Monday, September 10, 2012

Calling in the Cavalry

You couldn't ask for better scenery than the offering at the Bozeman Marathon.  With views of the Gallatin, Bridger and Tobacco Root mountain ranges, it was an ideal place to hold a race.  It might have been different a perspective for the sea level-goers, Bozeman has a 4,793 ft. elevation.  Though I'm sure they appreciated the sights while running through farmland with its herds of cattle and horse looking on with bemused expressions, into the city and down a closed off Main Street somewhat full with cheering people.  Luckily for us runners the air had cleared a little overnight to a slight haze.  A large improvement from the smoke choked skies that have hidden the hills from sight the past couple of weeks.

As I participated in the half-marathon, I can't speak for what occurred in the first 13 of the full except that I heard it was quite windy at the gun.  The half started on top of Cottonwood Hill and pretty much went downhill from there minus the two small inclines at mile 6 and 8.  That second hill served to be my undoing because soon after the dreaded stomach cramp began to slow me down.  When I look back at the splits, my pace was fluctuating between 6:30 and 7:00 min/mile.  The first half of mile 8 was uphill and I pushed a 6:38 pace.  Too fast.  Right round mile 10 the stitch kicked in and my mental game got shaken up.  I knew from a previous race this summer that pushing through was going to make it worse, so I slowed the pace by about 20 seconds hoping it'd work itself out but it didn't.  All of a sudden my goal of 1hr and 30 min was slipping away but I continued on while breathing through my stomach.

It's these times in reflection when I learn something truly important about competing.  With 1.5 miles to the finish, a woman in five finger shoes goes barreling past me while saying, "come on, we're almost there!"  She was looking strong and I could feel the guy just in front of me pick up the pace as did I.  Just that one comment from another competitor lifted me up and helped me push through until the end.  Its great having spectators cheering and supporting, but it's the fellow racers who are going through the same physical and mental strain that can have the biggest impact.  I'm sure that woman hasn't a clue how helpful that one comment was, but I'd like to say thank you to the curly-haired, middle-aged woman who rocked the finger shoes and the half-marathon!

On a side note, I finished in 1 hour and 33 minutes.  Seven minutes faster than my previous PR.  So, it was still a great day.  One to enjoy and learn from.  I'm gonna miss this place.