Estes Park Half Marathon

Well, I did it!  I ran my first race, finished it, and I didn’t suck!

Cathy and I after collecting our finisher medals!

On Sunday morning at 6:15am my wonderful roommate Cathy and I arrived at Estes Park High School in Estes Park, Colorado.  Elevation: roughly 7,500 feet above sea level.  We were there for our first big race: 13.1 miles of the Estes Park Half Marathon.

It was really early, and we were nervous.

After stressing out, peeing, stressing some more and then peeing again, we managed to get our number bibs on and head out to the starting area.  We listened to instructions through a loud speaker  (kind of – I don’t know how much she heard but I know I can’t tell you a single thing that was said – I was so nervous!) and then, just as we were tightening our Ipod bands around our arms, the race started.  Everyone slowly began running.  Or jogging.

The first two miles passed quickly for me and were the worst – breathing wise – I just couldn‘t get the right pace at first.  We had one big hill around mile 1.75 and I walked a part of it — didn’t want to get my legs tired so early on — but then continued running.  When I passed the 2 mile marker I was shocked. Two miles already?  I kept going and finally settled into a pace.

The course was beautiful.  Around mile 2-3 we ran through a nice neighborhood.  I managed to drop my water bottle, twice, when it fell off of the fuel belt Andrew’s sister loaned me. Luckily a nice woman behind me picked it up, twice, and gave it back to me.  I tightened it better the third time =)

Around mile 3 and through mile 6.5ish we were on a long, straight, supposed gradual incline which actually wasn’t so gradual.  I walked a bit on the longer, “gradual” hills.  They were a killer on my legs.

Surprisingly I didn’t lose my breath – I would slow my pace when I got too tired, I’d stop to walk for a minute but walked very, very quickly, and then I’d pick it up again and run. I slowed to a fast walk when I’d approach a water station but only once during the entire race did I actually stop for 5 seconds to finish my cup of water.

Somewhere around mile marker 6 I took an energy Gu that Andrew’s sister gave me and by mile 7 it was kicking in.  I got a crazy burst of energy, picked up my pace, and nearly sprinted down-hill for 2+ miles.

The next thing I remember is approaching mile marker 10.

3 more miles!!!!

Around mile marker 11 I was getting very, very tired.

By mile marker 12 I was walking for 10 seconds, running for a minute, walking for 10 seconds….

Finally, around mile 12.7, I was THERE.  I made it back to the Estes Park High School.  I could almost see the finish line….

And then…. There it was.  The glorious finish line.  I saw Andrew’s sister and her kids and husband waiting for me, calling out my name, cheering me on.  (By the way– side note: Andrew’s sister and her husband and kids are AMAZING for coming out and showing me support.  So blessed to have such an awesome future sister-in-law!)

At mile marker 13 I sprinted the last .1 mile and relished in the fact that I had just completed my first half marathon.

I wasn’t out of breath.

I wasn’t dripping sweat.

I was just there.  Enjoying the moment.  So incredibly happy.

And my legs were really, really tired 🙂

My final time was 2:43 – a roughly 12:40 mile pace.  Not bad for not training very much (okay-not at all in the past several weeks), hills and elevation!

The downside of it all was that I pushed my body harder than I ever have and I was ridiculously sore on Sunday afternoon and well, I’m still sore but stretching has been my best friend and  tomorrow I’ll hit the pavement again and I can’t wait to get out and go for a run.  The race experience was one of the best experiences I’ve had in a long, long time.

Next up: San Francisco Half Marathon on July 31st !!!! Goal: Finish in under 2:30

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