Sunday, September 22, 2013

Slacker Half Marathon

On June 22nd while on vacation in Colorado visiting my brother and his wife, I decided to take on the most challenging race I have ever done, the Slacker Half Marathon. I knew this race would be a challenge, but I didn’t realize just how challenging it would be! This one had ended up on my wish list when my sister-in-law had mentioned it to me the year before. When organizing our visit, I tried to arrange the dates to coincide with the race and it worked out! Mom and Dad also got on board and signed up for the 4 mile race taking place at the same time.

So race morning, we got up bright and early, heading out from Denver and driving up the mountain to the town of Georgetown. What a beautiful little town that is! All around us was picturesque views! We picked up our race numbers and t-shirts by a little lake and parted ways for our different shuttles. My shuttle took me up to Loveland Ski Area which is at 10,660 ft, not exactly easy for a sea level running wimp like me!
The view from packet pickup!
The drive up gave me more views to admire, waterfalls, forest and snow! I was nervous about the spots of snow on the ground since I was in a tank top with arm warmers due to the predicted heat later in the day and I was more than a little chilly waiting for the race to start, but things warmed up pretty quickly.
Snow! This So Cal girl doesn't see that white stuff very often!

This race is advertised as the highest downhill half marathon in the country, but I didn’t let that fool me. I knew the altitude would be a big issue for me and I had looked at the elevation chart and had noted how rolling the course really was. This race was all about having fun and enjoying our vacation, so I didn’t even pretend to think I could PR this one.
The sign behind me says "Fast" and another further back said slow. I started in the slow section.
The first mile or so of the race was extremely dusty! We started out on trails and since we were still so closely grouped together, the dust was flying! I started at a conservative pace, surprised that I didn’t notice the altitude more. My breathing was a little heavier than usual, but other than that, I didn’t hardly notice it in the beginning. Last time I visited my brother and went for a run in Denver (where they live), I felt like I was sucking air like crazy, so this was a nice surprise.

I didn’t have any intervals planned, just went with the flow. I walked the hills and some of the flats and took lots of pictures. We ran on trails, roads and bike paths. We were surrounded by trees and beautiful mountain views. Every turn brought on new “Oh wow” moments. We were along a river for a while and more than once I slowed down to admire small waterfalls.

  There were a few aid stations, but not as many as I’m used to, not that it mattered since I had on my hydration pack. Only one aid station had port-a-potties and the line made it not even worth slowing down for. A lot of people were ducking off trail to take care of business. Thankfully, I never had to!

The race finished in Georgetown, but not before we got to run overlooking a railroad and then later getting to run under it. Kids and adults on the train cheered us on as we passed below. I ran through town feeling spent, but managed to muster enough energy to do my customary finish line sprint.

Right at the finish, they gave us little printouts of our finish time. That was a really nice feature! Daddio found me and we went and found Mom. It sounded like they had fun, but were pretty tired. We got free hotdogs, sodas, snacks and power bars! This race had more free stuff at the end then I think any race I’ve done previously has had.

Getting close to the finish!
While waiting in line for food, I suddenly got extremely dizzy and my vision started to tunnel. Dad had me sit down and I figured I hadn’t hydrated enough, so I worked on getting some water in me. As soon as things evened out, feeling self-conscious, I got back up and joined Dad in line. My brother and his wife joined us and we all piled into one car to head further up the mountain. The higher we got, the sicker and dizzier I felt. I grabbed an empty bag and started dry heaving into it. Dad pulled off the road and I got out, walking around, trying to get things back in balance. My head was pounding and I had no desire to get back in the car, so I sent them up the mountain and camped out on a rock with some water to wait for them. Not to get into too much detail, but I ended up throwing up several times and experienced the worse migraine of my life. I didn’t feel better till we got back down the mountain, which lead me to believe later that I was experiencing altitude sickness.

I didn’t even know what altitude sickness was at the time, but now I do and never want to experience it again! I guess I’ll have to be more careful when picking races in the future or get there a few days earlier, so I can adjust to the difference! Be careful when doing a race under conditions you aren’t used to!
Two of the three slackers. Man, I look tired!
The race was fantastic and I highly recommend it! It was gorgeous and well worth the extra effort from being at that altitude!

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