Prairie Dog Half Marathon
On Sunday I had one of the best experiences in my little racing career.
First and foremost I want to thank all of you that sent me well wishes on Saturday and Sunday morning!
We drove to Denver on Saturday. Made a quick trip to the convention center to surprise my “sister” at the trade show. Hi Trina!
We ate at Olive Garden that night. By the time we got seated it was close to 7:30 and were eating around 8:00. I ate a light meal of lasagna primavera with about 100 breadsticks and almost the whole bowl of salad.
There was no packet pickup on Saturday, just the morning of the race, so I asked if we could make a trip to the location just to make sure I knew where we were going. That definitely helped calm my nerves a little about only having an hour from packet pickup time to race start time. When I saw the race profile I wanted to kind of see the course to know exactly what I was getting myself into, but we never did. All I knew was that I needed to hold a little in for the nice steady climb at mile 3.5-7 ish.
Looks frightening, doesn’t it?
I have been doing some hill intervals on the treadmill, but I wasn’t sure I was ready for 3 straight miles.
I woke up a few times throughout the night and kept checking the clock. I was worried I would sleep right through my alarm. I was the first one out of bed at a little after 6.
I knew this would be an emotional ride, but I guess I just didn’t expect it to be so emotional. Before I put on my shirt that morning I said a little prayer to the four guys I was honoring. Tears streamed down my face, but I knew I had to be tough or I wasn’t going to make it through the day.
I ate some oatmeal and we loaded up the car and headed to the start.
There were no issues getting my bib. Thankfully. I had about 45 minutes to start time to get my hip warmed up. In that time I ate two bananas and some peanut butter.
I stayed inside for as long as I could. Even though it was probably mid 40s at the start I knew if I stood outside for too long I would get cold. I was racing in shorts with compression socks on and had a light long sleeve under my race shirt. I did have an extra layer on for a little extra warmth. I took that off with about 15 minutes to go.
Aron and I headed out to the start when there was about 10 minutes to go. I met up with my mom and dad who were hanging outside and said my goodbyes. Again my emotions crept in and tears streamed down my face. What I was about to do was bigger than me and bigger than the race. I just kept thinking about the 4 guys on my back. I headed off to the starting corral.
Aron stayed with me and was able to stand right next to the starting corrals.
Then we were off. See ya all in 13.1 miles.
I didn’t have high expectations for this race. I knew it was a tough course. I didn’t think I had it in me to get a sub 1:50.
Mile 1: 8:24
Slight downhill, through a neighborhood. I knew I was shooting for 8:30 this whole race. I felt like this was the perfect warmup mile.
Mile 2: 8:09
Apparently I was feeling good. Legs felt fresh. I was ready to run. I was trying to hold back a little to get me through the hills, but I wasn’t doing a very good job.
Mile 3: 8:07
The downhill was getting the best of me and my fresh legs. I could see people ahead of me turning uphill and thought to myself “dig deep. work hard. small steps. do your best.”
Mile 4: 8:21
Not to shabby for a steady uphill. The incline wasn’t too bad yet. I just kept putting one leg in front of the other. I could see the top of the mini hill and I knew I would get a small recovery and just kept going.
Mile 5: 8:44
Incline definitely increased, but again there were small victories in recovery for a flat section. Imagine a bike path climbing and then crossing a flat road and then climbing a bike path again. Those were much needed small victories. At this mile 5 aid station my legs were on fire. I had a small downhill and then saw the next big hill climb. I wanted to walk. But up that next hill there was a sign stuck in the ground that said “Remember the reasons you are running.” I got the chills. I felt tears rolling down my cheeks and then felt this immediate surge of energy. The mile 5-6 hill was the worst. But it was there in that moment that I felt those 4 guys with me. I remembered exactly why I was running. I remembered those reasons.
Mile 6: 8:56
I was never happier to see the top of a hill in my entire life. I knew that we were close to going down. The hard part would soon be over. My legs were surprisingly still feeling fresh.
Mile 7: 8:21
Flat mostly with some small inclines. This was a little out and back section so you got to see some of the runners that were in front of you heading back towards my 8. It was great to get some encouragement from them. I made sure to tell every one of the girls what a rockstar they were!
Mile 8: 8:29
One last little incline. But mostly flat.
Mile 9: 8:11
We are starting to head back downhill. I could feel the wind starting to pickup coming from the west. I knew I wanted to be headed east. Sometimes I have a tendency to hold back on the downhills. I recognized this and decided to enjoy the downhills and let my legs go.
Mile 10: 7:45
Fastest mile of the day. I was happy to be cruising.
Mile 11: 8:04
We were flat and headed east. About 1/4 mile into mile 11 you turned and headed west. I could feel the tailwind and was not looking forward to heading into the wind. But I knew the finish line wasn’t far away.
Mile 12: 8:58
Slowest mile of the day. As I was struggling to fight the wind I got those same chills that I felt back between mile 5 and 6. Those same 4 guys again telling me they were there. I wasn’t alone. I was never alone in this journey. They were there beside me the whole way!
Somewhere everyone was missing a critical turn. And we all had to find a court marshal to ask where we were suppose to go. Frustration at an all time high, but I was thankful for a little extra mileage because the whole race my watch was telling me that I was about 0.1 – 0.4 of a mile short of the course marked distance. I was worried I was going to feel robbed coming in under 13 miles.
Mile 13: 8:03.
I again had the wind to my back. I knew that I was almost home. I hadn’t really looked at my watch all day. I didn’t even have it set to where I could see my pace at any given time. I just knew what time of day it was, the elevation (which doesn’t do me any good) and the distance I was at. The last mile was the same as the first mile, so I knew exactly where we turned and how far from that turn to the finish.
As I made that turn for home, there was a girl I had been chasing since about mile 9. I wanted to catch her desperately. I was right on her heels coming down the last stretch. She could hear me coming. As I pushed the pace she pushed right back. I saw my family right before the finishing chute. I was still on her heels. They were cheering at the top of their lungs. I had a huge smile on my face I was so pleased with my race. Then Aron went there…”GET HER ASH!” And got her I did! We were shoulder to shoulder at full sprints heading into the chute. We had to weave around a couple 10k walkers, but I know I crossed that finish line before she did.
Total finish time of 1:48:24 (hello shiny PR!)
I remember taking a peek at the clock as I was racing towards the finish, but then I got too into it to beat this girl and never really looked. I remember hitting my watch to stop, but never looked at it. I stopped at the nice people who cut off the timing chips on your shoe and collected my medal. Made my way through the food and grabbed a muscle milk. I immediately turned to look for my family. I was so excited to see them! Aron and Mom were the first two to make it to me and they congratulated me. Then I found my dad and he did the same. Everyone was smiling ear to ear. Aron asked what my finish time was and that was the first time I actually looked at my watch. He looked too and saw my pace past the 13 miles which was close to 7:00/mile pace. He thought I had managed that the whole race. Oh if only. I told him my watch said 1:48. I didn’t know the change on it. I sat down and stretched, munched on some bananas.
They were calling overall winners when I finished.
We went inside and they had results posted. We looked and found me. 73rd overall out of 383 finishers. 6th out of 40 for F20-29. And 22nd out of 235 females.
The best part about the day was walking away knowing I didn’t get the PR all alone. Knowing that Robert S Cannon, Paul Mikeal, Ryan David, and Joseph McCormick were with me all morning long. Pushing me through those tough times and there with me at that sprint to the end, and the pride and joy I felt crossing that finish line. Those feelings are something that can never be replaced or forgotten.