We arrived at the start and picked up our packets, which were AWESOME:
|I know a gray shirt, no guarantees how long this stays clean.|
Milling about and chatting with fellow participants before we knew it we were lined up and it goes without saying, in the back. Funderson and I began the race together, which was wonderful. They mentioned some ups for the first mile or so, which were very mild. Then onto the jeep road, which at the latter is where I parted with Funderson. This then split back onto single track and a lovely section of rolling wooded trail. I passed some folks and others passed me as we all tried to find our comfortable cadence.
At mile 4 we came to the first aid station and I rolled through, as I still had a full pack of water and had packed everything, but the kitchen sink. This trail was a large loop down through a rolling, relatively flat section of single track. I felt like I was ON FIRE and just was moving. Towards mile 7.5-8, I came up on Hurricane Carter, who is lovely little spitfire of a woman also from the Butte. We had a quick chat and I went motoring along. Nearly back to the aid station people started flying past from behind, and then thoughts started swirling wondering if we had to do a second loop, cripes. This was not the case and apparently some folks took some wrong turns ending up being off course for 5-45 minutes which included some of the elites. Sometimes those flags are just hard to see.
I grabbed a swig of coke going through the second aid station, which was at about mile 8. Then, began climbing the jeep road to the 9 mile course split for the full and half. Rolled off onto the single track and finally felt as though I found my groove, it hadn't ever taken this long in a race, but really took a long while for people to spread out. This section was uneventful and I continued the forward motion to enjoy the mule's ear and other lovely wildflowers along the trail. I continued onto the next aid station and they were overjoyed that I was #22 and that I was safe. Apparently, no one had seen me pass through the previous aid station and were concerned that I might have been among the lost souls. I refilled my backpack and grabbed a gel and took off again.
The trail went down into a gully and curved around. At about mile 13, I tripped, which happens quite often, but this time I caught myself...BIG MISTAKE. I should have just taken a digger. Instead, I whapped my head on a tree and twisted my knee, dang. Shook my head a bit and took the first step to start again and BAM it was like someone was stabbing me in the side of my right knee with a knife. Thoughts are swirling around in my head now, what should I do? Return back to the aid station I was just at, try to make it to the next at ~16 miles...MOTHER OF PEARL! I say eff it I'm going at least to the next aid station. This was THE longest section of a race I have ever experienced, mentally and physically battling to plug along. As I was coming up on the next aid station, here comes Hurricane. She said she thought I was having heat distress as I looked drunk from behind. She actually was battling the heat and stayed there as I took off again after filling my pack with water again.
The thought of not finishing to me was more painful that my knee, which tells me: 1. That my knee doesn't have anything TOO major wrong; and 2. How absolutely stubborn I am. We followed the jeep road to a single track that took off to the left and headed down hill for a while. I heard Hurricane's boisterous voice coming from behind and got off the trail for her to pass. She headed up the next hill and about 5 minutes later I heard her screams. I start feverishly trying to hobble up the hill as fast I could. When I came upon her, she was resting under some trees with a mountain biker, but had been charged by two dogs with their teeth bared whose horse-back riding owners were unresponsive to her request to have them call off the dogs. Luckily, the dogs didn't bite. We started together and were able to make our way together for about two miles. This time was wonderful to talk to her and learn more about her. She also asked what the hug happened to me and I explained. Then, told her I was going to make it I just had a hitch in my giddy-up. She took off about a half a mile from the next aid station and looked strong.
We caught back up as I filled my pack and grabbed a couple orange slices at the aid station. She was trying to finagle someone to help wrap up my knee. I said not to worry and was off again trailing her at first and then she was just a speck on the trail in front of me. This was a 5 mile section to the finish. I knew that I was nearly there now. I held the conversations from the previous 21 miles with me there. This trail rolled through open meadows and was mostly single track. I had perfected my giddy-up to minimize rage from the knee, but overcompensating with my other leg left my left foot screaming a little for "uncle."
As I started down the jeep road that lead back to the finish, my mind was overwhelmed with thoughts of seeing my friends and the finish. Since I had the trip up at mile 13, I couldn't get the thought out of my head that it happened as bad karma because I didn't look back and wish my ladies good luck and bid them farewell. As I came, down the hill this emotion crashed on my heart like waves on the rocks and I was fighting off tears, not at physical pain in the slightest, but from the worry that I hadn't been a good friend.
A gentleman passed from behind and asked if I was okay, I said thanks I just flubbed up my knee a bit and will be there shortly. A short time later, there was Uneeda at a corner in her beautiful orange tee shirt like a ray of sunshine. After running her race and being sore, there she was to run me in and then we rounded the corner and there was Funderson's smiling face. I crossed the finish in 6 hours 45 minutes with tears streaming down my face and hugs from wonderful friends.
After an ice bath directly following the race, elevating and icing my knee, a beer and some ice cream, my knee is feeling much better and I gave it a go this evening with a slow 5 mile. So far so good...
This race was GREAT. They said a good one for transitioning from road to trail marathon/half-marathon and I agree. The elevation gain was only about 1500 feet for the marathon and was very gradual. The course support was brilliant, great snacks and smiling faces. A wonderful organization to support. Pagosa further into summer than we are and it was lovely to see the fully-leaved trees, flowers and grass. I would definitely do this race again and recommend it to all! Plus, look at this sweet medal:
|Who knew a peace sign was just a turkey track?|