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It has been so long since I’ve raced and I have been losing my mind, but my training has been going great!!! I have changed my running technique, concentrating on running forward and landing mid-foot and being careful not to load my heels, hips and knees. My times have been much improved and more importantly, I have been running with no pain for much of the run. I do still having lower back pain on long runs but have taken to stopping and stretching for 20-30 seconds and continuing and that seems to be working. Brian and I left for the airport early on 07/21/2017, we had a 9:50 flight that was just a little delayed for some maintenance (details unknown)…but we took off about 30 minutes late and somehow managed to land on time. We picked up our rental car and headed out for the hotel, it was a short 13 minute drive. I laid out all my stuff and made sure I had it all and we went to have something to eat. RED ROBIN, YUMMMM!!!! I love the Bonsai burger with no cheese or mayo, steamed broccoli and a Blue Moon. It has been super hot in Idaho, so I have been deliberately going out in the middle of the day to run and I have been able to tolerate the heat in Illinois with our high humidity with no trouble. Hill training is very nearly impossible here, we just don’t have any!!! I needed to see this mountain that I was running down, so after lunch we GPS’d the starting point and headed on out. We climbed up this mountain in the SUV and climbed and climbed!!! It seemed an impossibly long 13.1 miles! Am I really going to do this?!? Oh, the pre-race self-doubt reared its ugly head! I told Brian I wasn’t sure seeing it was such a great idea, however, that being said, we did notice that the pavement on the top had a few rough patches and potholes, about mile 3, it smoothed out nicely and about 9 miles there was a cattle grate to be aware of. It sounds moronic, but, while running, I often zone out and don’t even notice stuff, so knowing this ahead of time, helps me stay focused on any potential trouble. After the ride up the hill, we headed to Target to pick up a few things…banana, larabar, milk for cereal, and I bought some shorts and a top so I could take off the airplane clothes with long sleeves that I was still wearing in the heat and then I did something uncharacteristic for me…I went and got a pedicure!!! It was wonderful and then I met Brian around the corner at a pub where he had killed time after doing his own shopping for a hat. We left there shortly and headed out to get dinner. I had some salmon, rice, asparagus and a lot of water and then we went on a quest to find a little bottle of Bourbon to celebrate after the race. Finding a liquor store proved to be difficult, but we finally did and back to the hotel we went for some much needed quiet time and rest. I was up on 07/22/2017 around 3:45am because some people don’t catch their doors in hotel rooms before they slam! People, people, people!!! I am such a light sleeper before a race that ANYTHING will wake me and it did and I got up showered and got my crap together. We headed out to the elementary school where the buses were to pick us up at 4:30am and arrived at 4:45am expecting to see buses lined up and ready to take us. I got in the port-a-potty line…I have a rule on race day…I never pass a port-a-potty line, because, by the time I get up there, I have to go! But…still there were no buses and then the race organizer got on the PA system and said they were trying to locate the buses. We stood in the line and waited, chatting with the other racers and laughing and working through our jitters and then this happened…”Well, this is not the announcement that I want to make, but the bus company double booked today and they aren’t going to get here, they are trying to send over a couple of shuttles but it doesn’t look good. I’m going to ask the locals to consider giving up their bibs if they don’t have to run today and I will compensate you by letting you run this race with the marathon on 09/09/2017, same course, and I will give you two other races for free as well. If you could please come see me, I will get your bib numbers and if you would consider getting your cars and lining up toward the mountain, then we can shuttle the out of town runners up the mountain and drop them off at the start, there is no parking up there. If any spouses or fans are willing to drive racers up as well that would be helpful. I’m really sorry to have to make this announcement but we don’t want to call the race…” I looked at Brian, “go get the SUV, we will head on up”. I watched him walk away and realized, well, I guess I could go with him, duh!!! We lined up and picked up Rachel and Tayshia, a couple of girls from the area and headed on out. I’ll tell you…the plan was quickly put into action and as we drove up that mountain in the early morning grey, I looked back behind us and saw the endless convoy of cars mobilized and in action to get us to the start. It reinforced what I already know, RUNNERS ARE AWESOME and RUNNING FANS ARE AWESOME!!! But, I now know something else…IDAHOAN’S ARE AWESOME!!! We got up to the start and got in line for the port-a-potty, Rachel and Tayshia, turned out to be hilarious and we chatted, laughed and danced around. I helped them pin on their bibs and we posed for the picture that goes on the website. The race organizer was the last truck up and he got on the PA system and “Well, we are here, get your business done in the potty and we are going to start at 6:30am, there is a little trail over here to the left where you can tinkle in the woods, so be ready at 6:30am!” I did my business and Rachel and Tayshia and I lined up to go. They asked if I wanted to run with them and I told them I would play it by ear. Rachel asked if I had a goal in mind, “nope, just finish and have fun!” I said…and with that we were off. I sent Brian an ecrumb so he could follow me and fired up my music and I decided to also fire up my RunKeeper. This race didn’t have any mile markers and I like to know where I am for water and nutrition. I have worked out a system after 36 races. I don’t try anything new on race day, but this is the first race in all of them that I actually had my tracker on telling me where I am, how fast I’m running and what my overall pace is…I was nervous, wasn’t sure if it would make me neurotic, but I have to know when to drink water (I sip every ½ mile) and when to take my gels!!! My goal was to finish and to do that I’ve been running 9:30 – 9:45 pace while training. I assumed that I would be running a little slower than that because of the altitude. Well, I was wrong! My first alert at 0.5 mile mark had me running 8:04 minute miles!!! Downhill is awesome!!! I ran the first 3 miles effortlessly, paying close attention to the rutted pavement and potholes. Once I crossed onto the better road I started sightseeing and relaxed and my pace slowed a little as I grew tired. I started to feel a little puny at 4.5 miles and realized that I had forgotten to take my gel at 4, and made my way down the mountain. There was a kid; a young man of 10-12 years that I could see was struggling. I passed him and asked if he was ok, he said “yes” but his eyes said no. I had been stopping every couple of miles to stretch my back for 20-30 seconds, and he passed me by while I was doing one of these stretches, still looking pretty rough. I carry extra gels in my water belt, so I hauled one out and handed it to him as I went by him down the mountain, I hope it helped? I did see him cross the finish line well after me later, so he did make it! I think I will carry extra from now on just for this. I took another gel at 8 miles, crossed the cattle guard at 9 by running around it in the sand, ran the short uphill at 10 miles, and then up the big hill at 11 miles. I knew I could do it, but I just didn’t want to walk. I put my head down so the brim of my hat hid the apex of the hill and kept on going, slowly, but one foot in front of the other. It was about ½ mile long with a gain of nearly 500 feet in altitude. I felt great at the top and gave the last 1.5 miles all I had! I was running sub 9 minute miles this far into the race and feeling pretty good! I could see the finish line and started scanning the crowd and finally caught sight of Brian standing to the left at the only turn into the school parking lot…across the finish line I went. NUMBER 37 – DONE!!! Here are the stats. I ran in 1:57:56, a 9 minute mile pace (even with stretching 6 times, not shabby) 97 of 186 overall, 55 of 119 women and 2nd in 55-59 age group (all the other women in my AG were locals). I’m very happy with this and more happy that I was able to stretch and get through it with occasional pain that I can manage. Next race Utah…ALL DOWNHILL AGAIN!!!

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