Friday, September 25, 2009

It's not a Sprint, it's a (half)Marathon

Last winter I decided I might try a half-marathon.  I've been a runner for a lot of years, and it is my preferred method of exercise.  (As Aunt Judy puts it, you get the most benefit from the least amount of time spent)  It occurred to me that it was time to push my limits a bit and run toward a goal.  With my mind nearly made up, I happily announced it to my husband.

"No, you are NOT running a half marathon!" 

I know how this looks.  You might be thinking something along the lines of: Whoa.  Who asked John Wayne Bobbit anyway?  I should probably back up and 'splain myself.

About 7 years ago, my now sister in law invited me to run a half marathon with her.  "Come on!  It'll be fun!"  Hmmm.  Sounds intriguing, I said, but I haven't really been training.  "No big deal- how much do you run?  I never train!"  Now, if she were some kind of ultra- running workout superstar I would've come up with many more reasons why I wouldn't.  But she isn't.  She works out, but not excessively.  Plus, I thought, I could kick her butt running any day.  Yeah.  Ok, yeah, I'll run it.  What fun!  What a challenge!  What great exercise!

What an idiot.  When I told my friend Charles recently that I had run that race without really training, he was horrified.  "That's downright dangerous."  Umm, yeah.

This wasn't some leisurely, flat course.  It's the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon.  Here's a description of the course, taken from the Georgetown to Idaho Springs website:

There is .5 mile of gravel road in the 2nd mile, and 1.5 mile of dirt road from mile 6.5 to mile 8. Also be aware of a steep grade with a 90° turn at the bottom of Clear Creek Drive in the 1st mile of the course.

The elevation at the start is 8500 feet, and gradually arrives at 7500 feet at the finish. Temperatures in the early morning at this elevation can be 50°, and can reach 85° by the finish. While conditions are usually optimal at this time of year, athletes should always be prepared for adverse weather while being in a mountainous location.

Holy Crap.  That doesn't even warn the innocent anywhere near enough.  The morning of the race dawned plenty early.  On my drive up the mountain to meet up with sis and her best friend, I went over my strategy.  Ok.  I can do this.  I ran 8 miles on Wednesday and took the rest of the week off to prepare.  Plus, I had a banana this morning, so my stomach should be fine.  Oooh look, outlet stores...!

At the start, we sat in the car to keep warm.  It was 30 degrees out, but at least it was sunny.  When we could no longer sit in the car without missing the race, we lined up.  POP!  We're off!

The first mile was easy.  The other ladies had this idea that we should run for 10 minutes and walk for 1.  Wimps.  Well, ok, I've never done this before, so if you guys like to do that, that's fine.

Around mile 6, I felt good.  The cold morning was turning into a warm day, and I could do this, no prob.  Around mile 8, my lungs were filled with dust and my legs were feeling the exertion.  Somewhere around mile 9, my feet started to burn.  From mile 9.1 until the end is not very clear in my mind.  Sis fell away to a walk at some point, and her bff joined her, but in the haze was a thought that if I stopped now, I might not start up again.  Coming in to the finish, I saw a couple of people being helped into medical tents, the finish line, my husband, my daughter, water, water, where's the water?, food, Port-a-Potty.  I did it, I did it, I'm dying, but I did it.  Just need to make a quick stop at the potty... I almost didn't come back out.  We still had to drive home 1 1/2 hours, but it was more like 2 1/2 to 3 with all the stops I needed to make.  I spent most of the rest of the day between my bed and the bathroom.

What an idiot.

So, you can see why hubby wasn't too encouraging.  He later admitted to me that he had seriously considered taking me to the hospital that day, and he was pretty freaked out.  But this time I'm going to train!

Stay tuned for more.....

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