Beautiful Run.  Beautiful Finish!

Beautiful Run. Beautiful Finish!

Yesterday could not have been a more perfect day to spend the morning in Red Rock Conservation Area.  As one of my training runs, I took part in the Red Rock half marathon put on by Calico Racing.  I choose to do a majority of Calico's races because the atmosphere is motivating, the volunteers are great, the race packs aren't too large where you get lost in the shuffle, and Joyce does a fantastic job of organizing these races.  

We began at 7am at the visitor's center of the park, so of course I got there WAY early.  Typical.  The race route was to run the entire loop of red rock canyon which takes you through some pretty tough rolling hills and steeper inclines.  Yes of course there are some declines in there as well, but we seem to forget those after we trudge up a 5 mile incline.  7am hits, timer counts down, and we're off!  The start was a fairly flat loop before we entered the red rock loop.  Then it was on, 5 miles of constant incline, through the red rock, calico basin, so pretty!  As I have learned, and I share with all my racing clients, I started off fairly slow for my normal pace.  I was not about to exhaust all my reserves in the beginning 5 miles and have nothing in the tank for the rest of the race.  As I passed people walking the hills, I kept my head ahead and kept my feet moving at a pretty modest pace.  

Then the first downhill, YES!  Well, not so much as yes as I'm just glad to get a break before the next stint of hills.  The past week has been time of laying off of the runs and letting my left knee recover from what is most likely a tendon or ligament strain/inflammation.  So needless to say, the downhills were not my favorite part of the race.  In any event, I kept moving and my pace had picked up to my normal racing pace(about 9:30-10:00 min miles).  Stopping at every aid station for a quick sip of water was the plan, and the occasional banana.  I HATE to carry anything during my races and I feel that too much "stuff" can take you away from the actual run and the calm serenity that comes along with it.  No music, no water, just me & my chapstick(a MUST HAVE as all my friends know). It was beautiful out, 60+ degrees, sun shining but not too hot.  It couldn't have been better.  The best part was listening to my fellow runners as they commented on their feelings about the hills, said hi to other runners, commented on the not so good taste of the well known "goo", and just kept themselves motivated by any means neccesary.  

As we passed the scenic lot, which is pretty much the halfway & high point of the loop, it was time to get the race on.  I picked up my pace a little, but still didn't go all out.  I was saving my push for the last few miles.  You will notice a lot of people going all out in the beginning because it's easy to do!  You're jazzed from the group of people, adrenaline is running strong, and you're ready to run!  BUZZ!!!!  Wrong mentality to have(as I have personally learned over the past few races) as it won't leave much in the tank for the end.  

Ok, I'm at about mile 10.5….it's time to go!  This is when I gave it all I had, got myself up to a 8:00 min mile pace at one point.  I was going pretty fast for my standards.  Wasn't sure if it would last til the end, but I sure as hell was going to do whatever I had to make it last.  I started noticing people I had seen along the race route, those I had passed and those who had passed me at other points.  I found a girl who I had been close to in the race, who had exchanged passes with me throughout the entire run, and I decided I was going to give it all I had to beat her to the finish.

 *disclaimer: I am not advocating conducting your races by competing with other racers, but I persoanlly get an extra push from seeing a familiar face who I know is close in ability to myself, and making every effort to finish first

Mile 11.5, we're close and I can hear her breathing heavily, I can tell she is going to be a tough one to overcome.  I put on the turbo boost and gave it all I had, I could see the finish, I knew it was only a slight incline to the finish and that I would make it first!  As I ran and listened to her breathes, I could hear them get fainter and farther away.  I knew I had done it.  It was just a little bit further and I had it!  My legs were putting out all the stops, no time to stop at the last aid station for water.  No time.  Must finish!  

DONE!  2hours 16 mins and 13.26(GPS watch count) later, I had done it and it felt fantastic!  I was tired for sure, but man that passed so quickly and the feeling of success and accomplishment set in.  Then it begins, "god, I could have saved a couple minutes at that aid station" or "if I just hadn't stopped, I would have beat my time".  It happens, every time, but the important thing is to know you gave it all you had and THAT is all you can ask from yourself.  

With this race in the bag, I am supper stoked about my next biggie, the 50K on April 22nd.  Having to take time off twice, once for the ankle and once for the knee, has just made me that much more sure of my ability to overcome and still prevail.  This will be my first ultrarun and I think the next month is going to be filled with some great training runs, as the excitement builds and I prepare to hit the road, hit those trails, tackle those not so small hills and get it done!  

What needs to be done will be done and the results will come.  Stay tuned for updates and keep running yes


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