Old Port Half Marathon – Not Conquered. Completed.

I care too much about the goals I set for myself. So, even though last week I said that I’d probably skip the Old Port Half Marathon today, I didn’t want to pull a no-show on a race I’d planned for, sort of trained for, and recruited friends for.  And, truth be told, my pulled muscle was feeling a lot better. I figured if I could keep at a slow enough pace to avoid having to take deep breaths, I’d be fine. 🙂

So, last night, my friend, Wendy Harper, came to spend the night at my house since I live nearly an hour closer to the race than she does and the start time was at an early 7 a.m. today. We had a nice evening catching up, early to bed, early to rise this morning, and then left the house at 5:45 a.m. to get to the race (and wrastle up coveted parking spot…)

While I can be committed to my goals, I’m not completely irrational. I knew I wasn’t really ready for the full 13.1 miles and I was prepared to take walking breaks to get through the distance.  (Several years ago, I would have considered walking a complete failure, so I have matured a bit in my thoughts on distance completion – at least when considering my actual fitness level.)

Wendy is super fast, so she was in the first start corral (for the super fast runners.)  I was with everyone else in the second wave corral. I happily found my friend, Margaret, and her sister, Cathy, just before it was our turn to start running.  Here’s a picture of us just before take-off:

(Whitney, Cathy, Margaret, LtoR)

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So, I knew Wendy would finish in plenty of time to cool off, get a snack, and generally relax before I came through. And, since Wendy finished in under 2 hrs, that’s exactly what happened.   I was not so fast. 🙂  So, by mile 9, I could tell I had maxed out my fitness level. Everything from 9-13.1 miles was going to be really tough and extra slow.  And those miles were both of those things, complicated by my first real experience with wheezing.  I don’t know what that was about – I have definitely run with great fatigue before, but the wheezing was new and really just put an end to any sort of productive running effort. Basically, I think my body was saying, “You can try to keep going if you want, but I’m just not going to process your air that quickly, so good luck with that.”

But, I wasn’t too discouraged – I happily ran into Margaret and Cathy around mile 9 (or 10?) Then Cathy took off for a speedy finish and Margaret and I slowly made our way to the finish line with a nice chat along the way.

Once we made it to the finish, I caught up with Wendy (who had camped out by the finish line for some great cheering as Margaret and I made our way to the end.)  I downed a bottle of water, ate a piece of watermelon, and then followed Wendy to the beer tent. (This race was sponsored by Shipyard brewery, so there was, in fact, a beer ‘garden’ for runners after the finish line.)

I’m not usually down for a chilly beer at 9:30 in the morning, but it just happens to be Wendy’s birthday and enjoying a beer refreshment seemed like the just the right thing to do to celebrate friendship, finishing, and a birthday.

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On another note, Janet and Margaret and I were together on Thursday evening and discussed the potential of a fall marathon effort.  It seemed like a good idea on Thursday night. Today was a bit of a reality check.  But, there is still time to get ready so we’re gathering some info. I’ll let you know what we decide.

In the meantime – onward!

Dude, the air is just so thin…

Howdy friends,

As you might remember from my last post, I am scheduled to run the Old Port Half Marathon on July 11 – that’s 6 days from now – and I got my friends Margaret and Wendy to sign up for it, also.  You might also remember that I had a terrible 12 miler 2 weeks ago, my last shot at a long run before the race, given a 7 day trip I had in between.

Well, let me tell you about that trip. I took off for Colorado Springs last weekend for an SSATB board meeting and we stayed at the most luxurious place called The Broadmoor Resort with amazing views of Pike’s peak. After a 4:45 a.m. alarm and three plane rides, I arrived at the resort at 4:30 p.m. – just enough time to lace up and jog around the small lake a couple of times to get a run in before our 6 pm dinner to start the meetings. It was gorgeous, but I could hardly move. A quarter mile felt like a 5k.  I assumed it was the early start + 3 planes. No problem, I thought.  I’ll have a chance to shake it out later.

Fast forward 3 days, no more runs (though some excellent late-night bowling after our meetings!), and I left the Broadmoor to drive out to the Tarryall River Ranch, nestled in the Tarryall Mountains of Pike National Forest, CO.

I arrived at 5pm and was met at the gate by Paula, the ranch manager. She got me to my cabin by 5:10 and on a horse by 5:20. No joke. By 5:45 we were already friends and had ridden our horses up to an incredibly beautiful look-out point. Just a taste of what the week would hold for me. By 6:30, we were back, horses untacked, and we were at the dinner table to meet up with the other guests.

Since this is a running blog, you might be thinking, “just get to the running part already, ok?”  I’m getting there.  But first, I had to settle into the fact that I was vacationing at a dude ranch. I went out on TWO rides on Tuesday – one all morning, then back for lunch, then one all afternoon. Heaven.  I kept thinking, “I have to stop and take a picture,” but then we’d ride another 10 minutes and I’d think, “No, THIS is the spot that needs a photo.” I have a million photos and they are portraits of amazing views.

So, after day one of riding (that’s two rides!), I got back and put  my running shoes on and set off.  Mind you, I was in the mountains. At a very high altitude. I’m not sure how far up the ranch was, but it was of the ‘so-high-up-you-have-to-drink-gallons-of-water-and-gasp-for-air-just-because-you-laughed-a-lot’ kind of altitude.The air was thin. For real.  Running was impossible for me.  I would go about 1/10 of a mile and have to walk. Heave for air. Then start again. It took me about 30 minutes to go two miles. It felt awful.  But, I had my phone strapped to my arm, so I kept stopping for more scenery photos – like this one from that brief run:

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The funny part was that other ranch guests saw me set off on a run after all the rides came in – disappear around the bend – and come back 30 min later. They were all hugely impressed and told me so at dinner. I had to confess to all of them that it only looked like I went running because of my running outfit, and that, in fact, I would run a few steps, stop, lean over to drag air into my lungs, walk, and then try again – over the course of 30 min. Nothing to be too impressed about.

Wednesday was a break from riding and we went white water rafting on the Arkansas River. That was pretty awesome. Evidence below:

DCIM101GOPRO

DCIM101GOPRO

The only downside to this bucket list adventure was that I pulled a muscle in my ribcage – I think when our boat ran into a rock. Or maybe with all the crazy paddling through rapids. Or maybe both together. In any event, I was just a little sore. But I was only half-way through my dream vacation, so I took some Advil back at the ranch. And then I learned how to line-dance (which isn’t really running, but was still cardio!). I woke up more sore than the night before.

Next day was an all day ride – with the most unbelievable views and two river crossings on horseback. Here, we are stopped for lunch:

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On Friday, my last day to ride, we set out and rode a bit harder, requiring a bit more work on my part. The muscle on the right side of my ribcage was tight and sore. I shook it off again.

Here is a view from my last ride:

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Then, after we got back for lunch, I could have rested, but who would want to rest with a nice cup of coffee when the ranch is full of 4th of July celebration shenanigans? I mean, really, how could I resist games like this race seen below? (And, this game is really hard!)

I just couldn’t stop myself from joining in the fun, and every time I did, I made things a little worse for myself. By Friday evening, my ribcage was on fire. I sneezed and it brought a little tear to my eye.  So… all of this to say, I’m having a hard time believing I can kick out 13.1 miles next weekend. I know I’m not really injured in any serious way, but a muscle pull puts a serious hitch in my giddyup.  Plus, my suitcase didn’t hop the 3rd flight home today, so is still somewhere out in the world, but not here with me. And my running shoes are in that bag. So, I can’t even give it a try tomorrow.

On the upside, it’s not hard to trade a hot half-marathon for a week jammed with experiences, ranging from the breathtaking to the thrilling to the absolute whacky, anytime. We’ll see how the week goes and I’ll let you know what happens with the Old Port race.

Onward!

NOTEI have to just give a special shout-out to Paula and Colton who run the Tarryall Ranch.  They are the most amazing hosts and ranchers. They have a top notch wrangler staff who are cheerful, confident, and fun.  Keith, the cook, is an outstanding chef who kept us more than well fed and was blast to hang out with. If you ever want to try a ranch vacation, check this one out:  http://www.tarryallranch.com