Boy, it is challenging to bring together my experience at The Canyonlands Half Marathon. It was absolutely wonderful and a horrific mess all wrapped up in one. Of course, now that it’s all said and done the whole thing was wonderful ... and the rough spots are small homages to tenacity.
While I was packing Thursday night my son asked me what run I was going to. I told him The Canyonlands Half. “The CANDYLAND” Half Marathon? I want to go!!!” he replied. So I broke down where I was going in the beautiful, barren Moab desert. No Candy Cane Forest and Gum Drop Mountain for me .... mmmm.
So I made it through work like a kid waiting for recess. Melissa picked me up and we hit the road for our 6 hour road trip. The rest of our group had left earlier in the day and were already there.
We got into town by the skin of our teeth. Packet pickup ended at 9 pm, we got there around 9:01. Happily, the volunteers were still there and we were able to pick up our bibs and green tees and hats.
We met up with Tina and Brie at our hotel and were out for the night by ten. The race started at ten the next morning but we got up at 6. We were meeting the rest of our group at 7 in order to catch the race bus by 7:30 - there was going to be a long wait in the canyon.
|Up and at 'em.|
And the wait really was a long one. But it was beautiful. Really, really beautiful. And windy. Really, really windy. We found a niche in a pile of red rocks and huddled up as we were blasted with sandy gusts. Ugh.
|The ever chipper Melissa|
|And we're waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting ...|
|Not sure how this guy got up there in all that wind ...|
Right before the start we walked up a hill to the official start. The wind shifted into gales - bad enough where 5 port-o-johns were blown over - I don’t think anyone was in them ... EEEW!
|Karen figures she can always parasail out of the canyon if need be ...|
Finally time to cue up. I was hoping to finish around two hours - not pushing for a PR today (and, truth be told, my 1:56 was on a primarily downhill race in perfect weather ... hee, hee). We were warming up in the crowd (3500 runners in this lottery race) and the wind seemed to slow a bit.
And off we went. The first few miles were pretty easy and absolutely lovely. I hung around the 2 hour pacers but found them very annoying. They were pushing the group way too fast from the start and were making comments about the people walking ahead. Not cool. So I pulled away from them and just kept Melissa in my scopes as I ran.
The course was gentle rolls and fairly easy on the legs. Elevation gain about 350 feet, loss 450. You could see the road snaking ahead of you so it was very easy to gauge the up and downhills and adjust accordingly. My music was spot on and all I had to do was look around me to let the minutes roll by.
But the wind kept coming and going in strong headwinds and sidewinds. It was a real challenge to push thorough it. It was really getting warm with very little shade along the way. The wind was sandy furnace blasts, not cooling in the least. I walked every water station but just couldn’t keep up with hydration, the wind just sucked it out of me. I was thirsty the last 6 miles.
Mile eleven and ‘Running on Empty’ came on my playlist. So, true!! At this point we left the canyon and had to run a mile along the main road. The wind intensified, I got caught in several dust devils and there were tons of cars right next to us so the fumes were gross. I would have given anything for sunglasses and a bandana at this point. We were packed into a tight group in the bike lane so I was forced to try to weave as people slowed and started walking. Not fun.
Final mile into Moab and I just didn’t care anymore. I was hot, gritty, tired, and very much over it. But I was so ready to be done so I kept pushing. I finished, grabbed some water, and found the first empty patch of grass and sat my tired tush down. Melissa came through a few seconds later (the 2 hour pacers a few minutes later - HAH)
Final time 1:59:32!! Yay! I’m very happy with that time as the wind and final 2 miles were so nasty.
|Gritty, windburnt, but happy!|
We regouped and munched through the after party.
|Ironically, this was across the street from the finish!|
Then we headed back to the hotel to clean up and hit the road back to CO - which included the most tastiest IPA and chips and queso in the history of mankind at WW Peppers in Grand Junction. Also, the most baked gas station attendant in Dillon - BOY, did he love the Red Hot Chili Peppers! Ah, home again, home again.