Saturday, July 30, 2011

Return to the motherland...or "how to hurt yourself with what are, at first glance, really great ideas" Part I

Let me just preface this story by saying it's all Doug's fault.  Doug is generally my default scapegoat as a result of a particularly insidious combination of years of misguided race selection and uncanny powers of persuasion (or perhaps just really malleable friends?). In this particular instance, however, I have documented proof that it really is Doug's fault - if not completely, at least mostly. Without him, none of this would have happened.

So the story begins sometime late last year with an IM from Doug saying something to the effect of "would it be stupid of me to do this?" followed by a link to the Steamboat Marathon.  "Probably." Was my reply.  This is generally my automatic reply to such queries.  However, I followed the link and noticed that the race date was June 5, which, after a quick cross-check to confirm the date of Memorial day this year, placed it slightly less than one week after my annual pilgrimage to Colorado for my favorite race in the whole world (and that's saying a lot given my feelings about Uwharrie), the Bolder Boulder.  So now that I've actually typed those words, I have to pause and pay homage the the holy grail of 10Ks.  Okay, I paid so much homage, it turned into a separate post. Back to the task at hand.

Don't these people look happy and injury-free?

So anyway, as I am always looking for an excuse to spend more time in CO and the race website had pretty mountain pictures on it, the wheels started a-turnin' in my head. The quest then began to convince Ronnie that we should a) honeymoon in CO, and b) that it would be awesome if Doug came with.  For those who don't know us that well, this may seem super weird, but for those who do, you know that Doug is an integral part of our running adventures, and that NOT having Doug along would be even weirder. To ease the confusion of who was going to sleep where (Doug and Ronnie have probably shared a tent more times than Ronnie and I have), we suggested Doug bring his girlfried Erin.  We also invited ~10 other people to share the week with us so we could rent an unnecessarily large house in downtown Steamboat.

Hooray for off-season rates!

 I had been planning to only run the half marathon because I was a little dubious about my ability to bounce back from Boston and then train effectively in the weeks leading up to the wedding, but somewhere along the way, Jim managed to convince me that I should run the full because "what if the pretty part is at the top?" So I did what anyone would do - registered for the full and then convinced everyone else to also register for the full.  Peer pressure has an awesome snowball effect - we even managed to convince Becca, who had no intention of running period, let alone running a full marathon, to run the full. So now we had a plan.  All we had to do at that point was get married and train.

As is usually the case in my life, I found that I was a little overcommitted with the above plan, so I downgraded to 'get married and rely on inborn talent and a penchant for doing stupid running-related things'.  Joining me in the second half of that plan was our friend Josh, who was trying out the new 7-day marathon training program in the week leading up to the race (you start with a 10k and work your way up to the marathon 7 days later).

Once we had the married part out of the way, a good chunk of the crew assembled in CO for phase one of our trip: the Bolder Boulder.  Because we were of varying abilities (and had varying levels of qualifying times available ... oh and a distinct lack of organization), we were pretty much all in different waves.  Ronnie and I had initially planned to run in our wedding clothes (and he was going to drop back to my wave), but alas, it was about 50 degrees the morning of the race, and I deemed it a tad chilly for my wedding dress.  The minute I bailed on the formalwear, he bailed on me in favor of running with Jim (makes a girl wonder what happens if she gets fat??).  So I was left alone in Wave C with just my thoughts and some guy dressed up as a banana.

slip n' slide induced race number attachment failure
My strategy this year was 'you're running a marathon in 6 days - try not to break anything', which seemed vaguely attainable, though I have blown out an achilles tendon at this race, so not entirely in the bag.  One thing contributing positively to the goal is they changed the course this year (don't get me started on how this messed with my flow), removing the .75 mile downhill that used to start the race.  The downside: you lose the .75 mile downhill and now start at the lowest point on the course.  The upside: you do not lead out with a 6:00 mile (while this may seem reasonable to some of you, this is totally unsustainable for me - yes, I know from personal experience).  The other downside: I apparently have some sort of muscle memory of there being two miles of uphill in the first half, which I was now burning through in miles 1 and 2 instead of 2 and 3.  Thus, when I got to mile 3, my body was much dismayed despite my feeling that I was running at a totally reasonable pace.  Fortunately, I spied an improvised slip n' slide to my right, which brought my body and soul back into balance, and made my clothes and shoes very heavy.

 Just as that was resolving itself, I spied ANOTHER slip n' slide.  "Wow!"  I thought to myself, "I have a golden opportunity here to set a Bolder Boulder slip n' slide PR!" (a speed PR was WAY out of the question).  So I did.  And ripped my number.  Which I then had to hold with my hand as I was finishing so they would let me make the turn into the stadium and finish.  Totally worth it, though.

Then we left Boulder to make our way to Steamboat Springs.   ...where it was blizzarding.

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