Initially, I was going to do the marathon. I mean, if KoB was going to run both, I was going to run both, too! And then my coach about had a heart attack when I told her and I started thinking more and more about it and decided that since I already ran a couple of marathons in Montana, that maybe I should just run the half.
BEST DECISION EVER.
Logistically this race is kind of a nightmare... You meet at 5:30am (for an 8:30am start) to get on a bus that takes you on an hour long trip to the finish line. During this bus ride you will enjoy seeing the beautiful Montana sunrise, but you will also be exposed to the dreaded nervous, over-caffeinated, runner pre-race chatter. Dudes talking about their 2:36 marathon finishes, bitches talking about how hot the race got last year and how she can't imagine anyone running the full.
So, I never got a good picture, but there were antelopes hanging out.
So, after that initial bus ride, you get dumped off at the finish line where all the runners are just standing around bullshitting and in line at the two porta potties. Again, lots more nerve-inducing pre-race chatter. But, also, some DAMN good people watching and eavesdropping.
After about 45 minutes there, it was time to hop on the bus again and get taken to the start line. One noticeable difference in this race from the 2009 one? WAYYYY more runners. Which was nice. I'm glad that this little race is starting to get some attention. Anyway, another bus ride, and more chatter. Finally we hopped off at the start line.
This is my nervous "oh my god, I'm sorry for what I've gotten you into, KoB" smile.
And that's KoB's "oh my god, what was this bitch thinking?" smile.
And that's KoB's "oh my god, what was this bitch thinking?" smile.
The race started a little late. Apparently there was some kind of issue with the official clock or timing device or whatever the hell it is that they used to keep track of the time. So, after about 15 minutes of trying to get that working, we started at 8:45.
This race starts out with a steep uphill. Like immediately. It's kind of funny actually. All those hyped up runners are just ready to run, but it's kind of a pointless hill to run up. So you see people trying to run up it and then stopping miserably to walk with the rest of us.
The race course is beautiful. The entire race is at around 8,000+ feet elevation.
Yes, I carried my camera for this race.
I was cruising along, having a grand ole time and before I knew it I was hitting the biggest, longest climb of the race: The climb to Monument Ridge.
My memory (which is apparently complete shit) of this race was that after this massive climb, that the rest of the first half was pretty easy. Hahahahahahahahahahaha. Hells no. All I could see in front of me was more and more climbs. I started to feel REALLY guilty about KoB having to run 26.2 miles of this shit, while I just ran 13.1.
I don't know.
I was just using my camera as an excuse to take a break.
The race was brutal, but by about mile 10, the climbs were over and it was mostly downhill to the finish (errr. my finish). It was also around this time that a lady latched on to me and we chit chatted for awhile. She had also done the Idaho race the day before (probably 50% of the full marathoners had) and we had a good time talking about races we'd done, etc. I was feeling pretty good and was wanting to hurry up and finish at this point, but I thought it would be kind of douche-y for me to take off and leave her in the dust when I was going to finish with a 2:30+ half time anyway.
I finished and hung out at the finish line. I chatted up some friendly people who had beer. (They had brought their own. GENIUSES!).
The finish line.
After a little while, I decided to mosey on down in front of the finish line to where you could get a good view of the marathon finishers from afar. I met some friendly people down there and after we talked about ourselves and our own races, we started talking about who we were waiting for. They were waiting for a friend, a guy who had won this race a couple times in the past. I proceeded to brag on KoB. I talked about his 3rd place finish the day before and I might have dropped Leadville into conversation about a bazillion times.
And then, before I knew it, I saw him coming down the hill. I started cheering and tried to get my camera out and ready and as he ran by me, but, I realized that I had forgotten to turn the camera on. UGH. So, I followed him to finish line, where he promptly sat down.
I was definitely hovering.
I didn't say anything for awhile, I just handed him my water bottle and tried desperately to quell my mother hen tendencies that were DYING to explode out of me. After like 90 seconds, I couldn't hold it in anymore and the first thing I asked him was... "So... uhhh... are we still a couple or do you absolutely hate me now?"
And when he responded something about how pretty the course was, I breathed a sigh of relief. That would have been an awkward drive back to the hotel.
My only complaint about this race is that with all the emails that the race director sent out before the race, one helpful tip to mention would have been this: Bring a cooler with beer and water and also bring your own food for post race. All they had afterwards was water (which was being rationed), heed, and some make it yourself peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I have no problems with that. BUT, I would have liked to have known that and I would have brought a full water bottle and some snacks for after the race and obvs some beer. The last time I did this race, they grilled hamburgers and had beer. (Much easier to do that for like 40 runners or whatever, I get that). But, I just assumed that there would be grub and suds at the finish line.
So, without beer and food, we were pretty ready to get on the shuttle and get back to our cars. This took awhile, but finally we hitched a ride in a 15 passenger van and made our way back to Ennis. Along the way, though, we encountered something in the middle of the road:
Holy shit balls! That's a brown bear cub!!
Yes, a brown bear in the middle of the road. He was so cute! We stopped the van to take some pictures.
He started to climb up the tree! So stinking cute! (and scary as shit).
Shitty picture, but that's him hugging the tree!
That just completely made the race! But, we were all pretty damn excited that we didn't encounter him DURING the race (or his momma, who was surely close by).
We finally made it back to our car around 4:00pm where KoB and I raided a gas station for food. Surprisingly, an egg salad sandwich from a gas station is not as awful as it sounds.
And just like that, our race weekend was over. It was super fun and totally worth the early wake up calls, the driving, and the running.