14 Jun 2010

Estes Park

3 years ago to the day was my first half-marathon, in Port Angeles. I did one later that year in Bellingham. None since. I had trained to do one last October back East but we couldn't find lodging in either PEI or Bar Harbor, ME (which is good since Bar Harbor was a Marathon only - I didn't realize until months later)

Finally I signed up about 7 weeks ago for one in Estes Park, CO. I was all set, having done a few 13-mile runs in the hills of Santa Fe at 7,500ft

Sunday was the day. Saturday I made the 55 minute drive up to Estes Park, which borders the Rocky Mountain National Park. Reviews of the marathon, which I didn't read until after I signed up, were "beautiful but brutal" (http://www.marathonguide.com/races/racedetails.cfm?MIDD=2075100613)

I picked up my packet and was all set. The race was at 7am so Maureen (who was doing the 5K) and I had to get up at 5am. Given the forecast was cold and rainy, we packed everything the night before (extra clothes for after, camera, etc). I fell asleep at 10 but kept waking up every 15-20 minutes. Finally, at 11:15 I went downstairs to the couch. It was silent except the rain. Time went by with no sleep ... midnight ... 1am ... 2am ... by 3am I assumed I was done, there would be no way I could run on less than 3 hours sleep. The lack of sleep wasn't because of the race, just because I sometimes have insomnia. I must have fallen asleep around 3:15am and the next thing I knew Maureen was waking me up "It's 5am". I mumbled something about "can't do it, didn't sleep". Given it was cold and rainy (and her race started 2 hours after mine), she was quickly back under the covers after e-mailing her friend Melissa saying it was a no-go

I started thinking, what a bitter failure it would be not to run the race. I thought about how I'd have to toss the "Estes Park Race" shirt I bought. Plus the disappointment of having to explain to my running buddies (not that they really care). And since I had no chance of winning, who cared (much) about my time? From the reviews I had assumed it would take 2.5 hours anyways, so 3 hours wasn't much different (although I wondered if the locals would be yelling "hurry up and get off our roads"). I told Maureen and she said she would come too (and e-mailed Melissa again that it was a go). So off we went. Into the cold rain

Cold? June 13th? Sure

No, really - cold enough for snow

June 13th

Along the way we saw elk. The final e-mail about the race had a warning that it was calving time so the elk were to be avoided

We arrived about 6:50am - perfect, since the rain was pretty steady. I would jump out just as the race was starting. I went to grab my handheld bottles - since they warned us there would be no paper cups and you had to fill up your own bottles at the aid stations - and realized I forgot the cooler. Waaah! I guess I would have to run with the huge half-gallon bottle that was in the car.

Off Maureen went to meet her friend and drink coffee. I went inside briefly and looked in the mirror. Waaah! I still had my glasses on! I guess I'd run with them in my pocket

And off we went. Taken the day before, here are a few pics of the course

Yup, the Stanley Hotel. "The Shining". We ran through the grounds at about mile 10 (and after we all went for a pretty awesome breakfast)

So the race went off just fine. It didn't seem to be any harder than the Bellingham run (aside from the altitude, but we've been at 7,000ft for a few months now - I assume the marathon course was the hard one). I actually broke 2 hours which was cool and came in 58th:

But it was freezing and I was soaked. It was below 40. I went looking for our car to change and dry off and warm up. I just missed Maureen's start at the 5K. I couldn't find the car (which should be easy to find as it is a big black Explorer with a Thule on top). My hands were going numb. So I went to "cheer" on Maureen's race. As she came by waving (barely recognizable being so wet) I yelled "Where's the car" and she pointed vaguely "Over there". No luck. So I went inside and warmed up under a hand dryer for about 10 minutes until the girls were done. They were equally cold and wet

HAHAHA! This below was taken after we had changed into dry clothes and had a hot breakfast - Marathoners. Crazy people

Here are a few random pics from the drive home

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