6 weeks ago I decided I needed an adventure. So, I signed up for the Valles Caldera Half Marathon. One should note that I haven’t done any kind of serious running since I was training for the Disney World Marathon back in the winter of 2008. So, for me to decide to take on not just a half marathon, but a half marathon in the mountains was huge. It was even huge-er (yes, that is a word, ask me I’ll tell you so) because there was this thing right in the middle of my half marathon that I so lovingly refer to as the “space needle”. What that translates to for a normal person is a “Mount Gigantasaurus is in my way and I have to go over it”.
Enough of the backstory. We’re moving onto the good stuff…RACE DAY!!!
Any good race is done with my Outlaws and there were quite a few of us there. We were all doing different distances. Some were doing the full marathon, some the half, and some the 10k. But we were all out there and that’s all that matters.
We were supposed to start at 8:30 but because of a fire near the start line, we were delayed. I would’ve stopped to get a picture except it was at the start and I had to behave like a serious runner (for all of a quarter mile, haha).
Here I am milling around at the start with Misty.
When the gun went off, I took off running. It wasn’t the smartest thing in the world, but it’s what start lines do to me. But that first mile-ish we were running through smoke. It wasn’t long before I couldn’t breathe. It took 2 miles for me to even out my breathing. But then I was good to go and happy. When I got to mile 4, I was averaging a 13 min per mile pace which at that elevation and in the mtns, I was ecstatic with.
But then, I had to go up space needle.
Remember Space Needle:
It took me 50 minutes to go 1.75 miles. The climb was crazy.
This was one part where I stopped to take a picture (yes, I stopped to take pictures, how often do you get to run in a national preserve?)
At about 5.75 miles, I was having myself a bad attitude moment because I thought I had to ascend another 1000ft (that’s a lot!)…so I stopped and took a picture because taking pictures makes me happy…nevermind that the picture doesn’t look happy
After I was lamenting the fact that I thought I needed to climb another 1k feet, I turned the corner and there was a rest stop where I got told I was at the top (this was mile 6). I did a little dance and got excited and continued on my way.
Then, at mile 6.25, I caused a rockslide (little rocks, but dangerous rocks). I almost fell, but instinct kicked in and falling wasn’t an option so I twisted myself to not fall. I proceeded to pull my groin, hip, and outside of knee muscle. It was a sad state of affairs. It hurt to run. But being the bonehead that I am, I only half listened to my body and would proceed to run as much as possible until it hurt too much to run over the next 7 miles.
When I got down the mountain and off the service road we were in a beautiful meadow with a little creek we had to jump over. I took this picture long after I jumped over the creek. There were no logs for me to walk across, so, I jumped and landed on my feet and hands, I think it probably looked pretty funny.
The meadow was beautiful. There was a bit of an obstacle course as I wove across it. There were places there there were downed trees and I was hopping on tip toes through them. Much of my crossing the meadow was in a tree-y area, but then I came to a clearing that was so awesomely beautiful, I had to stop and take a picture (this was somewhere between miles 9 and 10).
The final climb for the last couple miles was pretty brutal but I had come across some peeps by this time so we all encouraged each other along. I did go running the last quarter mile or so just so that I was running when I passed all the peeps that were waiting around for their loved ones and so that I was running across the finish line (there’s not point in walking across a finish line, it’s not all that fun, I know that for a fact).
We got a nice finishers medal, which I always appreciate. It’s so nice to have a new piece of race bling because I haven’t had one since January 2009.
My garmin had me finishing in 3:30, the official race results are saying 3:38:59. I’m more inclined to go with what my watch said because we didn’t have timing chips, they were manually entering our numbers on the computer as quickly as they could be called out and our tags ripped off. Whichever one you want to go with, I’m all kinds of happy. It was a very difficult course and I did very well. There is room for improvement and next year will see that improvement when I do the race again.