|My 14th marathon!|
On Thursday we drove 150 miles North of Missoula to the West entrance of Glacier National Park which I was excited to learn extends into Canada. We drove as far as we could (16 miles) on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, which is only fully open 2 months of the year due to snow. From that point, we took a small tour bus farther, up to Heaven's Peak. Billed as one of the most scenic stretches of highway in the world, it made the beautiful drive there pale by comparison.
Glacier NP would have been a beautiful place to hike, but since it was already Thursday, we were trying to stay off our feet as much as possible. We had a picnic lunch, dipped our feet in some very cold streams and took pictures. We also went on a short hike to a waterfall where the tour bus dropped us off.
|Sandy and I, w/ Heavens Peak in background|
After spending the day in Glacier National Park, we stopped at Huckleberry Patch to buy a pie to share with our hosts at the cabin we were going to be staying at that night. A $27 pie. We knew huckleberries were special, but didn't realize that the fact they can't be grown/farmed drives the price up. At dinner the previous night our waitress told us about their family's tradition of going huckleberry hunting at the end of each summer. We ordered a huckleberry sundae and were then on a mission to find any and all things huckleberry. Between the three of us we purchased: huckleberry pancake mix, huckleberry brownie mix, huckleberry preserves, huckleberry syrup, huckleberry honey, huckleberry licorice, huckleberry jelly beans, huckleberry frozen yogurt and then the pie, which was the best of all! But back home after the race, Sandy found the one huckleberry item that would've helped us the most: Huckleberry Hammer Gel!
|Sunset - 9:30pm|
That night, the storm brought us some rain and thunder that was so loud it actually shook the floor of the cabin. The lights flickered on and off a few times as our hostess cooked us lasagna. She and her husband were both retired school district employees (he, superintendent; she, teacher) and we marveled at what it must be like to have a graduating class of four, or 250 children total in the district. We stayed up by the fire until after 10pm talking about Montana and stories of being snowed in; snow so deep that a snowmobile rode right over a car without the driver realizing it, until the person came out of the bar yelling 'you just ran over my car!' About Hutterite colonies that attend local school until 8th grade and produce a lot
When I woke up on Saturday, I went to the expo and picked up my bib, purchased a few race-logo items and walked around town. It was so warm out that I was sweating as I ducked into the Missoula Art Museum. This made me a little nervous about the weather for the next day, but I learned the high each day isn't until around 4pm and I planned to be finished well before noon. Whenever I'm in a new city, I make it a point to visit the art museum. Contemporary art is my favourite and I always find a piece or two that leave an impression.
|Running a marathon on her 60th birthday - inspiring!|
|Bridgette and I, before the race.|
The National anthem was sung and there was a short fireworks display, and then we were off. The sun was rising within the first 6-8 miles but it was still in the 50's as I shed my sweatshirt and threw it on the ground. I usually make a concerted effort not to go too fast...but I felt good and didn't worry about the fact that some of my miles were coming in under 9 minutes. I had only brought 1 package of gu chomps with me, expecting there to be more at the water stops. But after passing the 3rd water stop that didn't have any, I began searching the ground for unopened packages. In all, I picked up 3 packets of gu off the ground throughout the race, exactly what I needed.
|Feeling good, around mile 10.|
I started the first few miles without my music, listening to the sound of shoes striking the pavement, over-hearing different parts of conversations, and the sound of my own breathing. But that's about as interesting as it sounds, so I put in my iPod and the miles started to fly by. My time for the first 13 miles was 1:58. This is a 9:05 minute per mile pace, and a good time for a 1/2 marathon. But then, I slowed down. I slowed way down.
See, there was a hill at mile 14. A pretty big hill. I walked up part of it, and then tried to make up some time on the downhill. At this point, I still felt like a PR was attainable, if I kept up the same pace or even slowed down a bit. But downhill is really hard on your quads, and by mile 17 I was asking spectators on the course for ibuprofen (a really nice lady gave me four 200mg pills) and maintaining the same pace just wasn't possible. I was expending more effort, yet going slower. This became really clear to me when the 4:30 pace group who I had been in front of the whole time ran past me. I had been at their pace, faster than their pace actually, but now hanging onto them seemed impossible and I watched them fade out of sight.
|Elated & exhausted!|
|These ladies stuck together the entire race!|
I had some food, and waited to congratulate Sandy and her friends. We showered and met Barbara and her husband at their RV for a home-cooked meal of carne asada tacos, chips and salsa and German chocolate cake to celebrate her 60th birthday. Everything tastes better after a marathon!
After I had a small real coke (not diet) I felt a little more coherent and back among the living. I really was wiped out after this marathon, maybe due to the elevation, or going out to fast. Before that coke, even talking or thinking seemed to require a lot of effort. I wasn't just physically exhausted, but mentally out of it as well. It was difficult to think or interact, but I also felt calm and peaceful. It's not a bad feeling to not be able to think clearly, especially for someone who often has the opposite problem: thinking too much.
We had a good night's sleep and on Monday, drove south of Missoula to explore the Bitterroot Valley and the town of Darby. Along the way, we drove up a road and did a 3 mile hike that gave us some amazing, sweeping views. I also found a horse that let me kiss him.
Tuesday, we hiked up to the 'M' above the city, I had a 90 minute massage - the best one of my life- and ate at Cracker Barrel before catching our late afternoon flight home.
|Wendy, Sandy and I, above Missoula.|