Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Haulin Aspen Marathon 2011

I'm not much of a trail runner.  Ok, let's be honest, I've run on a trail probably twice in my life.  When my husband suggested a few months ago that we sign up for a trail marathon in Bend, OR I was excited to try something new. 

A little day-before-race silliness.
All summer I have been looking forward to this marathon for a few reasons.  1)  It's not often that I get to run with the man I love.  (aw..)  And by "run with" I am using this term loosely.  More like run a long ways behind, but in the same race.  He's speedy.  2)  I was excited to run on trails.  There's something about running in dirt or mud puddles that really makes my inner child delighted. 

Friday night as Kevin was packing his suitcase to leave the next morning, I started asking him questions about the marathon.  My summer has been zooming by so quickly that I hadn't had much time to look up information about the race.  Our conversation went something like this:

Me:  "I don't know much about this race.  I haven't gotten a single e-mail."
Kevin:  "You haven't? Not even a confirmation e-mail?"
Me:  "No.  You signed me up right?"
Kevin: "No.  I thought you signed yourself up." 

Uh-oh.  In the course of the next few min we realized that through miscommuncation, I had failed to sign myself up for the race...and it was full.  I was...sad.  Some might say I even got a little misty-eyed.  Yes, it's silly.  It's just a run....to some people.  I would like to blame my emotions on my deteriorating picture of health as I had been fighting sickness for the past few days, but in reality, I'm really just a nerd and like running that much.  That coupled with the excitement that I got to run with Kevin, which in the past three years has happened about twice, I was bummed. 

Without any hope at all, but not having anything to lose, I e-mailed the race director and then crawled into bed to sleep off my disappointment. 

The next morning to my surprise, I did have an e-mail from the race director saying to call her after 9 a.m.  Long story short, I explained my situation to her and she laughed and said that I could sign up and run.  Yay! Off to Bend we went. 

My other half and I. 
First of all, if you haven't been to Bend, Go.  It's beautiful.  There is so much to do there.  The outdoors seem to go on forever and have activities for every season.  After packet pickup Saturday, Kevin and I wandered around on some trails and put our feet in the river.  It was beautiful.  A nice afternoon spent without kids asking for snacks or changing diapers.  After a failed attempt at finding a place to eat in town, we decided to go back to where we were staying and cook up our own pasta. 

Sun morning I woke at 2 a.m. feverish, shaky, sick.  Ugh.  No bueno.  Having had sick kiddos at home the past week, I could have guessed this was coming, but was secretly hoping it would wait until after the marathon.  No such luck.  After all I had been through on my emotional roller coaster getting into this race though, there was no way I wasn't going to run it now.  I tossed and turned until Kevin woke up at 3 a.m. and then bolted out of bed to take some ibuprofen.  I got in a few more hours of sleep and then finally crawled out of bed at 5 a.m. dosing up on the ibuprofen again.  (I don't think this is recommended so don't try this at home.) 

The starting line.  The last time I saw him.
I have run two previous marathons before with a fever so I knew it was possible.  I want to say that I have felt worse when I ran the Houston Marathon, but it was really a toss up between the two.  Regardless, the sun was just peeking up above the horizon and I was excited to get started. 

The starting line was the usual group of men dressed in entirely too short shorts doing their dynamic stretching exercises that leave nothing to the imagination and women dressed in tiny bun-hugging outfits designed for a 9-year-old girl.  I love this sport.  Out here, anything goes. 

We collected at the starting line, AKA the place on the pavement they pointed to and told us to stand behind, and after a few instructions, we were off and running.  Out of the parking lot and across the street and...then we were stopped again.  Bottle-necked as we funneled onto the single-track trail.  Very quickly Kevin disappeared from my sight and I settled in at the pace of everyone else around me.  It was fun.  Running through the woods seeing a constant stream of people ahead and behind you all running at the same pace, dust flying in your face and mouth.  The soft padding of shoes hitting the ground all around you.  It was strangely peaceful to me.  I normally run with music and I did bring my phone and headphones with me on this run, but I thought I would run without them until I got to the point that I needed more motivation and then put my headphones in.  I never needed them. 
Part-way up the steepest hill. 

After the first three miles, the run starts the uphill climb that lasts for the next 10 miles.  I knew that my body was not feeling amazing, but I decided I would just run the best I could and make the most of it even if I wasn't lightning fast.  I dug in and plugged away at the hill.  It wasn't so bad.  It was definitely going up, but for the most part I could run from aid station to aid station.  After one of the aid stations there was a girl stopped to stretch and I yelled out (like a creeper I'm sure) "I like your skirt! What brand is that?" Have I mentioned I'm a total nerd.  She had the cutest patagonia running skirt.  I want one. 

If you could see through the sweat, the view was beautiful.
We turned off this dirt trail and onto a rock covered road that kept going up.  I could see up in front of me a man with walking sticks and a red backpack.  Warren Nelson.  I ran to catch up with him.  He had done the early start for the race so I knew he was up in front of me somewhere, but I was beginning to wonder if I would ever catch him.  He must have been cruising on that first part.  We chatted up past the next aid station and turned the corner and there was a hill.  I mean, we had been on a hill for the past 7 miles, but now is when the hill really began.  It was 2.8 miles of nice steep uphill.  We climbed 2500 feet of elevation which should have put us somewhere above 6000 feet.  I'm not sure if the elevation was getting to me or if it was just sickness, but I resorted to walking, the entire 2.8 miles up the hill.  When I did turn to look back it was beautiful.  I fumbled around to pull out my phone and take a picture and Warren was off like lightning.  I never caught him again until the top aid station.  He's an animal. 

WARNING:  If you're not comfortable with bodily functions, skip this next paragraph.
I'd like to take a minute and just throw out some talk on running etiquette.  Not speaking to anyone specific, but if by chance, you are climbing up a 2.8 mile hill and you have the need to alleviate some gas pressure from your body, please don't pass me and then promptly do it in front of me.  Especially if you feel like something is dying inside of you.  Because the chances are, if you feel that way, it likely smells that way.  And, when I'm gasping for air and all the air that I can breathe in at that moment is foul, well, it just doesn't make things pleasant.  I'm not asking you not to relieve yourself from your abdominal pressure, I'm simply suggesting that you either do it before you pass me, or step to the side.  

Single-track with a halo of dust.
I had been leap-frogging with Lisa (the girl with the cute skirt) for the last bit and she caught up to me again on the hill and we walked it together.  She entertained me with stories of her life and being a mom and we shared nutrition tips (one of hers was two Roctanes in a flask with a shot of vodka).  It passed the time.  She was fun.  Finally we hit the top aid station and turned off the jeep road back onto single-track.  It was beautiful.  We had thinned out enough by now that you could run at your own pace and in the silence of your own thoughts.  The sun was streaming through the trees and the dust that was flying up from the stomping of feet made a halo of light through the forest. 

After 13.1 miles of uphill.
The miles really clicked by without me noticing.  For the most part I felt much better than I had anticipated, whether it was the distraction of all there was to see or the dosing of the ibuprofen, it worked.  At least until mile 20.  Then bodyaches.  I am going to attribute them to being febrile and not to a lack of training.  I haven't run a marathon in a long time where my body hurt while I was running.  It was not pleasant.  I popped more ibuprofen (I don't think this is generally recommended) and hoped it would start working quickly.  Then I resorted to mind games.  It was like I was running with my daughter, Madison.  I picked an object and ran to it, further past it if I could, and then would walk again.  I did this walk-running for the next six miles.  I could feel my pulse beating in my head, but all I could think was the faster I ran, the sooner I would be done.  As much as I was enjoying the run, my body was failing me at this point.  Then finally I rounded the corner where I could see the finish line.  Only two more miles (because yes, you can see the finish line and then they send you out past it for two more miles.  Sneaky.)  People were cheering as I came running down the bank.  There's cheering and then there's my husband's cheering.  Very distinct difference.  He's always much more excited.  It's always very good to see him practically showered and napped from when he finished hours earlier (one day I might be able to keep up).  I mustered up a smile and shuffled past.  The last little bit was just an out and back on a paved road, coming back on a trail that parallels the road.  When I hit the turn around I saw that I was being chased down by a teetering 80-year-old man shuffling in a hunkered over stance.  Did I mention that I was really slow on this day?  Haha.  He smiled at me and I smiled back at him.  I want to be like that one day.  Chasing down the young ones with my wrinkly old body.  It's impressive. 

Warren coming in to finish.
Finally I rounded the bend and came in for a very anti-climatic finish.  Kevin was cheering loudly for me.  I like that.  I got my medal and went and found Kevin.  He had placed fourth in his age group.  I was pretty proud of him.  He always does so well.  We waited and watched Warren come in looking like a million bucks waving his poles everywhere like a rockstar.  My camera wouldn't load up fast enough to catch it so I just got a normal pic of him running past, but he did awesome. 
The only pic I could get.  Eating afterwards.

The good news from all of this, as Kevin pointed out, is that I did have a PR for a trail marathon.  Since it was my first one, I guess that gives me something to beat on my next trail marathon. (I think my final time was 5:14 or something like that.  I walked more during this marathon than I ever had.  Oh well.)   Even though I felt less than stellar, it was an extremely fun run and beautiful.  I absolutely loved running on the single track trails.  Yes, I fell in love with trail running.  I would definitely do this one again.

 Just 60 days until the next marathon.  The GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon.  Hopefully I can get in some good training between now and then and redeem myself from being so slow.  Fast or slow though, I always enjoy it.  It's always fun to me.  There's always something to learn about yourself out there and I like to make the most of it. 
Now back to my blanket, chicken soup, and cold medicine.