Monday, February 9, 2009
I camped in Cottonwood, about 25 minutes outside of Sedona, the night before the race. It was cold, I think I slept for an hour, I woke up at 1:30 with a sore throat and coyote's sniffed at our heads and ate some of our food. It didn't seem like I was off to a good start but I was optimistic and eager to get out of my tiny sleeping bag at 5:05 a.m. I ate oatmeal and a banana with peanut butter by the fire and downed more water than has fallen in Arizona since I've been here. We left camp and headed to Sedona. Still cold, even more anxious. Rain was predicted but we were happy to find it sunny and slightly breezy. The race began at 8:05, I hesitantly stripped out of my sweats and squeezed into the intimidating herd of runners at the start line and off we went. The air was noticeably thinner at the high elevation but I felt strong and quite possibly even smirked a little as I passed a few people. The smirk didn't last long. After feebly scaling the first ungodly hill (perhaps mountain better describes it) I could have sworn that I was near the halfway mark. At this point gray-haired grandmothers were passing me, steadily trotting by, making sure the smirk I wore earlier was replaced by the look of torture and defeat, and then I saw the mileage sign proudly announcing the three mile mark, 10.1 to go. I could have died. I wanted to die. I think a part of me did. But I kept running. Hill after hill I kept running and running.
Sedona is magical, it's red rocks are sweeping, deserving of the "most beautiful destination in the country" title it has proudly adopted. It's a shame I hardly cared to even glance at the scenery as I was too busy trying not to keel over. I peed at mile nine, swallowed some gel chews at 10 and tackled Big Bertha, the steepest and longest hill of them all at 10.5. The run was difficult but I eventually made it to the finish line, one step closer to completing my goal of 2009! My hips may have felt shattered and my lungs burnt up (and still do), but I made it up all those hills and it was worth it, every step.
Luckily I was able to drive the course afterward and appreciate how incredible a place I was in. I recharged with some pizza, hobbled about town for a couple hours, headed back to Cottonwood to pack up camp, then drove back to Phoenix, happy as a clam and sorer than imaginable!
I finished the run and that's all I really care about but if you must know my official time was 2 hours 25 seconds, a pace of 9:12/mile. Overall I finished 140th out of 573 participants.