Monday, September 20, 2010

Autumn Color Half Marathon in Buena Vista

I'm not going to lie. Running a half marathon has never really been a goal of mine. You see, that is the kind of goal that runners make for themselves. And I have never considered myself to be a runner. Until now. In fact, I've kind of become addicted to it. And I have even started to use the words fun and run in the same sentence lately.

How did this happen, you may wonder? Well, it all started this past spring when my friend, Nichole, invited me to her runners group. To say that I struggled with those first 3 miles would be an understatement. But, here I am a number of months later, and I just finished my first (and hopefully not my last) half marathon. I am still on a runner's high from the experience. I will do my best to summarize (and therefore memorialize) the event.

Seven of us went down to Buena Vista, CO the night before where we laughed and cried as we told each other stories, scouted out the running trail, and ate gross pasta trying to carb load! We may have gotten carried away with this photo op but the trail was so beautiful.

From left to right: Allie, Nichole, Wendy, Jennifer, Joy, Michelle, and myself

When it was sufficiently late, we got into bed and told more stories, then decided it was time to try and sleep, and then of course, we tossed and turned all night because of our nerves. We rose the next morning ready to get our run on! I know that I was VERY EXCITED to get started on what I had been training for.
Here are the pink ladies...

And here are the pink ladies (plus a purple and blue lady). We also responded to "hot mamas". We have 23 children between the seven of us.

And one last pic right before we started. Ready, set, go...

Joy, Allie, and Wendy led the ladies at the front. Nichole and Jennifer took off leaving Michelle and I in the dust. But, we really weren't concerned about time...we just wanted to finish! And my personal goal was to RUN the WHOLE thing with out ever walking. The course was much tougher than we ever imagined. It was HOT, we started the race at 9,000 feet elevation, and there were lots and lots of HILLS and very few aid stations! I guess we should have trained in higher elevation, at a hotter time of day, and on hills! No matter.

Michelle and I kept each other going for 8 miles. I was so grateful to have her to talk to. I've learned that I run better if I am talking. I've also learned that my inhibitions go WAY down when I run. So, Michelle pretty much knows my whole life story! It worked out well, though, because she doesn't like to talk while running. After 8 miles, and on a grueling hill, Michelle needed to walk, and in order to achieve my goal, it was time for me to fly solo. To my surprise, I ended up passing two of the other pink ladies who were experiencing difficulty with the altitude and rugged course. I ended up finishing the run having achieved my goal of never walking and getting a pretty decent time of 2 hours and 17 minutes. My average was 10 minutes a mile with my fastest mile being 7.5 and my slowest mile being 13 (no doubt on one of those blasted hills!).

The very last mile was the absolute hardest! I was so tired but I kept envisioning Blaine and the kids at the finish line and that is what got me through it.

Here I am rounding a corner. I am smiling because I think the finish line is right in front of me. Not past the grassy hill, over the bridge, and down the last grassy path! But, whew! I made it and I am one happy mama!

Nichole and I after the race.

13.1 miles!

Yes, we are mighty proud of ourselves!

And I say, if you are going to run 13.1 miles, you might as well do it surrounded by beauty! Check out the aspen gold pathways that encouraged me on my run.

I took the family back to the course so they could see just how beautiful it was.

This huge blister was my take home present! Ouch!

The kids had a great day playing with all of the other kids.

And I am so grateful for a great group of ladies to share this incredible experience with! Although I can't think of a time when my body has been this sore (those darn hills!), I am sooooooo happy I did it.