Canyon Half Marathon 
Rock the Canyon Back to Back Half Marathons 

 Tioga County PA
July 25 & 26

Photo Credit Jeff Littwin

Finishers Day 1- 397
Finishers Day 2- 185
Rock The Canyon Finishers - 94 

How could I be upset in such a beautiful place? 

   While this was one of my toughest weekends in racing everyone involved in the event did a terrific job. We were bused up to Colton Point State Park as the sun was rising and dropped off directly in front of a row of sparkling clean brand new porta potties with no lines.  Any runner knows what a treat this is!  Those were the best darn portable restrooms I've ever encountered in racing. That alone should give this race the 5 gold winged sneakers rating. However I did take into account a few other things like this stunning view.

A short walk took us to the start where a DJ kept us informed while playing some music to get us pumped up.  The RD greeted us with some pre-race announcements and sent us off into the beautiful course.

I could not believe I got BIB number 65 for my 65th half marathon. This would later prove to be the work of a superior power. 

The course was a tree lined wide dirt gravel road with long steady inclines and declines. Aid stations were about 2 miles apart with water ,Gatorade , and manned by friendly volunteers.

  The knee pain I had been dealing with didn't take long to show it's face. At mile 2 I decided to run on the grassy shoulder to soften the impact. However when  I ran out of shoulder the first time and stepped back onto the trail I felt a pull in my hamstring, complete dead leg. I tried to keep running but my leg just wouldn't work. For the first time ever I thought I had no choice but to pull myself off the course. I started the walk of a defeated broken runner to the next turn off. 

  My PIC Alicia came up from behind me knowing something was wrong,  I never walk in a race, and she immediately slowed to walk with me. I shooed her away trying my best to fight back the tears knowing that I was done "running" this race. She knows me well enough to know if I say keep going, even with tears in my eyes, she'd better keep moving. You see I fight my battles in solitude, it's the way I do it best. 

   As that turn off came up I looked down at my BIB.
How can I walk off this course on this day my 65th half marathon wearing bib number 65? I can't!!! So I kept walking and trying to jog a bit here and there. There were moments I could get some momentum but that didn't last long. I needed to dig deep mentally, change my thinking and remember how lucky I am to see all the amazing places running has brought me. I remembered that the clock didn't really matter. My goal for this year is more important. I let the PR's and "clock watching" go when I set it. 

Photo Credit Jeff Littwin
  With a smile on my face I walked across my 65th half marathon finish line! 

A special kind of crazy is to get up the next day already broken and do it again! 

   That is exactly what 94 runners did. We returned to the starting line once again to fight all the battles we already faced. Be it that hill which causes the burn in your lungs, the mile when you just wish it was over or the hamstring that burns and aches from the trauma yesterday.       
Photo Credit Jeff Littwin
   It took digging even deeper then before to get the body moving again. Hardly progressing forward I found myself at the back of the back. My experience has taught me that on the second day of racing muscles do warm up after a few miles. The discomfort usually eases up. Though the body is tired and may not be able to perform as well it can get it done.  Positive affirmations had me feeling pretty good around mile 4 and I started a nice pace run. Again that didn't last very long. Not this time, for this race, with this injury. 
   Having already come to terms with it the day before I laughed and thought, well I'm getting my money's worth with this one. This time I took notice of every clearing to the amazing view of the canyon. I exchanged words with each volunteer, making some laugh while others made my smile bigger.  

  I made my way to another finish line shrugging off the little things. Yes the number on the clock is just one of the little things among all that running has to offer.
Photo Credit Jeff Littwin 

Despite the difficulties I faced it was a terrific weekend. I got to be there for my PIC's 50th half marathon...
Photo Credit Jeff Littwin

...and meet wonderful people

Photo Credit Jeff Littwin

..and see gorgeous landscapes 

Photo Credit Jeff Littwin 


  1. Congratulations u are a natural blogger! Great recap . I look forward to reading many many more blogs!

  2. Great review and way to see the positive despite an injury! Congrats! Will you be doing gear reviews too? Hope so! Look forward to reading more from you! :-)

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  4. I am so glad you started a blog :)

    1. Thank You..I guess it's been long overdue. I welcome any tips you may have.