Aug 10, 2014

Rio Grande Half Marathon Weekend

This morning was the culmination of months of hard work and training.  During this period, I discovered strength and stamina of which I never through myself capable.  I found I can run farther than I ever thought, run faster than I ever thought, and push myself harder than I ever thought to achieve feats I previously considered out of my grasp.  My running improved and my confidence in my running abilities grew.
I found a third pocket in these awesome Athleta 2-in-1's that was perfect for stashing my Gu!

Heading toward the starting line.

From the moment I toed the starting line to the moment I crossed the finish line of the Rio Grande Half Marathon, I knew I could achieve my finishing goal of 2:29:29.  My previous half marathon PR (personal record) was from last summer's Utah Runner Girls Half Marathon, 2:45:23, so I felt that this goal was a bit ambitious.  My running this morning was light, easy, and graceful.  That coupled with all the confidence I gained training kept my mind free and able to enjoy the gorgeous views that surrounded me.  The brilliant full moon, the lights of Albuquerque shining below me like a clear starry night, the awesome Sandia Mountains, the Rio Grande River, the forested areas, the wildlife--there were even a half-dozen hot air balloons aloft! I was able to appreciate all of it.  Oh, how I miss mountains!
Gorgeous race course
Around mile 4, my right food started bothering me.  It felt as though a tendon was snapping across the top and it was causing me discomfort.  I was determined to finish this race running, no matter what, so I changed my gait by landing farther up on the balls of my feet, and that immediately changed the problem.  After about half a mile of running this way, the pain went away completely when I went back to my normal running gait.  No more problems after that.  I continued to enjoy my surroundings, the motivating signs and spectators, the gracious assistance from the volunteers, and most of all--the joy of the run.
Sporting my newest medal!  And working on my 3rd water bottle.

I started slowing from miles 9 through 11 with their accompanying incline and my inevitable fatigue, then picked up steam once the ground leveled and I saw I only had a mile left.  I rounded the last turn and had the finish line in my sights, so I broke into a sprint and miraculously held it until I crossed that glorious finish and received my medal.  Then I proceeded to spend the next 10 minutes catching my breath and taking the slowest cool down walk.

I took a nice, long shower at the hotel, then utilized all sorts of runner recovery products:  foam roller, intense stretching, BioFreeze (like icy hot, but better), calf compression sleeves, and a plantar fasciitis sock.  I felt like a royal running nerd with this stuff on, but it really helps with a fast recovery.

After checking out of my hotel, I made it a point to attend Sacrament meeting at the church.  I checked the site for a ward that was close to my route home which started at a convienent enough time so I could shower, pack, and eat before heading over.  Luckily, the Canyom Heights ward fit this description, and I got to enjoy further spiritual fulfillment as I partook of the sacrament and listened to the speakers.

Wear race shirt?  Check.  Sport race medal?  Check.
 After church, I quickly changed into my post-race usual of wearing the race t-shirt and the race medal.  I feel like I can't rightfully wear the race shirt until I've earned it by completing the race.  My post-race ritual was complete once I got home and took a much deserved nap.

The temple and all the scenery around it is absolutely gorgeous.

This was such a great weekend!  Not only did I achieve an incredible PR, but I also was able to attend the Albuquerque temple and participate in service.  Going to the temple the night before this race really kept my spirit and mind open to the influence of the Lord in my life.  I know that He has blessed me with my blossoming running talent.  He has helped me stick to a training plan and He increased my endurance and my strength to levels I should not be at right now.  My doctors are flabbergasted at these increases and are astounded that I'm achieving so much when not long ago, I was told I would never be able to run again.  I could feel the Lord's love for me during this race, as I prayed that the pain in my foot would cease and that it wouldn't result in injury.  I could feel His love as I appreciated all the beauty and camaraderie that surrounded me this run.  These are my favorite moments:  when religion and running collide to form a perfect moment of meditation, gratitude, and self-realization.

Heading in for temple service!  #ilovetoseethetemple

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