So there is something about getting up super early for a race, especially in Yellowstone. Now mind you I haven't ran a real race since my dad moved away so for me this was bringing back memories and I normally do a lot better running in a race than just on my own. It's just that races are difficult to come by in this day and age with Covid being the way it is and really the "pandemic" sucks the fun out of it but when it comes to running in a national park (well just outside of it in this case) I was all in.
The only real downside? Waking up at 4:45. Oh, yea it was an early start to get over to the start line and we needed to be caffeinated for our start. Being this early and knowing I was about to put myself through a difficult race I told myself over and over that it was going to be ok. YOu would wake up and be ready to rock this race. After all, you spent six months training, three weeks of detoxing and being good with your diet, and just making sure to not over-push beforehand. Everything should be fine? Yea?
Once we were at the parking lot we sat in the car letting our bodies be caffeinated. Soon we did our normal routine of going to the bathroom and then doing small stretches and finally go to the start line.
As soon as we walked up the race started. Now the race states that there is one major hill and one minor hill in the race so you need to train for it. We did our best to do that and to keep in mind that we also had elevation gain to account for. SO I decided to take my dad's advice and keep my watch on the zones part of the watch so I could check throughout the race to make sure I didn't go into zone 5 before the hill was over. The minor hill wasn't more than 100 of elevation gain maybe 200 but this other one was a lot larger and more difficult. Looking at the profiles It looked like the hill started at mile 6 and was over by mile 7.
First off, why the mother of god the profile was set up this way, I don't know but let me state right now it was wrong. So wrong.
I get to mile 5 and suddenly the route becomes an incline and not any little incline but a pretty decent size hill that looks like it stops going up and flattens for a second around the bend. So throwing myself into the hill I keep myself at an even pace and start running up this hill and making sure to not push into zone 5. I didn't want that. I wanted to make it through the race without killing myself.
So I make my way up and a quarter of a mile goes by and there isn't a sign that the hill is going to let up anytime soon. Confused but still trying I keep pushing a little bit at a time keeping an eye out for when this hill will stop going up. I look at the watch and were 5 and a half miles in. The hill was supposed to start at mile six so I'm looking around wondering what is going on. Feeling overwhelmed and knowing I probably have a long way to go I finally walk. Now if you guys didn't know, I'm gonna tell you now. I hate walking during any race or run. It makes the run so much more difficult and just really drains you to walk and then pick back up the pace. Especially with a half marathon. That is not ideal.
After two short walks mixed with a tiny jog up the hill mixed in, I finally get to the 7-mile marker. From there it's downhill. you guys, I have never hauled ass like that before. I gave zero ****s and just started passing everyone on the way down but of course, they also didn't tell us it would more than "a little" technical. Well, a little technical tells me that maybe a mile of it is where you have to keep an eye on where your feet go but in this race, it was almost 4 miles of technical. Rocks everywhere and in my five fingers I was over it. Literally, my feet were screaming on this downhill. Every once in a while I would step on a rock that just jabbed the bottom of my foot with no mercy. Swearing up a storm I managed to make up five minutes of time lost if not more just from going down that hill with no mercy.
Finally, we reach the last two miles. Finally. The trail flattens out and I just kept in mind that there is water at the end of the race. So close to the finish and I could finally stop running.
With the finish line in sight, I give that last push to the end and once I cross it they give me my medal and my dad is waiting for me. INstantly I stop and take deep breaths. My feet are on fire and I feel every part of my body just go into this mode of hurt. Hurt, hurt, hurt. Everything felt like I was getting stabbed.
I look up and my dad and I exchange few words because we both were out of breath. Turns out the race also kicked his ass and we both agreed this would be a one-time-only race. Never again. Not only did they lie about the stats but they lied about how technical it was. My feet were destroyed and even in today's time my left foot still gets aches and pains from that race. It was beautiful don't get me wrong and if you want a surprise and challenge it's perfect but otherwise, I'm glad I got it done. I will officially never do that race again.
The good news from that race. I placed 15th in my division which is...AMAZING considering how difficult it was. Like holy bananas.
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