Sunday, July 18, 2010

Now, it's just a blur

I don't even know where to begin this race report.
Do I start with what I was thinking?
Do I start with what happened?

On Saturday, I did the Zooma Half Marathon Colorado. Many of you already know that I'd forgotten that I'd registered for this race. I didn't write on my calendar and wasn't aware that it was going on until I got the packet pick up email on Tuesday.

After some debate, I decided....ok, Mr. Tea decided, that I would run the race anyway.  I've done a bunch of half marathons, so I have the benefit of experience. Granted I've only run up to 7 miles recently, but it wasn't really a matter of finishing. I knew I would do that. It wasn't a matter of pr'ing. So, that pressure wasn't there. 

I was just going to do it as a training run. Besides THIS was the elevation profile posted on the website:

Easy rolling hills. Piece of cake.

The only negative that I could see was that temps were going to be 100. The race start time had already been moved up to 7am (instead of 8am), so take it easy! No big whoop.

The day before the race, I arrive at The Broadmoor. This place DESERVES a blog post all it's own. I cannot rave enough. Let me just this. If you have the time and the means, you MUST stay at this resort. 

I've been in Colorado almost my entire life and have never been to the Broadmoor. I decide to walk and walk and walk. I end up walking around for over 2 hours. 

Over two hours on my feet the day before the race, and I decide to call it a day, relax, get some dinner and go to bed. Once back in my room, I realize that I don't know where the start line is. I look at the map. The map is confusing, and I start walking again. An hour later, and I decide "Forget it, how difficult can it be to find a start line decorated with a white balloon arch on race morning?"

Lo and behold, the next morning I head down to the main lobby. I see a few women walking through the parking lot and to what do my wandering eyes appear? YES, the balloon arch, right at *my* hotel entrance. (There's like 6 entrances to the resort. Talk about lucky!)

There's not much of a crowd. It's a small race. When I turn to look back at the hotel, I see people starting to come out onto the balconies to watch the race start/finish! How cool!

It's totally casual. Race participants were so friendly. I knew Trish was there. I start scanning for her, but don't see her. There were about 900 participants. Most were doing the 10k (I think---based on the fact that there were 397 half marathon finishers). The RD is on the mic talking about racing at an elevation of 6500. I'm somewhat zoning him out when I hear "This is a somewhat difficult course ladies with a lot of hills."

That strikes me odd. I saw the elevation profile. It's rolling hills, easy. Oh well, he's probably trying to give advice for out of towners.

The start of the race: We start running and immediately within 20m, I start thinking "this isn't the map profile."  I notice that we are on a downhill. Women are flying past me like I'm standing still. I think to myself "This isn't good." In colorado, if you're going downhill that means there's an uphill right around the corner. 

I'm intentionally going slow because there is a corner coming up, and I have no idea what's around that corner. I make the turn, and like a traffic jam, people stop as we start climbing and climbing and climbing. It's almost a 1.5 mile climb. 

The 10k is two loops. The half marathon follows the same two loops. Then we split off, and the 10k runners go to the finish and half marathoners go on.

At the end of the 2nd loop, I think to myself "This must be the rolling hill portion". 

Oh how wrong I was. At this point, the hills become insanely steep. So steep that people are shuffling uphill and attempting to run downhill except that the downhill is more about making a soft landing so as to not blow out your quads. Baby steps. This is the first time that I've run a race where the downhills were significantly harder than the uphills.

Ok, so the course was hard. It was hot out. Mentally, I wasn't prepared to run such a hard course. But I WAS prepared to have fun.

At mile 8, I decided that I had to make this a walk/run. I'd only run 7 miles max over the past few months. I was planning on finishing this race. I knew the hills were going to really take a toll over the next 5 miles. My original plan called for running to mile 10. I thought it was in my best interest to adapt a more conservative approach. 

Throughout the entire race, I was taking pictures, talking to other runners, joking around with the volunteers. In fact, it was so much fun. 

I tested out a new nutrition plan that worked fabulously. I used a differently hydration plan. 
I really couldn't have had a more successful "race".

I've been thinking a lot lately about my upcoming Oct half marathon. My last couple of half marathons didn't go well for a variety of reasons. I've made change after change trying to figure out what was going....not necessarily *wrong* but what wasn't going right. 

On Saturday, everything came together. Things that used to work for me, don't work now. Slowly, I've learned what works for me now. By all means, Saturday could have been a disaster. I could have had body breakdown, hydration issues (2 stations ran out of water), nutrition issues. But everything that I've been working on, came together just in time for me to have an enjoyable race. When I crossed the finish line, I couldn't believe how long I'd been out there. I had so much fun that I'd lost track of time.

I know a lot of people who can't control their competitive juices. Whether it's an A, B, or C race, they go all out.

I also know a lot of people who are like me. Not every "race" is a "race", but they can all be fun.

During the race, it was hot. Starting at about mile 11, I kept thinking of jumping in the pool. After the race, I was hot and physically exhausted. Tired like I've never been before. The hills, the heat started to catch up to me. 

I went up to my room to change. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and realized that both, my top and my shorts were soaking wet. 

I showered and walked to the pool. On my way to the pool, I saw a sign peeking out from the trees. "That's not....can't be...let me go look."

Yes, there it is.


My favorite. 

I sat by the pool, savoring every bite of my gelato....not even reading my book, but just enjoying the moment, swirling my legs around in the water an admiring how they were able to carry me during that tough course. 

When I finished, I tossed my dish aside and sunk deep into the cool water and stayed there for the next 3 hours.