We finished our second Half-Marathon yesterday. Mr. C was amazing, as usual. His PR was 2:04:29 in Santa Barbara. He wanted to not only break that, his ultimate goal was to finish in under two hours. He smashed it! His official time was 1:48:36! He was so pumped! He came in 15th in his age bracket, and 129th overall!
Later in the week, I will do a comparison between The Santa Barbara International Marathon & Half, and the Colorado Marathon & Half. Today I'll just give you a description of our experience with this race.
I had been sick with a bad cold the week before the race and, lucky me, woke up with bronchitis on Saturday. We checked into the hotel in Ft. Collins, had lunch, drove the race route, went to the race expo to pick up our packets, grabbed pasta for dinner, then I went back to the hotel and slathered myself in mentholatum, took some meds, and went to bed to rest while Mr. C went to visit Uncle Don.
The alarm went off at 4:25 so we got up, got ready, grabbed a bagel and a banana, then headed to catch the shuttle.
Here we are pre-race. The course began in Poudre Canyon. We had to catch the shuttle at 5:30 am, so it was really cold when we arrived. There were 1,315 runners entered in the Half, and it seemed that 90% of them were huddled together in the welcome tent trying to ward off the cold temps.
The race began at 7 am sharp, and was mostly downhill, with the exception of one hill. There was no electricity, and thus no sound system up in the mountains. There was just a guy with a megaphone telling us it was time to start. They also didn't stagger the starts by pace-time. Everyone just started running or walking, then took off when they crossed the starting line. Since I am a walker, rather than a runner, (and because I was pretty sick still), I quickly fell behind the pack. The entire pack. As in: I was the last one of the half-marathoners coming down the hill. I didn't care though. I wanted to maintain my training pace, and stick with my game-plan (which had been adjusted due to the bronchitis to "I just want to cross the finish line this time - no expectations of time, or place in the pack".
The course was quite beautiful. The Poudre Canyon is lovely and the river ran along the course the entire way through the canyon. We then ran (walked) along pastures and fields. It was really peaceful and quiet. It was at the bottom of the canyon when I passed a few of the other Halfers, and also when the Marathoners began to catch up to us.
There were a few cheering sections along this section of the route. Some of them had some pretty funny signs. About half-way through the course, I checked the time and realized my split-time was GREAT. I was on pace to beat my PR by quite a bit.
We kept along the county road until we came to the Jr. High in La Porte, where we hit the greenway. This section had occasional sections of cheering fans, as well, but for the most part it was really quiet. When we began to enter the Ft. Collins area, we passed an electrical plan of some kind. This is the one section of the race where I actually RAN, rather than walked or jogged. This is also the area where I encountered a very LARGE SNAKE!!!! Those of you who know me well, know that I can't even see a snake on TV without crawling up the back of the couch. They terrify me. So, I'm sure you can imagine how I looked when we all came upon a snake that was curled up in the dirt right next to the path. Luckily, someone in front of me pointed it out to me way in advance. I quickly zipped to the opposite side of the path and ran past it. (shudder)
Just before we joined the greenway, my feet began to get sore. My toe injury was starting to act up, and I could feel some blisters forming. The further along the route, the worse I felt. But, just like last time, quitting was not an option for me. Even if I was crawling across the finish, I was going to cross it. The pain was getting worse by the minute, but I kept seeing the mile markers and knew the end was coming up. My pace had slowed so much because I couldn't walk very well. I could feel blisters that had formed on the pads of my feet, as well as on the inside edge of my heels (from the new shoes I had to get a week previous). Just when I started wondering if I was, indeed, going to have to start crawling, I looked up and guess who I saw:
He had become worried because I hadn't shown up yet. He knew I was on a good pace earlier, and became concerned when I hadn't finished and it was nearly the 4-hour mark. He came to cheer me on, and to walk in the last section of the route with me. I was so happy to see him I nearly broke down and cried. My feet were so sore, which had caused my gait to change (to protect the blisters), so by this point my hips, ankles, and knees were aching from walking awkwardly. But Mr. C came and clapped, and told me that the finish was within a half-mile. He stayed with me until the block of the finish line, when he ran ahead so he could watch me cross. I was so happy and relieved that I was finally done. The announcer shouted my name and city and everyone was cheering. It was incredible. I ended up at 1310 out of 1312. 1315 had started the race, but three people didn't finish. My official finish time was 4:10:55. Considering everything (the headcold, bronchitis, my toe injury, brand new shoes, etc.), I was pleased with the time. Because almost all of the halfers had finished earlier, the lady had to have me stop so she could go get the correct medal (she was holding only Marathon medals at this point).
A photographer snapped my picture wearing it, and I went and hugged my husband. He took me to get some fruit and some water, then to the beer garden. He enjoyed a cold, refreshing Shock Top. I took two sips of mine, but it just didn't taste good. I was so tired, and sore.
I told Mr. C how bad my feet hurt, so he had me sit on a bench while he ran to get the FJ and picked me up. We went to the hotel and he was horrified when I removed my shoes. I had a blister that was larger than a half-dollar on the side of my left heel, and a slightly smaller one on my right heel. The ball of my right foot had a blister that covered roughly 90% of the pad of my foot, and my left foot had a smaller one in the same area. He got some moleskin out and tried to doctor it up a bit, but it didn't really do much good. We showered and left for lunch, then drove home.
We are both a bit sore today, but not as bad as we were in Santa Barbara. We knew what to expect. Although, I had to deal with more health issues this time. I've done this twice now, and I honestly don't know if I have a desire to do it again. Although, I think it is like childbirth - right after delivery, you swear you will never go through it again, but within a few months you forget the pain and can't remember how bad it really was.