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Finally, another race! I decided to take a big chance on this race…I could have run at a lot lower altitude but I wanted to enjoy some great scenery while running…so…wait for it…Sedona!!! At nearly 5,000 feet I knew that I would suffer, but I decided to slow down, take it easy, enjoy the view and have fun. I had asked my sister, Peggy, if she would go with us, but it was her anniversary, ok, I’ll give her that! I found a timeshare (the first time we have stayed in one of those) very near the start line. It is nice to walk to the start and home from the finish; it always feels good on the legs to do that. The airfare was a little pricey, but the timeshare was reasonable and I was able to get a great deal on a full-sized SUV since our drive from the airport to Sedona was about 2 hours. On 02/02/2018, Brian and I left home early for an 8:30 flight. We had no trouble, I had booked extra leg room and though we were a little late in departing for technical difficulties regarding the plane, we were only 30 minutes late getting into Phoenix. I always build in extra time for delays, so I had no worries. We picked up our rental car and headed to Red Robin for a burger and some broccoli; I do love eating meat the day before a race!!! So, people in Phoenix are terrible drivers! Yielding and merging are skills they do not possess and some major golf thing was going on in the North part of Phoenix on our way out of town so it took us a little bit longer to get to Sedona than we figured, but we did get there in about 2.5 hours and still had some light to look around. So, we found our timeshare and unpacked, making sure we had everything, we had already stopped at Bass Pro Shop for a hat for Brian since he forgot that, but we were still loaded with extra time – I have learned! Unpacking revealed no holes in our supplies so we headed out for dinner. We had spotted a restaurant a short drive down the road and it was early so we figured we wouldn’t have a wait and we didn’t. I had salmon and mashed potatoes and roasted green beans, Brian had risotto and cod with roasted zucchini. We stopped at Whole Foods for some provisions and headed back to the room which was very lovely, and chilled. I slept really well until about 4am and then I was up. I stayed in bed until 6am, then just gave up, got up and got ready. I have a race day routine: 2 hours before race start – banana, 30 minutes out – gel, potty, potty, potty right up to the last second. We left to go to the race at 8:15 for a 9:10am start. It was a short 5 minute walk away. We milled about, figured out where everything was then I waited in port-o-potty line and then we walked around some more and one last trip to the potty and watched the marathon line up and go off at 9am, lined up, kissed my crew goodbye and took off. My strategy for this race was run easy, take my time, my time doesn’t matter. With the pressure off of me I just relaxed and ran across the start line. Brian and I tried this RaceJoy app this time. It tracks me and tells me every mile what I’m doing and also sends him my stats and he can send me a cheer or two. Our cell phones had been spotty since we got to Sedona, so I was unsure about how well this was going to work, but, as always, hopeful. I heard the app at the 1st mile and 2nd and so on, it had a little freak out around mile 6, but I reopened it and it worked well other than that one glitch. The first 2 miles were pretty good and then we started the climb up the mountain. Oh, how I wish that there was air, lol! I was struggling with breathing, but slowed down and kept going. At 4 I got ready to take my gel and downed it by 5. At 6 I didn’t really feel like I needed a gel so I took it between 7 and 8 mile markers. The miles were ticking off, my breathing was a struggle, my lower back was sore on the down hills and less so on the up hills. I tried to stretch it about every mile for 20 seconds though it only eased briefly at 5. I pretty much had lower back pain the whole race, but I had installed flooring in my office the two weekends before the race and I think I might know why! The up hills were brutal and I walked parts of two of them, the down hills were better, but I could feel the hit of thinner air the whole race. Slowly the miles ticked off and Brian even sent me a couple of cheers to keep me going, finally finished on an uphill. I told Brian that I couldn’t remember ever being so tired but the view was amazing (see the pictures) and it was a lot of fun!

If I had one gripe about races, and I have done 40 - ½ marathons 6 - 5K’s, 2-10K’s, a 15K and a 20K, it would be this…chairs!!! We, the runners, need to sit down on something that isn’t all the way down on the ground or a curb, we would love to sit on a chair, a padded chair would be great, but a chair nonetheless. There were no chairs, so I sat on the pavement to loosen my shoes and eat a Cliff bar. From the outset, that Cliff bar did not sit well with me and before we headed home my rocky stomach led me to heave in the bushes of Arizona. Back in the timeshare I rested for a short time while Brian got Starbucks for me (isn’t he the bomb) and I showered and we headed out for food. Downtown Sedona has so many neat shops and places to look at nature; it is right up our alley! But first, FOOD!!! I knew what I needed, eggs, bacon, rye toast and potatoes. We found a diner and I ate my fill and drank gallons of water. I don’t think I have ever had more water after a race, but the altitude and the race will do that to a body! We parked in the downtown area and walked around looking at art and jewelry and clothes and sat outside, it was a beautiful sunny 68-70 degrees a far cry from the 3 degrees that we had left in Chicago. I had a moment, walking over a bridge that crossed a creek where the sun was in just the right spot to capture an amazing view of the mountains in the distance painted by the setting sun behind me (top picture). Isn’t that something!!! We walked and my legs felt great, I had no pain, in fact, other than thin air and lower back pain, I didn’t even notice my feet or knees or hips at all during or after the race. Often, high altitude running can lead to breaking down muscle tissue for oxygen, so color me surprised that I wasn’t feeling horrible, well…another common thing did happen to me…kidney pain and spilling blood into my urine. Yea, not as fun as it sounds…Brian and I decided, no more high altitude races, it’s just too hard on my almost 55 year old body! We walked around long enough that I started to get hungry again and we sat down in an outside café and had a couple of drinks and a charcuterie. That is a great name for a collection of meats, cheeses and breads with fruit and spreadable this and that, it was fantastic!!! Well, back to the timeshare we go to relax and we did, it was a great day, we were both pretty worn down from not sleeping and traveling and were in bed by 10. The next day, neither of us could sleep so we got up and had breakfast and did what I often like to do…we drove the race route, so I could show Brian what I saw while running. Gorgeous!!! Then we walked the Fay Canyon Trail as far is we could go easily, there are some pictures of that too.

wine glass rock!!!

The weather was great but we did have to get back to Phoenix. We had packed up when we left the timeshare for the drive of the ½ marathon route so we just started to roam south towards Phoenix. I had a hankering for baked goods, so we stopped at a Farmer’s Market and split and ginormous cinnamon roll. Before long, our batteries were blinking so we stopped at a Mexican place for lunch and headed to return our rental car from there. We were in the airport with time to spare so we hunkered down, Brian bought a book, I was still working on mine and waited for our plane. Weather was slowing down the process and we ended up about an hour late out of Phoenix, but we were only going back to the frozen North, so we didn’t care. Let me tell you, getting back to Chicago, at night with below zero wind chill is rude, hahaha!!! But, Greta, my truck STARTED!!! So, we were relieved! Here are my stats: Time 2:23:37, 451 of 984 total runners, 237 of 626 female runners, 11th of 52 55-59 year old women (and all the other women were locals) I am happy with these results and will be training for my next race...stay tuned...

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