My First Published Article

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My Colorado Trail Marathon

     I just returned from running my 14th marathon state, Colorado.  When I signed up for this race I was really excited, I haven't even ran a "trail marathon" before, unless you count Alaska which seemed like 1/2 of it was a trail run.  I knew I was in shape, true it was just 2 weeks after my last 26.2, but I knew mentally I could take it on.  I was prepared for everything except catching a miserable cold, which of course had to happen.
I woke up Saturday feeling a cold coming on, but aside from taking lots of Vitamin C, there really wasn't much else I could do about it, other than know it was probably my own fault.
I have Epstein Barr, and although its been a few years since the over year long battle to get the main blunt of it to go away.  I still get tired often and if I don't listen to my body when it says "sleep" I tend to pay for it later and get sick often. 
August having been a HUGE wedding month for me (YAY), I believe I did at least 3 weddings each week during that month, and through it all and the late nights I wasn't paying attention to all my bodies warning signs.  So illness decided to strike.

September 3rd Wedding Decoration
Right after I finished taking down a wedding on a Saturday around 11pm I finally headed out of town to knock out a few hours of the driving time and get to at least Rock Springs, WY for a few hours sleep before the remainder of the drive Sunday to Colorado Springs.
Luckily my parents were able to come along on this trip, and thanks to my dad he did most the driving, so I could catch a little sleep while my cold decided to get worse and worse.
     American Discovery Trail (Labor Day Race) was the marathon I entered, their packet pick up was small, and I thought it was interesting to find out they are a bit "old school" and I wasn't going to have to wear a timing chip, it was all a gun time race.  I also thought they gave a really good quality t-shirt, even though I thought they ran a little on the small side.
Sunday night I got as much rest as I could (I don't sleep well when I can't breath, and cough all night.)  Then woke up at 3:45 a.m. and got ready to head to the start.
I woke up feeling optimistic that the cold might have decided to have left my body entirely through the night, it was disappointing to find out that wasn't the case.  Back in February when I ran Myrtle Beach, SC I felt much sicker, and so I figured it was a positive sign that I didn't feel as miserable as I did back then, and I made it through that race.
So since a lot is mind over matter so I just told myself I was good enough to run.
With a small issue with the GPS, I finally made it to the bus pick up area just in time, I loaded the bus.
Palmer Lake
It was a little windy and cool at the start, I was glad I had my garbage bag to wrap up in, it was just what was needed to keep me from freezing like others who didn't have a bag looked like they were.
I will mention, that I think they needed a few more bathrooms at the start, I barely made it into one before the race start, and I know several others behind me did not.
The American Discovery Trail marathon is basically a course (am was told) that is where when the song "America the Beautiful" was written in the 1890's, the writer was hiking up on Pikes Peak, and looking down and around came up with the inspired words to the song.
The race is on the Santa Fe trail, and started by circling the lake and then heading through a few miles of pine forest and then out into what I call "open mountain desert type area, with the mountains to the right and Pikes Peak in the distance ahead.
The first mile was a little "squishy" a few hundred runners all trying to get down a dirt trail about 4 feet wide.  But after the first mile it seemed to open up a little and runners started to space out a bit more.
Despite being sick, the first few miles were okay for me, in fact the first 7 miles were what I would call my best miles of the race.

Santa Fe Trail
Then miles 8-10 came, for some reason that is when my cold really decided to come out and remind me I was sick and my body would rather sleep than run.  So I had a bit of a fight, I remember getting to mile 10, and thinking "How?".  But I had already determined before hand, and frankly when I started this 50 state goal, that when it got tough, my mind was going to be tougher and get me through it.
Now usually if I do get to a bad point and start counting down the miles, it is NEVER with 16.2 to go, but this was one of those times that I literally just counted down the miles I couldn't help it.
As if being sick wasn't bad enough, I also couldn't get the song "Clementine" out of my head, (don't ask) as if that particular song going over and over again in my head wasn't bad enough, at the time I was only remembering 1 verse, so I kept repeating that.  When I tried to think of a new song to replace it with, of the millions of songs available to me, the only one that popped into my head was "The Rainbow Connection", the Kermit the Frog song, I haven't heard it in years, and yet that was the only one I could think of??
Obviously my cold was making me delirious:)  Thankfully I knew more than 1 verse of this song...

Pikes Peak
When I had registered for this race, it said it was a downhill race.  The elevation was a bit on the higher end, starting at 7,255 feet, we were supposed to drop 1,200 feet by the end, and even my Garmin says I did even though I didn't notice much of the downhill.  With the climbing 945 feet mixed into it.  I don't know if it was because I had a cold, or a little elevation and rolling hills may have played a factoring roll.  But to me my lungs seemed to have to do a little more work than I had planned :)  But no complaints...

I was enjoying the scenery though, even a few times along the course in the windy rolling hill sections, you almost felt like you were out on the trail alone.  Especially through what is the Airforce Campus training center portion of the course.

Airforce Campus/Santa Fe Trail
There were plenty of water stops every few miles, so when the heat of the day started to creep into the upper 80's, I felt fully hydrated and luckily wasn't lacking at all in that area.  The volunteers for this race were wonderful, and were ready and willing to give you 2 or more cups of water (if needed) at the later stops in the hotter sections of the race.
There were very few bathrooms on the course, maybe I saw 3 of them.  I saw more white butts than I cared too, LOL.  At an early point on the course even I had to utilize the tree's.  However, unlike some runners I just can't not hide my white rear from others view, so I took a short hike behind a good set of bushes and trees.  Hey when you gotta go... and I guess I should look at it like, at least I didn't have to loose time waiting in a port-o-pottie line. :)

Rocky Mountain National Park - View-
I was doing what I called okay, until about mile 16, this is when my energy levels were fading faster.  Miles 16-20 I tried to hold a steady pace through it, hoping that by doing so the fatigue would pass a little and I could get back into a groove.  (Kind of similar to what you do when you feel you are coming close to "hitting the wall".)
I remember around mile 21, is when it all it hit, I think that was up until this point my worst mile of the race, it was a fight and I knew I had to do something about it.
So I picked up the pace for mile 22 (about a minute a mile faster than the previous mile) and it helped me get through the next two miles.  I'd say it was about a 80% mental game at this point.
The only other problem I was having, my previous foot injury was kicking in again and soreness was creeping in, (I really thought I had healed that one...  But I think I actually re-injured it at the wedding a few days prior...)
Anyhow, being so close to the finish, I knew I would make it, it was just a matter of when.
Mile 24 was when the fatigue hit again, and mile 25 ended up being my slowest mile of the race (despite how close I was to the finish.)
Luckily pride kicked in, and with 1.2 miles to go, I remember getting just the mental surge I needed, and just started looking forward to the finish, I didn't care how much pain the last part was going to cause I wanted to get through it as fast as I could without any walking.  So picked up my pace and ran about a min and a half faster mile for the last mile surge.  Luckily the last .2 of the race was crowd filled, so no matter how bad my lungs burned or I wanted the pain to end, I pushed on and finished as strong as I could.

My finish time ended up being almost 30 minutes slower than I had originally planned.  But I am not upset about it.  I got to run a beautiful marathon, see parts of Colorado I hadn't previously known existed.  I ran through a horrible cold, and who knows it may help me out for a future race with what to do if that (knock on wood) ever should happen again.
After all, I have now ran a marathons with Pneumonia, Bronchitis, Upper Respiratory & sinus Infections, The flu, and now the darn common cold.  Although that sounds bad, luckily of the 21 Marathons now under my belt, only 4 of them were under those circumstances so the odds for good runs are still in my favor:)

The Spike Checking out our Car
After the race I did what I always do, I went out looking for more adventure.  Found it just up the road at the beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park. 
I did get to see some of it, and despite being cloudy and rainy and really foggy up at the 11,000-12,000 feet area's.  I was glad I went.
We happened upon a few herds of Elk, at one point we stopped and a curious Spike came up and decided to take a sniff of our car engine.
Later on, we came upon another heard, with a huge bull Elk, and we were able to sit and listen to him bugling and talking to his herd.
They even meandered quite close to us at one point, and the bull decided to take out some aggression on a bush, maybe to sharpen his antlers??  But although I have once years ago while on a deer hunt had an Elk herd surround me and walk right past me.  And I've heard elk bugle from a distance.  This was the first time I have been this close up to a herd and been able to sit and watch within 20 feet hearing them bugling and making a chomping click sound while talking to one another, this went on for quite a while, AMAZING experience!!!

Rocky Mountain Elk Destroying a Bush :)

 I think a little rest is needed now, get over this stupid cold.  Then I have a couple weekends in a row with my heavy "Western" backdrop, literally each section over the backdrop weighs over 100 pounds...   
Anyhow, I have decided that I am only going to run one Marathon this month, and then take the next 3 weeks to rest, recover and maintain so that in about 3 weeks I can go out for my 15th Marathon state, and hopefully have a great race in early October!

Bugling Elk