I am still on my runner's high after running my first trail half marathon this past Sunday in Lakewood, CO. (So anyone who says that the runner's high doesn't exist-they are wrong!!!). Running has been somewhat of an uphill battle after our move to the mile high city as it truly takes longer to acclimate to the elevation then I "planned". My paces aren't what they were before the move and I still can't run as far as I would like. I have had to alter my goals for my races this fall and gave myself a little attitude adjustment...competitive Mary just had to be put on a shelf or she wasn't going to survive. Without that Mary running along side me, this Mary has been able to breathe in the beauty of the state God has lead us to and have felt freedom with each step. I have run in places I never dreamed of and couldn't be happier! I signed up for this trail half "just for fun". I mean I am going to run that far anyways so I might as well earn a medal!
I drove to the shuttle parking area by myself, so my family didn't have to get up at 4:30am, and met up with one of my new instagram friends to ride the shuttle together and help calm our pre-race jitters. This gorgeous sunrise sure helped! I was super nervous about the whole shuttle situation-in all my races I have only rode a shuttle once and my husband by my side always gives me confidence. Without him, I tend to "over worry". The race was so well organized that the parking was a breeze and the bus ride no problem! We had plenty of time to hang out at the start line with this view (and hit the port-a-potties a couple times). Just so you know we did have to run up that hill, Mt. Carbon, in the distance. The bag drop was literally a bag drop with the hopes that you remember where you dropped yours! I guess the thing with trail races is the intimacy of everything...fewer people, super encouraging, all with a different attitude then the big road races. It was a pleasant surprise and my friend Amy and I were stoked as we lined up for the start.
The first few miles were along a babbling stream and I felt like I was flying as we navigated through the trees and over bridges. I was averaging under 9 minute miles up until mile 6 which I totally didn't expect. I really didn't know what to expect but I started to get a little nervous that I may die at mile 10 but it felt so good to just go. However I hit Mt. Carbon at mile 6 and that slowed me down! Many runners had the gusto to run up Mt. Carbon but I power hiked it (a move widely used by trail runners) and snapped some photos with my go pro (my new favorite toy).
The views from the top of Mt. Carbon. Doesn't it look fake?! It was an amazingly beautiful course.
The course had not one, but three water crossing! And these were no joke...water up to my knees! They came one right after another at mile 7.5 which left 5 miles to squeegee out my shoes. It wasn't as big of a deal as I thought it was going to be and made me feel hard core! I loved it! I did hit a low point right around mile 10 as the course introduced us to some rolling hills (I have some sort of mental block with mile 10) and went for my pocket of gummie bears that I was saving for just that occasion. Gummie Bears are my new go to for my long runs..I have to hide my stash so my kids don't eat them up every weekend! My kids-I started thinking of them at mile 12 and that is when I started telling myself "I can't slow down because they are waiting for me"! My family has only missed 2 of my races and there is a serious let down at the finish when they aren't there. I truly believe knowing they are there, anxiously awaiting to spot me, make me run those last miles faster. And then I heard them with a half a mile left to go (it was a little loop so they could see me there and cross the finish line). I didn't see them yet but I heard them as I crested the last hill. Their cheers made my legs and heart soar. Their high fives pushed me on and my boys ran behind me the last 100 yards shouting as we crossed the finish line together. Such a special moment. I have the best cheering squad around!
I finished with a time of 2:03.30 (a 9:26 average pace). I am ecstatic with that time. My goal was 2:15 with anything close to 2 hours being a bonus! I felt good at the end, not at all winded or beat so maybe I could have pushed myself a little harder. But that is competitive Mary whispering in my ear. This Mary is extremely proud and loved every minute of The Bear Chase. The volunteers were amazing, a few runners became my friends along the course, the views were out of this world, and the race well organized. It is already on my schedule for next year (but I plan to bump up to the 50K).
And I pray that I am blessed enough to have my crew by my side again. I am one lucky runner girl! And yes, I did have some gummie bears left to share. They earned it!!