She was the one who decided this run would be a half marathon, not me. I like to say I didn't pressure her, that I was completely open to the 10k or the Half, and that she was the one who made the ultimate decision. When we were about four or five weeks out from race day, she made the call and we were signed up before the registration discount period ended.
I didn't do much training (at all) for this race - a few hard hikes and mountain bike rides while we were in Jackson, and then three or four runs around 6-10 miles in the 14 days leading up to the race (I think). But I was soothed by the knowledge that it would be her first half, and that there was a lot of uphills we would be walking, and that neither one of us was that well trained.
The start was a cluster-fuck as the huge mass of people standing around in the park had to funnel onto a single track trail. It was a mile or so before the trail opened up enough to allow passing. We climbed through redwood forests and up to some high open headlands. We hit a fire road that was relatively flat before merging back onto single track through redwoods. Up and down, and then down to the river.
Crossing the river was a hoot. We decided at the start that we would stop for both crossings and take off our shoes to prevent blisters. I'm really glad we did. Since we were racing to finish, and not for time, we weren't concerned with the lost minutes from shoe-removal.
Another big up and down, and then a long flat slog along the river to the turnaround. I could tell Manda was getting tired, and the aid station came just in time. I proceeded to stuff my face and the pocket of my handheld with m&m's, gummy bears, oreos, etc., while she just sipped her water. "Free Candy, Manda!" I exclaimed. Being a novice at trail running, and half marathons for that matter, her stomach wasn't so sure that candy and running go hand in hand. I assured her they did, and after about five minutes we started the 6.5-ish miles back to the start.
We crossed the river again, and this time the water felt AMAZING. People were just swimming across the river to cool off. Not a bad idea. I learned here that my favorite go-to brown Athleta shorts are not exactly quickdry material. Oh well - it's not like I'm a triathlete or anything.
The long flat fire road at the top of the second hill proved to be an absolute bi-atch on the way back. We were both feeling it. Normally I'm slogging through races solo, internalizing the pain and discomfort. But not Manda. She openly expressed her pain and discomfort. "F! This hurts so fucking bad! F! Frick! My legs feel like CRAP! Fuck! Where is the downhill!?" I was also in great pain, which prevented me from actually laughing outloud, but internally I was busting a nut. Hilarious.
I'm a pretty laid back runner when it comes to trail races. I easily pass and am passed tons of times during a race. Not Manda. Turns out, she's a beast, and gets quite competitive, especially when there's only a mile left to run. We passed a ton of people at the end, and crossed the finish line in 3:01:04! Holy crap - we're awesome!
We beat my worst-case scenario time by an hour, and were just one minute and four seconds away from beating my best-case scenario time!
|Yay! We're done!|
|What is wrong with my face?|
Congratulations to Manda for running her first half marathon!