(Note: While the title says 1/2 marathon, I want to put out there that my GPS said 13.9 miles. Just saying.)
No snow or ice or freezing temperatures was going to stop Mr. Prepared, my lovely husband, from participating in the Run Through Time Marathon yesterday in Salida, CO, and *encouraging* me to come along with him for the half. I have been preparing for it; however, in my mind, my race had been on a sunny, warm day with clear views of the Collegiate Peaks, the longest string of 14ers in the lower 48. In reality, after this picture, the mountains got socked in with a storm and we couldn’t see much. Which was probably OK for me since I wasn’t exactly there doing a lot of sightseeing.
Coach Evil Genius said in my log that I needed to come up with a mantra for my race. Mantras or sayings to repeat to yourself can help you to focus on something important you need to remember about technique or something positive about yourself. Additionally, mantras help you avoid focus on the wrong things, like how much pain you are in. Many runners and athletes use mantras to dispel boredom, and many of you may know the value of mantras from your yoga practice.
Being the overachiever that I am, I came up with them in spades yesterday. My first mantra of the morning was “Please don’t snow. Please don’t snow...” which when we arrived in Salida, it wasn’t. Bonus! Clearly, the mantra thing was really working. Taylor started his race an hour before mine. All too soon, it was time for me to start. I felt good for the first 2 miles, 1 up, 1 down, and soon we started climbing a pretty rocky, technical single track. This climb was a little tricky because the field wasn’t that spread out yet. There was still quite a bit of traffic jamming going on in that climb, and I wasn’t helping things because I kept tripping. At one point I fell and dive rolled on the trail. At this point, I took off my one headphone because I felt I needed to concentrate on my running. My mantra became, “I am a mountain goat. I am a mountain goat.” which was pretty farcical since I felt more like a damn dinosaur than a mountain goat. However, I managed to stay upright from miles 4-7 with little event. On a side note, the trails around Salida, while very rocky (limestone and granite) are absolutely beautiful even without the views. The results of rock bruising on my feet still remain to be seen, although I can feel a few things going on in my feet this morning as I sit here.
At Mile 7 we began a steep climb up an old jeep road that left most people in my view hiking, including me. My mantra became “I am a good hiker,” which was actually pretty true. I passed a lot of people in this part of the course because the road was wide and apparently, I can hike pretty fast. Not Mr. Prepared fast, but you get the picture. Miles 8 was steep and technical downhill, at which point I employed my mountain goat mantra again with success. It was slow going though, as my general life mantra is always to “Arrive alive”. Miles 9-10 were fairly lovely, and the trail was the least technical at this point, but I was starting to tire a bit and the snow was picking up. I put one headphone on again at this point. The first marathoners were re-joining the route at this point, so I knew we were not that far out from the end.
At Mile 10ish, the snow began in earnest, completely covering my glasses and dampening my morale. Since I carry my phone as my HR monitor and music in my sleeve, I consider calling someone for a little support, but I decided I could do it on my own, plus I think it would be weird to call someone in the middle of a “race”. I heard the tick of 11 miles through my headphones, so I was a little disappointed when the last aid station lady said, “2.5 miles to go!” since the math didn’t quite add up (and even she was not quite right either!) Either way, the last mantra I used to pound down the last bit was “The faster I run, the sooner I’m done!”. Dirt road turned to technical switchback and the fatigue slowed me in some points so as not to trip and break my nose. I knew my pace was a little slower than I had wanted, but I felt proud that I had run a decent first race for a trail run, considering I was unfamiliar with the terrain and the weather conditions were less than ideal. I finished up in 2:43:12, a respectable 98th place.
I waited for Taylor, who finished up within 10 minutes of his expected arrival (of course). Overall, a pretty excellent day and a big thanks to Grandma Jeni and Grandpa Tom who played with the children all day yesterday and made us a big welcome home dinner last night. I knocked one of my New Year’s resolutions off the list, so that makes me happy. Now it’s time to get back to work on my New Year’s mantra.